The gear that worked in the Keys - Part 2
Cian and I spoke about another spinning reel to take over that was a little larger than say the Stella 4000 or the very good looking Shimano Saragosa 4000 I think it was that Cian was using a lot of the time. We were always going to be using Rodney's own boat gear for the heavier stuff like tarpon, jigging and livebaiting for amberjack etc., but I needed a reel that would work well on my Fox Sport Fishing Permit travel rod that I took over (see my blog post here for full details). We decided to try out the new Daiwa Seagate 3500-QD spinning reels, and from what I can tell they are meant to be a "cheaper" alternative to the classic Saltiga reels. Again, we put them through as much hell as we could, but the reels did really well, indeed I am liking them very much indeed (see details here). You can put some serious hurt on a fish, and that Daiwa 3500 size to me seems to be around a Shimano 5000 size (please, please can tackle companies agree on a "standard" set of codes for spinning reels, or is that a case of dream on Henry ?). The only thing that took a bit of getting used to on the Seagate was the fact that it only takes very little turning of the drag to go from zero to hero, and I am pretty sure I bust off on a nice shark that was snorting off because I forgot about this and suddenly put almost maximum drag on the fish exactly when I should not have done. I think that the Seagate 3500-QD for me is a bit on the large to use as an out and out bass reel, but I reckon for heavier shore pollack work it would do very well for example. I hope that Daiwa might one day consider releasing say 3000 and 2500 (Daiwa sizes) versions of this reel for bass fishing.............(or is that another case of dream on Henry ?)
Do I need 30lb braid for the bass I catch ? No, of course not, and it's very rare these days that I actually turn to it for my lure fishing - the 15lb and 20lb 8-strands are mostly so good I reckon that there's almost no need to go any heavier. We can't pretend that we actually need 30lb breaking strain mainline for "our" bass, but I still do like to have a spool of it lying around for those times when I feel that I am snagging up my hard lures a bit and can possibly wrench them out a little better (less and less though, probably more habit now than anything else). I loaded up my Stella 4000 and also that Daiwa Seagate 3500-QD with 300m each of the Daiwa Tournament 30lb 8-strand (the multi-colour Accudepth stuff) for the Keys trip - I have used it enough to know how good this particular 30lb 8-strand braid is, and never once did it let me down in the Keys on some much bigger fish than I have had on it before. Outstanding stuff I reckon, but it really needs some decent knots in order for it work properly and not slip.
I personally don't think that there are many bad lines or braids out there these days, and I am convinced that when the rumours fly around about say an 8-strand braid breaking that it's nearly always because anglers aren't using good enough and/or up to date knots that work properly with such modern lines. Why on earth are the jigging and popping anglers developing different knots all the time it seems ? I also have a growing suspicion/theory that some casting styles simply do not suit the use of 8-strand braid very much, but I can't elaborate any more on this until I have spent more time around it happening. For my own bass fishing I feel perfectly comfortable with an Improved Albright that I then put a couple of locks on (double overhand knots around the mainline), but in the Keys I used an eight-turn Spider Hitch to create a long loop of double line and then connected my leader to my now doubled up mainline. That leader knot was either the Improved Albright again (but with the now doubled mainline) or another connection knot that I don't know the name of but is very strong and very easy to tie. I used one or the other depending on the strength and stiffness of the fluoro or mono leader. I know that a Bimini is the strongest knot out there, but the Spider Hitch from my understanding comes a fairly close second, plus it's very easy and quick to tie, and none of mine or the ones I tied for the other guys ever failed. I can't fault that Daiwa Tournament 30lb 8-strand, and to me it still offers about the cheapest way to get into fishing with these modern braids. Don't ask me quite why yet, and I have nothing concrete to back it up with, but I have a feeling that it's the 20lb dark green Daiwa Tournament 8 braid that is the strongest one between the different colours - but at the 20lb breaking strain. More to come on this in due course, but that is my feeling at the moment.........