NZ Fishing World home
NZ Fishing World

Handy hacks and fishing DIY

December 19, 2019
Handy hacks and fishing DIY

Tom Lusk applies some good old-fashioned kiwi ingenuity to fishing with these simple and cost effect DIY fishing hacks.

Ever found yourself exasperated by line that keeps looping off the spool of your reel in transit, fixed rod holders that aren't in quite the right place on the boat, or breakout sinkers that won't easily fit into any bag or tackle box? The following 'hacks' are quick, simple, and cheap solutions to niggly fishing problems. Please note,  I don't claim that these are my own creations, so if you're the inventor, great work, and please take their publication here as testament to your resourcefulness!

Loading up on a gutsy little kingfish.

Keeping it together

When my land-based game fishing ambitions were at their peak, I'd sometimes take seven rods to the rocks, plus a gaff. This massive bundle of long poles had to be fixed together securely for easy transport. A lot of my fishing mates were using string or bootlaces to knot their rods together, but this has the drawback that the rods will usually move around under the knot, causing the string to loosen. This makes the bundle harder to carry and can mean that thinner rod pieces wiggle loose, exposing them to damage or loss.

There are commercially rod wraps available, which are pretty good, although they tend to deteriorate fairly quickly when exposed to salt and sun. Here are some cheaper everyday solutions to the problem:

1. Thick rubber bands. Don't wrap the band around the butts and tips of the rods, which seems to be the most obvious way to go. Instead, bundle all your rods and pieces together, then loop one end of a band around the biggest eye closest to the ground. Stretch the band around the rod bundle as many times as necessary to get a firm hold, and pass it back around the eye. Repeat this about two thirds of the way up the bundle, choosing the sturdiest eye you can find. If it's a really massive bundle, use three or four bands, and take extras, as they can fling off into the drink when packing and unpacking.

Bike pannier bungee creating a secure bundle of rock/surf rods.

2. Bike pannier bungees. These are excellent for this purpose ñ just make sure you get the ones with a plastic toggle, where the bungee feeds through a hole and locks. 'Zap bike rack bungee cords' come in a pack of 8, are good quality, and retail for about $30, although there are cheaper options out there. Bike bungees also have a variety of other uses, such as attaching items of gear to your pack, or joining together to make a short berley cord.

A final useful application is when leaning your rods against your car as you get your gear ready: simply loop the bungee and the rods around part of your roof rack (provided you have one) for a secure hold. Otherwise, you risk the horrible, familiar sound of rod eyes screeching over your paintwork as they clatter to the ground!

Hook holders

For some reason, rod manufacturers no longer include the very useful hook holders that used to be a feature of virtually every rod ever produced. The absence of these holders can make safe hook storage tricky when moving between spots. One option is to secure your hook to the first, largest eye on the rod. Any jiggle of the rod, however, can release the hook, allowing it to flail about and bury itself where it's not wanted.

A double-looped rubber band makes an excellent flexible hook holder.

A medium-sized rubber band does an excellent job because its elasticity allows the hook a lot of movement, even if it is a heavy softbait jighead. This is useful if you're on a bouncing boat, or pushing your way through undergrowth. Simply loop the rubber band through itself twice at the base of the rod blank where it enters the handle, and you're away. Experiment a bit with the best rubber band size for your needs. The best ones for me are about 2mm across, with a diameter of around 50mm.

Makeshift rod holder

As a newbie to the world of boat fishing, I have yet to set up my tinny, the Weasel; with proper rod holders.

Jack Lusk, the writer's brother, with a 76cm king taken from the rocks on fly near Napier.

A satisfactory stopgap measure has been to take along big plastic spring clamps to lock the rod to the Weasel's rails or bows. If placed correctly, the clamp holds the rod safely parallel to the water, which is great for straylining, as it allows fish to run off with the bait without feeling the tension of the rod bending as it loads. This style of clamp is also very quick and easy to attach and detach, which is important if you are an excitable kind of fisherman like me, who becomes all thumbs and elbows once a decent fish comes along. I suspect this method would also have applications for wharf or bridge fishing.

Spring clamp in action. Just make sure that the line is clear, and the reel can operate without snagging on the clamp.

