Whipping set up Q & A

I recently received this question from Tyson who moved to Hawaii from the pacific northwest and after a few back and forths between us I thought it might be a helpful resource for others, so with out further adieu…

Tyson:   I live on the big island, and am surrounded mostly by cliffs.   Is there a casting setup / lures that you could recommend?  I’m originally from WA state, am way out of place when it comes to shore casting, especially off cliffs.  I read everything you posted, it seems you do great with lures!  I would appreciate any help.


Fishergirl:  Hi Tyson,

Typically when I am on a cliff I will use a 1 oz lure and up, mainly surface plugs.  I haven’t found a swimming lure (besides a grub set up) that really does what it is suppose to from the high angle so that’s why I stick with a popper.  As far as casting set up it depends on what size fish you are targeting and how much you would like to spend.  If you could could send me an email back with that info as well as how high are the cliffs, that would be super helpful to answering your question.

Thanks and welcome to Hawaii!

Tyson:  First off, thank you so much for responding.  Again, I love your blog.

The cliffs around here on the BI vary, but the highest I would say would be about a telephone pole in height.  But there are definitely lower spots if you hike.  I’m not sure what fish to target.  I like the sport of fishing, but I want to catch fish to eat also.  I think they are ‘Jack’ Fish (?) seem to be the ones to go after from what I can tell.  Papio are the smaller ones?  Ulua I understand you have to have a big rig.  So I want to stick to what works best for shore casting, most versatile.  And as far as cost, I always believe you get what you pay for, so I don’t mind making an investment.  I think I answered all the questions.

Thanks for your time!

Fishergirl:  Hi Tyson,

Okay, here we go….

The “Jack” fish are exactly that, a jack or a trevally, more commonly called ulua here in Hawaii.  Papio are basically the same fish, but under 10lbs.   My advice in your transition to fishing here in Hawaii is to start off with small game and work your way up to the larger fish.  Of course we all want to catch the big boys but they really are more elusive and harder to land which is what makes them such a prize when you do.  Best to work your way up the food chain, have some fun and learn the ropes along the way.  To me catching fish, any fish is good fun and most of them are quite good eating too.  So on that note I will start set up suggestions.  All of the prices I quoted below are from memory and might not be exact, but somewhere in the ball park.

Starting off on the lighter side, this is where I would suggest to begin your arsenal of fishing gear…

Light, budget conscious set up-
8ft med action “ugly stick” whipping pole- probably around $60 if I remember correctly
Shimano Cienna 4000 reel – around $30 (I found this reel at Kmart here on Kauai)  I can’t believe how good this reel is for the price.
15-25 lb powerpro braid or 15lb mono main line to a appropriate sized fluorocarbon leader, typically I will run 15 to 30lb depending on what I am targeting, smaller fish smaller test.
This set up is perfect for using a grub set up and up to a 1/2 – 3/4 oz lure.  The really flexible pole is nice for casting and makes fighting any fish a lot of fun while still proving to be really strong.  I recently reeled in a 4 lb papio up a 20 ft cliff with this set up with only a small bkn hook (couldn’t believe the hook held!)

My favorite light set up-
10ft hawaiian gold whipping pole- around $80
Shimano Stradic 3000- around $150
20-25 lb powerpro braid to a 30 to 40lb fluorocarbon leader.
I love this set up.  You can whip ALL day long on this and not get tired and it can handle 1/4 oz to 1 oz lures with the 1/2 oz being the sweet spot, the grub set up works like a charm too on this rig, maybe just scale back your leader test.  Casts really well and I have landed most of my fish on this rig.

Med action set up-

I am just stepping up to this realm myself so I don’t have as much experience with these larger set ups, working on that as much as I can though.  Expect to get more of a work out on these rigs!

