Snapper fishing has developed its own advanced methods and tackle. Snapper rods have changed noticeably over the years from solid glass broomsticks to fast and powerful sticks, capable of dictating terms to the mighty snapper.
Twenty years ago the standard out fit of the southern big snapper specialist consisted of a large diameter centrepin reel, nylon line with a minimum breaking strain of a hundred pounds and a ‘billiard cue’ style solid fibreglass rod. Such a set up was brutal, yet fairly efficient, particularly when used in areas of great water depth.
While you will find snapper tackle of this ilk in use around our coastline, today’s general trend toward lighter line and more refined rigs has caused dramatic changes in the way snapper fishermen view their sport. The once ubiquitous handline, centrepin reel or ‘snapper winch’ has given way to the more sophisticated overhead and even to the threadline. which was formerly regarded as being suitable only for fish of gentler disposition than a rampaging red.
Equally dramatic has been the transformation of attitude in the area of specialised snapper rods. The solid glass sticks of earlier times have largely been replaced by tubular versions. and the general action of modern boat rods has become faster and more powerful. Whereas the ‘billiard cue ‘of the ’60s snapper angler was little more than an inflexable lever through which to crank heavy fish on heavy line. its modern day counterpart is designed to cope with lighter monofilament without losing the authority needed to subdue a decent sized red.
Most rods designed for offshore snapper fishing today are between l.6 and 2 metres long. Although length is a matter of personal choice, shorter sticks are becoming increasingly popular, particularly when really large reds are the target. There is little doubt that a relatively short, fast taper rod in the jig stick mould is the ultimate tool with which to dictate terms to a bulky fish of any description. and these suit the needs of the serious snapper fisherman perfectly.
Purpose Built or Custom Built?
Happily, the demand in Australia for specialised tackle has ensured that mass produced or ‘off the rack’ rods for most types of fishing are now far more readily available than was once the case. These rods. which are principally of Asian origin, are naturally a good deal cheaper than custom built sticks. and while it can’t be said with honesty that they will match the quality of the specialist designed product. they don’t fall a long way short.
One of the best value boat snapper rods on the market at present is the Shimano Catana 732 Snapper Fishing Rod which is suited to both overhead and threadline reels and lines of 6 to 8 kg breaking strain and a recommended lure weight of 10-28 grams. Featuring lightweight Sea Guide zirconian rings and premium graphite composite blanks. The butt assembly of Catana rods features split grip hard EVA for light weight, balance and comfort the rod must be great value with a retail price of well under $200 at the time of writing.
Practically all of the major tackle companies now offer well built, quick taper rods suited to snapper fishing, and with the current level of competition between the big names, quality at a value price is becoming increasingly evident.
For the angler dedicated to the sport and willing to part with the extra dollars asked for top notch equipment. a home or custom built snapper rod is the ultimate solution. Custom building provides the natural advantage of allowing an angler to choose a stick suited perfectly to his or her style of fishing. There are dozens of great blanks around to choose from. as well as a smorgasbord of guides reel seats and associated fittings. We are also fortunate to have some of the worlds very best rod builders in this country. capable of putting together a stick that will be a delight to use on your favourite snapper patch.
Blanks for Snapper Rod
Among the best of the blanks available to the snapper, enthusiast is a couple of models in the American-made Sabre range. Sabre has been in Australia for quite some time, but only relatively recently has the range begun to enjoy the popularity it deserves. The 196-6 (available in ‘E Glass’ or graphite) builds up into a brilliant 6 kg overhead rod. If you prefer something a little longer, the l96—7 would suit.
And for those who opt for a threadline set up, the ultra-fast Sabre 270 must be close to the ultimate. it’s amazing just how quickly a rod like this can knock the stuffing out of a red of IO kg or better, as despite the deceptively light tip. the butt section is very powerful. Although they are a little difficult to find these days. a couple of the Fenwick jig stick blanks also make great snapper rods. The LBT29 and its slightly longer brother, the LB789. are both very fast taper jobs which will fish the 8 kg line class to the hilt. As well, the T29 builds into a beefy IO kg stick with a few centimetres trimmed from the tip.
Composite Developments. based in New Zealand market the range of Albagraph blanks. which are gradually gaining acceptance on our side of the Tasman. The Albagraph l is a 2.2-metre all-graphite stick with a medium to fast action and is spot on for 6 kg line. Although it can be built to take a baitcaster, the Albagraph is probably at its best with a threadline reel.
Aussie manufacturers haven’t forgotten the snapper angler, either. The Butterworth or Walker Glass ]S98OX has been an incredibly popular blank here for more than a decade and was one of the original fast taper jig sticks designed for Oz fishing. lt’s still built up for 10 kg work pretty regularly these days. as is the Snyder MT684 — a multi-taper which is a little less brutal, but well suited to the needs of threadline exponents.
Trends in Snapper Rods
lt was inevitable that the ‘stroker’ concept currently popular with sport and game fishos, would eventually find its way into the boats of big snapper specialists. Although the ultra-short sticks built on this principle, with low-slung reel seats and over length foregrips, are designed for the heavier line classes there are a couple of 10 kg strokers that are absolute dynamite on really big reds.
These are great for those who regularly fish straight up and down for snapper on reefs in deep water as they have the unlimited grunt for lifting and enable the angler to get a fish’s head up in double quick time. The physics of their design ensures plenty of power. They are certainly different to fish with and require a little time to get used to, but their efficiency in certain situations cannot be questioned.
Several of the large tackle manufacturers from overseas. including Fenwick, Daiwa and Shimano. now, market mass produced stroker style rods perfectly suited to the requirements of deepwater snapper fishermen. These are still relatively expensive, however. even for off the rack products.
For the angler accustomed to chasing big snapper with stiff boat rods and heavy line, but who perhaps wishes to fish a bit lighter, the 19 kg stroker would be the ideal way to go.