One consideration with these clamps is that the teeth might well damage the cork handle of your rod, but this could be avoided by fixing foam buffers on the inside of the spring clamp. So far, it hasn't chewed up my handles at all, but it's something I'll keep an eye on.

Transporting breakout sinkers

Shake the pipe firmly to dispense a sinker

Breakout sinkers can be a real pain to store, as their spikiness means that they don't easily fit into a tackle box or bag, and if they do, they take up a lot of space. One option is to use a length of PVC pipe about double-to-triple the diameter of the lead part of the sinker. I use pipe of 32mm internal diameter, which stores all weights of sinker. Engage the spikes (so the sinker is in 'ready to fish' position), and push them in, one after the other, at the top of the pipe. Each sinker will force the one ahead a little further in to the pipe. When you want to get one out, just give the pipe a firm downward shake, and the bottom sinker will poke its nose out so you can grab it. This method means you can fill your backpack with gear, then jam the PVC pipe in, or attach it to the outside of your pack. I've never had a sinker work its way out on its own, but if you do, consider bending the spikes out more, or using a narrower pipe.

Fish stringer

The fish stringer makes carrying lots of small fish a breeze.

If you are shore fishing and need to transport your catch from place to place, a fish stringer is a good short-term option. At its simplest, a stringer is a wooden spike and a cord with a loop in the end, onto which the fish are threaded. The wooden spike acts as a needle to thread through the fish's gills and out through the mouth, and is also a handle for carrying the catch. Once all the fish have been threaded on, the spike is fed through the loop in the end of the line, forming a noose to securely hold the fish.

To make your own, you just need some parachute cord about a metre long, and a piece of wood to form the handle. While simply knotting the cord to the handle and tying a loop in the other end will do the job, your stringer will be a lot easier to use if you streamline everything. This allows the spike and line to pass more easily through snaggy gill rakers and mouths. I recommend drilling a countersunk hole in the spike, feeding the cord through and knotting it, so that the knot disappears into the countersunk hole when pulled. Then epoxy the knot securely in the hole, and form the loop in the end of the line by binding the cord to itself, creating a smooth profile that will travel through the fish's mouths with ease.

Fishing scissors

I like to have a super-sharp knife for bait cutting, and regard it as a matter of pride that I can shave my arm hair with my bait knife.

However, even the sharpest bait knife can be outshone by a strong pair of scissors. This is especially true with super mushy pilchards or similar baits, which need delicate treatment. A sturdy pair of scissors will snip through virtually all manner of bait, and are also able to cut line, trim knots, and shape mangled softbaits, all one-handed. They're also good at removing bait cotton/elastic from destroyed bait, and have the added advantage that if you are excited or clumsy, there's a reduced risk of lacerating yourself. Even a cruddy pair from the supermarket or $2 shop will do a better job than a poor-quality, blunt knife ñ although the cheaper ones will need more anti-rust treatment than quality stainless steel.

The Weasel in action taking fishos to the rocks

Quick tips & hacks

  • Reduce or eliminate rust in your hook box by putting a pad of cotton at the bottom of each section, and soaking it lightly with olive oil.
  • Increase the appeal of your livebait balloons by getting some tiny bells from a craft shop and putting them into the balloon before inflation. It’s also a good idea to use “helium quality” balloons from a party supply store, as they are a lot more resilient than supermarket cheapies.
  • A “Warwick Velcro Homework Bag” in the largest size is a good receptacle for every piece of terminal tackle you use during a session. Chuck all your used stickbaits, hooks, flies, sinkers etc in it for cleaning and desalination at home, and avoid putting them back with your other tackle.

Final word

Most of these hacks are arguably not as good as something purpose-designed but they're cheap and easy to put together and will hopefully help you get fishing more enjoyably and effectively. Tight lines!

