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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am eager to start my education and have spent quite a bit of time perusing many posts by a lot of you. All of this perusing has shown me that I have a lot to learn!

First of all, what is a Rail Rod? I'm thinking a short rod that would be easier to move over, under, and around others while fighting fish at the rail? I'm assuming it's a special design item for LR fishing?

Next is a "topshot". What is the difference between a topshot and what I know as a leader? Why do they have to be so long? It seems that (from y'all's posts) the roughness of the seas and the motion of the boat has something to do with the length? I understand Floro (allthough in much lighter weights) but what is "soft steel"? Is that a type of leader (topshot) or a brand name? With what weight line (Braid or mono?) would you use a leader of 130# or 200#?

I appreciate in advance y'all helping me dispel some of my ignorance...
 

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Fishingchair said:
I am eager to start my education and have spent quite a bit of time perusing many posts by a lot of you. All of this perusing has shown me that I have a lot to learn!
In that case you have come to the right place! ;)

Fishingchair said:
First of all, what is a Rail Rod? I'm thinking a short rod that would be easier to move over, under, and around others while fighting fish at the rail? I'm assuming it's a special design item for LR fishing?
A "rail rod" differs from a traditional "standup rod" in the way it is built for the way it will be fished. It may be a short rod depending on what the user wants, but it is generally a little longer that a regular standup rod. The primary differences are that a rail rod will have a substantially longer butt section than a standup rod because the two methods are to use it under the arm, or to sit on the rod butt and ride it! It will also have some sort of armouring on the foregrip to protect the blank as it is rested on the railwhile fighting a fish, often under extreme pressure.

Many of us have actually moved to using longer rods for rail rods. I built an entire set of Seeker Black Steel 6463's, (XXH, XXXH, and XXXXH!!!), for this purpose and requested that the blanks be sent to me untrimed. The factory length for these rods is 6'3". When I finished mine they were 6'10" from butt to tip. For the way I fish the extra length wasn't bad and it helped to keep the line away from the side of the boat near the end of the fight. The length also didn't present a problem for getting around other fishermen. Most of us are already used to 7'-8' bait rods for smaller fish and some of the knotheads like me use 10' jigsticks on a regular basis, so a 6'10" length was not a big deal.

Fishingchair said:
Next is a "topshot". What is the difference between a topshot and what I know as a leader? Why do they have to be so long? It seems that (from y'all's posts) the roughness of the seas and the motion of the boat has something to do with the length? I understand Floro (allthough in much lighter weights) but what is "soft steel"? Is that a type of leader (topshot) or a brand name? With what weight line (Braid or mono?) would you use a leader of 130# or 200#?
In general, a topshot is the same thing as a "wind on" leader. It can be connected to your main line in a number of ways via knots, crimps, direct insertion into your hollow braid, or a loop 2 loop connection. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, and the actuall methods are a subject for an entire thread by itself!

The length of the topshot is also cause for an entire thread. (There is one going on here right now as you've probably noticed! LOL!!!) Basically, a short topshot wil allow the bait to swim better and stay lively longer but it has little or no stretch or "give" to act as a cushion against the strong headshakes of a big tuna or the rocking of the boat in rougher conditions. The thinking is that this will cause more fish to be lost due to line breaking or hooks pulling.

Long topshots on the other hand have that cushion, but smaller baits like the sardines that have been the preference on the fall "lower banks" trips for the last few years get worn out quickly dragging long lengths of mono through the water. The less lively a bait is, the less likely it will get bit.

Soft Steel and Soft Steel Ultra are a brand name of line that is prefered by many LR folks out here. They also have a line of fluorocarbon. They, (And several others.), also sell pre-made topshots using their line and fluorocarbon material.

Fishingchair said:
I appreciate in advance y'all helping me dispel some of my ignorance...
Glad to help! 8):tu:


FISH HARD!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Chris.... I think I'm getting the idea. Does a Rail Rod actually lay on the rail while fighting the fish? If it does, then the torque on the rod while working the reel must be a bear. Wouldn't this be one of those times when a rod with torqued (start on top and move to the bottom) guides prove most valuble?

Now, on to the topshots.... I've done a lot of research in the last two days on this subject and discovered there are 2 different braids, solid and hollow. A lot of the info and also the manufacturers are virtually unknown around here but I am enjoying what I can find. On one particular website, http://www.blackwaterfishingline.com/tech_tips.htm there is a lot of info and how to advice as to connecting the topshot to the braid. I don't know if this brand of braid is good or bad.... they just have a user friendly website. All methods of attaching the topshot are complicated and time consuming. How do you change one during a bite? Am I correct in assuming that a topshot is nothing more than a long piece of floro? I see there are places that sell pre-made topshots. What is that about?

Most of my fishing (99%) is done with 20 or 30# braid (Power Pro) and 40 to 60 pound floro leader. The lea are generally no more than 4 or 5 feet long. I connect the floro to the braid with a double surgeons knot and a drop of braid glue. Now, OK, this is really puny by y'all's standards and in comparison with the tackle y'all use but I have to start somewhere. I use the floro because it is less visible and my experience tells me it has better abrasion resistance (not breaking strength)if it gets up against rocks, oysters, etc. I guess I need to buy some 100# floro and play around attaching it to braid.

Thanks again guys, for your patience. Your type of fishing is a whole new world....
 

