Do you ever wish you could slow your drift or hold the bow into the sea without standing at the helm and using engines? You can. Three pros describe how sea anchors add comfort to your drift, and enjoy increased action from sailfish, swordfish and tuna.
“It’s like an extra set of hands,” says Jeffrey Liederman, a tackle specialist at Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply in Miami. Rather than standing at the helm, he says, “I can be in the cockpit changing baits, watching lines, keeping everything fishing well.” Sea anchors are particularly helpful on small boats. “With twin inboards, it’s fairly easy to keep the bow into the sea. With outboards all the way at the stern, the boat doesn’t respond as quickly. You end up sideways to the waves,” he says. “The sea anchor settles things down and makes the situation a lot more manageable.” Often the slower, steady drift helps kites fly better too.
Liederman won’t use a sea anchor when wind and current necessitate mobility to hold a particular depth, or when tailing or free-jumping sailfish require quick moves.
Liederman’s Short-Rode Rig
Liederman wants the shortest rode possible that still allows the sea anchor to sink below the waves enough to open completely. “When we have to chase a fish, it’s pretty simple to pull up,” he says. A short rode also lessens the chance of surface-fighting sailfish tangling in the sea anchor.
For his 35 Contender center-console, Liederman uses a 15-foot PARA-TECH sea anchor on just 30 feet of ¾-inch nylon rode attached to a stainless-steel swivel at the sea anchor’s bridle. PARA-TECH sews a retrieval “trip line” to the center of the parachute. Liederman attaches an 8-inch float to the end of this trip line, and runs 50 feet of ½-inch floating polypropylene line from that float back to the boat.
Setting the sea anchor is simple. Secure both rode and retrieval-line bitter ends to the boat, pay out the entire retrieval line, and then pay out the sea anchor and its rode slowly. The sea anchor opens once the rode comes tight.
Retrieval is also simple. Pulling the polypro trip line collapses the sea anchor and brings it to the boat backward, parachute-end first. “Watch that the shackle doesn’t scratch the boat,” Liederman warns. He paints his with rubberized Plasti Dip coating. He packs the sea anchor into a 36-quart cooler, ready for another quick set.
Sails and Swords
For sailfish, a sea anchor holds the bow into the wind, so kites and fishing lines stay off the stern. Swordfishing is a bit tricker, since lines are drifting off the windward side of the boat.
“If you’re drifting too fast, you’re dragging the baits up toward the surface,” Liederman says. He sets three lines to windward using a balloon on each to set depth, and varying the distance of those balloons from the boat. With the sea anchor, he simply moves those three rods to rod holders on the bow. Once they’re out, he sets the sea anchor. “As long as there is tension on those lines, they won’t tangle,” he says. Liederman drops a fourth line without a balloon straight down from the rod at the stern.
Capt. Ray Rosher, owner of Miss Britt Charters also uses a sea anchor when swordfishing. “I can’t hold an exact drift speed while power-drifting in very heavy wind,” Rosher says. “I want constant, even pressure on the rods. The steady drift of a sea anchor helps anglers recognize and react to the bite.” It’s easy to fish in the bow of Rosher’s 42-foot walkaround charter boat. On sport-fishers with high foredecks, it requires agile crew and rod holders installed in the foredeck atop the anchor locker.