17 essential tools for DIY game fishing
Like a well-equipped workshop, a gameboat of any size should carry all these items in a location handy to the crew. They do add to the fishing experience, but the important safety factor shouldn’t be overlooked either.
ULTIMATE LIST OF DIY GAME FISHING TOOLS
All of the below kit should be carried on a belt around the waist. The most important release tool, the pliers or mono cutter (depending on the leader material), should be positioned on the centre of the belt in the small of the back, so it can be easily reached with whichever hand is free.
From the moment lures or baits hit the water a quality deckie will be sporting a pair of parallel jaw pliers. Perfect for tightening knots, unhooking fish and cutting wire at the side of the boat, parallel pliers are seldom out of work.
SPORTSMANS RELEASE KNIFE
Modelled on a tool used by paratroopers, a Sportsmans Release Knife is a hook-shaped lifesaving device, slicing through mono as heavy as 600lb in an instant.
Net shears are a cheap but efficient way of trimming knots. At around $15 each buy a new pair each season.
A quality sharp knife that the punters never get to borrow is another essential. The smaller vegetable knife is useful for gilling and gutting small baits like mullet and garfish.
Ordinary yellow lattice gloves are fine for leadering small fish and holding up slippery specimens for pics, but you’ll need a heavy-duty pair for taking the big wraps. Commercially manufactured reinforced gloves are available, but a bootmaker or saddler can transform welding gauntlets into grander stoppers easy enough.
FOOTWEAR, SUNGLASSES, SUNSCREEN AND CAP SAVER
Always choose the right footwear — sandals, runners or sea boots. No bare feet and never thongs. Polarised sunglasses protect the eyes and cut surface glare, enabling the wearer to see into the water. Quality glasses aren’t cheap, so make sure they have a lanyard. Wide-brimmed hats are best for sun protection. Sunscreen (30+) and lip lotion will stop your lips and exposed skin from getting fried.
WAXED THREAD, DACRON AND DENTAL FLOSS
The beauty of waxed thread is that it doesn’t rot, break or otherwise fall apart when wet. This makes it ideal for rigging baits and attaching lure skirts to heads. If rigging small baits, split the thread in half. Dacron is useful for making-up livebait bridles, and rigging skip and swim baits. Dental floss is mostly used for whipping peg markers, attaching balloons to main lines and sealing Dacron to mono splices.
BRIDLE AND RIGGING NEEDLES
Pictured are two different styles of rigging needle. The one on the left is for bridling livebaits — the eye is open so it’s easy to slip the loop off in a hurry. The other is for rigging dead baits — the tiny flattened eye leaves only a small hole in the bait. Bridle needles have a rounded point, while bait-rigging needles need to be quite sharp for good penetration. Purchase a good range of rigging needles. Short rigging needles are ideal for smaller baits, while longer, stronger ones are required when tackling the heads of larger baits like tuna.
These work well on all species, from morwong to marlin, and keep fingers away from the sharp teeth of wahoo and mackerel. They’re a bit cumbersome to be worn on a belt, so best live in a yacht winch pocket somewhere in the cockpit. Stainless steel models will last forever — or until someone drops them in the drink.
A quality set of lie detectors is good for more than just weighing fish. Scales are essential for setting and checking reel drags. Stick with a reputable brand and buy the best you can afford. A good set of scales will last a lifetime.
Side cutters struggle to cut heavy cable and when they succeed the result is always messy. Keep a pair of parrot beak wire cutters handy; you will wonder how you survived without them.
The most important consideration here is that when the fish is hit, it stays hit. So regardless of your personal preference make sure it’s got a bit of weight to it. Rubberised clubs tend to do less damage to the boat when you swing and miss.
A STONE, STEEL AND FILE
If it’s supposed to be sharp make sure it is. The stone is there to shape and hone knife blades and the steel is perfect for a regular tickle-up. A bastard mill file is perfect for touching-up hook and gaff points. Store the file in a Holdzit pouch liberally filled with WD-40 to keep it rust free. Remember, sharp hooks catch more fish so practice, practice, practice…
Universally useful for attaching lines to outrigger clips, controlling troll lines on windy days, creating extra grip on a slippery reel handle and holding tags in place on tag poles — every gameboat carries rubber bands. You can get away with four sizes — 10 and 14 for light tackle, 32 for medium tackle and 64 for heavy tackle. Keep them in a jar with some talcum powder or a stick of chalk to draw away any moisture, and their shelf life will be extended immeasurably.
SUPER GLUE AND FIVE-MINUTE ARALDITE
From gluing on skirts, protecting whipping and added insurance on line to leader knots like the Albright, Super Glue is a deckie’s best friend. Just carry spare tubes because it’s a given that the opened tube will have dried out when you go to use it next time. Five-minute Araldite is better for big jobs and again, carry a spare.
MAHI MAHI LASOO
A length of stretchy shock cord, with a loop in one end and a stainless steel double hook at the other, will keep the most agile dolphin (mahi mahi) fish under control.
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #436, February 2013. Why not subscribe today?