Broadbill Swordfish are known as the gladiator of the sea, the ultimate in game fishing. We chat to Luke Davey of SwordPro about the techniques he uses when deep dropping for broadbill.
Its fair to say Luke certainly knows his stuff when it comes to catching broadbill having either landed or released 11 swords last season. Luke mainly fishes out of Whangaroa, Northland and puts his success down to the experience he has gained over the years perfecting his rigs and deep dropping techniques.
Having been brought up in Northland I have a been hunting, fishing and spearfishing the area most of my life. My passion for daytime dropping for broadbill has led me to gain a lot of knowledge through research and practical experience in this field. I would rather do nothing more than drop for swords. This has lead me to research the best bait rigs and dropping systems which has allowed me to share my knowledge through my online business SwordPro. We have had a lot of guys contacting us sending in pics of their first sword caught using our rigs, using the techniques we have shared on the website, some after many years of trying.
Daytime dropping techniques have made if a lot easier for the everyday fisherman to target these fish. Finding an area to fish for these amazing fish with all the technology available today has opened up the opportunity for small boat owners to also enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
Broadbill Finding Area
The night before I head out on the water in search of swords I take a few minutes to study the GPS maps and look through all the sea mounts and trenches in the areas I intend to fish ranging from 300 – 600 meters in my fishing area. You need to be looking for steep drop offs and any kind of structure. Once you motor over these areas with a good sounder you may find different places holding good baitfish. These are definitely areas to drop and try your luck.
I have fished a lot out of Whangaroa and the Garden Patch areas where there are some amazing structures and areas to fish for broadbill.
Swordfish – Rigging Baits
Before you can even think about heading out to the sword grounds you need bait. I prefer to use fresh bait over frozen so I tend to catch the bait on my way out, whether it be skippys, kahawai, kingfish or yellowtail. When catching bait I run five skippy lures to increase my chances of getting multiple hook ups which enables me to get to the sword grounds faster. Once I have caught 3-4 skippys I will head out. I have caught these all year round off the Garden Patch area.
A great swordfish bait I use and have had a lot luck with is a strip of fresh fish, like skippy belly rigged up into a bulb squid skirt. The bulb squid works great an added visual attractant. It also has the benefit of protecting the bait and still being a great visual bait if the swordfish whacks it with its bill and breaks the tail strip away the bait inside is left unharmed therefore it still has some smell and flavour.
I find the best way to rig up a bait is to cut a strip of belly off the bait fish and slide it up inside the bulb squid using a rigging needle and tying it with rigging floss to the hook. I prefer using a single or double circle hook rig depending on which bait I am using. Fresh bait is best, skipjack tuna, yellow tail, kingfish belly strips, kahawai belly strips, whole large squid or fresh water eels.
Another bait I tend to use is a whole skipjack tuna on rigged on a single or double circle hook rig – I cut the tail and fins off and tie the mouth and gill plates shut with rigging floss and then I try and locate the circle hook about 2 inches off the tail stump. I lace my rigging floss using a rigging needle through the backbone of the fish to hold the bait securely to the hook.
There are two different techniques using circle hooks or J-Hooks. Personally I prefer circle hooks as I don’t get as many foul hook ups or gut hooks pulling out during the fight. When using circle hooks once you are tight on the fish there is a lot less chance of it pulling out compared to J-Hooks because the circle hooks generally always hook in the corner of the mouth which is one of the stronger parts on a swordfish for the hook to be located.
A must have is deep water lights, LED Diamond Lights, deep drop lights and submarine lights all work really well. This is what is attracting the fish to the baits and is a must have – no light no bite. We have a range of colours available which all seem to work well. The light should be hooked approximately 4 meters up from the hook so that it doesn’t interfere with the swivel. I usually run two submarine lights clipped together and several of the smaller LED Diamond Lights held along the line with rubber bands. I always attach my diamond lights with rubber bands rather than swivels etc so that if there is a tangle on the light the rubber band will snap away allowing the tangle to free up and have less chance of loosing the fish. Having two lights adds more drag in the water as the swordfish is heading to the surface and helps locate the circle hook on its way to the surface, with the added bonus of increasing the brightness.
Daytime Dropping Techniques
There are quite a few dropping techniques used when dropping for broadbill. I will explain the one that I prefer to use, however this isn’t the only way to drop but is my preference.
One technique I have been using with great success is running an 80 wide using 180lb braid with a 450lb snap swivel tied directly to my braid. You can also use a Various Top Shot. I then connect my rigged SwordPro leader straight to the swivel. Depending on the size weights I’m using I use a light mono breakaway off the hook with a 60ft sacrificial breakaway. Once the swordfish whacks at the bait the breakaway is released. With this particular system you can deploy the bait straight down in freespool so there is less chance of a tangle. You will have to work out what size mono is best suited to the weights you are dropping and the current you are fishing. You must keep the line vertically up and down while fishing this rig – to do this you would usually reverse keeping the line straight.
Using these different styles of rigs and dropping techniques will increase your chances of catching a swordfish. Once I have the fish at the boat I use SwordPro Landing Gear including flying gaff, harpoon or tag and release dart depending on whether I intend to take it home to eat or let it go to live another day. Hauling these beasts into the boat can be a real struggle which is were the SwordPro Landing Kit including Meat Hook, Pulley Winch and Tail Rope get put to good use.
There will be a lot of trial and error but it is well worth the reward once you land the fish of a lifetime.
Luke is very approachable sharing his tips and techniques helping other blue water hunters experience the thrill of catching their first sword. He’s only an email or phone call away and will happily talk swords with his customers and those wanting to get into the sport.
All SwordPro Broadbill Rigs are hand assembled by Luke Davey himself, the landing gear is manufactured in New Zealand and all his gear can be found online where he shares a lot of this information and knowledge.