Getting My New Shark Reel Ready
This is the box that my Avet EXW 80/2 fishing reel came in. The picture on the front of the box is pretty cool. There are five guys trying to hoist this huge billfish onto a boat. The fish is really gigantic. Of course the indication is clear…an Avet fishing reel is what dragged that billfish brute from the bottom of the sea. Whenever I hold my new Avet 80w, it makes me feel powerful. I have visions of dragging my own sea creature out of the sea. I really can’t wait to make my first bait drop, and I really hope I don’t have to wait like 5 years to catch a fish that can peel 40lbs of drag. One of my favorite quotes that I apply to fishing is, “Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity.” I don’t know when the opportunity will come, but I do know one thing… I will be prepared.
CHOOSING A SHARK ROD
My new fishing reel was in and I needed a rod, but shopping for something that could handle an Avet 80w when pushed to its max, was new territory for me. I could just picture catching the fish of a lifetime and the rod snapping. I did lots of research, on both major fishing rod brands and on smaller custom rod builders. From what I read, custom rods are all the rage. Land based shark fishermen seem to covet the “Barrett Rods” brand the most. But for me the reel is much more important than the rod. Don’t get me wrong, a fishing reel is nothing without the rod, but I felt more comfortable searching for a bargain when it came to the rod. I priced the popular Barrett rods, and I would be spending, at the very least, $400 for a rod. I didn’t want to sacrifice that much of my shark gear budget on just the fishing rod, so I kept looking. I ended up finding a low priced 130lb class fishing rod on ebay. It was from a custom maker “Bar Bar Tackle”. I searched forums for reviews, and I read a few posts from individuals who had purchased a Bar Bar Tackle custom rod. I didn’t read any negatives reviews. It has 8 heavy duty boat guides with zirconium insert rings, which are supposed to be smoother, harder, and dissipate heat better then any other guide ring (with the exception of silicon carbide rings). The rod blank is a Rainshadow brand 50-130 lb e-glass and graphite blend. The gimbal is heavy duty marine grade silver aluminum. The grip has an embedded diamond pattern for extra grip, and it looks pretty cool too. The reel seat is a Forecast brand seat made of 28 mm marine grade silver aluminum. The cherry on top is the shiny hammerhead decal. So for $266 I thought it was a deal.
SPOOLING THE SHARK REEL
So the plan was to spool my new Avet 80w with 1,500 yards of fishing line. I needed up to 500 yards of line for the long bait drops, and then I needed 1,000 yards of reserve line to be ready to tangle with a cartilage-filled underwater freight train, or a razor-toothed sandpaper-skinned submarine. Monofilament fishing line is preferred because its easy to use, and more importantly its abrasion resistant. I wanted to spool 130lb class line, but if I went straight monofilament I wouldn’t get the capacity that I wanted due to the large diameter. Therefore, I needed to implement a braided line backing with a monofilament top-shot. Due to the diameter, you can fit much more braided line onto a reel, versus monofilament. I researched the diameter of both 130lb braid and 130lb monofilament, and per the Avet 80w specifications, I would be able to spool 1,200 yards of 130lb braid, with enough room left over to fit a 300 yard 130lb monofilament top-shot.
I researched different braided line brands, and it seemed that the preferred brand was Jerry Brown. I browsed different fishing forums and those dedicated to shark fishing, and Jerry Brown was consistently touted as the best. The Momoi brand also had really good reviews. For implementing a monofilment top-shot, “Hollow-Core” braid is recommended. With hollow-core braid you can connect the monofilament by splicing it into the braid. This method is preferred because the connection maintains 100% breaking strength of the line (versus a knotted connection). The knotless splice functions the same as a Chinese finger trap; the monofilament is threaded into the hollow-core braid, and when the line is pulled, the hollow-core braid tightens around the monofilament. So I ordered a 1,200 yard spool of 130lb Jerry Brown Hollow-Core braid, dyed green. For the monofilament I ordered a 370 yard spool of 130lb HiSeas monofilament. This is specialized saltwater fishing gear, and since I don’t live in Florida or some other major fishing hub, I ordered from an online saltwater fishing gear store.
