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!!!