Bryan and I took another 7 hour drive to Key West to fish aboard the Yankee Caps on the July 19, 2017 IronMan trip. This was my first IronMan trip, this was Bryan’s 3rd.
The 7hr drive was uneventful. We got to the dock early.
view of the yankee caps when we arrived.
the Yankee Caps’ new ice machine
We got our gear into the boat and set up on the bow.
Bryan pulled a Jeff, brought a gazillion gear to the boat.
sea falcon slow pitch z shaft M paired with an andros 5n
sea falcon slow pitch z shaft H paired with an Ocea Jigger 2000HG with a sea falcon knob upgrade
sea falcon slow pitch z shaft HH paired with saltiga 30T.
blackhole 80g paired with stella 6k
blackhole challenger MH paired with daiwa saltiga 4k with SOM upgrades
no name trolling rod with a tiagra 50w
the gear I brought
sea falcon slow pitch M with saltiga 15HL with Livre handle upgrade
sea falcon slow pitch H with OJ 2001 HG with Livre handle upgrade
sea falcon slow pitch HH with DFS Slammer 500N
We also brought some new tackle to this trip for testing. We brought Shout slow pitch hooks (made in Japan), Vanfook Slow pitch hooks (made in japan), Majorcraft Slow pitch hooks (made in Vietnam with components made in Japan), Sea Falcon jigs, Sea Falcon knob upgrade on Shimano reels and of course the Sea Falcon slow pitch rods.
the thin and the skinny
View of the sunset from the dock.
We left the dock at about 21:00 and steamed towards Pulley Ridge. I went to bed around midnight and woke up just before sunrise. Went to the stern and saw the guys setting up for trolling.
view of the stern on the morning of Thursday, July 20, 2017
view of the pulpit, the old versus the new
When we got to the first spot the current was negligible, perfect condition for jigging. I dropped a sea falcon deep neo 400g at 800ft and was immediately rewarded with a queen snapper, my first ever queen snapper! The fish was pulling and fighting all of 800ft. I was using the sea falcon z shaft HH paired with a DFS Slammer. This was the first time I’ve used both rod and reel.
queen snapper on a sea falcon deep neo 400g at 800ft
After I caught my first queen snapper I took a photo of Bryan with his first ever golden tile on a sea falcon deep neo 400g. He was also using a sea falcon z shaft HH paired with a saltiga 30t.
golden tile caught on a sea falcon deep neo 400g
Bryan also caught his first ever queen snapper on the same spot. He used the same jig I was using, color and weight. He always copies me.
Bryan’s first queen snapper on a sea falcon deep neo 400g at 800ft
Since the condition was perfect for jigging I changed jigs and went lighter with a Sea Falcon Z Slow 350g glowing silver. Another reason I changed jigs because Bryan was copying me AGAIN! Shortly after, I got my 2nd queen snapper of the day.
another queen snapper on a sea falcon z slow 350g
It was a good bite on jig the rest of the day. Me and Bryan managed to put some decent fish on Capt. Greg’s commercial 600qt cooler.
Just before nightfall we moved to shallower water to spend the night. Chad cooked a delicious dinner that night. My first trip with Chad as the Chef.
After dinner Bryan set up to catch some blackfin tuna. The tuna bite was slow, I guess I didn’t missed anything when I fell asleep in the galley. He was using a blackhole 80g and stella 6k with a sea falcon z slide 180g. The beauty of Z Slide is it can be fished speed/mechanical jigging or slow pitch jigging, It is a versatile jig.
blackfin on a sea falcon z slide 180g
Having slept most of the night turned out to be a blessing because the 2nd day the bite was hot for me, I was on fire. I caught a 25# almaco that fought from 650ft all the way to the top, a 50# AJ from 650ft and fought all the way to the top and an 8ft shark from 700ft that took me around the Yankee caps twice! All 3 fish were caught right after the other and I caught them all right at the bottom too, it was a curse.
I guess I will have to take both the curse and the blessing because on the same day I caught 4 more queen snappers, a bunch of tiles, snowys, rosy’s and some scamps.
Bryan also caught his share of fish.
queen snapper on a sea falcon deep neo 400g
Toro caught on a sea falcon deep neo 320g
Mikey, mate-in-training got in on the jig action catching a rose fish using a Sea Falcon deep neo 400g
the demon almaco that hit the sea falcon deep neo 400g in 650ft of water and fought all the way to the top, never giving an inch!
As usual we went to the shallows by sunset. Chad cooked a delicious dinner, scallops, shrimps, veggies and skirt steak.
By the end of the second day, we got most of the boat jigging. It was a sight to behold, it was also fun. William and John asked alot of questions and me and Bryan were more than happy to teach.
That night John caught a 20# scamp on a jig. He had a blast jigging. I didn’t get to see it though since I went down stairs to cool off and fell asleep.
John’s monster scamp grouper on a jig
I woke up at around 5:00 in the morning and completely missed the night bite but heard of John’s monster scamp on a jig.I went to check the 600qt cooler and saw 2 huge red groupers and a couple of blackfins which were Bryan’s work that night.