Related posts

How to fish soft baits with Rob Fort
Techniques
Get a full run down on the basics of soft bait and soft plastic fishing, including the techniques explained to help you go out and be successful with this style. Learn about sink rates and staying in touch during the decent plus more with pro angler Rob Fort.
How to fish microjigs and slow jigs with Rob Fort
Techniques
Here's a complete step-by-step guide to using micro jigs. Learn the techniques to be successful at catching fish with four methods explained in detail including easy to follow instructional diagrams.
Japanese micro jigging techniques
Techniques
The Japanese invented micro jigs, and have also developed some specific techniques for fishing them. These little lures are deadly in NZ waters, particularly on snapper. Check out this great technique instruction, it's in Japanese but has full subtitles.
Top water kingfish action and tips
Techniques
Join Adan Clancy from Fishy Business and Ben Pokaia for top tips for jigging and top water fishing for Bay Of Plenty Kingfish.
How to smash your PB kingfish on stick baits
Techniques
It was chaos! the pack of Kingfish erupted on the surface splaying froth and panicking baitfish in every direction. Words can’t even describe the sight as I grabbed my topwater gear and belted a quick cast into the riot. Fish were flying all over the surface and after a couple of winds ‘booom’! As line peeled off the wailing Stella all I could do was watch and hang on. With 15kgs of drag locked on it was one of those moments where the sheer excitement was overriding the pain of every muscle screaming to hold fast. After a tough, twenty-minute tug-o-war the fish finally turned, and I was able to coax him up. Kingfish are brutal on any gear, but on the longer topwater rods they have a leverage advantage and as an angler, you get to feel every bit of the fight even more than on normal jigging gear. When the fish appeared it was as much a relief as anything, and I knew this was around a 30kg PB straight away. Such a magnificent fish deserved to go back to get even bigger, so after a few snaps he was back over the side leaving me with that exhausted and elated feeling. Did that really happen?
Lure Fishing masterclass seminar
Techniques
Watch now: Grant 'Espresso' Bittle and Catch pro angler Edward Uhai Lee share some expert knowledge with hints, tips and technique advice to help you with your artificial bait game. Recorded live at the 2019 Hutchwilco Boat Show. Enjoy.
All Related

See Also

The Lateral Line: Episode #11
Land-based
The boys find themselves in the right place at the right time. Gannets diving have given away a pack of hunting kingfish
The Lateral Line Boat Build: Ep #5
Boats
Suzuki powered and fully loaded. Here's the latest on the Lateral Line boat build
Catch Rainbow Warrior Double Trouble
Gear
The Catch Double Trouble is one of their very best jig patterns. We've caught everything from snapper and kingfish, to albacore tuna and exotic species overseas on this versatile slow pitch/mechanical crossover lure. Here's Espresso talking about a hot new colour out for this season, the Rainbow Warrior.
Deepwater fishing for hapuku, bass and bluenose. Pete Lamb Special
Deep-water
Big, fat fish that are awesome to eat! Deepwater species make up a staple target for fishermen all over New Zealand, particularly in the colder months when snapper and game fish take a winter break. The catch is often made up of fish that are large in size, where sometimes just one fish can fill the freezer and provide food for a month. It can be very rewarding, exciting, and certainly provides a solid work session if you are not using electric reels. It also means that these giants of the deep will be making a one-way trip, there is no returning fish that are pulled up from that depth, as they are ‘blown’ from the massive change in water pressure and usually float to the surface for the last 50 metres once you have them up that far. Here’s where sensible catch management is required for the respect of the fishery and the protection of your own spot X’s for next time. ‘Deep’ water, means anything over 100 metres, and commonly down to 350 metres or even more. This means specialist tackle and techniques are required. Pete Lamb operates long term Wellington store Pete Lamb Fishing, and has been operating charters that prospect the deep for many years. Here’s a really comprehensive article on deep water fishing with specific focus on some of the Wellington region areas, but all the other information is relevant to fishing these species all around the coastlines of New Zealand.
Fishing | Time | Moon | Tide | Current | Weather
Hints & Tips
Here's a great look at all the key factors before planning a fishing trip courtesy of ol mate Briggsy from Aus. In this educational fishing series we look at time of day, tide, moon phase, current, and weather.
Epic Freediving & Snorkelling at Goat Island
Spearfishing
In this video we take a look at an epic free diving spot North of Auckland in New Zealand. Goat Island is a marine reserve that has a unique biome and completely tame snapper. Snapper are very difficult to catch while spearfishing at the best of times, but the fish have become tame over decades of protection in the marine reserve. They will happily follow divers around and it makes for an excellent free diving location being that it is sheltered and often reasonably clean.
All Posts

Drop NZ Fishing World a line!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.