Callum McKendry attempts to answer the question; overhead or spin?
The great thing about fishing is that there are so many forms of it to be learnt. We constantly have the opportunity to experiment as we learn and that’s one of the things that keeps us interested.
On the downside the range of gear needed to have a crack at everything is dizzying. Spin jig, overhead jig, salt fly, slow jig, top water, land-based, big game, softbaiting, they all require specialised kit and it gets expensive.
Those of you with a keen eye would have noticed that I left out one discipline – straylining. This somewhat old-school technique still makes up around 75% of the market and for good reason, skilled proponents catch a lot of fish this way.
I love a good straylining session so jumped at the chance to put together this overview of strayline fishing with a short buyers’ guide for a collection of the market's hottest strayling products.
The first decision is to pick between overhead and spin. When straylining with an overhead reel the practice is slightly different to spin fishing. You cast out your bait into the berley trail and let it sink for a bit, from there you keep your reel in free spool with your thumb on the line.
Some people (including myself) like to hold the line above the spool between their thumb and middle finger. What this does is allow you to distinguish between the little bites and the bigger runs.
Once the bait is taken allow the fish to run briefly before engaging the drag and striking to set the hook. With overhead you have two options for striking. Some come with auto engage levers that click in once you reel. Others have manual engage, which you flick up before reeling and striking. The difference between these two is not a gear preference, but a technique preference.
There was a time when I would not stray away from a Shimano TLD set up, or even a newly acquired Trinidad 12A on a Terez. However, other brands these days are really pushing the bar in terms of quality and performance.
The Okuma Cortez has been a longstanding, trustworthy straylining tool that can also be used for other forms of fishing like jigging. This makes it a value for money purchase. With 8.3kgs of drag the reel can take on any large size snapper or a decent scrap with a kingie. Sitting under the $250 price bracket it is very affordable for what it can achieve and above all else, it looks bloody slick! That’s what matters isn’t it, looking the part.
The Cortez does have a magnet cast control function that allows beginners to cast an overhead reel with less chance of a bird’s nest. This is a common problem when casting overheads so it is a nice touch. Pair this reel with an 8-12kg Cortez rod and you have a nice, middle budget straylining set.
Daiwa Sealine SL20
I have spent plenty of time with the Daiwa Sealine SL20 and it really is one of the most robust overhead straylining set ups I have seen. The reel takes sturdy to a whole new level and with its oversized drag and one-piece frame there is no shift or bend in the reel.
The SL20 has 6kg of drag and cast control technology, making it perfect for tossing a pillie out in the berley trail.
Once again, I think it is important to pick a straylining set up that has multi-purpose properties, and the SL20 does too. There are plenty of people that use this reel as a kingfish live-baiting set up and with the high speed retrieve ratio of 6:1:1 you can gain a lot back of line back fast.
Priced around the $275 mark this is a good reel to have in your arsenal. Pair with a Saltist rod and you have a straylining/livebaiting set up for under $500 that will last you a life time.
Baitfeeder spin reels are a great option for straylining. The technology allows you to tell more easily when the fish is on a run and when to strike. The technique needed is to lower the rod as you just wind and strike to engage.
The first real player on this scene was the Shimano Baitrunner. It set the industry alight and has probably still accounted for more 20lb snapper than any other product. The technology is based around the secondary drag system. It maintains a controlled free spool as the bait is being taken and then when the handle is flipped the primary drag kicks in. I have always been a fan of baitfeeder set-ups.
Penn Fierce II Live Liner
With the Fiece Two Live Liner, Penn have created a match made in heaven. They sent the Penn Fierce and Penn Spinfisher on a blind date and what came back is the ultimate hybrid!
The new Penn Fierce II Live Liner is a baitfeeder version of the original Fierce covering the whole range, from 2500 up to the big daddy 8000.
For straylining, the 6000LL has 12kg of drag and a gear ratio of 5:6:1. You can use this as a decent live bait reel as well, as once the drag is cranked up it has so much more to give than what the specs say.
The Penn Fierce II Live Liner also features a mean paint-job that makes you feel as though you are holding a small Lamborghini in your hands. Could there be a new sheriff in town?
There are other choices in this market, such as the Daiwa Opus, that give you a more basic version of this technology at more modest price.
The options really are endless when it comes to choosing a straylining set up. In my opinion answer these three questions and then you will have a result:
1. Spin or overhead
2. Multipurpose or not needed
3. Price range