Using Electric Reels for Alaskan Bottom Fish

Electric fishing reels are becoming more and more popular for pursuing deepwater bottomfish such as halibut, giant lingcod and sablefish. Alaska Daiwa rep Josh Leach has been fishing Gulf of Alaska waters for 20 years and in this video, he discusses Daiwa’s electric fishing reel—the Tanacom—and how to put together an effective electric fishing reel setup for fishing in Alaska.

Using an electric fishing reel makes it possible to fish waters that are too deep to be fun to fish with conventional reels. For example, retrieving a 2- to 4-pound weight from 350 feet of water to check bait after a missed bite is no fun and burns a lot of energy. Using an electric fishing reel solves that problem, making it fun and productive again.

Daiwa’s Tanacom electric fishing reel is available in three sizes: 500, 750, 1000. The 500 is smallest; the 1000 the largest. 

When fishing for deepwater bottomfish in Alaska, an electric fishing reel can be used for both bait fishing and for jigging. Here are Josh’s recommendations for rods to use with an electric fishing reel:

For bait fishing, Josh recommends a Daiwa VIP 6’ rod rated for 25-60 lb mono. However, he spools a Daiwa Tanacom 750 electric fishing reel he uses with this rod with braid—up to 100-pound-test. This rod is built on an E-glass blank, noted for a soft enough tip to allow halibut to take the bait, but very durable and with a powerful butt section. To rig the bait rod, he recommends using circle hooks—two of them rigged on a heavy mono leader with the weight (2- to 4 pounds) below the hooks at the end of the leader. He prefers to err on the heavy side regarding weight. Since you have an electric reel to help you when checking bait, the extra weight doesn’t wear you out, especially if you have heavy duty rod holders and leave the rod in the holder when checking bait. Two baits give you an extra chance if you miss a bite. He lowers the rig to the bottom, then lifts it up a crank or two. This keeps a straight line to the weight, and if all anglers on the boat do this, tangles and snags are infrequent.

For Jigging, he likes the Daiwa Harrier X 5’8” extra heavy. It has plenty of strength for working a big jig or fighting a big fish yet is light and comfortable to jig for long periods of time. He pairs this rod with a Daiwa Tanacom 500 electric fishing reel. Again, he fills the reel with braid; 65- to 80-pound are good choices. To the end of the braid he attaches a short, heavy mono leader and either a lead-head jig (10- to 24 ounces) with curly-tail grub or a metal flutter-style jig of 8- to 16 ounces. He lowers the jig to the bottom, cranks up a crank or two, then jigs.

When choosing an electric fishing reel, it’s important to pick the right size electric reel for the depth of water you’ll be fishing, and the style of fishing (bait or jig) you’ll be doing. In many situations, especially jigging, the small, light Tanacom 500 will serve you well. However, for extremely deep water, perhaps when fishing for sablefish (AKA black cod), the 750 or even the 1000 might be warranted. 

To ensure your electric fishing reel lasts for years, try to keep it out of the weather. Avoid putting the rod and reel in rocket launchers as this can expose the reel to large amounts of saltwater spray. Rinse it off with fresh water after every trip and apply dielectric grease on the plug and port to help prevent corrosion. 

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