Nitro Seatech whipping rod, at least 9 ft  – $100 range(?).  You want to stick with the longer poles so you can have a little “breathing room” between you and the edge of the cliffs or even the wave action when you are down lower.  11 ft is as long as I would go personally on a whipping rod though.
Shimano Stradic 5000- around $180
loaded with at least 40lb powerpro or other brand braid to at least 50 lb fluorocarbon leader
This set up should put you in the 1-3 oz lure range.  I would have went with this set up if I didn’t go with the next option.

Brand new in my line up is a Custom wrapped 11ft lamiglass whipping rod.  The guy who built it actually lives on the big island and I would be happy to pass on his info if you like.  I would start off smaller before going this route though.
Shimano Stradic 8000- $199ish
loaded with 65lb braid (I have toughline on mine but you could still use power pro) to a 50+lb flourocarbon leader.  I currently am using 50lb but I need to step up my game here and start using around 80lb.
Handles 1.5 to 3 oz lures with ease.

Heavy action set up-

I’m so not there yet so I would have to defer to some other sources…  I will keep you posted if/when I figure anything out!

Basically you want a rod long enough to keep you safe that is flexible enough to launch your lures to the moon and strong enough to with the battle.

In a reel, look for a really good retrieve ratio since whipping is usually about bringing in the lures really fast so you want something that does a lot of the work for you.  Bass pro shops online has a really great spec reference, they show you not only the retrieve ratio but how many feet you reel in per crank.  Other things to consider is a solid drag system and the weight of the reel itself.  This is why I have gone with the stradics, light and strong!  If I had the dough I would love a stella but wowzers they are not cheap!

Strong solid knots and I highly recommend the mcmahon swivel from cabelas to attach your lures to the leader.  They make changing lures a snap, they won’t accidentally open like regular snap type swivels and they add a layer of “bite” protection if a fish inhales your lure.

One more thing to consider is if you are on a good size cliff, you might need a slide gaff to get your fish up.  Not such a big deal with little fish but when you start getting into some bigger stuff it becomes a reality.  The graphite that make the heavier set ups (poles) so great, can’t stand they extreme pressure that would be put on them to get the fish up the cliff.  Also you can damage a reel this way too.  Just something to consider if/when you are ready to go after the larger fish and maybe to motivate you for the hike to stay a little lower till then.

Wow, are you still with me??  With all of this said, I am just a crazy fishergirl and this is merely my two cents.  I’m sure others would have different opinions, this is just what has worked for me.  Make sure to check out the fishing forums, TONS of great information there and some amazing fishermen to learn from.  I hope this was helpful and let me know if you have any other questions.

Enjoy your time fishing, this really is a beautiful place we live!

Tyson:  Thank you so much for that incredible response!  I just read it 3 times to be sure I got it all.  I think with the knowledge I already had, and with the fantastic help from you, I will be ordering up my rig soon and be fishing in no time.  I definitely plan to go for the smaller fish first.  I love Ugly Sticks, used them all my life.  I’ve had some nice poles, but ugly sticks have never failed me.

Soon as I get rolling, I’ll be sure to post some pics.

Take care, and thanks again!

Fishergirl:  Make sure to check out that Hawaiian gold pole if you are gonna stay with the smaller stuff.  I have both and it is definitely the one I prefer, you will get more distance and it’s longer which you will REALLY appreciate on the cliffs.  Good luck and I can’t wait to see the photos!!!

Thanks for reading those of you who made it all the way to the end…  I know it was a long one!!!

Happy Catching!


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Get Ready!!!

