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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

Pay Attention, Stay Alert
Given the distance the rig must descend to reach swordfish depth and the time it takes to get there, opportunities abound for things to go awry. That's where experience and good boat handling come into play. The skipper must "pay attention to the line," advises Richard. "Knowing how much line your angler has out is very important. You want to keep a bit of angle on the rig [as it descends] while driving into the current" to keep everything straight.

"Once we get about 1,000 feet of line out, the skipper can begin to ease off the throttle to gradually reduce the angle and get on top of the bait," he says.

It's also important to understand that currents far below may be much stronger than what you're sensing near the surface and, just to make things really tricky, that abyssal flow may actually run counter to current topside.

But while the current can make things tricky, it also tends to make things better. That is, swordfish seem to prefer to feed in a good, moving current.

Finally, stay alert: Braid has minimal stretch, but still, any bite has to transmit up a couple of thousand feet of line, and those bites are often light; even a 300-pounder may just tap it. But once it's obvious the bait is taken, the helmsman may need to throttle up to help with the hook-set, so far below.

All illustrations by David Shepherd