Excel Okuma Trip Lessons


I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
Apr 3, 2008
Mexico, DF, Mexico
Strictly a Rider
So, I just got back a few days ago from the Okuma-sponsored 16-day trip. As on every trip I have ever taken, I learned a few things, had some success and some failures, made new friends, and enjoyed the adventure. This won't be a "report" as I have written them in the past, but I'll try to touch on what happened to me specifically, and my take on it.

For starters, I was expecting this to be a relatively new group to me, with maybe only a couple of people I had met previously. I really don't know why I thought that...I have fished Excel enough by now that I should have anticipated knowing many of the other anglers, but as I arrived at the dock I was surprised to see how many people I did know. Turns out that when the Mikkelsen Big Fish Special---a trip I fished two or three times---finally ended its long run, many of the regulars moved to this trip. Of course Wahoodad was the charter master (excellent giveaways, by the way!), and there were others I knew as well. And, of course, there were people with whom I had never fished, many of them very experienced and talented.

In what was essentially a last-minute change, Mike Ramirez was driving the boat. We had Jake and Rene, Matt, Vance, and Kieth. In the galley were the "other Jake" and Nick. For those who don't know, it's a superior crew, a mix of experience and youth, with a lot of enthusiasm, and a real determination to help the anglers as much as possible.

The trip down was the standard story. We didn't stop at Alijos...it wasn't on our way, and we wanted to get where we were going as quickly as possible. Given that, I intentionally didn't rig up until the day before our scheduled arrival. Only then did I discover that a couple of my smaller reels were out of commission. How wonderful that I brought two backups, right?

During the course of packing before the trip and then later rigging up, I made what turned out to be a stupid and painful mistake. The lesson came later, but it comes down to this: I tried my best to bring less gear this time. I tried to eliminate unnecessary tools and lures, and save as much weight as I could. In a haze of haste and confusion, I chose not to pack my Nicopress 33V-CGB4. Bear in mind that I spent a fair amount of good money to buy that swager, and a little more (well worth it!) to have Basil at BHP Tackle calibrate it for me. I invested in the Nicopress crimps, too, and all of this so that I could have crimps that I could really trust in heavy line, especially because I almost never crimp anything less than 200lb mono or fluoro. Why, at 9:00 pm the night before my trip I decided that I really didn't need the crimper (others were sure to have really good swagers on the boat, right?), I can't say now. Granted, they're heavy, but man, they're not that heavy. So as I was rigging up, I wanted to crimp my Momoi Escape-proof swivel to the 200lb mono I had already spliced onto my kite rig (Excel prefers that you use about 30 feet of 200lb mono leading from your spectra to your kite leader...who am I to argue?). To do so, I borrowed a Braid crimper (the good one) from another angler, and used the correct Jinkai sleeve for the line diameter. I melted a ball on the end of the line, used quality chafe tubing, and crimped the sleeve as tight as it would go...but I had some vague unease about the crimp. I had certainly crushed the sleeve very well. You could see the flare on both ends of the crimp, and it wasn't trivial. The sleeve was well and truly crimped. Still, it didn't look the way I had expected, so I showed it to a couple of more experienced anglers. They both told me it looked just fine, so I went with it.

If any of you ever find yourself in my shoes, do not do what I did. Only trust a crimp if you are really happy with it.

Moving on...

This was a trip that had some pretty good wahoo fishing and some pretty good tuna fishing too. We had several cows, and frankly should have had a few more. If I recall correctly, the boat tagged 110 wahoo, and 110 tuna too. The wahoo losses were...well, it was wahoo fishing, after all. The tuna losses were probably more than they should have been, but a combination of maybe 7 relative newbies and the way the current moved us, plus the way the fish were biting, all conspired to make it harder than it should have been to get a big tuna in the boat.

