pitch bait keeper
When teaser-fishing for billfish, it’s imperative to devise a way to keep your pitch bait’s leader secured to the rod and out of the way, yet ready to deploy in an instant. Here’s how I like to do it.
When fishing a rod from the chair arm or rocker launcher, I like to use a section of copper wire and a short (about one-inch) piece of electrical tape. To rig up the leader holder, take the piece of copper wire and wrap it around the rod’s reel seat at the bottom of the fore grip. Finish it with a tight haywire-type twist in the wire, but extend the haywire twist out an inch or so before cutting off the excess.
Attach your leader to the snap swivel, crank the swivel to the rod tip, and pull the leader tight and down to the copper wire. This is the spot where you’ll put the piece of electrical tape. Make sure that the leader is clean and dry and then start wrapping the tape around the leader, making sure to overlap each wrap. This spot of tape gives the copper wire something to hold onto while it keeps the leader tight against the rod from the tip down to the reel.
Put your pitch bait/lure in a pitch tube or cooler behind the chair, and then, from the bait end of the leader, make three to five big coils in the leader and lay them on the deck. (By making your coils from the bait end to the loop end of the leader, it allows any twist in the mono to spin out at the swivel.) Now secure the leader to the rod with the copper wire on the tape spot. Just wrap the copper wire tightly around the leader once. Now, when it’s time for the angler to pitch the bait, all he needs to do is pick up the bait and throw it off to the corner of the boat. The big coils of leader on deck follow without tangling, and the copper wire releases automatically as soon as the bait comes tight in the wash.
When you want to keep a pitch-bait rod in a tower leg rod holder or have multiple pitch rods in the chair arms or rocket launcher, having the leader coiled on deck isn’t feasible. In order to get the leader up off the deck, attached to the fore grip of the rod, I like to use the little hair ties with beads that girls use to tie back their hair.
Buy a pack of brightly colored hair ties with beads. Prep several of them in advance by using a black magic marker and “painting” one of the balls in each set black. Place your rod in the chosen rod holder, put the pitch bait/lure in a pitch tube or cooler, and again, from the bait end, coil the leader in 12- to 18-inch-diameter coils at the rod’s fore grip until it comes tight to the swivel. You may need to adjust the coil size a little until you get them all the same size and have the leader tight from the swivel down to the coils. Using the copper-wire-and-tape trick, secure the leader tight to the rod. Now attach the leader coils to the fore grip by wrapping the hair ties around the grip and coils, passing the colored ball over the black ball. Now, when you want to release the leader in a hurry, grab the colored ball and give it a tug, and the leader will come off easily. By painting one of the balls black, and putting the balls on the rod the same way every time, you’ll always know to grab the colored ball to pitch the bait.
Capt. Randy Baker