To prevent the braid from slipping on the spool I put a duck tape backing. I’ve always used a Clinch Knot when connecting line to a spool, but given that this was a particularly special reel, I decided to learn a new knot. I researched different knots, and I came across one that I liked on the website www.AnglingKnots.com, named the “Spool Knot”. It seemed to be a variation of the Uni Knot. What I liked most about this knot is that it laid flat on the spool. Even though I had the duck tape backing on the spool, to further prevent slippage, I wrapped the braid around the spool three times before tying the knot.
Usually my wife helps me spool my fishing reels. She’ll hold the spool while I reel the line, and she’ll have a pair of gloves on so she can apply pressure without getting a friction burn. In the case of my new green monster, I didn’t think that would work. If I didn’t apply a significant amount of pressure when spooling the line, I would risk a break off the first time I hooked a fish that pulled drag. If braid is loosely spooled onto a reel, when the drag is pulled, the line can dig into the spool and break off. Therefore, I needed to spool the braid onto my reel with enough pressure to achieve a rock hard spool. To achieve this I rigged up the spool onto some steel shelving, and I was able to apply over 20lbs of pressure as I reeled the line.
1,200 YARD OF JERRY BROWN BRAID, AND 300 YARDS OF HISEAS MONO TOP-SHOT
I eventually got all 1,200 yards of the line onto the reel. The spool was rock hard, but just to be absolutely sure I tested the drag at 50lbs, and the line didn’t dig into the spool…Perfect! Now all I needed to do was splice in the monofilament top-shot. I had seen several YouTube videos of people who did the splice without any special tools; they just cut the monofilament at an angle, and then sanded down the point to make sure it didn’t catch as it was threaded into the hollow-core braid. It seemed easy enough, but I just couldn’t get it threaded. I’d get the monofilament about an inch into the braid, and then the braid would bunch up and get tight. It’s recommended that about 5 feet of monofilament be threaded into the braid before finishing the splice. I couldn’t even thread an inch of monofilament into the braid!! It was soooo frustrating. I read multiple accounts of people who were able to thread 130lb monofilament into 130lb braid with no problem. I chalked up my problem to inexperience. I watched more YouTube videos and the people using threading needles were able to thread the monofilament with such ease. So I proceeded to order one to help me out. I ordered the DaHo threading needle for 130lb to 150lb monofilament, up to .053in/1.35mm diameter.
I thought for sure that the threading needle would allow me to effectively thread the monofilament into the braid. I was wrong. Without the needle I got about an inch threaded, and with the needle I got about an inch and a quarter. Son of a B!***. This time I knew for sure it wasn’t operator error. I literally spent about two hours trying to thread the monofilament into the braid and it couldn’t be done!! I tried everything, oiling the needle, unbunching sections of the braid, and nothing worked. As I did more research I read certain accounts of people who had trouble with “dyed” line, and that’s what I had; green dyed braid. The veteran fisherman all recommended, when trying to do a spliced connection, that you should use white or un-dyed braid. Crap…lesson learned, and since I spent about $200 on the dyed green stuff, I had to make do. I ended up having to tie a knot to connect the braid to the monofilament. I tied a Modified Albright knot. The knot wasn’t as bulky as I expected. I tested it with my drag scale, and the knot withstood 50lbs of pressure. I inspected the knot and there was no signs of damage, and I felt comfortable that the knot would hold up in the heat of battle.
Once I got all of the braid onto the reel, 1,200 yards, I wasn’t sure that I would get the additional 3oo yards of monofilament that I wanted. But it worked out. I ended up with 1,500 yards of line; 1,200 yards of braid backing and a 300 yard monofilament top-shot. I am ready for action.