WHAT a relief. For a while there it didn’t look like we would be able to travel far from home at all and annual fishing expeditions to Fraser, Moreton and Stradbroke islands was under threat for many Queenslanders. Fortunately, that fear doesn’t look like it will be realised, provided we continue to keep this beast of a virus under control. So touch wood, this means it’s time to get your tailor gear ready for your trips!
While tailor season in Queensland has been a bit hit and miss in recent years, I am hopeful tailor time this year is shaping up to be a ripper. Tailor might not be the best eating fish in the sea, but they make up for it with fighting capacity and sheer numbers, ensuring great sessions for everyone from beginner to expert. Thankfully the days of huge picket lines of anglers at Fraser catching and keeping as many as they want are long gone.
I’ve seen a number of early season captures and some big ones among them, including as far north as Fraser in April. Along with that, there has been less fishing pressure on their northern migration this season and some big rainfalls in late summer freshened up estuaries and bait stocks. With all that in mind, you don’t want to leave preparation to the last moment when your mate says “it’s time, let’s go chase some tailor”. With the wind up in recent weeks, and not being able to travel too far, I’ve got plenty of rigs ready for my boys and I.
I love chasing tailor on lures, but I’m still happy to target them on bait, particularly because at times you need to soak a bait and wait for the fish to come to you after dark. I am particularly looking forward to chasing them on bait due to being able to downsize my gear with the new titanium Alvey Stealth reel and matching Stealth rod, which should be in stores very soon. This combo means you can fish several hundred grams lighter, which I’m sure my back will appreciate! If you have a dodgy back, consider giving this combo a try.
So what are my preferred tailor rigs? I have a few, with each having its own purpose. Like so many things, one size does not fit all and likewise one tailor rig might not necessarily suit all conditions. tailor time
Alvey sidecast cast and retrieve rig
Let’s start with the traditional Alvey sidecast rig. This rig has been around for decades and for good reason. It has been long publicised on the Alvey website and used by the legendary Jack Alvey, who was a renowned surf casting champion. The only thing that has changed is the style of line and hooks available these days. At the pointy end, the rig consists of three ganged 4/0 hooks. I choose to use off-the-shelf Tru-Turn gang hooks linked together by swivels.
These are awesome for a couple of reasons. One, the swivels make ganging up a pilchard a breeze. Two, their bent cam shaft design means that with any pressure or weight the cam will turn upwards, hooking the fish much more easily. tailor time
I’m terms of line, I use 30-40lb fluorocarbon as my leader material. I’ve recently gone to 40lb simply because the new Platypus Stealth FC leader is so thin for its strength that you can afford to go up in size without having line that is too bulky or causes heavy drag in the water.
In terms of trace, this rig has a short 23-25cm trace to the first black swivel (not shiny silver or the tailor can bite it) in size 8. I then run a 70-75cm trace to the next swivel, though depending on your casting prowess and even height you might want to go down to about 60cm to make it easier to cast with.
Next is a 6-10 ball sinker (depending on surf conditions) between the swivels, with a soft green bead above the bottom swivel to cushion the knot from the heavy sinker when casting. This is a great rig for not only distance but also keeping in touch with the bait and therefore the fish as you keep the line moving and tight.
Long trace rig
For those times when the tailor are not schooled up and you need to wait for a few fish to arrive into your gutter, it pays to let your bait sit. When doing so, you want it presented as naturally as possible and that is the advantage of a long trace of 90cm-1m from your gang hooks to the swivel. tailor time
If you are using an Alvey sidecast, you will need a second swivel and might need to shorten your bottom trace to about 70cm and then run the sinker between a 25-30cm trace. Alternatively, you can run a star sinker on a slide down to your swivel. A star sinker can also help to hold your rig in place better in swell.
Big tailor rig
A slight variant on this rig to chase big tailor at night is to replace the three ganged 4/0 hooks with two ganged 6/0 Tru-Turn hooks joined with a swivel. On this rig I will run a fillet of bonito cut in half or half a good size fresh tailor fillet. You need the bigger hooks for the bigger, thicker bait.
It also pays to place a luminescent bead just above the hooks and light it up as a fish attractant. When night fishing for bigger fish, I use slightly heavier trace of 50lb but in the very strong new monofilament Hard Armour Tough Leader from Platypus. This stuff is incredibly abrasion resistant and a good option for night fishing for these predators. tailor time
Multiple dropper rig
Another rig definitely worth experimenting with away from the maze of picket lines is a paternoster rig with two or three droppers. This rig has a couple of advantages. One is the heavy star sinker will hold you in sideways sweep.
The other is having a couple of artificial baits on 15cm droppers such as a 3/0 surf popper or single 3/0 hook with a fly as well as a ganged pilchard on another dropper really increases your odds. The poppers and fly are an attractant, waving above the bottom and enticing tailor to the lures or your pillie. I use heavier 50-60lb line for this trace. tailor time
Place the droppers 20-30cm apart (depending if you use two or three) and 15-20cm from the sinker and swivel. This can also lead to you catching two or three fish on the one trace. Great fun!
I hope this article and the attached video have you fired up for tailor time – to make some tailor rigs and try something new this tailor season. For more tips, ideas and reports, please jump on and like my Facebook page (facebook.com/On tourfishingAustralia) and follow me at the same name on Instagram.