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MASTER SNAPPER ON MONO
  |  First Published: May 2011



We may have got a little carried away with the whole scenario of modernising the traditional saltwater spin outfit, as you don’t need braid to lure fish for snapper.

There’s a guy who I have fished with a couple of times, Jeremy Arnold, who likes to line class fish. Line class fishing requires a pre-tested line (aka IGFA rated) and essentially the challenge is to try to catch the biggest of a species of fish on a given line class. Although things are changing continually in the marketplace, almost all the pretested line options are mono type nylon lines.

More by accident than planning, Jeremy holds all of the line-class lure cast division records for snapper for Queensland. Three of these records were taken on soft plastics and they’ve come from Mud Island, Smiths and Hutchies. He used mono lines instead of the braid that ‘everybody’ always recommends.

After a few trips Jeremy has the following bits and pieces of observations to offer up.

Jeremy’s longest fight with a snapper on mono is 15 minutes for a 6kg snapper on 2kg Pretest line. “Clear, neutral hued, mono is less likely to spook fish because they can’t see it in the water,” said Jeremy. “Snapper seldom try to brick you on the reef. This is especially the case with suspended snapper that are hooked around mid-water or close to the surface strike zones.”

However, the author’s experience is that when you come across other species such as spangled emperor, yellowtail kingfish, amberjacks and other bottom huggers; then they will be more likely to brick you on the bottom when you use mono because there isn’t enough power available in the line to turn the fish without breaking the mono. In this type of tug-o-war fishing you need use all the strength available in the normally recommended 40lb braid to win the battle over the fish.

If you aren’t targeting any of those bruisers then I agree with Jeremy; snapper won’t brick you as quickly as many of these other hoodlums. So you can certainly target them on lighter lines. This is why anglers often only need to use up to 20lb braid (or line class mono outfits) inside the bay; because there are less yellowtail kingfish and less big spangled emperor inside the bay and very few amberjack in bay waters. In fact it has been about 22 years since I have caught an amberjack in Moreton Bay – we used to catch them from under floating beacons in the shipping channel. The last king I saw taken came from the southern side of Goat Island about six years ago. And unfortunately my favourite inside the bay spot for spangled emperor to about 2kg is now a Green Zone.

On occasion, sometimes accidentally, we’ve actually caught quite a few big snapper in Moreton Bay on our standard soft plastics lure casting bream tackle. You’d call it a 2kg class rod and the line is braid that breaks at around 10lb breaking strain. This goes to show that snapper can be handled on quite light outfits.

So for purely targeting suspended mid-depth XOS snapper on shallow reefs inside the bay and around Cape Moreton, from Shallow Tempest to Hutchies – this includes Brennan, Roberts, the Cementco region and Smiths – then Jeremy has proven that you can dust off the old 6kg spin outfit in the corner of the garage and be in the game.

Pretested mono type lines brings snapper into the list of tournament options for sportfish and gamefish competitors. This includes Masters fish for ANSA anglers. Snapper have a fighting factor of one; so to score a lure casting Masters fish the object is to catch a snapper at least equal to or heavier than the line class that you are fishing. For instance a 6kg snapper on 6kg line.

Hook Choice

One tackle item to consider when putting together a line class snapper outfit is to match the hook size to the breaking strain of the main line. Commensurate with the choice of hook is the selection of soft plastic lure to match the hook size. For 1kg line Jeremy recommends a 2/0 hook and a 4” soft plastic shad.

As an alternative, may I suggest for casting distance, try a short but bulky bodied straight-tailed short shad. Something around a 3/0 hook with the 3” baby shad size lure, a shorter ‘pocket’ version of the popular 7” shad, will fit the bill. For 4-6kg main line class outfits Jeremy commonly uses 5” to 7” straight-tailed shads that are an ideal match to a sharp 5/0 up to 7/0 hook.

Choosing an Outfit

Years ago, I retired my old 6kg mono line outfit. Mainly because the spin reel didn’t have the drag power of the newer reels; and this drag power was needed to push the new heavier (for the time at least) breaking strain braided line closer to its upper limit. When using braid, you can use a smaller reel and still have the same line capacity. Accordingly the Moreton Bay spin braid outfit evolved to be a slightly smaller reel but with greater drag power on an Egrell S10 rod.

You could fish mono off the same rod (such as the Egrell) and if you need a little extra line capacity then opt for a bigger reel. Alternatively, you can grab your old spin outfit, if you have one, and dust it off.

To build a 6kg mono soft plastics outfit all you’ll need to do is resurrect your old Moreton Bay Spin outfit and respool it with low-stretch 6kg mono.

The ideal reel is about the size of a Penn 750SS or 850SS; and retrieve ratio need not be anything superfast if you are just intending the outfit for snapper.

If you are saddling up anew with a mono outfit then there are quite a few off the rack sticks to match it to. You could use your old 4kg 7’ live baiting spin stick if you have one from those live baiting casting to sailfish days; or if you had a 6kg spin rod for casting lures to spotties and tuna you could use that to.

I’d suggest rods around 6’6” to 7’ (that’s around 2m or longer – give or take 10cm either way). For his records Jeremy used a pair of my old 7’ rods, a matched pair actually, for 4kg and 6kg mono line classes. Sadly, they are a discontinued model so there is no point in me telling you about them.

You can pretty much substitute the mono outfit into/with any of the braid tactics for shallow and mid-depth reefs that have been discussed in past articles. The major exception in the application of the techniques is that Jeremy feels that with the mono he needs to be holding the rod in his hands in order to react to the strike and set the hook.

A major technique option with soft plastics for snapper, when using braid, is to fish the lure in the drift behind the boat and to leave the rod in a rod holder and let the fish hook itself – try it with mono and see how you go.

It might be that you’ll catch more snapper with mono in certain situations; because as Jeremy mentioned at the outset, the clear hued line isn’t as obvious in the water, which makes for interesting times ahead.

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