For one thing, the bite never really made up its mind. We had a couple of days where the fish bit well right after dark (that is, right after dinner). Other days we caught fish in the early am, from maybe 3:30 or 4:00 on up to and after dawn. Seems like we had one or two pretty decent late afternoon bites, too. All the same, we spent a heck of a lot of hours sitting at anchor in what was (I believe) the right spot, drowning sardines to no avail. And the fish never did eat the flylined sardine. There was a very little success on the daytime sinker rig (2-4 oz), as well as maybe 3 or 4 flyline fish for the entire trip. Granted, a couple of the flyline fish were big ones, but with 26 anglers soaking a whole lot of baits for the better part of eight days, I wouldn't say that flylining was a winning tactic.

What did work was fishing big baits, and to a certain extent drifting an air balloon. Those who fished the balloon (which was those very few who were really very good at it) had some success, and especially on bigger fish. Several times I wanted to give it a try, but I was always afraid of making a mess and ruining everyone else' experience. Next time I will come prepared and give it a try. The kite also worked well at times. There were some serious kite jail turns, but we made it through two full kite rotations, and a tiny bit more, and we hooked some pretty big fish that way. Maybe the best tactic was the yummy flyer under a helium balloon. That was only fished by a deckhand, usually Jake, and when bit, was handed off to the kite angler who had been waiting the longest. That was one good reason why the kite did make it through two rotations, but never mind...there were a couple of cows caught that way, and several other really nice fish.

Most of all, though, we fished the chandelier rig in the dark. That was how most tuna and most big tuna were caught. At least that is my impression. But bear in mind, it was a scratchy bite, with a lot of lost fish. This was a trip where trying a multitude of tactics was the way to go, and it was never clear what would work at any given time. They pretty much all worked a little bit, but it was hard to guess what to do most of the time. I think the only really good strategy was to fish a proper-sized big bait whenever you got a chance...even though that meant catching a lot of sharks.

By the way, I didn't feel like the sharks were bad, but they were there. I caught eight during the trip...eight that I brought to the boat to be cut off, that is. I had another three or four chew offs. On the other hand, we had very few tuna shark bit, and no wahoo at all as far as I know. My sharks included a Great Hammerhead (pretty damned big and a mean fight), six Galapagos Sharks (the typical brown sharks we always see down there), and one of these:


I always thought these were Sleeper Sharks, but I was told on this trip...and now believe...that they are actually Prickly Sharks. The boat caught two of them; I caught the second one. That is also the second time I have caught such a shark there. What can I say? They like me.

Still, while sharks were present, and at times made their presence felt, this was not a "sharky" trip as far as I'm concerned. I have definitely seen worse!

So, regarding wahoo...

I caught wahoo about all the ways I know how. I caught one on a troll strike, and another on the slide after someone else' jig got bit. I caught two on jigs (Raider) and two on bombs (Captain Jimmy), and I caught three on live bait. I missed another four or five strikes on the bombs, and just one missed strike on the jig. For the very first time since I went to using circle hooks for wahoo bait, I also had a hook pull. I confess, I had my drag way too tight for wahoo bait, though, and never having had a failure before, I was probably over confident...more concerned with keeping my line tight than over-pulling on a small hook. So now I can't say I have never had my circle hook pull. It has happened once. I can live with that, and will be a little more careful not to pull 18lbs of drag on a 2/0 circle in a wahoo's mouth.

In general, the wahoo did not go nuts, but they were there, and they would bite.

I brought a DTX Minnow with me, but never trolled it. Instead, I relied on my pink Cowbell Jr., and that worked awesome. The DTX Minnow did get bit a couple of times, as did an Intruder and one specific Marauder (I think that was a Yo-Zuri Bonito, but I never asked). It is my impression that the cowbells (not just mine) got hit more than any other lure, but it's hard to say. There may have been two Marauders that got bit well, and the Minnow didn't get as much play as it might have. In the end, they all worked. I like the cowbell quite a lot because it requires very little effort to bring it back to the boat after a troll strike. That translates to speed, and that adds up to quite a few bites on the retrieve. Anyway, I like them.

