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Thread: Halibut on the Line Question

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    Default Halibut on the Line Question

    I like to jig for halibut as I prefer to feel the bite and set the hook myself. The problem I am having is it seems that I am loosing the bigger ones to broken lines. I used to just run my braided 80lb to the rig. With the smaller guys I had no problem but a lot of them don't seem to swallow the whole jig. When I would get a big hit and set the rod bends down and I will feel the head shake and the them trying to run. Being a 125lb woman at this point I normally just hold on but then the line would break. Worried that they were just sawing through the line (as the break was always right above the rig) I modified my rigs to have a 300lb mono leader crimped on for a few feet and then attached to my braided with a swivel. I have been out only once since making my new rigs but I was wondering if anyone had an idea of how to better land the bigger ones? I have to have the drag set tight for me to set the hook but should I try to let off a little and let them run? I have tried to accomplish this a few time but just trying to hold the pole normally takes both my hands when it's a big fish so I'm not sure even how I would loosen the drag. Do you think just modifying my leader will fix the problem and I should just keep the drag tight and reel slowly? Also I often go out with just my kids who are little. Somehow i have managed to get almost all my fish in the boat by some miracle in the past but would love suggestions for landing them alone. I fish off a 19' glassply and have a small gaff and a harpoon. Thanks for any help and suggestions.

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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    To properly answer your question about ways to keep the big fish from breaking off, I need GPS coordinates in order to tailor the answer in a geographically-appropriate fashion ;-)
    "Fishing relaxes me. It's like yoga, except I still get to kill something." --Ron Swanson

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    Would you happen to be using "assist" hooks at the head of dart-style jigs? We've seen a lot of fraying on braided line with that combo, and frayed braid is usually broken braid. I have no doubt your mono leaders will stand up, provided your crimps are good.

    Based on experience you could simplify by splicing a 3' length of 80# or 100# mono into your braid for just as much protection and lots less hassle than dealing with 300#. I just do back-to-back Uni Knots for the splice, with 5 turns on the mono and 8-10 turns of the braid. You can reel it right into the guides, should the need arise, or should it happen accidentally. I generally just put a corkscrew swivel on the mono (Uni Knot again), and go all season with no fraying. We've landed several 300+ pounders as well as bunch in the 100's and afew over 200 over the years with that rig and no issues. Haven't killed on of those in a long time, but of course there's no problem with the 50-80# we limit ourselves to now.

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    Not using a leader was probably your problem, Halibut have small but sharp teeth, your line was probably getting cut not broken. Your drag should be set to 1/4 your line rating. With 80# braid, set your drag to 20lbs, and it should not break. When a big halibut runs, it will and should pull out line, but they usually don't run that far. Set the drag with a fish scale of something similar, and don't touch it while you are fighting the fish.
    Your knots could also be the problem. Braid slips easily, don't tie an anglers knot with braid, they will pull right out. I use a surgeon knot with a swivel attached to it and have never had one slip.

    Oh, One more thing, bug repellant will destroy braided line (I figured that out the hard way). If you have it one your fingers while tying knots, it will seriously weaken the line.
    Good luck!

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    Thanks for all the great suggestions. I know going with the 300lb was overkill but I after loosing 4 rigs on one trip to some large hungry halibut I was feeling a little bitter and taken advantage of. I have every confidence that my knots are good and I know they aren't slipping and I really like the idea of splicing the two as then I can real them in closer. Although I do like to normally run with a corkscrew swivel to my lead/rig so when conditions change I can switch out fast without having to mess with knots when the fish are biting. Its just nice to see that I was on the right path even if my reaction was a bit drastic I know drag settings are so important when trolling but I suppose I never thought about using a gauge when fishing for halibut. I will definitely make that adjustment. Any tips on landing them alone?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MRFISH View Post
    To properly answer your question about ways to keep the big fish from breaking off, I need GPS coordinates in order to tailor the answer in a geographically-appropriate fashion ;-)
    I will get right on those coordinates but for now I will narrow it down by saying I have caught all my big halibut in the same exact place.... the ocean.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by sailingirl2003 View Post
    Any tips on landing them alone?
    Kinda depends on how big "big" is!

