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Hunting Billfish

Posted by Silverback on 16 October 2007 at 09:06 PM

Learning from the Flyfishing Teasers


I am going to begin this chapter by saying I have never speared a fish off trolled teasers.

BUT I have taken many fish while using standard tackle, as well as taking a lovely sailfish on fly, all while employing teasers. The number of fish we have seen hit our teasers without managing to hook up is huge. However, the number of fish that I believe come to look at our teasers without indicating their presence is probably 10X as many. Take a look at the work done with cameras trolled below lures to get a small idea of what we are missing out on.

In essence you are going to be trolling a standard billfish teaser without hooks. These teasers are readily available through local fishing retailers. I find that Mia’s Angling and Scuba carry a suitable range to cater for all tastes. You can fashion your own teaser quite easily. My favourite teaser inspired the design of my flasher arrangement I use when spearfishing.

The teaser consists of an arrangement that resembles a group of fish struggling to keep up with the rest of the school, while they are attacked by birds or other fish. The main school is represented by propwash from your motors. This is important because altering the trim of your motors can produce a significant effect on the appearance of the simulated school. The fish struggling to keep up are represented by various soft squid lures. These are cheap and readily available in a multitude of colours. They must be set up with the correct sinkers in place in their heads. Adding some additional flash will do absolutely no harm (flashabou/crystalflash).

Your teaser can consist of a single line of lures or you may use a spreader bar to allow for more lines. The deep-sea guys use as many as 7 lines on a spreader bar. I do maintain that it is essential to have a “bird” ahead of your line of lures. A “bird” is a large, fish-shaped lure with a keel and wings. When pulled along the surface the wings kick up a massive spray of water, this provides the image of gamefish/bird attacks. Bird attacks are mentioned because some recent observations have led people to speculate that gamefish may be attracted to birds attacking bait more often than birds attracted to gamefish attacking bait. Either way use a “bird” it works.

Some details when setting up your teaser line. When using one line, arrange the individual lures/squid on separate shorter lines pointing toward the direction of travel. This keeps the lures separate and lively. All lures/squid should be the same colour, I like pink but have seen chartreuse & green teasers work very effectively. Use a heavier & larger squid of the same colour at the end, this stabilizes the arrangement when trolled. If you elect to use more than one line, rather buy a made up teaser (Boone & Williamson make excellent spreader bar setups). Remember that as soon as you add additional lines, tangling becomes a problem.

The idea when targeting gamefish/billfish in this fashion is to pull the lures just outside of the propwash. Trolling speed is determined by prevalent sea conditions, calm:faster, rough:slower. Speed will determine teaser placement and the size of the propwash. The teasers may be attached to a standard fishing rod or attached directly to the stern of the boat. The number of teasers employed will depend on how complicated you want to make it. One line is usually enough if the fish are around. The teaser is placed starboard for right-handed spearo sitting on the port side and port for left-handed spearo sitting starboard.

The idea is that while the teaser is pulled the Spearo sits on the boat kitted and ready to go with a LOADED speargun. When something attacks the lures, absolutely ANYTHING the Spearo drops in while the boat continues/slows depending on the mood of the fish. In the right-handed sitting port example when the diver enters the water he is able to turn his body to the intended area without having to move the speargun. The speargun is the last item the diver needs to move. Hopefully the attacking gamefish will still hang around or investigate the diver. Often a single gamefish out of a school attacks the teaser, so expect to see more fish than you think are around. Fish encounterd include all Billfish, Dorado, all Tuna and the razor gang ‘Couta and Wahoo. The teasers are fashioned on a nylon rig approx 100kg bs. The razor gang travelling at speed make short work of this, so expect to replace “missing” lures every now and then.

This is not a tactic to employ when competing, it is time consuming. Many hours may be spent trolling for scant reward but the payout can be the fish of a lifetime. Make sure you tackle up properly with a big speargun and robust tackle. This hunting is shallow and represents the “Shoot and Scoot” philosophy. The fish is frequently shot and the diver returns to the boat to follow the buoy in order to subdue the fish.

Flytying has the object of creating trigger points on a fly. The more trigger points the more effective the fly should be. That’s the theory. With this teaser arrangement, the trigger points are the isolated fish, the movement, the flash and the noise creating by the bird all working together to create the illusion of peril, something many gamefish cannot resist.

This Summer I intend to spend some time hunting trophy fish with my new wooden speargun or should I say “spearcannon”. Afterall, I must justify the expense mustn’t I?

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