OK, so now we get to my "lessons." On this trip, my lessons included things that work as well as things that didn't. I should say that almost everything I have come to rely on did, in fact, work, and very well. I found a couple of things that almost certainly work better, at least for me.

I added one new knot to my inventory this trip, and finally had the courage to actually use another knot that I have known and (I believe) tied well for several years. The new knot is the FG, by which I mean that it is new to me. I had practiced a few different ways of tying the knot, and will probably keep looking for the way that suits me best. What I did on the boat was hold the spectra in my teeth, and that, while not especially comfortable, worked very, very well. If the spectra wraps are snug, this knot is bulletproof. I tied it with a varying number of wraps (depending on line test), one single half-hitch to hold the knot in place, then tightening it using knot pullers. Finally, I finished the knot with a Rizzuto. If you get the Rizzuto right, you can cut the mono/fluoro as tight as you want to the end of the knot. None of my FGs came close to breaking. Even so, I still like the Pena up to and including mono/fluoro of 60lbs. 80lbs and up, from now on I am fishing an FG. And yes, when I finally burn my way through all of the 130lb top shots I've made through the years, I plan to use an FG at all line classes. I may never need to make another top shot, except for my kite top shots.

The knot I've known but never really used is the Spangler. I've always hesitated because of the (very) occasional horror stories of failures on big fish. To me, the way I have learned to tie it, failures never made sense. There wasn't any way I could see for it to slip, nor could I see any way that it could cut itself. I used to use the Erwin Knot, but I must have been tying it incorrectly all along, because it would consistently cut itself under a heavy (or not so heavy) load. I know a whole lot of people who use the Erwin and swear by it, but I have lost good fish using it, and ultimately switched to the Trilene. The Trilene is an awesome knot, has never failed me, and will continue to be my go-to knot up to 60, and maybe 80lbs. For what it's worth, I can tie a good Trilene in line up to and including 300lbs. Over 80lbs, though, I plan to use the Spangler.

ANECDOTE: On maybe the third or the fourth day of the trip, I saw another angler trying to tie on his hook. It looked like he might have been tying a Spangler, or maybe some other knot, but if it was intended to be a Spangler, he was missing a crucial step. The knot is, of course, extremely simple: two loops through the eye of the hook, followed by two more loops through the first two loops, then very slowly cinch it. There is one little trick, though: the last loop has to pass not only through the hook-eye loops, but also through the third loop. It looked to me like this angler wasn't doing that tiny but essential step. And after he had cinched down his knot, he would test it, getting a failure each time. I saw him tie the knot his way three times, and pull it out on the test three times. I am really trying hard not to butt in anymore...not with anyone. Besides, on this trip, just about everyone aboard knows more about fishing than I ever will, but I went ahead and asked him what knot he was tying. "Spangler," he said, "but the knot keeps slipping, and it's pissing me off." I offered to show him the way I tie the knot, and he said "please!" So I did, and he commented that he had never seen it tied that way, but no matter how hard he tried (and he tried hard), he couldn't break the knot or make it slip at all. That just confirmed what I feel now about the Spangler. That knot, tied properly, slip? I'll have to see it to believe it. Period.

On this trip, aside from catching enough wahoo (my wife loves smoked wahoo; if I don't bring any home, she threatens to forbid my fishing trips), my goal was to finally get a cow. That wasn't the be all and end all, of course. Most of all, I wanted to have fun (I did), enjoy my vacation (ditto), and catch some fish (mission accomplished). But beyond that, I wanted to hook and land the really big tuna that has eluded me for 8 years now.

