Fishing Q & A with Captain Fish Head

Fishing Question's Answered by Captain Fish Head

Q: How do I rig Carolina Style?

A: Main line is passed through an egg sinker and then a glass bead, tie main line to one end of a barrel swivel. To the other side of barrel swivel, tie your leader which has a hook attached. Bait used can be bloodworms, strip baits, finger mullet, live eels or whatever you choose. Pass the hook through bait and have hook exposed. The two major characteristics are glass bead and exposed hook. Keeping rod tip low, retrieve slowly and occasionally snap the rod back to make the egg sinker and glass bead clap together. Leaders are typically at least 30" long. When fish hits the bait, line passes through the egg sinker, allowing angler to sense more of a direct tug

Q: I am planning to purchase two rods and reels for deep-sea game fishing -boat based trolling. Target fish small are medium marlin up to 500lbs, Tuna up to 250 lbs, Sailfish 50 - 100, Dolphin, Wahoo...etc. Also plan to do heavy-duty bottom fishing for skates, rays to 200lbs, & conger eel. Can you suggest combinations?

A: Choose the tackle that will have the line capacity you think you'll require. As a reference, you should be able to land a fish three times the line rating you will be using. With experience this 3:1 line to fish ratio can be improved to 5:1 or even 10:1. Big Game fishing for Marlin will require an IGFA style rod used in conjunction with a fighting chair to utilize the power in your legs. An 80-lb. class outfit with a line capacity of over 600 yds would be a minimum starting point. Strongly consider a 130-lb. class outfit if you will seriously pursue this class fish. To beat fish up to about 200 lb. most anglers choose a stand-up rod. The stand-up rod has a reel seat that is closer to the gimbal and the overall rod length is 5'6" to 6'0". The lower reel seat places your cranking arm in a comfortable position. The shorter overall rod length reduces the mechanical advantage a fish could gain. The line is usually 80lb class with a capacity of 600 yds or better. Experienced angler will utilize 50 or 60lb class set-ups. Stand-up rods have range ratings; 50-130lb., 40-100lb., 30-80lb., 20-50lb. This refers to the rod tip and butt section ratings. For optimum performance, choose a line class that falls between the rating range. Use 60 to 80 lb. lines on a 50-130-lb. rod, use 50 to 60 lb. line on a 40-100lb. rod...etc. For those fish well under 100lbs an outfit in the 30-lb. class should do fine. This could still be a stand-up rod or a standard conventional 7' rod if you like to use jigs. Once you hook-up with that fish, don't forget support equipment. In a chair use a fighting bucket, Big Game stand-up will go easier with a large fighting belt and also a kidney belt, even lighter tackle fishing can be improved with a good quality fighting belt. I know you wanted specific choices, that choice is truly up to you. There are many manufacturers out in the world making fishing tackle. Price does not always reflect the best tackle available. Choose a manufacturer you know has been around and will continue to be there to support you. Each manufacture we represent makes a good range of tackle to choose from. Hope this helps you make a tackle selection. Take a look at our product lines and try to get an idea of what you'll need. If you need specific help or just general suggestions, we will be happy to assist you further.

Q: I was fishing with my rod and caught a 2lb snapper set the hook and the rod snapped in half. Pole was used three times and this was the first fish caught with the rod. Is there any recourse with this situation? Is there any corrective action to cover this unhappy situation?

