Question Time

Compilied from my Lure World column in Pike and Predators

August 2002
Apologies to whoever it was that asked me to define 'palming' as a means of holding rod and multiplier reel. I had an e-mail meltdown and lost your message! When most people see a trigger grip on a rod for the first time they think that it is designed for the index finger to wrap around. When this is on a single handed, pistol grip rod they are right. Finger round the trigger, thumb on the spool and that's it for single handed casting.

When you step up lure weights and need a double handed rod then the grip can alter. This is when you palm the reel. Instead of the hand being below the reel it should now wrap around it so that the palm covers the right hand (if right handed) end plate of the baitcaster. The thumb can now cover more of the reel's spool for better grip (to prevent slippage during the cast) and the first three fingers rest in front of the trigger. Using the palming hold there is no real need to grip the rod tightly as it will almost hang from your fingers on the trigger, and this reduces cramp and strain on the reel hand.

By palming the reel like this there is no need to change your hold on rod and reel when casting, retrieving or playing fish. It is comfortable and practical. Some anglers prefer to have just two fingers in front of the trigger when using larger reels. Try this too and see which you find most suitable to you and your outfit.

May 2002
Still, sort of, on the jerkbait tack I frequently get asked about leader choice for these lures. Are solid, single strand, wire leaders best or multistrand ones? I have used both types - catching good fish on both, and to be perfectly honest can't tell if the choice affects lure action as some people claim. I seem to get as much glide out of my jerkbaits with 90lb multistrand leaders as I do using a solid leader. Neither do I find that solid leaders tangle any less frequently than do multistrand leaders - as is also claimed at times. So, I use the ones I like best - multistrand.

Both types of leader have their drawbacks and advantages. Solid leaders are tricky to straighten out if they get a bad bend or kink in them through fouling with the lure, or during a fight with a pike - and leader straightness does seem to affect lure action. They are also a nuisance to transport, while multistrand leaders can be kept coiled up in grip seal bags. Reliable solid leaders are easy to make. Multistrand leaders need either crimping (not everyone trusts crimped traces, but in heavy wire I find it okay) or they have to be twisted - which is not easy in heavy wire.

Single strand wire leaders are thinner than multistrand leaders of the same breaking strain - so if you think that matters it might be a factor to consider. However, I don't recommend that you do away with the swivel if choosing solid leader. The swivel may be superfluous as an anti kink device when using lures that don't impart line twist, but it is important as an attachment point for the braid. There are two reasons for this. The one I think has most bearing is that 80lb single strand wire is a lot thinner than the eye of a large size of swivel fitted to jerkbait traces and I am convinced that this affects knot strength. I am sure that knots are stronger when tied to a wire of a diameter at least equal to that of the line, and thicker wire than the line is better still - if not taken to extremes, of course. I have heard it suggested that tying a knot direct to the wire of the leader might weaken the knot through repeated flexing too. Either way, keep the swivel as a safety net.

Don't take my word on this. Give both leader types a try and see which works best for you.

April 2002
Every so often someone somewhere will want to know if pike are put off taking lures by seeing the trace or the line. Does trace and line colour make a difference to catch rates?

There are some people who swear that they catch more fish on finer lines than thick ones. I suspect this is more to do with their lures fishing deeper on finer lines than they do on thicker ones than any visual impact the line has on the pike! Similarly I don't think pike are put off by thick leaders used in conjunction with large lures. Maybe bright flashy traces would alarm pike, but then again they might attract them.

When it comes to line colour I have never worried about this since the day I caught some fish on deadbaits fished on a bright yellow line, and nothing on the other three rods fishing more subdued lines! Even a thick almost white braid doesn't worry me, and I am sure it doesn't worry the pike either.

Having said this please don't get the impression that I am implying pike can't see the braid or the trace. I am as certain as I can be that they do see it. I don't think they are aware of its implications though. If they have any intention whatsoever of 'eating' your lure they are probably totally focused on that.

What makes me think this is that the people who worry about the visual impact of lines and leaders never seem worried about an adverse visual impact of a lure's hooks. The only time you hear about folks considering the visual impact of hooks is when they talk about painting them red for added attraction! In any case, why would a pike that is chasing a bright yellow and orange lure be put off by a bit of bronze trace wire and some white line in front of it?

Pike that follow lures in and shy away at the last minute are, most likely, not going to have the lure - or they'd have grabbed it sooner. So when they turn away I am sure that it is not the line that spooks them, but the sight of the angler or some sudden movement the angler has made.

My advice on this subject is to stop worrying, and concentrate on what your lures are doing. That will certainly improve your catch rate more than changing your line or leader colour.