The striped marlin are still biting good in Kona but they certainly are running small. When they do show up in the winter they are usually all close to the same size. Some winters theyíre all about 50 to 60 lbs. Other winters have had most running around 100 lbs. but this season most of them are under 40 lbs. The spearfish bite has picked up and now itís about 50/50 with the striped marlin bite. The spears are also under 40 lbs.
Sounds like great fishing but thereís a problem. Very few Kona charter boats own light tackle! Other than a couple light rods for catching bait fish, Kona is typically a heavy tackle fishery. Some charter boats troll only with 130ís. Some have a mix of 130ís and 80ís. Some even have a 50 that they use for the 5th stinger line when the smaller fish are biting but even that is a bit of overkill on small billfish, mahi mahi and ono. BTW, weíre getting a good bite on the mahi mahi and ono right now too. So why all the heavy tackle? Well, because you simply have no idea if one of those big Kona blueís is going to eat your lure. The big ones are around every month of the year but Iíve found that there is a viable solution to the tackle overkill problem.
A 130 (wide) is designed to hold close to 1000 yards of 130 lb. test, an 80 (wide) is designed to hold close to 1000 yards of 80 lb. test and a 50 (wide) is designed to hold close to 1000 yards of 50 lb. test. You may think thatís more than enough line on there until you do hook up with one of those big Kona blueís and see that 1000 yards of line disappear off your reel in less than a minute!
The solution is braided line. I been using 100 lb. test Tuff Line for bottom fishing for years now because anything lighter just wonít give you enough stopping power on some of those big sharks and jacks as they try to wrap you around the rocks. A 30 (wide) holds over 1000 yards of 100 lb. test braided line! Another reason that I use 100 lb. is that braided line has a tendency to over-test so 130 lb. braided line might just keep you away from qualifying for that world record fish.
You may think that thereís an issue with the drag system between a 130 and a 30 but Iíve been using the 2 speed Penn 30 VSX with a twin drag system for years and it has all the drag you could ask for. I know because sometimes I get stuck on the bottom and need to break off that 100 lb. test. Itís not easy. I have more Penn 30 stand-up rods that I use for trolling. I topped the 1000 yards of braided line with about 200 yards of 80 lb. test mono. The reason for the mono top shot is to get some line stretch and something else to consider, if youíre rod has roller guides; braided line is thin enough to get in-between the roller and the roller frame on some guides when thereís a side load on the rod. If your fish takes a lot of line out, the braided backing isnít an issue but when your fish is close to the boat, side loading of the rod is likely. All of my 30ís are mounted on stand-up rods without rollers. Itís just easier that way but a quality rod with a good back bone, light tip and no rollers is a hard item to find now days. I also have a wide selection of quality stand-up fighting belts and harnesses. A good harness is essential for fighting big fish on stand-up but for small billfish, mahi mahi and ono, just a fighting belt is enough. That way you get to actually feel the fight as opposed to the typical Kona fight from a chair with a huge reel mounted on a rod as thick as a broom stick.
With the current fishing conditions Iím still using a 130 and an 80 for my short and long corner, pulling big lures looking for the beast marlin. Iím pulling small lures on the stand-ups for the smaller fish but that doesnít mean that a big fish wonít eat my small lures. Itís happened many times in the past and it even happened recently but it wasnít a problem, my tackle can handle that! Even my bait rods are backed with braided line and Iíve been trolling the deep with them too. My lightest bait rod is only rated for 12 to 20 lb. but Iím using a 150 yard top shot of 40 lb. mono and the rest of the reel is loaded with 50 lb. braid. The small striped marlin, spearfish, mahi mahi and ono are a blast to fight on this rod! My biggest blue marlin so far on this bait rod was a 300 pounder. Other than a slight issue with the lifting power of the rod, there was enough line on the reel and enough line strength to get the job done.
With all this said, I have just one more thing to say to all those guys who only troll with 130ís. ďLighten up, have some funĒ.