On my very first cow trip, 2011 on Intrepid, I reckon I hooked and lost three cows. One to a pulled hook (poor hook selection), one to a bad knot (Erwin, which I really didn't understand at the time), and one to utter inexperience fishing a big Southern Tuna hook on the kite for the very first time. Two years later, fishing the Mikkelsen trip for the first time on Excel, I had my spectra pop on a very big fish, right at the beginning of the fight. In fact, just as the line came tight. That shouldn't happen anyway, but the "snap" of the line coming tight to full drag (I didn't know any better at the time) was too much...and for all I know, the line may have been damaged in an earlier tangle. To the very best of my recollection, those are the only times I may have been (probably was) tied into cow tuna on long range boats. Since then, I have caught almost all the tuna I have ever hooked, one of them 193lbs, and several more in the 180-190 class. I have now caught two over 200 on private boats too. Still, my quest for a 200 on a long range boat continues.

This trip hurt.

Example #1
Day 2, an early morning bite (I think). People were trying whatever they could, which included fishing dead puffers from the stomachs of caught tuna, and big baits whenever we could catch a likely bait, but mostly it was chandelier rigs. I was fishing mine on 16oz, which was probably too much weight for the conditions, but it got me to the bottom. Like we have always done on Excel in that circumstance, we were going up to the bow to drop in, then following our lines aft as they sank. Once on the bottom (we were in 400 feet of water), we'd bring the sardines back up, some more slowly than others. I tend to be on the "slow retrieve" team.

I get to the bottom, take five quick cranks to get away (I hope) from the critters, then start to slowly work my way up. Right about as I get to the end of the house, I feel a little tug on my line. "I think I just got picked," I say, and immediately increase my rate of retrieve. I figure I need to re-bait, but I could be wrong, so I don't wind up full speed. It's clear, though, that whatever tugged didn't get hooked. "Probably a rockfish," I mutter. As fate would have it, Wahoodad was standing right behind me at the time, and about two seconds after my comment, I get a real bite...instant bendo. In the biggest understatement I have heard in quite a while, he says "That's no rockfish."

And the game is on.

We were fishing the port side, and from where I got bit, the fish takes me inexorably up to, and around the bow. It's deep, and at first it is away from the boat, though not by much. Then it goes under the boat, then back out, then farther forward. Rene (Rudi) the deckhand is my wing man, and he gets me under the anchor and back down the starboard side.

Thus far, the fish has made a couple of good runs, and is very, very heavy. I got pinned to the rail a couple of times, and when Rene had to get me past three anglers all together (in the beginning of the fight, still on the port side), he got pinned. "Man, this is a heavy fish!" was his only comment.

I get to the end of the house on that side when my fish goes well under the boat again. I am also about 10 feet from another angler who is also hooked up, his fish also under the boat. I tell him I think we are on each other's fish, when the deckies start rushing around urgently. Turns out we are both wrapped with another fish on the opposite side of the boat. We're on the starboard side at the aft end of the house, the other angler is on the port side, more or less in the same spot. Now they have to untangle three lines. The two of us on our side are told to free spool to get our lines away from the hull, and after awhile, the situation resolves itself. The unlucky angler to my right gets cut off, while the angler on the other side of the boat, who was already close, gets his fish. Best of all for me, I am clear again, and begin to really put the wood to the fish. At least I try to do so...

The fish runs again, some 100 yards, then takes me to the starboard corner. Then to the port corner. Back to starboard. Back to port. Back to starboard. All this time, I'm gaining, and the line on my spool is growing, though packed more tightly than it has ever been, of course. Back to the port corner for a little while, then slowly up the port side again. About 20 feet up from the corner the fish runs again, and takes another 100+ yards, away and deep. I fight it back. Low gear helps, but you don't get a lot of line per crank that way, so when I can, I go back to high. Now the fish must be about 200-300 feet away, and starts up the port side towards the bow. There are four or five anglers who have dropped in at the bow between me and where the fish is going, and we are about to have a real mess, so Rene takes the rod and heads forward. I'm blocked by the crowd and (I confess) a little winded at this point, so when I get clear, I "fast walk" up to Rene, who is still on the port side, just forward of the house.