A: Return the rod with proof of purchase to the dealer you bought the rod from. You may also return rod to the manufacturer directly. Do not forget to include an explanation, a copy of original receipt, and provide your complete name, address, and phone number. To comment further on rods in general, nicks and dings in a rod blank can weaken its strength when under stress. Secure your rods when transporting in a car or boat. Do not have rods piled up and bouncing on one another or on any surfaces. Rods in vertical racks are subject to collision with items in the air. Also, in motor vehicle vertical racks, stones kicked up from other traffic can very easily damage a rod. If it is not possible to stow rod(s) inside the motor vehicle, at least keep them in horizontal racks during high-speed transportation.It has been our experience, that if there were no nicks in the blank, "High Sticking" is another source for rod damage. This is a very common problem with rods that were bent at an excessively acute angle. The situation is more apparent on high performance graphite rods than with glass rods. However, it is usually not the rod that is at fault; it is the angler that commonly creates this situation.The best way to minimize "High Sticking" is to keep the line coming off the tip of your rod at an angle that is more than 90 degrees away from the rod. Plus, make sure the drag is preset to 25-30% of line and the rod line rating. With the newer super low stretch lines the drag pressure could be set even lighter. When you are setting the hook, you may wish to pull your rod more to the side and back, not straight up. A good way to think about it is to set the hook with more of the butt section of the rod rather than just the tip. Using more of the butt section of the rod allows you to pull on the line directly. If you insist on setting the way some of the "TV pros?" do, you'll risk the chance of compressing the blank into failure if other parameters are not correctly set.Whenever you are snagged, point the rod straight at your problem before tugging on the line. You remove all rod stress and utilize all your line strength this way. If your spool turns, palm it with your hand until snag is free or the line breaks. Line especially low stretch line should not be wrapped around you hand for tugging. This is dangerous since severe cuts of the hand can be inflicted.The rod is not meant to be a crane used to lift fish. Use a landing net or gaff to land fish. Remember, when a fish is thrashing and bouncing up and down it is not just the weight of the fish that creates forces, momentum comes into play increasing the actual loads.In review, here are some good points to remember when fighting and landing a fish. Set the hook with as much of the rod butt as you can. Get the tip up when a fish is farther away from you, the angle of line from the rod is extreme, that's good. As the fish is brought closer, the tip of rod should be lowered. When landing a fish try to step back as you slowly raise the rod butt thus lowering rod tip even more and land fish using a net, gaff, or allow lineman to tag and release. If you must use a rod to land a fish, even a small fish, utilize the butt section with minimal bend on the rod tip, remember this is when most rods break. This failure is not because of the rod quality; it is because of the method used by the angler. When we sell graphite rods we TRY to instruct every customer as to what they can expect. This will minimize bad experiences in the future. Make sure you purchase tackle from a dealer able to explain this and more in detail to you.

Q: I am curious about the Danville thread. Are these 200 yard spools? I am also confused in the numbering system as well as the lettering system for threads. How am I to know what type of thread to use for what? Is there a book or information that I can go to, in order to learn how this rated?

A: The Danville thread is a flat waxed Nylon, very popular with Saltwater tiers. The spool size is 100yds. The Danville flat waxed Nylon is a strong thread that is rated as an "A" size, but because it's flat waxed it will cover like the 2/0. Because of its' strength, saltwater fly tiers can apply more pressure when wrapping flies without the thread breaking easily. Choose the smallest diameter thread that will do the job, to get the best results. Listed in order of largest to smallest, here is what various thread sizes are generally used for:Size D: Deer hair lures (jig heads) and winding guides onto saltwater rods.Size A: Saltwater streamers (typical Saltwater flies) and winding guides onto freshwater rods.Size 2/0, 3/0or 4/0: Tying wet flies Size 4/0, 5/0, 6/0 or smaller: Tying dry flies

Q: I have a Penn Levelmatic 940 reel that I got in pieces. I was wondering if your people might be able to put the puzzle together. 

A: Fisherman’s Headquarters is a factory authorized service center for PENN REELS. We also service rods and reels from major manufacturers, provided parts are available. You may bring your rods and reels into the store or ship them to us for service. Please, include a note telling us your return address, a contact phone number and a description of problems. Payment can be made using a Visa, Master Card or American Express credit card. To inquiry about Service or to order Parts you may phone us in the morning and ask to talk to our Service Department staff, except for Tuesday when the Service Department is closed. Our phone number is (609) 494-5739.

Q: What is biting in the Ship Bottom surf & what baits & what tide.

A: Visit our Long Beach Island Fishing Report Blog to see local reports. Please visit or click "LBI Fishing Report" at the top of this website. We appreciate any input from individual anglers, either good or bad! If you would like to share your report, give us a call at (609) 494-5739 or email us at

Q: Jack wants to know about a Texas worm rig

A: Dear Jack, The "Texas Worm Rig", your main line is inserted through a bullet weight, line is then tied to your worm hook, next plastic worm is rigged weedless, and finally bullet weight is moved along line until it meets the head of plastic worm. The bullet weight is kept in place by inserting a toothpick (break off the end) that will swell when wet or by running a rubber band through the weight.

Q: I have seen references in the fishing reports of "...between the red and green towers" in the LE (Little Egg) area. I know there is a white tower in Holgate, and an orange tower in Beach Haven, but what do you mean by "Red and Green"?
A: Colors of some LBI spherical water towers:

  • Holgate...Green turning White
  • Beach Haven...Red turning Orange
  • (Pehala Park...Rust...Under Construction)
  • Brant Beach...Green
  • Ship Bottom...Blue
  • Surf City...Blue
  • Harvey Cedars...Blue

Q: I am relatively new to Striped Bass fishing. I love to surf fish and I am planning an early morning trip in Avalon. I notice many of the stripers caught recently in the LBI Surf Fishing Tournament have been on bunker. What size and type of hooks are best used with bunker? How large are the cut bunker pieces usually? Generally is clam just as good this time of year for bass as bunker?

