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Q. When straylining for snapper do you anchor & burley?
4:11PM 25th Nov 13

Query from Jeff:

When you’re straylining for snapper do you anchor and burley?

Viking Kayaks Team member and kayak fishing expert - Stephen Tapp, responds:

I don't often anchor up, preferring to hunt snapper down with the sounder or drift over wider areas prospecting for them. On those occasions when I do anchor (usually because the weather is too bad for my usual tricks) I also prefer to berley. Typically I place my berley bag around 2m below the kayak on a light cord unless I'm in water more than 20-30m deep. This allows me to see where the trail is running so I can keep my baits going in the appropriate direction. 

In deeper waters where the berley needs to go down on the anchor it can be very difficult to know if your baits are where they need to be. Typically I'll run two rigs in this situation: a lightly weighted strayline drifting away from the kayak, and a heavier ledger rig as backup as this stays vertical and ends up much closer to the berley source.

When straylining at anchor with the berley just below the kayak I like to use the lightest possible weight so baits drift in the berley trail rather than sink through it. This also makes it important to actively fish - I'll manually strip the line so there's no resistance on the bait for a more natural presentation, and by having the line between my fingertips as I strip more from the reel I can detect the most subtle takes from wary fish.

Follow up question from Jeff:

Another thing, you like to snood the hooks about 4" apart with lightest sinker weight.  I get a bit frustrated at times waiting for the bait/sinker to GET to the bottom and often start another one off before the first one gets to the strike zone, or as soon as it’s there stick the rod in a holder with the ratchet on and get another one going. Doing this I try to double my chances but usually end up with double trouble. Perhaps I should just focus on one rig at a time? Be interested in your view on straylining multiple outfits. 

(Jason demontrating 2 rods on the go...50/50 balance between greater success or chaos!) 

Response from Stephen:

This is something I keep experimenting with to see if I can come up with an effective way to make it work (improve catch rates). Following are my observations:

  • While there are times when having a fast sinking straylined bait can improve your strike rate, I generally have my best success when baits are drifted slowly towards the bottom. Possibly this better mimics a wounded and/or dying bait fish trying to escape into the depths (one of the reasons I'm so pedantic about rigging whole baits so they "swim"). 
  • Slower sinking baits also offer species like snapper a greater opportunity for inspection allowing potentially wary fish more time to make the decision to eat.
  • Slower sinking baits also give fish on the fringes of visibility a greater opportunity to move in and inspect the bait.
  • I find I get many of my biggest fish while the bait is on its descent (before it touches down on the bottom) making the above factors very relevant to my success.

The factors above combine and mean I place a high degree of importance on staying in touch with my baits as they descend. In my opinion this makes it critically important to have the fishing rod in hand while dropping baits so it’s possible to detect the slightest touch or hesitation at one end of the spectrum, or quickly strike some of the truly savage hits I get at the other. I find I regularly miss fish and/or loose baits if I leave the first rod in a holder while getting a second on the way.

 From Jeff - 

Thanks Steve you help clarify the process very well. Will let you know 

how I get on 1 bait at a time. Cheers…

You also might like to read Stephens article on kayak fishing and Burley HERE

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