As I get there, I see Rene is winding for all he's worth. "He's coming up, Jim!" he says. "I need a couple of gaffs!" I am literally reaching for the rod when POW! and the line goes slack. "Oh NO!!!!" Rene says. I feel like I have been totally kicked in the gut. What happened? Hook (7/0 Charlie Brown) pull? Bad (Trilene) knot? Top shot failure (would literally be the first time ever)? None of these things seem likely...and none of them were the culprit. No...

The spectra broke.

I lost about 20 yards of line, my top shot, my sinker, my hook, and, of course, the fish. Lesson learned? Hell, I don't know. Don't get into a tangle? I am pretty damned sure that was a cow, but I'll never know. Rene said openly, it was a heavy fish, and he was pretty upset at the loss. But oh well.

Example #2:
Day 5, and we all gave it a good try after dinner for not a whole lot. I think two or three fish were caught between 8:00 and 10:00 (including about an 85lber that I tagged). At about 9:00 I fished a little yellowfin and caught a Galapagos Shark. My "big bait" outfit beat the shark like a red-headed step-child. I tied on another hook, set the outfit aside, and went back to the chandelier. As 10:00 rolled around and people began to go to sleep in the anticipation of the (hopefully) 4:00 am bite, I put out another little yellowfin that I had just caught. Slowly the rail emptied out as I worked that big bait from 50 yards out to about 250 yards, and back.

ASIDE: I really think I got a much better feel for fishing big baits on this trip. Always in the past, I was too passive, letting the bait dictate what it did, much like an overgrown sardine. On this trip, I learned to fish the skippies like overeager puppies on a leash, which translated to very few tangles and no wraps around the anchor line. I feel like I have really learned a new skill, though I (obviously) have not yet mastered it. In any case, the only fish I caught on big baits were sharks.

So the rail empties out as I fish my bait. There were no big bites the last 45 minutes or an hour that others were fishing, and the last other angler fishing a big bait got sharked, and went to bed. I found myself alone at the stern just before 11:00 pm. There was a deckie on duty, but he wasn't around, and besides, it was clear that my bait was pretty much played out. I decided that if I didn't reel it in now, I was just going to catch another shark, which just mean another lost hook. It was still alive, though. Whenever I reeled it back in, there were small tuna tail beats. But it was time to go to bed, at least for a while, so I began to slowly bring the little guy back in.

The bait was back out about 200 yards, and at first there were the same tired tail beats. Since it was obviously still going, I "fished" it back, nice and slow, with a stop here and there, and spending more time leveling my line on the reel than anything else. When I got to about 50-60 yards, something changed. I began to feel some light resistance. At the same time, I realized that I didn't feel the tail beats anymore. But I had not felt any kind of strike at all. Nothing at all like the violent bite that others had described. "Is that another shark after all?"

Now I should say that I had the reel set at just enough drag to keep the bait from pulling drag in its tired condition. As I wound the line in, there were times when the drag of my thumb and forefinger caused the reel clutch to engage. Somewhere between the "1" and the "2" on my Mak 50 SEa. 6lbs of drag? Something like that. If there had been a strike, even by a shark, it would have pulled drag, but that didn't happen.

I was totally bemused. I could feel that there was resistance on the line, but even now it wasn't pulling drag. Could I have snagged some kind of sea trash? I bumped the drag up to "3," and kept winding, a little faster but still very deliberately. Now the resistance was very obvious and the line was tight, but still nothing. Convinced now that this was a shark that had just swallowed my bait and was hanging around, I pushed the drag to strike and wound fast. Immediately the rod loaded up in a big way and the resistance went way, way up. And then...

To my shock and surprise, The fish took off like a bat out of Hell. It burned off 200 yards in three seconds, all against some 36lbs of drag. If that was a shark it was a mako, and a big one. I don't believe that, though. I think it was a big tuna. For those three crazy seconds, it sure acted like one.

As I said, it was a surprise, and it took me about three seconds to respond, as the fish was blistering its way directly away from the boat. I took a balanced stance to try to set the hook (I swing like Sammy Sosa), when suddenly...

