Antonello Salvi: all the tips for big game fishing


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antonello salvi
Antonello Salvi fishing

Antonello Salvi explains how to fish on a cruise. Cruising also means long periods of sailing while maintaining a steady course. So why not drop your lines and take some satisfaction by practicing trolling? I put myself in the shoes of a fishing neophyte and asked Antonello Salvi, World Deep Sea Trolling Champion, to reveal to me all the tricks of the trade for making good (and good) catches.

Antonello Salvi: all the tips for big game fishing


In its crudest form, trolling is done with the classic “feather duster” mounted on a nylon line wrapped on a cork board: fish are caught, but hoisting them on board is certainly more difficult. Better to rely on a rod that fits in a rod holder mounted on the stern pulpit: “For those who go cruising, I recommend a 30-pound soft rod,” Antonello Salvi began, “capable of supporting 15-pound fish without problems when dry (in the water the resistance is greater, ed.).

You will need to match it with a classic rotating reel (not a fixed spool reel, which causes the line to twist and accommodate less line), on whose spool you will mount a 0.70 nylon line, capable of withstanding a 50-pound pull.”

Screenshot 2016-08-25 at 3:13:43 p.m.THE RIGHT TERMINAL

At the end of the line you will prepare the terminal. “The typical trolling terminal starts with a swivel tied to the line with a ‘clinch’ knot (insert the line into the swivel loop, spin it six times on itself then pass it through the loop closest to the swivel loop and pull). You tie to the same swivel, on the other ring (with clinch), 1.5 to 2 m of fishing line (the thickness varies depending on what you want to fish for–a 0.60 may be fine for medium-sized fish), at the bottom of which you will have to prepare, again with a clinch, a microjigger with a built-in snap hook (ask for them in fishing stores).

To the latter you will attach the artificial bait.” Swivels prevent twisting; the carabiner has the advantage of allowing you to change the artificial quickly. “Only if you are fishing at particularly low speeds, where the fish has time to look at the bait in its entirety before the bite, can you tie the artificial directly to the line with a knot, which is less visible than the carabiner. But if you’re sailing between 3 and 8 knots, you won’t have to worry about that.”

Screenshot 2016-08-25 at 3:13:52 p.m.


“You will never go wrong,” continues Antonello Salvi, “if you use a rapala as bait, the classic small fish with the paddle under its head that causes it to sink. When purchasing, read carefully on the package what speed the model was made for. With the rapala you can cast very little line because the fish can bite even 5-10 meters from the boat: tuna and subspecies have the characteristic of attacking right in the wake of the boat, after being attracted by the noise of the engine, which they have learned to associate with the presence of food.

To tell if your rapala is working well, just see if it floats or if it stays underwater, causing the rod top to flicker: in the first case it is no good, perhaps you have done something wrong in the terminal setup or there is a speed problem.

Quilts, in all their variations, have the advantage of being cheap and effective at any speed-if they come out of the water once in a while, it is better. They have to be set much farther out, 30 to 70 meters from the boat, and they trap species such as albacore, dolphinfish, imperial garfish, and even swordfish. Other rubber artificials are also very effective, but only if excessive speeds are not reached.”

Antonello Salvi’s advice is to use two rods on the stern corners: “On one you will set up a rapala close to the boat, on the other a feather duster further away.” The size of the lure? “You’ll be able to make excellent catches with artificial from 10 to 22 cm in length, and it’s not always the case that bigger bait equals bigger fish.” As for the depth at which the artificial must stay, the Calabrian champion is adamant: “You don’t have to worry about that. Mounting a lead on a trolling rig is complex, the sinker is useless at high cruising speeds.”

The “clinch” knot



We come to the time when the line needs to be dropped: “Once the artificial is in the water at the right distance and we’ve made sure it ‘walks’ well, all that’s left is to set the lever clutch on the rotating reel.” Lever-operated clutches have an adjustment, the so-called preset, which is crucial for calibrating the clutch to a given poundage on the strike position of the lever to avoid overdoing it during fights.

The lever has three positions: free (in which case the clutch is totally loose, and is used to give line while you are fishing), the aforementioned strike (the clutch pretensioned for combat) and full (to be used with the most combative prey to increase the clutch: watch out because if you over-tighten the clutch you will smash everything).

“To make sure you don’t get it wrong, set the clutch so that, as you pull the line from the reel upward with one hand, you have a hard time sliding the line. That way you will be sure that the hook will stay firmly lodged in the fish’s mouth during the bite, and at the same time you will give it a chance to catch some line.”


The rod bends, the line starts. He took the bait! Now what? “First of all, if you have two rods in the water, wait 20 seconds before you start retrieving prey: you may be over a school of fish, who knows if a bite will happen on the other bait as well.

After that, while a crew member retrieves the other rod, reduce the speed of the boat. Never stop it; the fish must be kept constantly in traction. For retrieval, raise the rod and retrieve line as you lower it-it is a continuous raise-recover lowering.

The critical moment is when the prey approaches the boat. Do not stand in the center of the transom, but at the sides, counteracting the direction of the fish so that its head is always turned toward you. You must not let the fish go under the boat, otherwise in 90 percent of the cases you will lose it: it is a moment for the line to rub against rudders and keel giving the prey a chance to pry and free itself. The best thing to do, if you have a tender ready to use, is to lower it into the water and board it with plenty of retrieval rod away from the boat. Don’t forget the salooner for hoisting fish on board.”


Finally, I ask Antonello a question I have always had: what are the ideal weather conditions for trolling? “When there is wind and the sea is choppy, the fish eat more,” Salvi replies. “Even with bad weather it is possible to make good catches: the time of greatest ‘eating’ is in the period before the rain, as the fish feel the arrival of low pressure and usually go into a frenzy.”

Eugene Ruocco


Antonello Salvi was born in Belvedere Marittimo (Cosenza) on May 8, 1976. He entered the world of competitive fishing in 2009, immediately obtaining excellent results: in 2010 he was Italian Drifting Champion, in 2011 he won the National Deep Sea Fishing title and in 2012 the World Championship in Palma de Mallorca, triumphing with the Italian national team and winning the Nations Cup. He is currently a testimonial for Garmin. This is his website.


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