The introduction of spectra has brought with it a quantum leap for the offshore fishing experience. The diameter of fishing line has become exponentially smaller and has enabled fishermen to use much lighter gear. Now with the advent of lighter more powerful rods and reels, we can actually feel everything that a powerful pelagic is doing. It’s fishing without beating fish into submission with the meat sticks of old and gramps ten pound 50 wide clamped to it. With the advantages of spectra, we can now use rod/reel combos that maintain a light tackle feel while still having the power to chase big game.
One other advantage of spectra braid is getting rid of clunky knots that have a tendency to hang up on guides while winching up a fish or when casting across that far boil. Enter hollow core spectra. There are now ways to minimize the diameter of your gear connections and knots for a smoother transition between your main line and your leader or topshot.
The ‘Nub’ Connection Method
There are a ton of ways to rig, and a ton of people professing the “best” methods of fishing. Personally, I have been introduced to a way to make connections and have refined it to work best in our application here in the Pacific Northwest. This system has helped our tournament fishing team to a first place finish and continues to produce failure free fishing and is less complex than other methods we have tried. My wish is to share some user-based knowledge that we have been fortunate to gain, hoping to make your next trip as rewarding as many of ours have been.
I have experimented with both simple and complex methods, all with their pros and cons. I have found that I fall in the K.I.S.S. camp. The less complicated you make it, the less likely you are to have a periodic failure. I usually prefer to simplify my setup and maximize the time it is in the water fishing.
The method we found most reliable was the ‘nub connection’ first developed by a gentleman by the name of Gary Teraoka. The concept uses the ‘cats paw’ grip of hollow core spectra to your mono or flouro line that is threaded into the center of the spectra. The method adds additional assurances that will not allow slack to release that ‘cats paw’ grip when slack is found in the hollow core.
The nub connection does this by first threading around 4’ of the leader/topshot into the hollow core. Then a ‘nub’ nail knot is tied to the exposed leader/topshot and threaded into the hollow core another 2-3”. Once the nub is threaded inside the hollow core, you tie a ‘backstop’ nail knot over the hollow core that is butted up against and downstream of the nub. Now all that is left to do is a nail knot at the very end of the hollow core to prevent the line from fraying and act as a last chance knot. Dab this knot with some flexible adhesive and you are off to the races.
Here is how we have applied it with good success to our gear:
Albacore Trolling set up:
Our troll rods start with Blackwater’s 60lb. X12 hollow core spectra main line. The quality of their line is second to none but can reflect that fact in pricing. I chose the X12 (12 strand braid) to keep the expense down instead of the X16, which is a better quality line and easier to thread but costs more due to the complexity making it. We are now running Momois’ high vis 50 lb mono in the “brilliant blue” for our 100’ topshot mostly because it is subtle for it’s size and has good abrasion resistance. I find the color helps you see your set when making adjustments. The length is a trade off between keeping mono in the water to minimize tangles and spool capacity with the smaller more powerful reels to retain that light tackle feel.
Rod: Lamiglas BL 7640 c gimbled w/ standard guides
Reels: Avet MXL/LX leftys
Mainline: Blackwater’s 60lb X12 hollow core spectra
TopShot: Momoi’s high vis 50lb mono in ‘brilliant blue’
Leaders: 100lb Blackwater Shockleader fluorocarbon
Albacore Swimbait/iron set up:
Focusing on that light tackle feel with a longer rod for casting distance, our swimbait rigs rely on reels with less capacity than our troll gear. Because of this and a couple other factors, we run a short topshot/leader of approximately 10-15‘. If you have capacity for a couple spare rigs, threading your leader 4’ into your hollow core main line and connecting with a ’nub’ connection is ideal. When you break one off, grab your spare. This eliminates knots and allows your transition from spectra to leader to past smoothly through guides, increasing casting distance. Our iron rods are a bit shorter and load up differently but still use the same connections.
If you don’t have spare rods, use loop-to-loop connections. Still a smooth transition, a loop-to-loop simplifies juggling rods for different uses on the boat and allows for quick changes on the water. We start with a bimini twist on Blackwater’s 60lb. X12 hollow core spectra and loop-to-loop connect a pre-made leader. We usually have an arsenal of pre-tied Blackwater Shockleader Fluorocarbon leaders ranging from 25lb to 40lb in 15’ lengths. To build leaders we simply repeat the ‘nub’ connection using Blackwater’s 65lb X16 hollow core spectra and then build a loop at the end.
Rods: Cast- Lamiglas TFX 8030 c
Reels: Cast- Avet SX MC ‘lefties’
Mainline: Blackwater’s 60lb. X12 hollow core spectra
Leaders: Blackwater’s 25-30lb Shockleader Fluorocarbon