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June 14, 2010

Deep Secrets for Swordfish

A group of broadbill pros opens its playbook for daytime success on conventional gear

Gear for Hookups, Not Headaches
Dropping a bait into 1,500 or so feet of water with conventional sport-fishing gear is no casual undertaking. Use the wrong tackle or rig up improperly, and it can quickly become a headache at best or a recipe for disaster at worst. Some key ingredients to a better recipe, per the sort of gear that the Stanczyks now use:

• 80-wide two-speed reels
• Heavy rods appropriate to reels and line
• 80-pound braid
Eighty-pound braid, says Nick, is ideal (they use Western Filament TufLine). While 100-pound or more works, its greater diameter adds noticeable resistance to getting down and may well overtest the 130-pound mark, in the event a possible record comes up, whereas 80-pound probably won't. Fifty-pound can work but may prove a bit light.

• 130-pound (for IGFA-legal rod) or 300-pound mono wind-on leader
• 15-pound breakaway concrete weights
The Stanczyks make these from quick-set concrete poured into 6-inch PVC-pipe sections. The pieces of pipe are cut vertically to become a reusable PVC mold. Nick uses hose clamps to hold the two halves tightly together while the concrete cures. Losing these weights is not only a much less drastic hit on the wallet than losing big lead weights, but it's less environmentally hostile. Their shape also has importance - broad, flat tops help them resist rising with the pull of the line.

• Deep-Drop lights
For light (and deep-drop lights are crucial), the Stanczyks rely on Lindgren-Pitman Electralumes (

• Reel Crankie
Knowing the drill takes on a whole new meaning when you need to wind up to move or check a bait. That's when an electric reel would indeed be handy. And that's when the Stanczyks engage an ingenious line-winding tool known as a Reel Crankie ( for a turbo boost to bring the rig up in a hurry. The tool simply attaches instantly to a reel's side plate and uses a battery-powered drill (after the breakaway lead has in fact broken away!) to do the dirty work.

Using the right bait is critical, says Richard. "When you're letting that bait out 2,000 to 3,000 feet, it's not a deal where you can just say, hey, let's check that bait again!" Generally, he prefers dead whole or cut bait, which is easier to come by than liveys and can be rigged to stay on the hook better. Richard insists that fishes of the open ocean, like tunas, mackerel and dolphin, make the best baits because they smell and taste "right."