I normally fish a four weight fly rod on a river you can wade across without getting wet above your knees and so fishing for marlin in the ocean was unfamiliar territory for me as well as for many of my fishing friends who have not experienced fishing of this kind. Needless to say, this is a specialised business and I was very interested in the tackle and the whole approach taken by the boat.

Impi is designed with big game fishing in mind and she is equipped with a fighting chair and holders for rods. The specifications and details of the boat are available on the website which can be accessed via this link: https://impi-fishing.com/ and so I won´t repeat the information here. I would say however that she is a beautiful boat and as a game fishing platform she is the real deal.

The rods for the “heavyweights” are about 130 lbs test and are matched up with reels that store about 1000m of line. About 600m or so is braid which is hollow and into which can be inserted the monofilament running line. The sunlight is not good for fishing line and it needs to be changed periodically and so the braided section means that not all of the line needs to be replaced at once. My understanding is that that a loop is made at the end of the running line using a Bimini twist and I think that it is this looped section, that if held, means that a game fish can be considered to have been caught. We got tantalisingly close to to achieving this with the marlin hooked on my first day. Johan reckons we got to within 20 feet.

The trolling lure is attached to a short section of line which ends in a kind of swivel. The line attached to the lure can be monofilament or fluorocarbon. The mono is less expensive but the fluorocarbon seems to get more bites and 150lb fluoro seems like the best choice as it is less reflective. The boats chasing tuna and using the fluorocarbon seemed to raise more fish. Tuna have sharp eyesight. I happened to come across this fluorocarbon stuff in the fishing tackle shop in San Sebastian and it cost around 50 euros for about 25 metres. This kind of fishing is not cheap. The lures themselves are quite sophisticated. They play in the waves, burrowing and leaping in the wake of the boat. The design of these lures in terms of density and profile is quite sophisticated and influences how they “swim”. The trolling lures closer to the boat tend to fish in more “confused” bubbling white water agitated by the movement of the boat and the motion of the propellors. These lures tend to be larger and more colourful. Those in the further positions work water that is less disturbed and fish are likely to seem them more clearly. They tend to be smaller. In addition to the marlin lures, there is often another rod which fished “shotgun” with a small lure well behind the others and perhaps deeper too. This may often pick up smaller tuna or something similar but occasionally a marlin might grab this lure, as happened to me on my first time out. This rod is is held behind the flybridge although it may be attached to a central outrigger and therefore fished form some height above the water and clear of the other lines.

Big game rods and reels are heavy and expensive and you really don´t want to drop them overboard. If you do you will be saying goodbye to about 1500 euros worth of kit and you might find find that you have not endeared yourself to the skipper! On Impi all of the rods are attached to the boat so that this does not happen.

Of course there are plenty of fish out there that do not make it into the heavyweight division. The smaller tuna like skipjack and yellowfin and white marlin and spearfish can be taken on lighter gear – 50lb class or 30lb class. But, as I learned to my cost, you don´t want to be undergunned if you are attached to a blue marlin. The same would be true of bluefin tuna which are targeted during the cooler months and which grow huge (the smallest taken by Impi this year was 220 kilos) or bigeye tuna which can run to over 100 kilos.

Some boats opt to use “teasers” which are large attractors which can be lowered just behind the stern of the boat. They are like outsize lures but do not have hooks. Sometimes painted boat fenders are used which are sausage shaped as teasers also. This shows just how big these things can be! The idea is that the boat as it works through the water acts as an attractor to the marlin. It may appear to be some kind of fish shoal in creating commotion and, to the predators who might want to investigate, the lures may seem like the stragglers struggling to keep up.

The lures that are trolled can be directly behind the boat but it was more normal to attach two to outriggers on each side to spread them out. One fishes the close position on each side and the other fishes the far position. There is a weak connection between the line and the outrigger using a rubber band. This is flexible enough to absorb the jerky motion of the lures as they work through the waves but, in the event of a fish striking the lure, the connection breaks off and the fish is direct to the rod and reel. That´s when the fun starts!

Here are a few pictures of Impi, her tackle and lures.

The “shotgun” rod is on the left. The other rods are set up for heavy fish. Each day the rods and reels are washed down in fresh water before being stowed as shown above.
Trolling lures
Here are two rods fishing from the starboard side of the boat. You can see the line going up to the outrigger where it is attached using a weak connection that will snap off in the event of a strike. One of these will fish short and the other will fish long. A similar arrangement is found on the port side of the boat.
This is the shotgun rod. It fishes beyond the other trolled lures.
A selection of trolling lures. Johan had some made specially and the guy who made them was deeply religious. Inside the transparent heads there are biblical references!
We were never very far from La Gomera but it is a volcanic island. The water here is about 1 km deep. You can see that all rods are secured to the boat with ropes.
This is the marina in San Sebastian. The outriggers indicate the big game boats.
Here we go!