Ohhhhh…. Their a coming!!!  I am so excited!  Fish everywhere!!!  Are you ready??? No?  Get ready…. for an action packed summer!!!  I can hardly contain myself! Okay… breathe breathe breathe…. okay…okay… whew, that’s better… so now that I have caught my breath, let me tell you (I hope in a way less spastic way) what I’m talking about…

Lots and lots of action this past week.  It started off with a trip to some flats, the surf was pumping and it was the only place to safely fish for a few days.  The first day I fished it, I had at least 4 hits and one hook up that managed to get wrapped around a coral head and get off.  The fish were amazing, chasing the lure right to my feet where I ran out of room and they would turn tail and take off.  I was mainly using a Mark White 1/4 oz and I did toss out a few grubs, the only thing I actually caught was a massive hawk fish but I tossed it back still hoping to land a papio.   Time ran out and I had to pack it in and surrender for the day… I will admit it, I was pretty bummed I didn’t hook up but it’s still amazing to see those omilus all blazing blue and green up close and personal like that.  As I lamented on my facebook page about my woes, a good friend accused me of losing my fishing mojo!  Uhg… I promptly de-friended her and proceeded to cry…Just kidding, all in jest but there was no way I was going down like that…

The next morning I started calling all my fishing partners while I was driving my own little guppies to school but they were all going surfing.   $&#*(@)!   Rather than learn how to surf I started calling up some girl friends who I knew liked to fish, usually just small hand pole style stuff.  I just had to see if I could persuade one of them to come on an adventure with me.  Why did I need a partner so bad???  Well, I will go lots of places by myself but this spot is just a little too remote for me to feel comfortable all by my lonesome.  I want to make sure I get back to my guppies and mr fishergirl after all…  I did manage to get a hold of a friend and talked her into doing twice as much work the next day so she could play with me, I’m such a good friend… and off we went!  One quick stop by the store to grab her some tabis and we headed out to one of my favorite stretches of shoreline.  I really wanted to get back on those same flats since I had all that action the day before and when we arrived at the shoreline it was confirmed that’s where we would be since the swell was up even more than the day before.  I set my friend up with a golf ball/grub rig, filled her pockets full of grubs, slapped on our tabis and we headed out.  When the tide is low enough (which it was) you can wade out a good distance on these particular flats.  I showed her where the higher rocks were and where good spots to cast would be and she handled like a champ and was doing great.  After a bit I put a little distance between us and started tossing out my 1/4 oz MW again.  About 10 casts in… bam!   I really didn’t want to loose this one to another coral head or rock so I just bullied it right in.

Here is a pic I stole from my friends fb page, can’t believe she had her camera ready out there but how cool…

And here is my prize for the day after I scurried back to the beach.  I had intended on tagging it but when I got to my bag I realized I had forgotten to put my tagging kit back in my pack when I had rearranged it the night before.  So a quick pic and I sent it back on its way.  Looked to be about 13 in or so…

I did have another really nice chase on the MW and even tried out my new little waxwing for a while but that was it for the day.

Fast forward to Friday, which happened to be Good Friday so other than being one of the most meaningful days of the year for me, mr fishergirl had the day off from work.  We decided to go play up on the north shore for a change.  When we arrived it was low tide and perfect for wading across some flats to a deep channel that cuts in.   You can see the channel in this pic, believe it or not it gets about 40 or 50 feet deep in there.

I headed out to the edge of the channel and had a strike by my second cast, omilu papio again.  The water is amazingly clear here and it is so cool to see the fish come out of the deep from under the ledges after your lure, it always amazes me how fast they are.  Two cast later I had two chasing my little mw!  Ahhhh…..  I am just drooling cause they are right there but just missing or I’m running out of room and they are gone…  I did snag a few moanas, a hawk fish and about 4 strikes from our papio friends when it was all said and done.   So back to the beach to hang out with the fam…sniff… Anyways, when I got back to the beach fisherboy was super excited because my hubby finally gave him the rubber sling to the three prong spear we have been letting him practice swimming around with.  Needless to say it was a major milestone day for him.   They found a coconut and practiced shooting on the beach before they went out for a full fledged spear diving session.  He didn’t get anything his first time out but let me tell you that boy can’t wait to go again!