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Last year was my first lr trip. I didn,t mess around with trying to make topshots,I brought the ingredients and let the mates put it toghether. I had 130 jb hollowcore on a 30w avet and a uglystick I got from Outdoor world,2 coils of 100 and 150 seagaur floro and I was fine got 3 tuna over 100#. The big stuff I used the boats gear.The best advice is get there and see what you need,I got a lot of lures i didn,t use.I do a lot of bottom fishing so my other outfits were good on yellowtail and wahoo.I was on the RP and will be again on the nov 16th trip.It,s addictive.For this trip I have a avet 30w and 50w and two calstar 6.5 rail rods. I found a lot of the regulars use straight mono topshots a lot,izoreline being the favorite. You will find that they will be all over you to help, just ask.:tu:
 

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If I were you I would contact Basil at bhptackle.com or call direct toll free 877 861-2513 and let him know what length trip you will be on. He can suggest what you will need ( length and pound test ). Buy a couple of each mono,floro or both. When you get back if you have any left I will buy them at what you paid if you decide you won't be needing them anymore. He makes the best top shots.
 

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Fishingchair said:
Thanks Chris.... I think I'm getting the idea. Does a Rail Rod actually lay on the rail while fighting the fish? If it does, then the torque on the rod while working the reel must be a bear. Wouldn't this be one of those times when a rod with torqued (start on top and move to the bottom) guides prove most valuble?
Yes it does. The rail is used as the fulcrum and the rod as a lever. This isn?t a legal method for an IGFA record, but out here we have discovered that the acronym ?IGFA? also stands for something entirely different than the meaning you are familiar with. ;)

And no, on a properly built rod, (Usually a custom.), there is no sideways ?torque? or ?twisting? so there is no need for the guides to spiral around to the bottom of the rod. In fact many of the LR boats don?t care for what are refered to as ?acid? rods at all because they come with an entirely different set of problems. That is another one of those subjects that rates it?s own thread.

Fishingchair said:
Now, on to the topshots.... I've done a lot of research in the last two days on this subject and discovered there are 2 different braids, solid and hollow. A lot of the info and also the manufacturers are virtually unknown around here but I am enjoying what I can find. On one particular website, http://www.blackwaterfishingline.com/tech_tips.htm there is a lot of info and how to advice as to connecting the topshot to the braid. I don't know if this brand of braid is good or bad.... they just have a user friendly website. All methods of attaching the topshot are complicated and time consuming. How do you change one during a bite? Am I correct in assuming that a topshot is nothing more than a long piece of floro? I see there are places that sell pre-made topshots. What is that about?
Pre-made topshots are for folks that don?t want to learn how to make them for themselves, don?t wa to invest in the materials and tools to make them, or simply don?t have the time to do it. Many of us have learned to make our own, and when our friends and customers found out about it, some of us have come to regret it! @( LOL!!!

You might want to try this site for a comprehensive look at topshots.

http://www.bhptackle.com/index.php

Basil Papas is the acknowledged topshot master around here and he?s an east coast guy like your self! His products are as good as any I know of and better than most. He only uses the good materials for his stuff!

A topshot can be either your favorite monofilamanet line or fluorocarbon, depending on what is needed for the situation. They also vary in length depending on need and the angler?s preference. Basil is even making cable topshots now!

Not all methods of attaching a topshot are as complicated or as time consuming as you think, particularly when all of your topshots are pre-made before the trip. In the easiest method, (IMO only), your main line will have a spliced loop in your hollow braid to which you will connect your pre-made topshot which also has a spliced loop in the end. (Pre-made topshots are generally made by inserting the mono or fluoro inside of a hollow sleeve wich is then either crimped, served, or even knotted close to where the braid ends to lock down the hollow braid so it will get the ?Chinese finger cuff? effect that makes it grab onto your chosen material.) The two loops are then connected in the same manner as looping two rubber bands together, but going around three times instead of only once. If needed, I can change out a topshot like this, (And this is with a short topshot like many of us fish.), in under 3 minutes taking my time. This includes removing the old one, making the connection, and winding the new one on. Crimping or knotting on another hook takes a little more time, but not much with practice.

Fishingchair said:
Most of my fishing (99%) is done with 20 or 30# braid (Power Pro) and 40 to 60 pound floro leader. The leaders are generally no more than 4 or 5 feet long. I connect the floro to the braid with a double surgeons knot and a drop of braid glue. Now, OK, this is really puny by y'all's standards and in comparison with the tackle y'all use but I have to start somewhere. I use the floro because it is less visible and my experience tells me it has better abrasion resistance (not breaking strength)if it gets up against rocks, oysters, etc. I guess I need to buy some 100# floro and play around attaching it to braid.
The basic idea is the same, but it?s a whole size bigger as you say. Fluoro isn?t always needed for the big tuna and sometimes, like on a heavy kite outfit, it is just a waste of money because the fish can?t see your line to begin with. 100 lb. is a good place to start but you may be using and needing as heavy as 130 ? 300 lb. as well!

While many of us like to fish a short topshot, 4? ? 5? is a bit shorter than most of us would use. Although there is this friend of mine...........8)

Fishingchair said:
Thanks again guys, for your patience. Your type of fishing is a whole new world....
Any time! And you?re welcome. :)
 
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