Old School Tactics

By Dennis Zambrotta

Old School Tactics for new school surfcasters?

What if I told you that you could use an old school tactic to improve your surfcasting performance without too much of an investment – would you believe me?  Well, let me try.

Back before the advent of using braid on spinning reels surfcasters “in the know” would use a specific tactic to improve their scores when bass were finicky because of gin clear water or during a bright moon.  The technique was to “tie direct” to your monofilament running line – we wouldn’t use a leader.  The idea here was to make your offering appear more natural when bass could be spooked by a normal 50-60 pound leader and associated terminal gear.  Most guys back then fished with 15-20 pound mono as running line and tying direct to it allowed for a more subtle presentation.  We used the technique when bass were just nudging our plugs, dropping our eels, or when phosphorescence (fire) was present in the surf during the new moon periods.  This tactic at times was the major difference between getting skunked or having a tight line most of the night.  I’ve noticed that with the prevalent use of braid nowadays the “tie direct” technique has almost disappeared except by those still using mono (like me).  If you use braid you can also get the same tactical advantage by using mono leaders that drop down in pound test.  Instead of using a heavy leader drop your leader strength to 20 pound test.  You’ll be amazed at how it can make a difference on finicky bass.  Just be aware that using the lighter line will require that you to take more care when landing bass, especially from jetties or rocks where you would normally grab a shock leader.  Just remember the next time the bass are ignoring your offering, or your 60 pound leader looks like rope when there is fire in the water, go old school by tying direct to lighter line or leader to improve your odds.



Editors note :

Dennis Zambrotta is well know Rhode Island surfcaster and friend of the Surfcaster’s Journal Magazine since our humble beginnings. Dennis is also a very popular seminar speaker and he will be speaking at Surf Day this upcoming Saturday. He was fortunate to be one of the major players during the great Block Island Giant Striper Blitzes in 1980′s and he has recently wrote a  book about his experience,  Surfcasting Around the Block. You can find more information about the book by clicking on the cover. You can also purchase it from Dennis at Surf Day and other shows this winter

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6 comments on “Old School Tactics

  1. CTMatt

    I have done the same it it absoutely works in a few situations. Usually this is a result of me “giving away” my leaders to the yellow eyed demons lol and having no choice but to tie direct.

    I believe Gary Soldati mentioned for simplicity sake he ties exclusively direct for the reason of natural presentation. Definitely has its place…depending on the conditions.

  2. cowharbortackle.com

    Great advice Dennis, this is an issue we have on the Northshore where water is very clear and calm often.

  3. Dennis Zambrotta

    I generally use green Berkeley Big Game 20 pound running line; another good alternative is 20 pound Ande Backcountry in slate blue. Both very tough lines that probably over rate their breaking strength and take abuse in the surf.
    Thanks for your interest.

  4. chuckg

    I don’t know about this issue since if you see some of those underwater shots of salmon taking those trolled herring chunks, the line looks like a hawser and they are not spooked in the least… Too much credence is given the myth that these fish are smart; if they were smart you’d never catch one, they are, simply, eating machines… Just MHO…


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