Pop. The spectra broke. Again.

Now this was a completely different reel, and the spectra that broke was new (I put 50-100 yards of fresh spectra on all my cow reels before the trip). Why did it break? I don't know. I had been in a small tangle or two, or so I think I remember...but I am not even sure of that. Besides, I had been looking at the line as I wound it in and let it out as you do when fishing a big bait.

Lesson learned? None that I can think of. Just that I lost what was almost certainly a very big fish before I even got a chance to fight it. Crud. I mean, I thought it was a shark until it ran, but I can't see what I would have done differently anyway. I wasn't going to swing on the fish until the line was tight, and it wasn't the line snapping tight that broke the spectra. Like I said, the fish was running against strike drag for a few seconds.

By the way, there were a whole bunch of needlefish around the boat on several of the nights, but they circled and did not eat our baits. I think it was mating season. But I suppose a needlefish might have nicked the line at some point. If so, I didn't see it happen, and never looked to see if I needed to splice out a weak spot.

Example #3:
Last day, and I am next up on the kite. My first time up, I got a little wahoo. That was disappointing because some people got really big tuna on their turns, but any wahoo is a taggable fish. Now we are into the late afternoon, and I am still not up. Then I am. Jake has begun hooking fish on the yummy flyer, including a 206 for my roommate, a first timer on any San Diego Long Range Boat. Now I am up on the kite, a double trouble on my own setup, which is a Makaira 50W SEa mounted on a 70 Gladiator. It's a dragon killer outfit. Now all I need is my dragon. And after about 10 minutes, what do you know? A dragon shows up!

It wasn't one of those incredible explosions on the kite. More of a gentle roll on the bite, and the balloon went right down. I get tight and wind as much as I can. Then I can't. I mean I am trying my best, but I can't get a crank, all as the kite is coming closer. I ask Matt the deckhand to help me, and he winds it closer, then hands me the rod back. The clip comes close, and he pulls the line free (Excel runs a tight clip), and now I am on the fish. Except that now it's running. I had gotten about 150 yards of line back, but now that's going away fast. I put the butt of the rod on the deck, kneel behind it, and use my foot to brace it. The rod takes a big, big bend, and my pulse rate begins to go up. This is the right gear for the right fish. I really have a chance here.

My reel holds a little more than 900 yards of spectra. I have 400 yards of 200, spooled on top of 500 yards of 130. About 750 yards of that is already off the reel, against 38lbs of drag. Suddenly the line goes slack. Again. This time, in my heart I know what happened, and I feel sick to my stomach. When we reel all that line up, sure enough...

The crimp failed. The one about which I had doubts on day 3 of the trip. Why didn't I bring my own swager? I bought it just for this! When it didn't look 100%, why didn't I cut it off and do it with a different swager? I feel sick about it even now. I openly admit that I can be incredibly stupid at times, but this one really takes the cake. I was primed for an amazing ending to the story. Now all I am is a cautionary tale.

After the fishing was done, I had a couple of people tell me that Excel prefers knots to crimps, for exactly this reason. That is no excuse for me, of course, but out of this event, I learned a real lesson:

Do not, do not, DO NOT trust a crimp unless it is 100% what you wanted. When in doubt, tie a knot, or get a crew member to tie one for you. Do not make the same mistake I did. No one should have to feel this stupid, ever.

I will add a few more anecdotes and lessons if they occur to me over the next few days, but that is what happened to me, and (essentially) what I learned on the trip.
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I Should Upgrade My Account
  • Sep 18, 2004
    So Cal
    Intrepid, Red Rooster III, Spirit of Adventure
    Great write up Jim. You experienced the typical luck I enjoy on these trips! I would bet money you over crimped the failed connection. I too have that Nicopress crimper and was surprised that less pressure seems to be more if you know what I mean. I would also suspect abrasion of the spectra when wrapped together as the culprit on the other lost fish. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but keep trying.
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    Deep release specialist
    Jul 3, 2003
    Mission Viejo
    Blazer Bay 1860
    Thanks Jim, great report. I didn’t realize that you’ve never caught a cow? Well, I guess I won’t say anything more on that. OTOH, like your wife, I do love me some Wahoo and more is more better!
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    active geezer
  • Jul 29, 2010
    Long Beach, CA, USA
    whichever has the longest bunk
    I'm so very thankful that you have taken up writing about your trips again! The old way was a great read, but I can see how it would be exhausting to try to recap all of those hour-by-hour details that you tried to keep track of. This new version is every bit as much fun to read!

