Important Offshore Fishing Items

A list of tackle and boat gear to bring on a big-game fishing trip

I’m often asked what I would bring along, in terms of tackle and boat gear, on a trip to someplace or another that I’ve never been before. While this is a pretty loaded question, I started thinking about the things that are most important to me on a fishing boat. So here’s my list of things that you shouldn’t leave home without — along with that American Express card, of course!

assortment of hooks for offshore fishing
Bring a mixture of hooks.File Photo

A large assortment of hooks

You can’t have too many kinds of hooks on board. You should carry circle hooks in light wire for small billfish and the largest models available for targeting big marlin. You also need an assortment of J hooks for lures in sizes 7/0 through 14/0, both straight-style and curved-in tuna bend. You also need some needle-eye hooks for pulling cedar plugs.

Dedicated bait rods

I prefer to use short “kite-style” rods with 50-pound-class reels, filled with 60- to 80-pound clear mono. It’s also good to carry along a couple of medium-size spinning rods and reels filled with 30- to 50-pound braided line.

rigging needles for offshore fishing
Rigging needles are a must.File Photo

Tackle to catch live bait

You should take Clark RBM spoons in several sizes; planers in sizes 1, 2 and 3; small- to medium-size trolling feathers, such as Pearl Babies; double-style hooks in different sizes; a variety of lead-head feather- and buck-tail jigs; and sabiki rigs in several sizes.

Rigging needles

You’ll want to take closed eyes for dead baits in different lengths and diameters and open eyes for live baits, with streamlined eyes and dull points.

crimers for offshore fishing
Bring a good pair of crimpers on board.File Photo

Crimping tools

You need both a small-size tool for light leaders and a large Nicopress-style tool for the heavy stuff, along with all the proper sizes and styles of crimps. Be sure to keep tabs on the adjustment of the large crimping tool; with heavy use, they can loosen up and not compress the crimp enough.

Cable cutters

Buy a good pair. Don’t go cheap; they’ll give you sloppy cuts with frayed-out ends. I prefer Felco.

marlin fishing offshore lures

Marlin Fishing Tackle Box

Have an assortment of different types of lures in your marlin fishing tackle box.File Photo

Heat gun and heat-shrink tubing

You’re going to be making hook-sets, so bring the right stuff. I like to use the heavy-walled heat shrink with adhesive to make mine.

A wide range of lures

I like to have a lot of lures on hand, rigged and ready to use, in all sizes from small to extra large. And carry different head shapes in both hard- and softhead varieties — you never know what the fish are going to like from day to day.

flying gaff for offshore fishing

Flying Gaff

It's never a bad thing to bring a flying gaff.File Photo

Gaffs

It’s good to have fixed-head gaffs (all with 8-foot handles) with a 3- and 6-inch bite for small- to medium-meat fish and an 8-inch-bite tuna gaff. And I always like to have at least two, but preferably four, flying gaffs on board with a 10- to 14-inch bite — you never know!

Large set of bolt cutters

This is the one item that every boat fishing for big game should have on board — and one that you never want to have to use! But if someone accidentally gets stuck on a big hook, these could be a godsend.