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Thread: Heavy vs. Light Tackle for bottom fishing?

  1. #1
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    Default Heavy vs. Light Tackle for bottom fishing?

    Observations of a Minnesota guy...

    People around here seem to go armed for the big stuff. I've been watching charters, and even private boats - and most people seem to use the 4-5 foot "pool cue" and huge baitcast reels. Everywhere i go, I talk to people - out on the water, and especially at the cleaning stations - so I see what they are catching and the tackle they are using. Most halibut caught (85-95%?) are "chickens", but I have seen a few in the 50-80 pound class, and have heard of a couple that came in over a hundred pounds (but that seems to be pretty rare). Their evidence shows up occasionally in the dumpsters.

    In my opinion, the heavy gear kills the fun of it. You can hardly tell if you have a chicken on or not. You basically sit there at the business end - and reel up your fish. So what I have been doing is using my bass and musky gear from Minnesota to catch my halibut, rockfish, cod, pollock, irish lord, etc. Granted, I haven't run into the monster yet, and no doubt when I do, I will have my hands full - but I am having a blast catching halibut (so far) up to 50 pounds, and even a skate that was 75 pounds or more - without too much trouble.

    The same dilemma happens when we fish muskies at home: You can either fish with an extra heavy nine foot rod and saltwater reel with 100 lb. test and drag your fish in in 60 seconds - or, you can use lighter gear - say a medium sized ABU or Shimano baitcaster with an 8 foot medium rod, and have your fight last five minutes with the same net effect (if you know the limits of your gear, you generally can land the fish most of the time).

    So the question is, am I nuts to be doing this here (I have a small craft, and am fishing Katchemak Bay, mostly)?

    I guess from where I stand, I will have all the enjoyment of actually feeling and fighting the vast majority of the fish that bite - and then when that big one comes along, I will either deal with it (it will take longer), or I will be bested by the fish. I guess up front, I can accept that.

    What's the thoughts and experiences of "those in the know"?

  2. #2
    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by summerof2013 View Post
    Observations of a Minnesota guy...

    People around here seem to go armed for the big stuff. I've been watching charters, and even private boats - and most people seem to use the 4-5 foot "pool cue" and huge baitcast reels. Everywhere i go, I talk to people - out on the water, and especially at the cleaning stations - so I see what they are catching and the tackle they are using. Most halibut caught (85-95%?) are "chickens", but I have seen a few in the 50-80 pound class, and have heard of a couple that came in over a hundred pounds (but that seems to be pretty rare). Their evidence shows up occasionally in the dumpsters.

    In my opinion, the heavy gear kills the fun of it. You can hardly tell if you have a chicken on or not. You basically sit there at the business end - and reel up your fish. So what I have been doing is using my bass and musky gear from Minnesota to catch my halibut, rockfish, cod, pollock, irish lord, etc. Granted, I haven't run into the monster yet, and no doubt when I do, I will have my hands full - but I am having a blast catching halibut (so far) up to 50 pounds, and even a skate that was 75 pounds or more - without too much trouble.

    The same dilemma happens when we fish muskies at home: You can either fish with an extra heavy nine foot rod and saltwater reel with 100 lb. test and drag your fish in in 60 seconds - or, you can use lighter gear - say a medium sized ABU or Shimano baitcaster with an 8 foot medium rod, and have your fight last five minutes with the same net effect (if you know the limits of your gear, you generally can land the fish most of the time).

    So the question is, am I nuts to be doing this here (I have a small craft, and am fishing Katchemak Bay, mostly)?

    I guess from where I stand, I will have all the enjoyment of actually feeling and fighting the vast majority of the fish that bite - and then when that big one comes along, I will either deal with it (it will take longer), or I will be bested by the fish. I guess up front, I can accept that.

    What's the thoughts and experiences of "those in the know"?
    Thoughts are, fish with whatever gear you enjoy fishing with.

  3. #3
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I sold off all of my tuna sticks except for one and fish solely with jigging rods. I can fish all day without being worn out, and they have plenty of backbone for larger fish. I wouldn't really call it light tackle as I use 55# and 70# line, but it is a much lighter rod and reel. Honestly I doubt many people can handle a reel with much more than 20#'s of drag so the physically heavy tackle really isn't an edge unless you're using an electric reel and a rod holder. The other thing that kills the fun is heavy sinkers. 8 to 16 oz jigs cover most conditions, no not K-bay when the tide rips.

    I gave a co-worker a 24 oz jig that he's been using in K-bay to take alot of halibut, and I've converted him to jigging.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

  4. #4

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    I fish for Halibut with an ice fishing rod/Stradic spinning reel loaded with 10lb. mono...does that count as light enough?? My normal gear for Halibut is a 7'8" Shimano Terez spinning rod rated 50-100 mated to a 6500 series Fin Nor Offshore spinning reel loaded with 70# braid. You never know what you will hook but I agree that it seems silly to me that someone needs these short rods and 100# line to land a fish that can't pull more than 35#s of drag. Most will say they use the heavy line to get their gear back when hung on bottom but then cleat it to the boat and damage the line anyway so to each their own...I will stick with the lightest thing that will finish the job and enjoy the fight while I can.

    Here's a video link with lots of chickens coming on ultra light gear....


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    Kodiak Custom Fishing Tackle Pro-Staff


  5. #5

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    Depends a whole lot on water depth and currents. If we have to go deep with heavy gear, we reluctantly do so. But the high point of every summer is finding halibut in less than 80' of water, and often as shallow as 20'. Out comes the light tackle! We use gear as light as 8# and jigs as light as an ounce. Our light gear might be real familiar to you. I've bought a couple of muskie casting rods over the years, and they have been perfect.

  6. #6
    Member Rob B's Avatar
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    While I have a couple big seeker rods and 2 speed reels I always leave them up too and fish with an Okuma credos speed jig 661mh with a Shimano charter special tr-1000 spooled with diawa braid. Talk about the perfect all around rod right there. Fun for rockfish and a blast for just about any halibut
    27' Wooldridge Super Sport Offshore Pilothouse PRIME TIME!
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  7. #7
    Member Swissy's Avatar
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    yup... keep some tuna sticks around for friends that like them, but usually after letting them play with my Shimano Trevala rod and Okuma Makaira reel, they don't want to use the tuna sticks any more! Picked up a bunch of Tiger Lite jigging rods for cheap, and they work pretty **** well too. WAY more fun with lighter gear....
    '04 Hewescraft 24' Searunner
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  8. #8
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    Got a 50 pounder tonight with a Revo Toro Winch and a 7.5 foot mediuim-heavy Fenwick. Took me somewhere between 5-10 minutes to bring it up. Good workout for the arms and back! I'd do it again in a heartbeat...

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