August 29, 2011
By Jeff Weakley
Rigging dead bait for a swordfish drift? Check these two methods, one a classic, the other destined to become so.
If you've seen the September print edition, now on newsstands, you've undoubtedly seen the article on putting together a first-rate swordfish boat. “Swordfish Dreams,” written and photographed by FS Editor Jeff Weakley, covers the ins and outs of a bluewater battlewagon, from building a dependable 12-volt system to managing heavy tackle and wild fish at night. One thing Jeff wanted to add, but didn't have space: Rigging squid. That and some other bonus notes featured here.
Billy Springer, of Tamarac, shows off a finished squid, the kind of rig he uses on hook-and-line tackle and buoy gear alike (Springer does some commercial swordfishing, catching them one-at-a-time, unlike the old longline gear).
That's 300-pound-test mono crimped to a 10/0 hook. And note the long tag end left after the crimp. Hook is first inserted in this manner. . .
. . .and then that long tag end is inserted up through the mantle.
This is how the hook and leader should lie inside the bait.
Copper rigging wire is inserted through the mantle, and around the aluminum crimp.
Tighten up the wire, and then, pinching the tag end of the leader against the standing end...
... wrap the tip of the mantle tightly against the leader. Advantage of this rig is that the bait has freedom of movement and the hook is well-exposed.
Mike Brown of Dusky Boats, in Dania Beach, searches through his rigging box. . .
... which includes hooks, pre-made leaders with spacer beads, rigging floss and light sticks.
Insert point of open-eye rigging needle under the mantle.
Push needle out through the tip of the mantle.
With the open eye, draw the pre-made leader through the mantle
Squeeze the crimp to position spacer bead so that it will lie in the tip of the mantle. This keeps the bait from sagging down over the hook.
Hookpoint is buried in the head of the squid, and the bait lies naturally.
Rigging floss may be used to stitch the mantle tight around the spacer bead. Advantage to this rig is that it's easy to put together, assuming you've made up leaders in advance. This is the most common rigging method we've seen in the South Florida recreational swordfish fleet.
Some other notes from our night aboard the 33 Dusky Rock Lobster II off Fort Lauderdale:
>Using floats and sinkers as described in the September 2011 feature story, fish baits at 100, 150 feet, and 300 feet, to cover the water column
>The shallower baits should be farther from the boat, to ensure you're fishing roughly the same amount of line.
>Electric lights which alternate colors best imitate the flashing, bioluminescent life that a swordfish likely accustomed to seeing.
>Affix the lights 30 to 40 feet from the baits, and the sinker another 25 or 35 feet farther up the line. (Dacron segments and longline clips for attaching these accessories are described in the Sept. article).
>Lots of guys use longline clips for the big, expensive bank sinkers (10-32 ounces), and simply unclip the sinkers when the fish nears the surface. Lighter weights may be twisted onto the wind-on leader with copper wire, rigged so they fall off during the right.
>Number 64 rubber bands are best for hitching plastic jugs or other floats to the line.
>Try soaking the squid in a bucket of water with red food coloring or some other shade.
>Set the drag at 20 pounds on 80-pound-class gear. Some guys leave the drag backed off, clicker in gear, while drifting; others keep ‘em locked up, under the suspicion that most fish are either on or off, after consuming a bait at the end of 400 feet of line.
>Summer is generally the season for smaller swords and the occasional mature resident; in winter, the migratory adults return south.
>Structure, structure, structure: Find a contour break way out in deep water, and target your drift to cover it.