Sturgeon tackle choices

 Tackle Choices!

(The subtle seduction of all fishermen…)

I’m not on any tackle company’s pro team or advisory staff or any other such position. Nobody pays me to say I like their tackle. The following information is based only on my experience with the tackle, and what you have paid for my advice is probably what it’s worth!

The fishing gear options available to the modern angler are overwhelming! 

One cannot possibly be aware of all the offerings of tackle manufacturers, let alone know which is the best choice. If five anglers were asked to name their favorite reel, those five anglers would likely name 15 different reels.

 My tackle choices below are not based on any vast knowledge of tackle. Some items I bought on a whim, some I bought because I didn’t like what I had and researched the market a bit to find something better. For whatever reasons, here are a few of my tackle choices:

Baitcasting Reels:

The conventional baitcaster reels are best suited for my Delta
fishing. They cast well, have plenty of room for lots of line and they
usually have good drag (brake) systems to handle larger fish. Here are some of my choices:

Shimano Calcutta 700December, 2012:
Shimano’s Calcutta 700 has become my reel of choice lately. I like the lever drags, below, but this tough, durable star drag ticks off the usual few inches of line during a sturgeon bite so lightly, and with such a loud clicker, that I have been using this reel which I have had for about  15 years. It has a strong drag of almost 17 lbs. It holds well over 300 yards of my favored 50 to 65 Lb. braid. In fact, I have just ordered another like this one. I had to buy it used on ebay as the new models have a lever to move to free spool.  I prefer the original which requires simply turning the crank to change from free spool to drag. These fine reels run about $300 new.

 Shimano’s Charter Special lever drag, level wind reels are great for sturgeon fishing. I have a 1000 and the somewhat larger 2000. The 2000 has a bit more drag to the clicker, and I prefer the 1000 which lets line reel off more easily during a sturgeon bite.

Penn’s International 965 baitcaster reel is a high quality, mid size reel that is excellent for Delta fishing. My 965 is solid, smooth and up to the task of reeling in any sturgeon. My only complaint is that it tends to lock down with the slightest touch, making it necessary to always double check it when setting it on freespool. This, and the 975LD (below) were my first choice sturgeon reels ’til I had one too many level wind failures.  

This is the Penn International 975LD reel. It’s a super smooth lever drag baitcaster with level wind. This was my favorite reel for sturgeon fishing until the level wind broke for the third time. It is simply against my principles to send it in for repair again!

Note that there is no “star” wheel to set the drag in the above reels, except the Penn 965. On a lever drag, the drag is set very quickly.

Many lever drag reels do not have the level wind feature which automatically reels the line in equally across the spool; these level wind reels do.


I like a fast tip, or a rod that is very limber at the tip. I think that takes best advantage of  the leverage that a rod provides. I use the Ugly Stik Tiger model BWC 2201. It is a seven-foot rod with lots of strength and durability. I have three of them and fish nothing else. I also use them for salmon trolling. 

One can spend a lot more money for a “name” rod, but I don’t think you’d buy any more rod. 

Fishing Line:

I user Power Pro 50# test super braid for everything except lake trolling. This overkill approach is likely considered  vulgar by some fishermen, but I’m just a River Rat baitslinger, so I don’t know any better. Power Pro 50# is the same thickness as 12# mono line. So, even 20# mono is thicker than my 50# super braid, and therefore 20# has more float and resistance to being cast or trolled. Also, more Power Pro can be spooled onto any given reel, by far, than mono of the same strength. The more line on the reel, the less likely an angler is going to be spooled by a large fish. 

Setting the hook on a fish with mono line results in some of the force of the set being lost due to the stretch of the mono. Set the hook with Power Pro, and there is no stretch so the hook will more likely set deep and sure. That’s one reason why I choose super braid line. Imagine bait fishing with shad for stripers and hooking into a 100 lb. sturgeon. This scenario rarely happens, but it is always possible. The easy handling braid will likely see the monster to the boat, 20 or 25 pound mono may not. That’s another reason why I choose super braid.

Terminal Tackle

Here’s where a little extra money is well spent: buy first quality terminal tackle such as a steel ball bearing with the Hawaiian snap swivel.

             Good Sport Ball Bearing Swivels w/ 2 Solid Rings | MOTackle

The snap end squeezes together, opening up just enough to attach the leader. This particular snap is about the toughest type I’ve ever used; it is very, very strong.

In the case of super braid line, the recommended knot is the very simple Palomar knot, which seems to be the only knot I can remember how to tie, anyway:

                                         Palomar knot The Best Fishing Knot - The Strongest Knot for ...

With this snap swivel holding line to leader, the fisherman can be confident that the line and the leader will not part company while fighting a big fish.

Good luck!

About FishWisher

Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.
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5 Responses to Sturgeon tackle choices

  1. Randy says:

    I\’ve followed your website for a couple of years now. There has been some changes in the site, the gear, and your attitude. I like where you are now: still enthusiastic, little less "catch\’n mission," and lots to offer in the form of heart (prospective), and experience. You contribute so much to sport sturgeon fishing. Thanks for being there. As for gear – I use your ideas then make changes to make it my own. Because I only make it to Suisun two to four times a year my variations of gear simply fits my way of fishing: I use 65 synthetic for easier managability, and I only use about 100 – 150 yards of synthetic on top of 30# mono. I still use 60# wire leaders, but have made up some 80# crimped mono to try. My limited opportunities sets me in a mode to catch food (if I can) so if I stick a monster I\’ll most likely not chase and break off. Penn 320\’s and Diawa 250\’s matched to rods in the 20 – 30 line rating range are from 7\’ to 8 1/2\’ lengths. You\’ve made me an eel convert, but I add nightcrawlers and yarn. The yarn wraps are butted to the top of my bait and hold my Smell Jelly, Krill Gel, Pro cure goop. I catch underslot fish, miss pumps, and occasionally catch keepers. I recommend to anyone research it, play with the gear, and make it your own. Then get some time on the water. When you are successful treat the meat like gold.

  2. Anonymous says:

    commendable attitude. I agree with catching food.

  3. Pingback: How to fish for sturgeon (I think…) | FishWisher's Home Page

  4. john gavin says:

    I think this is the best artificial on sturgeon I can find. I to am 70 and like slow fishing. this seems right to me.

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