MrBill, I am going to get Stella, but I am waiting as there is a rumor that new Stella replacing 10000/20000 come out next year.
I like to visit the Coral Sea someday. But the operation is not cheap.
Here is the Nomad's opinions on gears for GT. Though they are talking about GT popping, we might can get some ideas about gears.
We get a lot of questions about what is the best gear to use for chasing GT's and amberjacks, both on our charters, and just general questions. I'm going to try and answer some of the most common questions we get asked about tackle. Please also note that you can email us with questions, and we'll endeavor to put the answers on the website ASAP.
Do I buy a Saltiga or a Stella? - Well, this is the age old question isn't it. It does come down a lot to personal preference, but it also depends what you are doing. The truth of the matter is that we have broken both Stella and Saltiga reels on charters, but that's after a lot of use. The simple answer here is that my personal opinion is that the Saltiga has marginally better internal gearing and sealing than the Stella, and the Stella has the better Drag system. The drag on the Saltiga can easily be modified to get a smooth 26kg of drag, but I don't know many people who can really hold onto that sort of pressure.
Please also note that whichever reel you buy it should be a 6:1 retrieve for GT fishing. I have seen so many people using a 4.6:1 retrieve and getting very tired after a short period of fishing, when they could ahve gone much longer with a higher speed retrieve reel.
There are parts of the Stella, such as the bail arm mechanism which are maybe not as strong as they could be, and similarly, the actual rotor arm of the Saltiga could be a bit stronger. I have heard of both breaking.
When it comes to the crunch it is which reel you can get for the best value. I own one of each as my personal fishing reels, and I mst admit I do like the feel of the Stella as a standard reel over the Saltiga, but my Saltiga is modified with power knob and hotted up drag system, and as such sometimes gets preference over the Stella.
Te bottom line is that if you are going to buy a Saltiga, you should improve the drag system, as it is not god enough out of the box. If you are going to buy a Stella, then there's not much you need to change. Unfortunately there's no clear winner in this contest, and both reels can do a great job on big GT's
How do I modify the Saltiga Drag? - Basically this consists of removing the dry drag washers and replacing them with pieces of split chrome leather(as in the type of leather gardening gloves are made from). The split chrome leather should be cut out with a hole punch or press to be the same size as the old washers. Next you will need some Graphite powder and some Teflon grease, and these should be mixed up in a small mixing container. The leather drag wahsers should be coated in this mixture and then placed back where the old dry washers came from. It is important to keep the stainless washers in the system, but just replace the dry fibrous washers with the coated leather. This system will give you a very smooth drag which is also capable of very high pressure.
What rod to use for GT popping? - This comes down to experience level. I always reccomend that beginners use a longer rod, maybe up to8'-8'6" as it will make casting easier. Where we fish, the longer the cast the better. More experience and better casters will be able to cast further with shorter 7' - 7'6" rods. There are plenty of great rods around and I've had the opportunity to use quite a few different types that our clients bring along with them. I must firstly say that I have not used a Carpenter Rod, but I have used plenty of Fisherman, Smith, Zenaq, Precision, GUSA, Calstar and other blanks.
Of these, I think my favorites for GT fishing have been the Smith Tokara and the Fisherman Monster GT 76rs. Both these rods are heavy duty and allow me to cast poppers a long way, but also offer some fish fighting ability. The other ord I have used for a long time and really enjoy is the Precision Rods 100lb GT stick. This is a single piece rod, but it the most brutal rod I have ever used. I don't believe there is anyone out there who could break this rod. It fishes 18kg of Drag with pure ease, and just asks for more.
The guide used on these rods are important as well. Large stripper guides and large running guides should be used and the Fuji silicon guides with the stainless part of the frame rolled over the sic ring are the only ones to use. The rings pop out of the frame otherwise. It is also important not to use a metal reel seat as they will result in the reels corroding (electrolysis) and also I have seen cracked reel feet as a result of too much pressure on a metal reel seat.
What Rods/Reels to use for Jigging? - This again comes down to personal preference, but I have a clear favourite here. I much prefer a very short and heavy duty spin rod coupled with something like a Shimano Stella 20000FA and PE8. This combo allows easy working of jigs and also gives great fighting ability to the angler.
I have seen many anglers use overhead reels very well, and I used an Accurate 665xhm for a long time, but the combination of a good spin reel and short rod is hard to beat. There's absolutely no reason not to use an overhead, but I just prefer the spin combo.
What outfits to buy for a GT and Jigging Charter? - There's an easy answer to this, and it comes down to why a lot of people buy a spin reel to use for jigging as well as popping. If you go and buy yourself a Saltiga 6000GT spin reel or a Stella 10000FA you will have a highly capable spin reel that will handle most GT's you're likely to encounter. These spin reels are 6:1 which is a must for GT fishing. With either of these reels you can buy a spare spool for a Saltige 6500 or a Stella 20000FA respectively and have that spool rigged with heavier line for jigging, but use the spool on your same reel body. effectively this gives you 2 reels to use for different types of fishing without the expense of the 2nd full reel.
Of course, the best option is to just buy 2 reels in total and then you have a back up on a trip if something fails. If you also bring along 2 rods, preferably 2 piece, with one for jigging and one for spinning, then you'll be set for the week
I am considering buying the Daiwa "GT" rod, which is 8'6" and rated to PE8. Given that I am on a bit of a budget, I'd appreciate your thoughts on this rod.(Peter Robertson)
I have seen in use the Daiwa 8’6” rod of which you speak, and it is not a bad rod, but it does lack the grunt that you would need to stop seriously big GT’s. If you are happy to have a fighting chance with most GT’s of up to 30kgs, then this rod will be fine, and can be used with PE8 in the right circumstances. The rod is great for casting, and is actually a better rod for beginners than some of the more fancy shorter stuff. The short answer is that this rod will do the job, but expect to put it on the shelf when you want to get really serious about stopping big fish.