I’ve been reading The Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing by Scott Bannerot and it’s very thorough if not too thorough. He does a great job for recommending specific gear for every open ocean and dinghy based kind of fishing a cruiser might want to do. In fact there are so many recommendations that it’s a lot to take in. There are several charts in the book with gear recommendations and prices (as of 2009) that I put into a spread sheet and the total was over \$3500 !!
I don’t think it was Scott’s intention for someone to buy everything he recommends but instead to have the reader understand what kind of fishing they want to do, what kind of fish they want to target and then to pick from his recommendations. That’s a pretty tall order for a new fisherman who will be fishing in unfamiliar waters. However, narrow it down we must and make some educated guesses we will.
I am approaching these open ended “things” by trying to be aware and open about my assumptions, evaluating them as we learn more and trying to make the best decision we can. In this case, I believe that mostly we want to troll while we’re sailing with an unattended line and we want to do so in a reliable way that is likely to be most productive and with the least amount of lost gear and fish. I also do not want to have to deal with live bait on a regular basis and will limit it’s use as an occasional opportunistic endeavor. I’m now going to babble on a bit about these configurations and what I’ve learned thus far.
In my opinion that rules out handline fishing from yo-yo’s with snubbers and standup rigs. While underway a standup rig would require leaving the cockpit to get out from under the stainless steel structure of the bimini as well as the mizzen boom. Based on Bannerot’s recommendations it leaves us with the option of the Alvey 1225 Reef Master Deck Winch, a rail mounted reel such as the Penn Senator 116 or a wire-line rodreel setup like the Penn/Captain Harry’s Combo (Penn Senator 115).
The Alvey appears to be a very solid piece of gear with few moving parts to break or maintain. It’s manufactured in Australia and would be a special order item from Alvey USA, they are not stocked anywhere in the US.
The Penn Senator 116 seems like a reasonable alternative to the Alvey albeit with more parts and potentially maintenance issues. It has the added advantage of also being rod mountable and thus dual purpose. On the downside it also “looks valuable” as compared to the Alvey and in port would definitely need to be stowedhidden.
Bannerot gives rave reviews to wire-line rigs basically calling it his go-to setup
Wire line represents the simplest, most direct way to troll lures and baits deep, enabling you to wreak havoc on wahoo, tuna, mackerel, jack, grouper, snapper and many others offshore, inshore and near reefs, wrecks, and seamounts. It’s simple to use–no setting the hook, no removal from the rod holder, no belt and harness—all you do is crank the reel handle whenever the fish is not taking line off the spool until you get it boatside. … Shortcomings of trolling wire line are that it is generally not as effective for mahi mahi, and it may not handle the really big ones, especially larger bill fish. But when we need a good eating fish, particularly nearing port or some significant fish-producing area, we often deploy only the wire line because of its effectiveness. – Bannerot
Based on that alone I feel like the Penn/Captain Harry’s Combo (Penn Senator 115) upgraded to have monel wire might be the trolling rig I start with.
The Alvey and the wire line rig have the benefit of getting the line out away from the stern a bit before it leads down to the water. The windvane which will be on the stern may also pose issues here. That alone may require a release clip to get the wire over or around the windvane (more of an issue with the Monitor jungle gym than the Hydrovane). A release clip is basically a fairlead for the line which opens up when a fish strikes. Aftco seems to be the main manufacturer.
Still a lot to think on and more fun reading to do, luckily there is no time criticalness to these decisions we can get this gear whenever we feel like it. Let me know if you have any suggestions or additional thoughts in the comments.