That morning before sunrise I jigged for blackfin tuna but I got a few bonita instead. They were fun to catch on light tackle. I managed to put a blackfin and a couple red groupers in the cooler before we steamed out to 900ft.
We were lucky to fill up the 600qt cooler in 2 days because by the 3rd day the conditions was not good for jigging. It was hard to get to the bottom with 500g, and 500g is the heaviest jig sea falcon makes. There were a bunch of tangles on electric too so I didn’t bother dropping a jig.
I took photos of Charissa and Nick who were fishing behind the galley. If there was an award for “most organize” they would have killed it. They fished hard too and was rewarded with good fish.
I tested and used a bunch of new tackle on this trip.
I used Tasline braid from New Zealand due to its diameter to strength ratio, stated diameter of 0.299mm and breaks at 40#. It is strong for its diameter but at for 0.22 cents a yard it’s pricey. Also tested Shimano Ocea Ex8 PE2, I really like this line, thinner than the Tasline and PE2 breaks at 40#. Excellent for deep jigging, there is however a glaring drawback and that is price, 0.38 cents per yard excluding shipping from Japan.
Also tested the Sea Falcon line up of slow pitch jigging rods. I used the Z Shaft HH (hard heavy) 99.9% of the time on this trip. The length is 6’3″, I would have preferred it to be a little bit longer but it did the job extremely well that I have forgotten I wanted it a little bit longer. The rod tip is able to pitch a 500gr jig with a crank of the reel handle without moving your shoulders. It’s light yet it has a thick wall, it has power yet it is sensitive. I felt those subtle movement of the vermillions and also felt the hook slipping on that demon AJ. Its sweetspot is around 450- 500gr but it was also at 800ft with more water resistance and stronger pressure. At 500ft it can probably do 600- 650gr. I’ve caught 99% of my fish on this rod, also worth mentioning that I caught the 25# almaco, the 50# AJ and the 8ft shark.
The Sea Falcon Z Shaft HH was matched with the accurate DFS Slammer, DFS Slammer is a tricked out accurate boss extreme. the cast control and clicker was taken out, the lever drag is able to go from sunrise to sunset without pressing the detent, gear plate cover was upgraded, seals on the AR bearing were upgraded. Kane of Decoro Fishing Supply in New Zealand tricked out the reel to be geared towards jigging for kingfish, hapuka in New Zealand waters. You can not get the reel anywhere in the USA except from www.triangletackle.com I love the reel! However nothing beats a star drag with auto engage when it comes to slow pitch jigging. The reel has power, it can put more than 30# of drag and put the breaks on a fish. Not as smooth as the daiwa saltiga or a shimano ocea jigger but it is a solid reel. It felt solid in my hand with a ton of cranking power due to its patented gear design. It packs lot of line too, 680 yards of daiwa 30# jbraid with a diameter of 0.325 mm. The only thing I would upgrade is the reel handle. I prefer a longer handle, cranking 800ft with a 105mm is alot easier. Also managed to test the okuma andros 5n. This was Bryan’s reel he won at a knot tying contest sponsored by Sportfishing Magazine. The first day I used it the line got inside the reel, the clearance between the spool and the sideplate was too wide- it is either that or our line was too thin. I never used it again after that.
We tested 3 assist hooks from different manufacturers, Shout made in Japan, VanFook made in Japan, Majorcraft made in Vietnam with components made from Japan. The picture above is a Shout assist hook, the amount of metal on the hook is excellent, not as thick as the Decoy Pike Type- R used by A.S.S but decent. The drawback is the amount of epoxy they put to protect the thread. After a couple of fish, the thread wrapping the hook to the assist cord starts to unravel. This is the same problem the A.S.S. has, not enough epoxy to protect the thread. The VanFook doesn’t have this problem but it doesnt come in a smaller size hook. VanFook smallest slow pitch assist hook is 4/0. The last hook that we extensively test and used on this trip was the Majorcraft ZOC slow pitch assist hooks. The epoxy on the thread is thick, the thread doesnt unravel easily like Shout and A.S.S. However the hook is a tad thinner in diameter than Shout and A.S.S. The 2/0 assist cord breaks at 120#, I caught the 25# almaco, 50# AJ and the 8ft shark on this hook. The Majorcraft ZOC comes in different lengths and has flouro inside the cord. The one thing I dont like about the Majorcraft ZOC assist hooks is its price. It’s a pricier than the Shout and almost about the same price as the A.S.S. However, the A.S.S. is hard to get, I have put an order with them in February of 2017 and I still won’t get the assist hooks until September. I have given up on A.S.S. and would be using Majorcraft from now on.
On the way home we stopped by the Wooden Spoon Diner and had breakfast. Ordered the usual; bacon, potatoes and eggs. Service was fast, extremely fast. The chef was kind enough to let me and Bryan taste a “scrapple”.
We got home at around 16:00.
RaysCustomWorks / Sea Falcon USA Pro Shop would like to thank Capt. Greg of the Yankee Caps for an exceptional trip.
looking forward to the next adventure.