In case some of you have been living under a rock for what feels like the longest winter in history: easterlies, gales and ground seas have pretty much ruined all hope/opportunity of fishing recently. So apart from sulking, swearing and wishing I lived somewhere warmer I decided to really think about my approach to HRF-i.e. wrassin with softies!
I cut my teeth in lure fishing as a kid in South Africa, when I was introduced to bass fishing for fresh water large mouth black bass by watching friends, then "idols" on ESPN and various other satellite channels, I soon mimicked what they did, how and why. It didn't take long to work my way through a succession of outfits until settling on a baitcasting duo-pretty standard stuff given the style of fishing.
So...what the hells that got to do with this HRF lark? Well the similarities between freshwater largemouth bass and wrasse are undeniable!
Behavior, aggression, territorial-ness(!), their love for structure and features to name but a few. Both can be forced to hit lures, both will definitely strike something to satisfy their inquisitive nature, and of course both engulf lures mistaking them for food.
What then about the method...?
Jigs, soft plastics, carolina, texas...sound familiar...? All born out of freshwater bass fishing. Yes, this is no revelation I know. We are all familiar with some similarities in the rigging methods and the lures themselves, so what's my point? Why do we copy every aspect of a freshwater method of fishing for a fish which is so similar to FW bass, use the same techniques, but we use different rods and reels!?
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to use baitcasting gear! Better casting accuracy. Better sensitivity/feel(imho). Better choice of rods-albeit on the USA market mostly. So if it's Better-Better-Better, why aren't we all doing it? There is a common misconception that these little baitcasters are a 'mare to cast/control, and have no place in windy conditions, but that is far from reality. Most modern middle-of-the-road baitcasters come with centrifugal and magnetic brakes plus spool tensioning knob; so yes, that's three means of effectively taming these unruly little devils. With too much time on my hands due to crap conditions, I had to satisfy my fishing obsession online, with "important research" on the matter. And that's where it got tricky. Not much tackle or info available for this "niche" in the UK. With a little help and advice on various forums and Facebook groups (thank you Mike Sullivan!), I eventually bought an Abu Revo stx gen 3, a mouthful, but a masterpiece in engineering!
The other misapprehension is that baitcasters don't have the cranking power, drag or robustness as they are, after all, born out of the freshwater scene. This reel is not the best available by any stretch, rather a good mid-range example of what is available these days : 11 bearings, choice of 3 different gear ratios, a massive 20lb max drag and aluminium main (ct) frame. All suggest that they are more than capable of handling our beloved rock pigs. I still lust after my "perfect" baitcast rod, and the more research I do the longer my shortlist gets, so when I came across a second hand option at a good price I snapped it up in the form of a Majorcraft Days 7ft heavy BC rod. Not perfect, but will tide me over while the search continues!
Now, before this goes any further, I am not discounting spinning reels altogether saying that you must switch immediately or you will get lost in the constantly churning gears of this evolving machine that is HRF. Lets face it, this-like all forms of fishing- need only be as simple or as complicated as we choose to make it. But with too much fishing "down time" and a mind that's enslaved by tides, tackle, techniques and ways of improving, this seemed to me a very obvious move to make. I have only had one proper little session with this new set-up and two aborted sessions (one in 25mph SE-desperate times!) so maybe it's too soon to say that I am fully converted, although I can't see myself ever turning back. I am yet to have an over-wind that needed more than a yard of braid (yes I am using braid which supposedly is impossible) to clear. No issues with digging in, unless pulling for a break directly onto the spool-which you should never do with braid no matter what the reel. It just feels a far more natural and intuitive set-up than my dedicated HRF combo, and is far more enjoyable to use. Granted this may come from an extensive background with this type of gear, but, if YOU know someone who has a BC set-up- borrow it, crank the mags up, engage the centrifugal brakes and let her rip...you may never look back!
Tightlines all, until next time - Neil