Finally today I checked the tide and saw there was a nice little high tide late this morning so I headed down to one of my regular south shore spots.  I fished a low ledge that has been a lot of fun in the past until the tide came up and made it a little too adventurous for my taste.  The only other option then was some pretty high cliffs.  I thought I was going to hike out but when I looked out there were oodles of fish…  there are usually a few kalas and uhus that you can spot anytime here, but there just seemed to be more going on today.  I tossed out my plugs but there were no takers so I decided what the hay and threw out my my new favorite grub.  I instantly hooked up a fat trumpet fish, reeled it up the cliff and did my best not to get completely slimed from it and tossed it back.  I figured I would try for a moana so the next cast I let my lure sink a bit more and bounced it off the bottom.  Still pulled up another trumpet!  Okay, one more try.  Again I worked the bottom and got another fish on.  This one was definitely bigger and I could not believe my eyes when I got it in closer… A nice omilu papio!!!  I got it to the edge of the cliff and gently reeled it up.  I wasn’t sure the hook would hold but I thought I would give it a shot and it worked!

Now what do I do with it?  I had not one tidal pool nearby to keep it alive while I tagged it on top of the cliff, not to mention the 20+ foot drop back off the edge to release it so I was thinking about just keeping it.  Then there is the fact that I didn’t bring any ice or a cooler to properly take it home…. hmmm…. It was a really nice fish…. I seriously needed to hurry and make up my mind if it was going to have any chance.  I realized I really wanted to let this one go so it could hopefully go make more and more papio to catch in the future so I high tailed it down to the little cove nearby to do my best at getting this fish back swimming again.  The shortest path was pretty steep and I was in a hurry but I kept reminding myself “it’s just a fish, your by yourself, watch your footing!!!”.  I don’t know if you have noticed but I tend to get a little excited at times so I was repeating this over and over in my head.  When I made it down I found a great little tide pool to revive the fish and there definitely was a point when I didn’t think it was going to make it but after a few minutes it perked back up nicely.  Since it was looking like it would see another day I went ahead and tagged it, snapped another photo and sent it on its way!

Measured up at 14.5″

So now do you see what I am so jazzed about??  I’ve seen more fish in the last week than I have in the past few months combined!!  And yes I realize this would be A LOT more impressive if I actually caught all of the them, but still great to see them so active.  They seem to be really interested in the smaller lures at the moment but just imagine when the water warms up a bit and they really get hungry…  It’s gonna be so much fun!   So get ready… stock up on your lures, dust off your rods and reels and do something special now for your sweetie so they will be more than happy to let you get out there and fish cause it looks like this is going to be one fantastic summer!!!

One last little top off to my super fun week… Both fisherboy AND fisherkid along with little ol’ me,  made it into the latest addition of Lawai’a magazine!

They both raised the bar at show and tell this week, good job boys!!!

Happy Catching Everyone,


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Tagging along

Work, work, work.  That’s all I have seem to be doing lately.  Just when I think I might have a break to get out and go fish then the phone rings and it’s work, work, work again.  Don’t get  me wrong, I’m happy to have the work but, come on… I wanna go fish already!!!  So when mr fishergirl told me he had to take a business trip to Oahu I jumped on the chance to tag along.  There is no better excuse to not be able to get to the phone and projects if your off island, right?   Now, normally a trip to Oahu would mean some serious no holds barred shopping extravaganza… I am fisherGIRL after all.  But I had a little idea…  What if I send out some feelers to some of my fellow fisher-bloggers and forum members and see if they would like to go fish with me?  I ran this idea by my hubby and he was ALL for it.  He was so happy at the idea of me fishing vs. being left unsupervised at Ala Moana Shopping center for 2 days.

So I sent out the messages and crossed my fishergirl fingers that someone would want to take a girl fishing.  And guess what?  They did!!!  Spyda and Bruddah Bill were up for hanging out and there was even an offer from one of the members out on the “eastside” (If these names make absolutely no sense to you, do yourself a favor and click on that little fish on the top right of the page).   Now, not only do I have fishing partners lined up but Spyda offers his rods up for me to use so I don’t have to lug any over from Kauai.  How cool!  So I packed up my reels and lures and bought a fresh pair of tabis, no need abuse them with my stinky old ones, dropped our guppies off with grandma and we set out for Oahu.

