Short Casts

The Ultimate Anglers of Boating Magazine Serve You Their Monthly Smorgasbord of All Things Fishy

** Sailing Away**

Put three captains from three different areas in the same room, ask each how to catch sailfish, and you'll be lucky to escape the room intact. Depending on your port of origin, the "best" method of catching sailfish varies dramatically. But top anglers know them all and apply them judiciously according to the conditions. Use this sailfishing cheat sheet to learn how to judge conditions and when to use which technique.

  • Stuart Dead Baiting: Try it when livies are in short supply or to practice your tournament skills. Troll at 4 to 5 mph with a spread of dink ballyhoo on small short-shank hooks. Rig the flat line baits with split bills, and let long rigger lines skip sometimes. The most important part of the spread? Big dredges, with up to three bars and 80 mullet or ballyhoo. Keep an eye out for dark shadows behind the dredge, and sink it back to any you spot.
  • Palm Beach/Miami Kite Fishing: Try kite fishing whenever wind and sea conditions permit and you can get appropriate live baits - goggle-eyes, tinker mackerel, or blue runners. Run the kite off an electric reel, and stagger three clips at varying distances. Dangle the baits just under the surface and keep a keen eye out for attacking predators. Don't forget to run a couple of flat lines off the transom as well.
  • Islamorada Live Ballyhoo: Use this whenever you can to catch live 'hoo. Anchor over a dark patch of grass. Chum ballyhoo to your transom and catch them on Sabiki rigs or by throwing a cast net. Run a small hook through the ballyhoo's lower jaw and wire wrap the bill against the shank. At the edge of the reef, put four to six baits over the side, then bump the boat in and out of gear to keep the baits at the surface.

Fishing beats sex because... There are no fishing-transmitted diseases. ● You don't have to hide your fishing videos and magazines. ● You don't need a blue pill to get up for fishing. ● You won't go blind by fishing with yourself. ● A limp rod can be useful when fishing. ● You can hang a fishing calendar on the wall and no one will sue you for fishing harassment. ● When fishing with a pro, you don't have to wonder if she's an undercover cop. ****

A pelagic spots your baits. What triggers its attack mode? According to most experts, the answer is presentation. And if you're running skirt-rigged baits, getting the perfect presentation may be harder than it sounds. When targeting white marlin or yellowfin tuna, small or medium baits are often more effective than large ones. Unfortunately, small rigged baits can become lost in the lure when they're rigged with skirts. When rigging up a 9" blue/white Illander, for example, the lure's skirt will cause small ballyhoo to nearly disappear. So how do you get that presentation correct? You'll have to fit the bait to the skirt. First, rig the bait so it swims naturally without the skirted lure. Increase the size of the chin weight so the ballyhoo will stay upright and in the swimming position when the lure darts, dives, and skips. Then slide a crimp sleeve down the leader, followed by the skirted lure. Lay the bait on its side and slide the skirt forward until one half of the bait protrudes beyond the end of the skirt. Then crimp the sleeve in place far enough up the leader to prevent the skirt from sliding down and covering the bait. Now when a predator spots the rig, the presentation will say, "Eat me." - John Unkart Next Page of Fishy News...

Adrenaline Jolt: Squidnation Mauler Squid Spreader Bar $89 to $129 • 240/461-6525 www.adrenalinelures.com Want to get mauled by tuna? Try dragging Adrenaline Lures' Squidnation Mauler Squid spreader bar. The 3' bar is constructed of 316 stainless steel, so it retains its shape. The mono is 200-pound test Penn Premium. The last bait in the center chain has a snap swivel, so you can quickly change your hook bait.

I tested Adrenaline's Triple Pink bar with eleven 9" squid-it towed flat and didn't cartwheel or tangle easily. The real surprise? These rigs cost 10 to 15 percent less than most of the competition. Adrenaline has bars of all stripes and colors, and the company will custom build your fantasy bar-calamari cowboys will love these things. -Lenny Rudow****

Flash & Dazzle: Holofish Umbrella Dredge $265 • 888/810-7283 www.alltackle.com Looking for a compact dredge that can be stowed on a small boat yet help you compete with the big boys? Check out the Holofish umbrella dredge. This six-arm dredge sports fourteen 8" plastic fish filled with reflective strips. Mine glows with hues of green, pink, and blue. And I mean it glows - the reflective strips throw off so much sunlight that the dredge seems to emit a halo of glittering colors. It stows easily in a 2'-long plastic cylinder. The lures are attached to the arms with corkscrew wires, so attacking fish may eventually rip them free, but replacements are available ($15). This is one fish attractor I'll be keeping on-hand for the entire offshore season. -L.R.

The Ultimate Angler

My mate took one lookat a $20 blue-light special I was so proud of and said, "That rod will break on the first tuna." Fifteen minutes into a tug-of-war with a 50-pound bluefin, the reel seat started revolving freely around the grip. Damn - I hate when he's right. I started the season with a grand total of 28 rods and ended it with 23. After years of destroying tackle as if it were a sport, I hope someone else will learn from my stupid mistakes - maybe even you.

1. Buy good quality. Try to get away by doing it cheap and you'll find yourself cursing as a 50-pound tuna swims away free.

2. Never lean a rod against the wall, a car, or anything within five feet of a door. Rods have a great way of sliding into the crack between the door and the door jamb. As soon as some-one tries to open or close it - crack!

3. When it's bent under fish power, never let a rod touch the gunwale. This prevents it from bending all the way down the spine, and a minor amount of pressure can break it.

4. Never let your rod get close to vertical or grab it halfway up when swinging a fish into the boat. Same problem as above, same result.

5. When practice casting, check first for - zap! - overhead power lines. 6. Never hand a rod from the dock down to the boat while holding it by the tip. This is the worst kind of break since it often happens in your hand and causes a puncture wound - one that's almost as painful as admitting that you were wrong.