CAPT. BLACK BART
If you walk the docks, you’ve seen the T-shirt: “Fish tremble at the mention of my name. This is especially true when that name is Capt. Black Bart. The BB 41235 has been nicknamed “the breakfast by marlin fishermen who have it in their arsenals. Two large jet holes generate a highly visible smoke trail, and the lure has an animated dive and surface action that allows it to sink, then explode onto the surface like bait. It is sold as a strong lure for heavy tackle, and the average fish taken is reportedly 600 pounds. The high-tech polyurethane setup weighs 21/2 pounds. A 12/0 hook and a 650- to 700-pound low chaff mono leader are recommended. Retail price: about $100. Black Bart Lures, (954) 772-6028; www.blackbartlures.com.
A tarpon guru in the Florida Keys speaks highly of a few reels, but when pressed for a big game selection, chooses the Abel Super 14 model. Ready to tackle blue and black marlin and large tuna, this reel is designed to maintain the integral strength in the metal. The large arbor Super reels have spools that are interchangeable with the standard-size Abel reels. This gives an angler the flexibility to use one reel for various species. Available in left- or right-hand retrieval, the reels are machined from solid blocks of premium-grade aluminum. The Stop-a-Sub drag system reportedly has no hesitation or stutter. The Super 14 will handle 14- to 20-weight lines. Retail price: $1,100. Abel Reels, (805) 484-8789; www.abelreels.com.
CATCH WITH RELEASE
Release Marine built its new Tuna Series Chairs to outlast the products built by competing companies. That’s a tall order, given the quality of products in the field. The heart of a Release chair is its uni-carriage plate. Covering the seat bottom is a 1/4-inch plate that distributes the load of fighting a half-ton fish over the entire seat area instead of just the gimbal and footrest. The plate is available in various finishes. The Release line is available in MTP Starboard, and the top-of-the-line chair with an offset base and rocket launcher is $15,000. Release Marine, (912) 236-5717; www.releasemarine.com.
Among the many brand names in the fishing gear market, Penn is one of the leaders. The Penn 130ST can be found on many boats where losing a fish means losing a tournament or needed income. The reel has the time-tested, smooth HT-100 drag system. Internal main and pinion gears, and the drag cams are machine-cut stainless. The one-piece frame houses a forged aluminum spool that holds almost 1,000 yards of 130-pound test line. The 130ST is a two-speed with a 2.2:1 high-gear ratio and retails for $1,200. Penn Reels, (215) 229-9415; www.pennreels.com.
THE BIG HOOK
Catch and release is the mantra, and rightly so, but gaffs remain a necessity. When darts or harpoons are not allowed, the Accurate FGM-16 Tournament fly gaff with 6-foot handle and 5/8-inch rope should secure any harvest. All Accurate gaffs are machined, then welded and bent. Once the process is complete, a heat treatment hardens the hook. The slot of the fly gaff handle, impregnated with Teflon, is built to resist corrosion. The Magnum Milled hook is made from 1-inch bar stock for strength, then machined to reduce weight. Retail price: $792. Accurate Fishing Products, (888) ACCU-372; www.accuratefishing.com.
The optional lanyard is more like an insurance policy with these titanium pliers. At a retail price of $229, they are built for the long haul. How many times have you worn out or grooved the cutter on your pliers, or lost them to the rust gremlins? Titanium makes this tool corrosion-proof and strong, and Van Staal makes the cutters replaceable. Both the 7-inch fishing pliers and the 6-inch needle nose are spring-loaded. The handles are ergonomically designed, and the tools weigh 10 and 6 ounces, respectively. Van Staal, a division of Reel Ventures, (800) 718-7335; www.vanstaal.com.