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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Gearing Up For Your Southern Oman Expedition Part One - GT Tackle

Gearing Up For Your Southern Oman Expedition Part One - GT Tackle

By John Cahill 

Southern Oman provides the opportunity to tangle with prehistoric GT's
 If you are lucky enough to have booked your dream trip with No Boundaries Oman, it is time to turn your attention to two things - physical preparation (another subject - see here) and your tackle.

Part two of this blog, Light Tackle can be found here 

You may have fished for big GTs in other locations.  However, Southern Oman has a few unique factors that must be considered.  You are dealing with truly monster fish, brutal tactics employed to extract them, and very heavy drag; this is a hardcore operation!  Your chances at getting multiple shots at monster class fish are quite high so your tackle choices must be made with that in mind. Converting a monster 'chance' into a monster boated is the goal and it is very often not achieved.  This blog is designed to point you in the right direction. On my first trip to Southern Oman at least 50% of my tackle choices were wrong for that location, by trip two I was dialed in, by trip three and four it's been refined to a fine art.  Lets start with the hooks, the piece of gear attached to the fish and the most likely to fail.

Every season - true behemoths

These tackle recommendations are endorsed by Ed Nicholas and his No Boundaries crew, not just by Ebb Tide Adventures. 

Hooks  Hooks are the most likely thing to let you down with straightening, and to a lesser extent breaking, being a regular issue with the Omani GTs.  The immense jaw power of the fish combined with super tight drags and the need to sometimes tow fish from the reef with the boat, make any head shake a chance where the hook may give out and fail - it is extreme fishing.  No hook is beyond the destructive powers of these monsters but some consistently hold up better.  As far as trebles are concerned there is really only one commercially available monster stopper - the Gamakatsu GT Recorder.  Sadly, the 8/0 are no longer made which makes 7/0 the next best.  They are engineered tough and are made barbless which is a pre-requisite for all hooks when fishing with No Boundaries Oman.  The smaller 6/0 may be required for some lures not  capable of swimming with larger hooks, but going any smaller than that is not recommended.  Decoy GT Special are also a very good hook but can be difficult to source.

The GT Recorder is the treble benchmark
Single hooks have become quite popular. They  are brilliant on big fish, are less likely to straighten and are better for the fish.  Not all lures are capable of swimming well with singles so you may need to experiment with them on your own gear but most lures will be acceptable with a single on the rear and a treble on the belly.  We have enjoyed very good success with the Shout Kudako range of hooks.  The Ringed Kudako is a favorite of Ed's for hanging off the rear of lures in particular, whilst the standard Kudako is often rigged on assist cord of the front of big poppers or on the rear depending on the orientation of the lures wiring.   We recommend these hooks in size 8/0 and 9/0 in particular. You would not consider any split rings smaller than size 11h to attach these hooks to your lures.  We love the super smooth Fisherman 300lbs rings.

The weight of these large hooks dictates to an extent which lures you are going to need.  Not every popper and stick bait can handle such large and heavy hardware.  Swimming action and buoyancy can be severely affected so the list of lures capable of performing is smaller than you might first imagine.  Lures that work in Southern Oman waters is an interesting topic. Whilst booming poppers are essential at raising fish holding over deeper reefs, we have seen trips where the only lures getting bites were surface and subsurface stick baits - be prepared for different fishing scenarios with a balanced lure bag.  Whilst not an exhaustive list, we recommend you consider:

Craft Bait GT3 in 170 and 190 gram (no longer recommended due to wiring issues in new production)
Adhek Big Buffalo
Amegari Dzanga 230 
Amagari Dzanga 230 - 50 cup
Adhek Viking (big Viking) 
Jack Fin Kronos 220
Fullscale Kong 200
Blaze Garage Kimitsu in 150 and 170
Blaze Garage Saththa 150
Heru Cubera 150 and 180
Hammerhead 'E' Cup up to 'I' cup
FCL Labo EbiPop
(don't leave home without a good selection of proven poppers, probably most big GT's fall to them)

Stick Baits
Jack Fin Argo 240F
Strategic Angler Custom Lures in Walker Series
Strategic Angler Custom Lures in Cruiser Series
Orion GTX170, Bigfoot, Plug Tropic and Nambas
Amegari Mehe 255, Leen 230 F S and Kaxu 240
Carpenter Gamma GT 160, 200 and 250
Heru Wahoo 150 and 200 gram
Heru Ulua 150 and 200 gram 
Adhek Bali Dancer
Blaze Garage Burn 160 gram
ASWB Bungarra 170
FCL Labo CSP300
Siren Sorry Charlie 220
(a selection of floating and sinking stickbaits is essential, you never know what conditions you will face)

Hammerhead Tobi 169 
Fisherman Long Pen 170
Heru Skipjack  
Orion Flapper 170
(Don't leave home without a Skipjack - proven too many times!)

 Lure selection- watch the video! 

Land it or get beaten by it? Gear plays a huge part

Split rings and Swivels
We recommend using size Carpenter, Fisherman and CB One EXH Split Rings.  Believe us a split ring can easily be the weak link in the chain so don't scrimp!
The excellent NT swivels are the best choice by a mile for your lure attachment as per our recommended leader system. Size 2/0 or 3/0 are perfect.
Simple and super strong

You would not ideally venture to No Boundaries Oman for GT fishing with a line below PE10 which provides the optimal balance between strength and being able to maintain decent casting distances.  Remember to not over fill your spools and it pays to take a spare, in case!  Proven lines are those that have all the attributes of strength, thinness, abrasion resistance and most importantly ability to handle extreme shock load - all essential in a monster GT battle.

YGK Cast Man
Toray Super Strong
Varivas Avani GT Max
Jerry Brown Hollow

The leader system we recommend is a single strand mono shock leader joined with an FG knot (see tutorial here and a discussion on leader knots for heavy casting applications here)

Fisherman Super Stealth Shock Leader 200 lbs +/-
YGK Galis Shock Absorber 200 lbs +/-
Varivas Shock Leader 200 lbs +/-

Southern Oman is no place for cheap reels especially on the GT grounds. Quite simply they will let you down when it counts and even the very best break occasionally.

Shimano Stella (SW and SWB) 10000, 14000 and best bet is a 18000 size
Daiwa Saltiga 6500, Dogfight 7000H and Expedition 8000H

Top dog Stella or Saltiga?  We will leave that one alone, they are both brilliant

Commensurate with the entire tackle system, the rod must match and be able to handle cast lure weights up to 200 grams (and more when you take into account the weight of hooks and rings).  Lifting power is vital for big fish and you need a rod that is forgiving and won't break the angler; its a tall ask!

Popper Rods
Carpenter MH80H (medium heavy)
Carpenter MH79XH (heavy)

ASWB Indian Pacific GTT10 (medium heavy)
Ripple Fisher 78 Flex (medium heavy)
Ripple Fisher Final Spirit 78XH (extra heavy)

Racepoint 250

Stickbait Rods

Carpenter The Blue Lagoon 80/40
Carpenter KLL Endless Passion 82/42

ASWB Indian Pacific GTT8 
Ripple Fisher Ultimo 79H

Ideally the rod will punish the fish, not the angler
Other gear
Whilst not strictly 'Oman specific' you will need to take: 

Casting gloves
Fighting belt
Line pullers
Braid scissors
Split ring pliers
Lighter or line cutter
Lure storage systems