Iron Lures "Tossing irons" is one of the most fun and exciting ways to saltwater fish there is. Not every circumstance will call for you to reach into the tackle box and pull out one of your "Trusty Rustys". For those occasions that call for the use of these lures, hold on to your seat, you're in for some fun. Scanning the horizon for crashing birds and boiling baits, searching for the most optimum conditions in order to maximize our chances for hooking up. No more casting plastics from a stiff bass rod only to be limited by range. The irons can really soar with the proper gear (rod and reel) combination.
Once you locate crashing birds and bait schools, position your kayak around the area without disturbing the activity. Cast your irons over the activity. Don't cast the iron directly on top of the action. That may spook the fish. If the game fish are crashing the bait fish on top of the surface, I'll usually count for about 2 seconds before winding the iron back through the area the fish are feeding in. Certain fish may react differently depending upon the speed of your retrieve (i.e. the speed which the iron is swimming). Irons should usually be cranked at a quick retrieve. Though you may want to "stall" it or "play dead" here and there. The affect can create an attractive "up and down" zig-zagging pattern.
If the fish are holding directly beneath the kayak, one method you may want to try is what's called the "Yo Yo" technique. Lower the iron below where you think the fish are holding. Sonar will usually mark the schools and what depth they may be holding at. If you're not out in the open water (most kayak anglers rarely fish over areas which are deeper than 200ft) you can let the iron go to the bottom. A lot of times you'll get a fish strike while the iron is sinking (on the drop). Start reeling as soon as you feel a strike on the drop. Sometimes it may call for swinging the rod tip upward to get a solid hook set though usually a strong and steady retrieve will set the hook just fine. If you don't get bit on the drop, wind your iron up and then let it drop again. Repeat that process at various retrieve speeds and depths. Try winding the iron up less before dropping it back down again. Try winding it up slower and thumb the spool to slow the next drop down. If you're not getting hooked up with what you're doing, mix it up and try different combinations. Another option is fast cranking the iron back to the surface once it hits or nears the bottom. With irons you don't get many second or third bites from the same fish. Once they hit that metal, you'll want to set the hook. You're going to set the hook (s) one of three ways:
Which ever way you set the hook, be prepared for a fight. Know the type of fish you're targeting and be prepared for any size fish or shark to get hooked. Have your drag set accordingly. Some fish can be "power cranked" right to the kayak. Other fish may tow the kayak and winding will only pull the kayak closer to the fish In this case, the kayak will act as a supplemental drag. It's sometimes surprising how the larger game fish can tow a kayak with a full grown adult on board. Though it's only a matter of time when the drag takes a toll on the fish, eventually tiring.
It also depends upon what "pound test" fishing line you're using and the size of the fish you'll be hooking up on. When tossing irons, extra strength in your fishing line is needed to accommodate the rigors of a 3-8 ounce iron being cast at a high velocity. The minimum you would want to have spooled would be 20lb test. 25lb - 40lb would be ideal, though there are other factors like the "weight of the fish" and weight of the iron that could require greater consideration into line selection. Plus irons aren't cheap. They can cost anywhere from $3 to $20 per iron lure. They come in various colors, shapes, hook sizes and weights. Certain colors seem to be more effective in certain conditions. As well, some fish maybe known to bite a certain color or combination of colors over others. Some irons will come with a treble (triple) hook and some will come with a single hook. They usually come stock with treble hooks. You can modify them to a single hook in order to make release easier. The treble hook can do quite a lot of damage to a fish you're planning on releasing. If practicing catch and release only, you're going to want to redress the irons with single hooks.
When casting iron lures, look all around before you let one fly. Irons can be very dangerous when you combine the weight and the sharpness of the treble hooks which seem to latch on to anything they come near. Always look at the iron as you're casting it. One of the most common "rookie" mistakes is taking your eyes off of the iron before casting. You've heard of keeping your eye on the ball? The same applies here. This is to assure that your iron hasn't hooked anything or anyone prior to casting. Check your surroundings, keep safety at the top of the list, and toss a few irons the next time you see some activity above or below (sonar) the surface.