A: When cutting bunker for Striped Bass it is cut into large chunks. Typically perpendicular to the body line, cut about an inch behind the head and two more cuts to the body. many time anglers will cut the tail off to prevent bait from spinning. Hook selection can be view two ways. Use a large 8/0 or 9/0 hook embedded into the bait or use a double hook (tandem - two hooks on the same leader). Most sharpies prefer the double hook rig. The first hook is attached to the beginning of the meaty part of the bait while the second hook (know as the stinger) is attached to the opposite side of the bait. The double hook rig should hook fish a quicker. Rigs are tied using at least 60 pound test monofilament leader material. On an outgoing tide consider changing baits often. Take that washed out bait off, put it aside, hook a fresh bait and cast it out, take that old washed out bait (it can be cut) and throw it in the direction of your fresh bait. If the seagulls don't get that thrown bait you will be effectively chumming for Stripers. Doing this you'll catch Stripers that many times will have chunks of your old bait in their bellies. Most fisherman consider the head as the most productive piece of bait.

Q: What is it that I could do to make my hook up's more common. I use a3/8 ounce kalins jig, which I find the hook far more superior to any other, I fish this way because of all the grass in the water ,plus it also adds to the attraction of the wounded fish look, while the live mullet swims around, but I am also finding out that I also miss a lot of fish, stumped! mostly weakfish. 

A: If you are using live bait, I think you will find a better hook up ratio if you forgo the use of a jighead and opt instead for a small octopus hook (size 1 to 2/0 for small finger mullet) combined with a sliding sinker (an egg sinker or other type of lead on a fishfinder) on the running line. Then tie the running line to a ball bearing swivel, with a light leader (20 pound test or so, 18-36 inches long) attached to the hook via a snell or clinch knot. This allows the predator to grab the baitfish without feeling any resistance from the lead, hence giving it the opportunity to swallow the bait until it gets the hook in its mouth. This is especially effective using a baitcasting reel in free spool, or a "baitrunner" type spinning reel in the bait drag mode. You can also increase the effectiveness by using a standard spinning reel with the bail open. By allowing the predator to run with the baitfish without any resistance from the lead, you can control the point at which you set the hook. Even a light leadhead tied direct can add quite a bit of resistance upon the pick-up of a live bait by the predator. If you desire erratic swimming motion by the baitfish when using the octopus hook rig I described, you can clip the tail fins to partially disable the baitfish.

Q: I bought a Breakaway rod from you last week, and with a little practice I've been getting 150 yd. casts.[paced off at a dam on the Lehigh river] Great! But when I went down the shore this Friday with the further pendulum casts the clams where getting tore right off. Please advise on this, I'm sure other guys who bought these rods have been through this, what was there solution. I think the rod is great and on Friday (5/12/00) I had a lot of action[all shorts but one keeper bass]

A: Long Distance Casting will bring you many new experiences. Your bait flying off is one of them. To most of us Long Distance Casting/Fishing is very new, this writer included. Here is a few tips we got in the past from the people at BREAKAWAY for holding that bait on a bit better: 

  • You should be using a Breakaway rig to start with. The bait is close to the sinker keeping the vectors more in the same direction. The impact shield will break the air in front of the sinker/bait making the flight a bit more aerodynamic.
  • The cast should be smooth and effortless. Any quick snaps will increase the shock that the bait will be subjected to. Some LD casters go so far as to video tape their casting from different angles. These tape are studied for future corrections.
  • If you are having difficulty with fresh clam, then try using salted clam. Salted clam is a tougher bait. Many angler feel if you do not set the hook quick, the fish will drop this salted bait. Not sure this is true since many fish have been caught on salted baits.
  • After baiting the hook, make sure you use plenty of elastic thread to wrap your bait. This will hold bait tight to the hook.

We appreciate your question and hope others can comment on their Long Distance experiences. (Good and bad) LD techniques have aided the European angler for many years, lets see if we can catch up. Keep your eyes open for the next scheduled BREAKAWAY seminar

Q: Fishing at the beginning of year... "Great web site but I am wonder do you have a schedule on when certain fish come in the bay, like flounder, stripper, etc. I've caught blues, sea bass, and even a sword fish and I know when their in season but I don't know when the winter fish are in and I very anxious to get started."

A: A recent reply to another customer many also answer your question... (Not considering ice fishing) ..."Although Stripers can be caught in waters that are in the low 30's, many other species wont be around until water temps break 50 and rise higher. During cooler March waters, Winter Flounder in the bay would be the best bet for the next two months or so. Bluefish will make their presence after the Mackerel run which is typically closer to Easter. This is followed by the Fluke and Weakfish that show in ~55 degree water temp and higher." Many anglers become aware of White Perch in brackash waters starting in early March. Try local creek and lagoon areas with grass shrimp or bloodworms.