Sailfish - Techniques for Switch Baiting

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Instructor: Chris Rushford

In the Indian Ocean off Western Australia, Ross Newton, skippered by Reel Teaser Fishing Adventures, shares his unique approach to switch baiting sailfish in shallow water around reef edges. Their setup is simpler than many top tournament teams, using a daisy chain with birds, squids, and a belly bait. The baits used are garfish or ballyhoo rigged with circle hooks and compact skirts. The video provides a detailed presentation of the unique bait and switch fishing techniques used in western Australia.

Description / Review / Instructor

Fishing for sailfish in plain view of waves crashing off the reef is a little out of sorts for those of us used to fishing Central America, the Caribbean, or the Atlantic. Shallow water edge trolling is unpredictable, but there are fishing techniques that you can run to selectively target sailfish with amazing success. This In The Spread sailfish fishing video, featuring Chris Rushford from Reel Teaser Fishing Adventures, will show you how to troll for sailfish hard up on the reef edge, how to rig ballyhoo or garfish baits and belly baits. We will also discuss the fishing grounds and why pelagic fish are there, daisy chain teasers, how to set up a spread, the switch baiting tactics these guys use, catching sailfish on stick baits, all the tackle, and heaps more.

Bait and Switch

Now, the bait and switch fishing techniques used by Reel Teaser may seem unconventional for those from the western hemisphere, but they are very effective. For those that are not familiar with this crew, they fish the Indian Ocean off of Western Australia. Boat skipper Ross Newton discovered the sailfish fishery off of Broome and is widely recognized as one of the best. His techniques have won him a myriad of billfish tournaments, solidifying himself as a very astute fisherman. The knowledge he has instilled in deckhand Chris Rushford shines through, as they work in simpatico targeting sails on the edge of the Rowley Shoals atolls.

Teasers and the Spread

This fishing video starts off with the teaser spread and baits. Two squid chains with either belly baits or swim baits are positioned one on each corner. You will see how these daisy chains of birds, squids, and hookless baits are set up and how far back they are run. An additional belly bait is dropped back from a rod and reel, serving as a shotgun bait. This type of teaser gives you the ability to control where the sailfish goes in the spread. You can steer the fish to a desired hooked bait for the switch off easier with a rod and reel bait than you can the squid chain. For baits, garfish or ballyhoo are used. Where the baits are positioned adds an interesting twist to the bait and switch process used by these Aussies.

Drop Back Baits

For bait and switch fishing for sailfish, one of the most critical processes is dropping the bait back while drawing in the teaser chain. You have to free spool your bait back so the fish does not try and eat the teaser. This has to be achieved in very short order. The mechanics of switching the fish from the teaser to the bait will be shown to you, so you can see how the guys in Australia do it. This is straightforward, but it is nice to see how accomplished teams do it around the world.

Edge Trolling

When it comes to edge trolling, you may find yourself in 30 feet of water catching fish out to 300. The dynamics at play in this environment are pretty cool. With extremely deep water coming up very quickly, you have lots of bait fish holding tight to the reef edge for protection. The pelagic species like sailfish, marlin, tuna, wahoo, and reef species like dogtooth tuna, mackerel, and barracuda hunt close to the reef, so you have to be careful with the type of teasers you run. Your teasers will all be hookless to prevent your teasers getting wrecked by other species. This also translates into less bait being used and time spent rigging baits.

Stick Baits for Sailfish

Perhaps, one of the coolest sailfish fishing techniques shared in this video involves the use of stick baits. Targeting sailfish with sinking stick baits is not common, but it is effective. Chris Rushford will show you how to rig assist hooks on a stick bait. This rig is rather smart and works well, as you will see how the assist hooks work to improve hookup ratio. This is something that you should try, if you have not.

Rigging Garfish and Belly Baits

A big part of this sailfish fishing video focuses on the baits for both the skipping ballyhoo and the belly bait. This is lengthy and super detailed. Chris gives an excellent presentation on how to rig ballyhoo or garfish, as they are called in Australia. He will also walk you through how to rig belly baits without hooks. Since bait preservation is so key, Chris will share their methods keeping ballyhoo as fresh as possible. Many times they are catching their own ballyhoo.

For the actual bait rigging portion of this fishing video, Chris will first detail all the rigging tools and components he uses. Everything from the floss, hooks, leader material, compact skirts, and rigging needle are discussed. Chris is super methodical in his presentation. You can really learn a lot from watching his style. You will see how he makes his snub leader with this hook on one end and a loop on the other for attaching it to the main leader. This bait rig is simple, yet lethal. When it comes to stitching the garfish, you will see how to strengthen the ballyhoo with floss to provide a good tow point and proper hook placement. Chris will walk you through how to rig the hook to the bait for maximum gauge exposure. How the hook is attached to the bait has a huge impact on how it swims in the water. You really get a great bait rigging tutorial with this section of the video.

For how to rig belly baits without hooks, you get an in-depth presentation on the types of fish that make good belly baits and how to prep your bait for rigging. This is another intensive presentation that shows you every step in the rigging process. Chris will show you how he makes his snub leader for this bait using loops on both ends. One loop end attaches to the squid teaser chain and the other loop end gets sewn into the bait. You will see how best to determine the tow point for optimal swimming action. You get every strip of floss being put in the bait. No step is left out. If you are interested in how to rig sailfish baits, these two sections of the video are outstanding.

Sailfish Tackle

Of course, we cannot leave out the showcase on the tackle the guys use. You will see fishing reels and fishing rods used and what they are spooled with. Since these guys use both braid and mono, you will get explanations on the use of both. The outfits used on Reel Teaser will work for both beginners and professionals, alike. Chris will talk about wind-on leaders and his double line to leader connection.

For anyone interested in how to fish for sailfish using the methods perfected by one of Australia's best skippers, this In The Spread fishing video shares valuable tactics and techniques covering spreads, trolling speed, baits and bait rigging, angling, and tackle use. The mechanics used by the crew of Reel Teaser may differ from your own, they are nonetheless proven at the tournament level. Learn from great professionals around the world and add more knowledge to your tackle box. The more you know, the more fish you catch. 

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