Often overlooked and many times forgotten, that’s how one could describe the title above. Nowadays we spend so much money on boats, electronics, rods, lures, reels etc, that we tend to forget what it’s all about in the end. In the end, when a fish is hooked, it all comes down to one thing, and one thing only, and that is what goes onto the end of your line, and that’s exactly what this article is all about!
Let’s take a closer look into the core of modern days Esox hunting. We all know what that’s all about right? Top quality gear and equipment to catch the fish of your dreams. You can have it all when it comes to gear and equipment, but at the same time loose it all when it comes down to fighting big fish in the end. These days, a lot of people seem to spend tons of $$ on modern electronics, huge boats, all the rods in the world, the best lures, and yet they forget about probably The most important thing to the whole fishing setup; split rings, swivels, snaps etc.
If you ever had the privilege to hook yourself a real monster fish, over 45 inches or more, you know how scary it can feel sometimes when your fishing buddy says ” Do Not Loose That FISH!!”. We all been there right? This is where 99% of the time things go wrong, and failure happens. And that’s exactly where you do not want it to happen. We all spend countless hours on the water looking for that future trophy, to come or not to come, and when you’re finally hooked into one, you want to make sure that the material you are using is top quality, and build to last, especially in these crucial few minutes of hooking fish, and getting it into the net as soon as possible! Heavy duty is the keyword here, and let me explain to you why.
Always remember we are targeting some of the biggest fish that live in freshwater. It doesn’t matter if you are a Muskie or Pike angler, we all share the same interest and that is catching the biggest possible fish. I cannot stress this enough, having the right terminal tackle is Essential! When you fish with the best quality out there, you don’t ever have to worry about equipment failure, and believe me, thinking about such things in the heat of the game is not what you want, especially not when you just hooked into a fish of a lifetime.
”Being able to do this, all depends on a few factors as described below”
The heart of your fishing setup is the line. If you don’t have a line, you won’t be catching fish. Period. The line can literally make or break your day. So having the right line is key factor number one! It’s no secret and everyone should know it by now that there is only one line on the market that I use for all my hardcore fishing with big baits, and that is Berkley’s very own Whiplash Pro Green, preferred in the 100lb version. The reason why I use this line is simple. I’ve been using it ever since it came out on the market back in the early 2000’s, and it has never ever let me down. It’s quite a statement to make, but of all the super lines out there on the market, this is the best! It has never ever let me down. I use the lower diameters for small fish such as Zander, Asp or Perch, and this 100lb for Pike fishing only. For jigging with soft plastics I scale down to the 80lb, because it gives you a bit better control of your line from the rod tip down to the bottom, but as far as fishing concerns with heavy swimbaits, jerkbaits, or crankbaits, whether it be casting or trolling, this is my absolute number one! Besides the fact that this line is extremely powerful, it also very abrasion resistant, and it can last a long time when properly used. The only downside of this line I would say is the diameter being thicker than 0.28mm, but who care’s about that. The 125-yard spool fills an Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast 61LH all the way to the edges, and that’s exactly enough.
”The best ever line produced for Esox in the history of mankind, Berkley Whiplash Pro 100lb”
When you’ve got your main line sorted, it’s onto the leader. But before that, we put on a swivel. Now there are numerous swivels available from all kinds of brands, but the one I like the most, are ball bearing swivels. There is a huge advantage of using a swivel this type over anything else, and that is flexibility. Besides the fact that it enables you to fish bucktail spinners without twisting your main line, it will also prevent fish from unhooking themselves on your hooks. Whenever a fish is hooked, it gives the leader a free 360-degree possibility to spin, so when a large Esox goes into alligator roll mode, the whole setup doesn’t kink and eliminates the loss of your fish. Plus on the other side, ball bearing swivels are extremely reliable, and that’s exactly what you want in a quality setup. I’ve used all kinds of brands, but the Black Brass Ball Bearing Swivel from American Fishing Wire is still the best. Not only is this swivel very reliable, it’s also very affordable. There are various sizes out there, but I found that the 230lb #5 fits best on most leader setups. If you choose to go for any other brand, just make sure that the rings are properly sealed. The last thing you want is a ring to open under pressure, which can happen on the cheaper brands out there, and your line slipping out, so always make sure you go for the best!