Now this picture has nothing to do with fishing but this is what they gave us at the rental car company, we were going for inconspicuous…

So we hook up with Spyda and after he gets done laughing at our rental car I jump in with him and we head down to Bill’s place.  You hear people talk about “location, location, location”.  Well Bill’s got quite a spot!  We all talked story for about 20 min or so as we poured over each others tackle boxes and gear.  Always fun to see what works for others and to share stories and tricks.  I turn around and Spyda has set up about 6 different rods for me to choose from.  Can I just say I am feeling a wee bit spoiled at this point…  We set up our reels and lures and off we go the long haul from Bill’s house to the beach… well, better I just show you than try to explain it…

Location, location, location!

So I whipped this way…

And this way…

and I did have one strike but that was it.  It was a such a nice afternoon and I had lots of fun trying as well as hanging out with Spyda, Bruddah Bill and his honey.  Mr fishergirl eventually made his way down to Eva after his work commitments to hang out for a pau hana and then we were off to Town to check into our hotel and then out for a nice dinner.

The next morning we rendezvoused again with Spyda and off we went to the north shore while my hubby went back to town and off to work.  It was another gorgeous day and the water was looking SO good.  There was a north swell that was just arriving and as the day went on the wave action was starting to kick up on the inside and it was looking more and more promising.

Here is an early in the day shot of the water…

and Spyda scoping it out…

We hung at this spot for probably an hour or so and then we went up the road and tried out a few more.  I think that I was so excited to get out and fish someplace new that I kinda forgot all of my patience and just whipped like crazy instead of taking my time and being more strategic about it all.  I didn’t end up catching any fish but I would like to think I was a bit of a lucky charm for Spyda who caught a really nice 19″ yellow spot papio (t&r) dunking some live bait.

Obviously I owe a huge mahalo to Spyda for letting my tag along, showing me around and letting me use his gear.  And to Bruddah Bill for letting us cruise at his place to fish and talk a little story.  Hopefully this will be the first of many outings and who knows, maybe next time I will even post a picture of a fish!  Finally to mr fishergirl… not many people would drop off their wife in a parking lot with some guys that she met on the internet to go fish… But I’m really glad you did!

Delivered back safe and sound but maybe just a little sun burnt…


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Family Adventure

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here on Kauai and my family and I set out to have a little adventure.  We packed up the truck and set out to find some fun.  Just in case you are wondering, here is what that looks like in our world….

We were off to one of our favorite spots were I can fish some amazing grounds and mr fishergirl and minnows can ride dirt bikes as well. Fisherboy is still recovering from a broken arm so only fisherkid and mr fishergirls bikes made the cut.  If you are curious, yes there is a fishergirl bike looming somewhere but since there would not be enough room in the truck, I took one for the team and packed my beloved fishing poles instead.  I know… so selfless of me huh ;)

So we get to the entrance of the “spot” and the recent rains proved to be too much on the little access road and there was no way we were gonna make it in, or now that I think about it, there was no way we were gonna make it out.  Sigh.  So we regrouped and pulled up the map on my iphone to see what was nearby that might end up being fun for everyone.   We settled on a little bay that we had spent some time at a few years ago just up the highway a little bit.  It meant no dirt bikes but it is one of those fun out of the way places that everyone was happy to go.   We loaded up the kids and ourselves with all that we would need and hiked out to the edge of the bay where we thought the fishing would be the best.  Mr fishergirl and I whipped around a bit and I wasn’t getting any action so I decided to rig up my dunking rods and send out some stinky bait.  I had just prepped up some ika that morning after being inspired by Bruddah Bill’s recent post, so I was ready.  I have to mention that I resisted my urge to run the hook through the squid twice.  I have always read to just hook it once, don’t choke the hook and send it out.  I don’t know why this is is so hard for me!  I think it must come from baiting up all of those worms in my childhood while fishing for trout and bass, the better you hid the hook the better chance you would have.   This time I fought that urge successfully and against my better judgment hooked it once and let it fly.

