When heading offshore it should come as no surprise that the more tools you have at your disposal the more success you will have. Sure, there are some who choose to push the limits of safety and sanity fishing offshore in kayaks and skiffs, but to really hit the blue water jackpot you need all of the odds in your favor.
No matter how good you believe you are you won't be able to fish with rubber hooks, so being properly equipped with the appropriate gear and equipment will be hugely beneficial when the moments of anticipation finally come to fruition. To reach a consistent level of success you must be able to confidently produce quality catches under difficult situations. Anyone can connect when the bite is on fire, but under less than ideal conditions being outfitted with the correct tools of the trade will greatly increase your overall odds of success.
At the most basic level, fishing pliers are an absolute necessity. If you lack a reliable pair of pliers you might as well throw in the towel. Extremely versatile, fishing pliers can be utilized for a number of actions including cutting monofilament, braid and wire line, de-hooking fish, straightening hooks and tightening reel seats, just to name a few. While traditional pliers are essential, they aren't the end-all answer. You should also invest in a pair of split ring pliers. These odd-looking grippers are specially designed to open a gap in a split ring for easy removal from a lure or hook eye.
If you take the time to rig your own baits (if not you're missing the boat), then you know how important a rigging needle is. Without one the task of bait rigging would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Manufactured from stainless steel, rigging needles can be used to stitch strip baits, bridle live baits, as well as pull bead chain hooks, mono and wire leaders through a bait. Available with both open and closed eyes for rigging and stitching duties, there are also hollow rigging needles designed for preparing top shots and splicing hollow cores. These specialized instruments often come in a complete set to accommodate various line classes.
Hand in hand with rigging needles, waxed rigging floss is the second part to the presentation equation. Whether you're fabricating a belly strip, cross-stitching a Spanish mackerel, skirting a trolling lure or whipping a Dacron splice, there's no denying the fact there are endless applications for rigging floss. Copper wire or Monel is another significant component to a well-furnished rigging station. Necessary for the traditional rigging of halfbeaks, you should always have a sleeve of copper wire at your disposal. Durable rubber bands designed specifically for the fishing industry are a great alternative to copper wire and depending on your preferred rigging techniques, you may prefer the latter for rigging and bridling baits.
Rigging Station Must-Haves
- Sharpie Marker
- Crimps/Crimping Tool
- Rubber Bands
- Copper Wire
- Electrical Tape
- Rigging Needles
- Wire Cutters
- Rigging Beads
- Waxed Floss
- Super Glue
- Chafing Gear
- Heat Shrink Tubing
While proper crimping technique and selection is worthy of its own editorial altogether, the fact of the matter is that crimps and crimping tools are necessary components to a successful day of blue water fishing. Crimping is a tried-and-true method of making joints in monofilament or cable. Crimpers resemble a large pair of pliers, but the jaws have matching pairs of semi-circular grooves. The jaws have user-friendly markings to clearly indicate the appropriate sized crimps to use with each cut out.
Knives round out the tools with the ability to pierce, puncture and slice, and it will serve you well to not only invest in a razor-sharp, stainless steel fillet knife, but also a paring knife for bait preparation. Last but not least a pair of gloves will protect your most important extremities. If you don't take care of your hands the aforementioned tools will be rendered useless. Line cuts, fin punctures, saltwater and slime are bad combinations. Not only are infections a real possibility, small nicks and cuts are simply uncomfortable and avoidable. While this short-list of must-haves will point you in the right direction, electrical tape, rigging beads, chaffing gear, balloons and a multi-tool are just a few additional accessories you may want to include. Remember that the tools and terminal tackle you choose to keep on board should be a direct correlation to the species and size of fish you generally target.
Even if you're outfitted with the proper tools, they must be easily accessible to be of any benefit. A messy rigging station will greatly hinder your success when the fish are chewing. Those who truly understand the necessity of a proper presentation rely on high-quality instruments to get the job done. Hopefully these recommendations make your time on the water not only more enjoyable, but more productive, effective and efficient, even when you're faced with the unexpected.