”One can never have enough, these are the absolute best ball bearing swivels on the market”
Another massively important thing are splitrings. Basically, this is the only connection for your hooks to the bait you are using. An extremely underestimated subject if you ask me. These days, a lot of company’s save out on this, and it lowers their retail value, but the fish pay the price. It wouldn’t be the first time you set the hook to only realize nothing has been caught on the other end of your line, simply because the splitring couldn’t handle the pressure from the heavy load hanging on the hook. Most baits these days are equipped with 2 or 3 hooks to even out the hard fighting fish and spread out the pressure, but most of the time when a Big Gator is caught on only one hook, it puts a tremendous amount of weight on it. When the fish starts to close in, it’s not uncommon for one to go absolutely berserk when boatside. In this crucial moment, a lot of things can go wrong and it all comes down to the quality of choice of which the angler has decided to put into his equipment. Besides strength, rust can also be a changing factor here. Most of the splitrings that are used are not rust proof. Of course after a day of fishing you put your tackleboxes away opened so that the water that’s been left in there from the trip can dry out, but it often happens that the tiny spaces in between the rings of the splitring keep holding water and make a perfect place for rust to develop. So you need top quality strength and something that is absolutely rust proof. That’s why I use the 200lb #6 Stainless Steel Wolverine Tackle Triple Superrings!
”A used and abused Musky Armor Krave, but always producing thanks to Wolverine tackle’s Top quality rings”
it’s probably one of the most discussed topics of all time and something that can be discussed for many more years to come. The connection from your leader to the lure. What do you use, and how do you use it? Let me tell you something. For every kind of fishery out there, no matter if you are a Walleye, Bass, Zander, Perch, Muskie or Pike angler, there is a snap out there that fits your needs and suits your expectation. But when it comes to choosing the correct one, that’s where a lot of people go south. There is a huge gap between the lines of what quality is these days and what not. In my opinion, you should only go for the absolute best you can get, but still, I see many people saving out on this. Let’s talk about hardcore Pike or Muskie fishing in general. We all know how much power some of those giant fish have that we target right? I simply don’t understand why people would even save out on an essential part of their whole setup, what connects their bait to the leader. It doesn’t make sense at all. You want true quality here. I’ve used pretty much all the snaps out there made by the fishing industry, and there is only one lock that I fully trust, no matter what the conditions, and that’s a Staylock Snap! Now you can say, ”Well, but these snaps also do have a breaking stength”. True. Absolutely correct. That’s why I go for the highest breaking strength I can possibly get. 300lb, and no less when I’m fishing Big baits for Big fish. I use a lighter version for fly-fishing and it has never ever failed on me, and believe me I’ve seen and caught some Monsters! There is one thing though that I do to make sure my snaps will never ever break, and that is replacing every single one after I catch a fish that exceeds the 100cm or 40-inch mark. The reason for this is simple. I don’t ever have to worry about failure, and I always keep a snap that’s 100% reliable. Although a package of staylock snaps can be quite expensive, it is what it is, and you shouldn’t save out on this. The staylocks that I use are made and developed by Stingease, but are sold under the Mustad brand flag. Basically, every decent tackle shop has them in store, so you can be sure to never go wrong. Do yourself and the fish a favor, and buy only true quality!
”Make sure your leader never snaps, and use only the very best staylocks money can buy”
And last but not least the leader. Everybody should know by know that I use 49 Strand Shark Leader cable on all of my heavy duty setups. I’ve been using it for over a year now, and it has never let me down. Plus, it stays straight no matter what. The quality of this wire is exceptional, and it enables me to fish any kind of bait regardless the action. I can jig, crank, troll, cast, jerk or do whatever I want with this leader material and it performs like a dream each time. It’s simple The best ever material I encountered on the market. More and more people started using it because of my articles, but there are still anglers out there that didn’t even know of the existence itself like I did back in the days. Using the right leader for your fishing is so important, but more importantly is the way it has been made. The leaders that I make out of 175lb Shark Leader Cable are approximately 16 inches long. The reason for this is that I want to exceed the length of any of the baits I fish and make sure one will never break due to the simple fact of being too short. I put a ball bearing swivel on one end, and a staylock snap on the other. In between, I use four sleeves to clamp the whole thing together. The reason for this is maximum security, plus when fishing jerkbaits, it gives the leader a straight action, rather than using a single crimp which will often get it tangled in the hooks. So it’s basically two sleeves after one and other, and the wire put back through as tight as possible. Three times through the crimp, and it gives you a rock solid connection to catch the Biggest Esox that roam your waters!
”Never worry about equipment failure ever again when targeting these Giant fish! Here’s 120cm of early Fall Pike”