    I'm only half kidding. Below 75# I actually prefer to use one of these when I'm by myself or with lots of people on the boat. Pretty easy to do by yourself. Just leave the bag inside the boat and rest the hoop on the gunnel next to you with the handle laid across the boat and resting on the other gunnel behind you. You can then get the halibut flat in the water and pointed at you and slide the hoop forward and down. The bag is retarded just right as it slides across the gunnel. I do the same for big kings when I'm solo. Only one word of caution: When a bigger fish gets nose down in the net right up against the side of the boat, the tail slap is going to send up geysers that put Old Faithful to shame! ;-)

    Bigger fish, should I want to keep them, are best with a harpoon shot right through the gut up near the spine. The flesh there is really stretchy, so they have no tendency to tear off. It's also a soft target and easy to pierce one-handed. I put a net buoy on the butt of the harpoon handle because it's easy to lose track of it (and they do sink). For really large fish I like to keep a good sized buoy on the back end of the harpoon line. If the halibut turns out to be too much to hang onto, just let go the buoy and let her fight that for a while. Once it settles down, motor over and slowly raise it to the surface and bash it on top of the head a couple of times. Done. BTW- I keep a buoy on the bitter end of my anchor line too. Sure makes it easier to chase down fish, if you can simply toss the anchor line overboard and come back to it after you've landed the fish, rather than haul anchor.

    BTW- I'm a big guy, but this all isn't a "big guy" solution. My wife is as good at all as I am. Only real hassle you might have is getting fish larger than about 75# over the side. Pretty straight forward. Pull the harpoon line up and get the head out of water, then cleat it off. Now pass a line around the tail, and raise that as high as you can to another cleat. Then take your short gaff and pull the head up and over the side. My wife has done it just to say she could do it. But I'm not going to tell you it was easy for her.

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    I use the Polamar knot on my halibut gear. I use 80lb Spectra and the only way I have ever parted the line is when I am hung up on the bottom I have to tie the line off to the boat cleat. I fish using Lamiglas 5610 rods.

    I am thinking that you also need to take care of your reels and by this I mean backing off the drag every night, and rinsing them with fresh water after every outing. If your drag is not smooth on your reel you will break off fish. Your reel's drags may need to be rebuilt.

    Sobie2

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    I use a ~5' length of 80# mono for a topshot with my braided line. While braid is strong, when it's under tension it can be cut very easily. Mono is much more abrasion resistant under tension, gives just a bit of stretch where you need it most, and provides a larger dia line to grab ahold of when landing fish.

    I use a surgeon knot to attach the mono to the braid and a palomar to attach a corkscrew swivel to the mono.
    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.

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    Sailergirl, I use a 3' mono leader with 300lb test for bigger jigs and 150lb test mono leader for smaller jigs so that the bulkiness of the leader doesn't impede the fluttering action of the jig. Your crimped leader setup is solid and is a major improvement over running straight braid.

    As far as setting the hook, use the following technique to get a solid hook set, while still keeping a reasonably loose drag. At strike, press your thumb firmly on the spool of the reel to keep the spool drag from slipping line. Ream that hook home while your thumb is on the spool. You should have a solid hook set. Then lift your thumb away from the spool and let the reel drag take over. The bigger halibut have inside mouths as hard as concrete so you have to set the hook with extreme prejudice when jigging.

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    I use 65lb braid and add an 80lb leader with a reverse albright knot, no swivel and tie my jigs directly to the leader. IMO the best way to handle a real big one is to let it go.

