Most of the fishing techniques we share are intended to increase your catch. However, this one should help facilitate your releases. While fishing with Roddy Hays in Madeira we developed a device to release billfish we dubbed the SNOOTER.
This simple tool allows a single crew member to hold a marlin’s bill and control the fish at a safe distance, allowing both the crew and fish to come away from the experience in good shape. Using the SNOOTER, one crew member can control the fish, keeping its head below the surface while another balances the fish by holding its’ dorsal.
Resuscitation of wornout fish is a snap with the SNOOTER, and most regain their strength much faster when towed upright as opposed to being towed on their side.
To release a fish, get a good grip on the PVC pipe and let go of the cinch rope. Pull up on the pipe, and the fish’s weight will pull the cinch rope and cable out the bottom of the pipe, freeing the fish.
First, back-splice the stainless-steel ring onto the 3/8 inch line. Thread the stainless-steel cable through the ring and two of the crimps. Double the wire over and twist a 2-foot section of the cable, securing the twist with the crimps. (Note: I found that double twisting the cable stiffens the loop and makes it easier to slip over the marlin’s bill.)
Using a 1/8-inch drill bit, drill three holes in one end of the PVC pipe about a half-inch apart. Starting from the bottom hole, carefully thread the end of the cable inside-out through the three holes. Pull the cable through until the twisted section rests near the first (bottom) hole, then cut off excess cable, double over and crimp the end. Feed the entire rope section up through the PVC, and the SNOOTER is ready for action.
Capt. Dana Boardman
- 1-inch schedule-80 PVC pipe (3 feet)
- 600-pound stainless-steel cable (6 feet)
- Three non-aluminum crimps
- 1/8-gauge stainless-steel welded ring
- 3/8-inch nylon line (6 feet)
- Heavy cord
*The SNOOTER feature was republished in Marlin Magazine – September 2006.
P.S. The Marlin Magazine features mis-stated using schedule-40 PVC pipe, however, we originally developed this tool using schedule-80 PVC pipe, which is heavier gauge and much better for guiding and resuscitating big fish.