About 15 minutes later mr fishergirl and the guppies headed off to hike around the bay for their own little adventure.  I picked up a whipping pole to give it a try again but just before I made my first cast the pole on my left went nuts!  Oh… that will NEVER get old.  To hear the bell and line being pulled against the drag then to see the pole totally bent over, sure fire way to get your heart racing!  I scrambled over to the pole and after I took the bell off and got it out of the holder I thought maybe I had lost it but it turns out it was just running back at me.  It wasn’t long before it went for another run and I knew it was still there.  As soon as I felt it make that turn and start to fight me sideways I knew what I had on the end of my line and sure enough a pretty little o’milu surfaced and was happily retrieved by me.  Luckily the rest of my family hadn’t made it that far and I was able to call them back to show off my catch and take a photo with my small fry…

This one measured out to just shy of 17″ and I had already decided before that the next fish I caught would be brought home.  So mr fishergirl deposited it in the cooler for me and promptly filleted it up when we got home.  And yes, I named it dinner….


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The fishing aisle…

You know the one, the aisle where you conveniently leave your family in the toy section to just run to and grab some swivels or leads that you badly need and end up wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles trying to figure out what is junk and what might just work.  No?  Maybe it’s just me…  Anyways, I have way more than I am comfortable to admit spur of the moment purchases floating around my tackle boxes but every once in a while I do find something fun.

I recently read a post on one of the forums and a someone suggested trying some other swim baits besides our good old curly tail grubs.   Hmmm… I love those little guys as I mentioned a few posts back, but this particular poster is one of those REALLY good fisherman, I make sure to sit up and pay attention when he throws out any tips to the rest of us.  So, as I was on my fifth lap around the fishing section I spied a little bugger that I thought just might do the trick.  It was new, or at least I think it was new to this particular aisle.  I had never seen it before and I ditch, I mean momentarily leave, my family in the toy section all the time to come and do my rounds.  To me it looked like it would do a good job at impersonating a little hinalea or something similar so I grabbed a pack to add to my collection of- I so don’t need it but gotta have its.

Today there was a break in the rainy weather we have been having here on Kauai and my buddy and I managed to enjoy a beautiful morning fishing.  We started out in one spot near a river mouth and decided to pack it up and change locations, too much debris floating around from the heavy rains.  It looked like I was whipping with a rope with all of the grass and junk that would come back with each cast.  So off we went to the next location.  What a difference!  It was beautiful and looked soooo good.   We threw out some stinky bait and then I took off to see what I could drum up.  I started off with my trusty MW’s, then on to a wax wing, even a ranger and nothin’.   Well except for one po’opa’a, but none of our papio friends anywhere….

So I started to reach for my grubs when I remembered my recent purchase and thought what the heck.   I rigged it up the same as I would a curly tail.  The package recommended a weighted jig head but I didn’t have any with me so a bkn hook and a egg lead were gonna have to work.  Here is the little lure in question.

Kinda sleek looking huh.  I really liked the red eyes and that pink fleshy color.  So here we go, I start tossing it out and managed to hook up a hinalea and another po’opa’a.  I have to say this guy was pretty sturdy.  He lasted for a while, survived both fish and the nipping that always happens the the tails of my other grubs, which is nice because they are not as cheap as the others either.  Anyways, I tossed it out one more time and viola!  Papio!  He (or she) was only 10.5 inches and released safely back to make more fish for later.

So obviously I will deem this little lure a winner and when all else fails, he will definitely get used again. It’s suppose to be raining again tomorrow, so you’ll know where to find me… that is unless mr fishergirl and the minnows find me first!

Happy catching everyone!


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