Fishing with Light Tackle

By: Capt. Hap Farrell

The 2012 season is almost upon us and from early fish reports it looks as if it will be an active and warm season for those who are planning to fish the water around Cape Cod. As you look at your fishing tackle, rod and reels that have been sitting in the cellar or garage gathering dust, you may be wondering where on the Cape you are going to start off first. The outer beaches have been decimated by the overwhelming amount of seals and offer few, if any good areas to fish from the beach. So, that limits the use of your beach cast equipment. Some of the jetties and beaches on the south side of the Cape offer some good beach fishing during high water. These areas are where most folks feel you can use light action tackle from shore. Fishing from a boat is a different story. This is where you must first find fish that are working the surface and somewhat concentrated in a small area.

There is another way. You can troll a light action boat rod with a small saltwater conventional reel in areas you know hold fish. A hootchie or swimming plug will work just fine. Once you are hooked up you can enjoy fishing a bass or bluefish on as light a test line as you like just so long as the rod and reel setup is suited for the line test you are using. The woman is fighting a 30 inch striper on 12 lb. test mono line on a completely custom rod I had made at the Goose Hummock. I've also taken some good sized bluefish with this rig. Believe me, it is a lot of fun especially when the fish gets close to the boat. By trolling this tackle you can cover a larger area looking for the fish and once you find them concentrated in an area you can cast to them with the same gear once you've learned to cast a conventional setup.

There is one important thing you have to do to make this work the best. You must know how much line you have set out. The best way I have found is to load the reel with a 40 to to 50 pound test dacron backing, or any line dissimilar to the line you want to use, and then the length and test line you want to fish with. I have found that the length of that line should be at least 200 feet. If it's too short when you go over or through a school of fish you may see, the fish will be pushed away by the boat and not come back by the time the lure moves through that spot. Too long and the fish will have moved by the time the lure gets there. I have found the 225 ft. to 275 ft. is the optimum length.

Something else I have found is that if you use a braid line you can put more backing on the reel and because there is no stretch to the line you will feel every move the fish makes. On more than one occasion, when I was using mono, the angler has been almost spooled. With the braid line and more backing this is less likely to happen. However, it does lend a bit of excitement to the fight when you almost run out of line and you have to back the boat up. This gentleman has a good size bluefish on a very light action Shimano bait casting rod with a small Shimano level wind reel. We are using 30 lb. test braid for line on this set up so rather than using a light line with a light action rod you've got a heavier test line and you are able to put a lot of juice to the fish and enjoy the full action the rod gives you.

Adding another rod and reel setup to the number of rods you bring every time you go fishing aboard your boat may seem like a bit much. Look at it this way, if or when you play golf you have a different club for different situations you may find yourself in. In time you will realize that you don't need that many rods. Maybe one with wire on it for jigging and possibly using the umbrella rig. You won't need a spinning rod because you've learned to cast with a conventional reel. The only other setup you may want is a rod setup with lead core line. Many anglers find one style of fishing suits them best. An example is fly fishing. Some like to cast to the fish. This is where using this conventional setup works best. You can troll around until you find the fish and then cast to them. This tackle can also be used for vertical jigging.

When you think of the words "Sport Fishing" you see the word "Sport" is in it. Using this light action tackle gives you the aspect of the sport of fishing. I've been fishing on Cape Cod since the mid 50's and chartering over 30 years now so I've tried most everything. I can't see using a broom stick for a rod and a winch for a reel and getting any enjoyment from it. I'd rather add a bit of a challenge to it...

Capt. Hap Farrell

Fish Species: Bass & Bluefish
Bait Used: Artificial
Tackle Used: Light Action
Method Used: Trolling
Water Depth: N/A
Water Temperature: N/A
Wind Direction: N/A
Wind Speed: N/A
A woman using 12 lb. test tackle.
A woman using 12 lb. test tackle.

A gentleman using braid line on light rod.
A gentleman using braid line on light rod.

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About The Author: Captain Hap Farrell

Company: Stunmai II Charters

Area Reporting: Cape Cod Bay - Rock Harbor, Orleans

Bio: Captain Hap Farrell has been fishing the waters of Cape Cod Bay for 27 years. His intimate knowledge of the Bay and all it's idiosyncrasies guarantees that your day on the water will be an enjoyable one. Whether a novice angler, or a seasoned pro, the captain and crew of the Stunmai II will do what it takes to get you "tight" on a big striped bass or bluefish!

Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Captain Hap Farrell