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June 09, 2009

Alarming Details Concerning Kingfish Reels

Having no tension on the spool (except the clicker) allows fish to crash the bait and begin to run away, or "smoke" the reel

Astute anglers learn how to use their tackle to maximize chances of success. Consider a reel's alarm, or "clicker," as many call it.

"I leave my reel alarm on at all times," says Capt. Stan "Stanman" Jarusinski, a veteran charter skipper and tournament angler whose many accomplishments have earned him a place in the Southern Kingfish Association hall of fame. "If we pick up grass or foreign material, we hear it immediately. And when fighting kings, a loud alarm allows the boat driver to know whether the fish is taking drag or coming our way."

Jarusinski typically uses Shimano Trinidads (sizes 20 and 30) for tournament fishing. Spencer Marchant, an avid kingfisherman and regional accounts manager for the Don Coffey Company (which represents Shimano in the Southeast), explains why he deems the Trinidad's clicker-tension device "very cool and appropriate" for kingfish anglers:

It allows tournament-style fishermen complete control of the reel and line with a variety of baits. Star-drag reels are typically clutch-based systems. This means they are either in gear with the operational drag engaged or totally out of gear in free-spool.

When fishing with live bait - in an SKA tournament or for sailfish, for example - it's necessary to fish with the reel out of gear (with the clicker on) so when a fish takes the bait, it feels no resistance from the drag. However, in most cases, when fishing out of gear, one has only the resistance of the actual clicker spring to keep line from dumping off the reel. When "bump trolling," which is a preferred method of covering likely kingfish areas with live baits without dragging them too fast and killing them, the pressure of the baits can overcome the resistance of the clicker spring and cause the line to dump. This is not so much a factor in the Carolinas where small baits like menhaden are preferred. It's definitely a problem in the Keys and Gulf, where larger, stronger baits such as blue runners and rainbow runners represent the norm.

The Trinidad's adjustable clicker-tension device allows you to dial up the pressure of the clicker spring to keep larger baits in check while at the same time keeping the reel in total free-spool (out of gear) so fish feel little tension when taking the bait.

Deploying baits in total free-spool is also important in kingfishing because of the nature of the strike - which tends to be super violent and fast, often coming from the air as a fish skies on a bait - and because of the small trebles employed in live-bait rigs. Having no tension on the spool (except the clicker) allows fish to crash the bait and begin to run away, or "smoke" the reel, without feeling drag or pulling the No. 4 trebles.