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    First off you my have some bad line. You may want to spool up with 100lb spectra. I have had some trouble with some 80lb and lighter before, but changed to 100lb never had any trouble after that. I used mono leader on most all my jigs 200lb so I could lift fish in the boat without cutting the heck out of my hands. For big fish (over 100lbs) I like to put them to sleep with a 410 with bird shot. If you shoot them just at the top of the line on the gill plate they are done for good, then just hook them with the gaff. Best of luck.

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    I had no problem bringing a ~100# but to the boat using 55# braid and a reel with the drag at 20# last summer. There was an issue when I passed the rod to someone else so I could gaff the fish and the rod was mistakenly lifted bringing the butts head out of the water at which point it started flapping and broke off.
    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.

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    Thanks for all the great advice. The switch to mono leader seems to be what everyone but me was doing already. I like the 300lb test as it doesn't cut your hands as someone else mentioned. Landed a 80 ponder today and was happy I had a friend on board as getting him into the boat proved lively. Don't really want to catch anything bigger so does anyone have any tips for getting them off if you decide they are to big? Seems like with the hard mouth once you have a good set it's not so easy to get the hook out.

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    We just cut the leader. A friend carries bolt cutters and cuts the hook, even 16/0 circles. Kind of a 2- or 3-person operation to do it though, counting the one on the rod.

    Truth be known, we don't keep anything for ourselves that we can't dipnet. Only time we're landing anything bigger rather than releasing is when we have friends on board who want them. Our favorite fish is around 20#. Having our own boat and living only 1/4 mile from the beach we launch from means we're not shorting our freezer supply in keeping the 20's rather than a few bigger fish. I'd be keeping bigger ones if chartering.

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    The only way I can get 80# braid to break is if I cleat it off and move the boat forward.

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    I've managed it by wrapping 3 or 4 turns of it around a bat gaff or billy, pulling the wraps tight at the bottom of a swell and crossing one end over to lock it. As the boat comes back up on the next swell I give a real solid snap upwards on the gaff/billy. I broke one bat gaff doing that, however. The cleat is certainly easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    The only way I can get 80# braid to break is if I cleat it off and move the boat forward.
    Same here.... I've never had any issues with braid breaking other than being hung up in the rocks and purposely breaking it

    My first thought was maybe your using some old line that has seen too much sun. I strip the top layer off the real before each season starts after I noticed the breaking strength seemed to be quite a bit lower on the sun faded top section of line.
    Experience is a hard teacher because you get the test first and the lesson afterwards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakbound View Post
    My first thought was maybe your using some old line that has seen too much sun. I strip the top layer off the real before each season starts after I noticed the breaking strength seemed to be quite a bit lower on the sun faded top section of line.
    That's pretty critical. My rods "live" on the boat from May through October, and even in wet years I worry about so much sun. I strip off some line every couple of months, as a result.

    Just replaced the wire on my downriggers with braid, so likely will do the same with them, or at least the first 6-8' that's sitting off the reel and out in the sun.

    One thing occurs to me in all this-

    Might be worth checking the tips of your rods sailingirl2003. If there's the slightest flaw, it could be producing small frays. That'll weaken braid even faster than mono, especially up close to your swivel where it gets the most wear.

  20. #20

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    For kicks we tested some knots at the store the other day on a couple different high dollar and popular lines. After many pull tests we came to the conclusion that the offshore swivel knot will not give...always breaks the mainline. Others knots mentioned above failed below line rating.

    I'm very surprised to hear that people are cleating their lines when hung. Does it make sense to damage your line right at about where you normally fish for depth? Just crank the drag and jam a couple fingers in the face of the reel, pull straight and it will pop wherever it is weakest. Point is that the braid should not touch anything when under pressure. If you convert to spinning gear it is very simple to grab the spool to lock it...and good spinning reels have much more drag power than comparable capacity conventional gear.

    To the OP...if you fish where you are getting into Arrowtooth check the last few feet of your line on every drop as when they are thick they just swim around mouthing everything and really screw up braided line.


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