    By the way, I don't think that you lost a big cow tuna, or several. It is a fact that is only spoken about in hushed tones among the crews in the small hours of the night when almost everyone is asleep, but . . . Godzilla is REAL, and he likes to swim around munching big tuna while getting ready to go stomp Tokyo again. Sometimes I've snagged him, and I think that you got him too!
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    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Apr 20, 2008
    sf, ca
    Always a fun read! Sorry you didn't get a cow. This was not the best year for those anyway. Better chance getting a cow bluefin. Anyway, fishing late with a big bait works. If you are alone or just 2 of you, you can even put the rod in the trolling clips and leave it in freespool with the clicker on. I switched to breast hooking the big baits and they seem to live longer.
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    Jun 12, 2011
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Hi Jim; great report , looked like the wahoo fishing was good. you mentioned you got broke off a big fish, that does happen time to time, I try to remember to back off the heavy drag when the fish is fresh. other than that it looked like a good trip...Paul
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    Brad I

    Common Sense Isn't Common Enough
    Jun 20, 2015
    San Fernando Valley
    Brad I
    Thank you for the report and read Jim. While I too miss your novellas, I still learn something from reading your summaries.

    FWIW, I too have had to "re-learn" things I already knew, and have had spectra break for no obvious reason. I've learned to rationalize poor catching trips not only as the law of averages banking success for the future, but as a "learning experience" (and by now we all know that a "learning experience" means something that you'll be glad you learned, but didn't enjoy actually learning ;)).
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    Rocco F.

    Sep 5, 2017
    SF Bay Area
    The neighbors
    great write up you are obviously a very seasoned angler and very meticulous...
    it just goes to show you with all our powers, method & equipment the beast still
    wins at times, they are indeed noble and thus deserve it...in the end if you are keep
    doing the right things and continue at it you will definitely land that monster and
    i'm sure that will be most gratifying...keep at it!
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    Sep 12, 2010
    garden grove, ca
    Great writeup Jim! Excellent trip with the legend Choate! Its been studied: slight undercrimp is better than over crimping. Of course perfect crimps are the best. Great trip!
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    No Bad Days
    Oct 23, 2004
    Harrington Park, NJ
    Friends With Boats
    A well-written tale Jim, with many lessons to be learned :) Take care with the things you can control, like crimps, splices and knots. Use the right tool, not a cheap substitute or something borrowed that you may have never used before. These trips sometimes afford you only one shot at the real one. You had the right crimper, just not with you! I'll bet there were a couple of them on the boat! I would stick with what I know works, just like your favorite knot. It took me many trips before I took Lindsey aside and asked him for a lesson on the Spangler. Now I would not use anything else.

    Other things fall into the s**t happens category, like pulled hooks and clean breaks in line. We take care inspecting and purchasing the best line but sometimes you can't see the flaws. Pulled hooks, well technique and experience can minimize them; just about every trip on the XL includes the seminar discussion on how to properly use your drags to set circle and J hooks. Listen up, there's a reason they always teach the same lesson!

    A popular comedienne once said, with age comes wisdom. In fishing, with experience comes wisdom. Lick your wounds, make the adjustments and try again. And for sure, bring the right tools!
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    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Mar 31, 2003
    Visalia, CA
    Blaine Lake
    In your anecdote about the guy trying to tie the Spangler but doing it wrong, it sounds like he was trying the Springer- close but no cigar.
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