April 13th: 9th Annual Ms. Wheelchair Colorado Pageant & Benefit Car Show
April 13th: Outdoor Buddies Fundraiser Banquet @ the Wildlife Experience
May 10th: Kiowa Creek Sporting Club. Clay shoot for Craig Rehab
June 8th: Get Outdoors Colorado Denver City Park, Colorado
June 8th: Wild on Wheels Lakewood, Colorado
July 18-20th: Barta Boys and Girls Club Billfish Tournament Beaufort, NC
August 8-11th: No Barriers USA Summit in Telluride, Colorado
03/01/12 Billfishing - With a Yo-Yo
Billfishing — With
I’d like to introduce you to the IBYYA. What is the
IBYYA, you ask? The International Billfish Yo-Yo
Association — or more simply put, those who like
to troll for billfish with a hand line and a yo-yo, a
plastic device with a thumb rim-drag that’s often
used in Third World countries in place of fishing
rods, or for holding planer lines or live-bait rigs.
Now before the IGFA, RFA, CCA, BFA or, for
that matter, the NRA, says a word, let me tell you it
is the most dangerous, challenging, reckless and yet
most exhilarating way to catch a billfish.
It’s also effective. While using bait-and-switch
techniques and a yo-yo at Casa Vieja Lodge in
Guatemala with Capt. Chris Sheeder and Juan Cruz
Anon, I went five-for-five on sailfish. Juan went
four-for-four on ballyhoo and caught one on the fly.
Yet, it is an absolutely terrifying experience, and
I do not recommend it for everyone. If you’re not
fast with your hands and don’t have nerves of steel
(or you’re not an expert wireman), you’re going to
get hurt or killed. It’s that simple.
Here’s how it’s done.
When you raise a billfish in a bait-and-switch
position behind the boat, cast the ballyhoo with
your right hand and let the line run off the yo-yo,
which is held in your left hand. Using your left
thumb as a brake, your right hand extends out,
holding the line in your first four fingers. You must
wear a leather glove; normal cotton gloves won’t do.
When a fish strikes, drop your right hand toward
the fish and let go; your left hand is then thrust
forward, and as you drop back, huge coils of line fall
off the yo-yo. After the drop-back, reach out with
your right hand, grab the line, hang on and strike as
the boat moves ahead.
The billfish will go absolutely berserk and must
be transferred over to the yo-yo, while your right
hand constantly regrabs the line, acting as a rod tip.
The friction caused by a run requires pouring water
immediately on the yo-yo; if the yo-yo is not held at
exactly the correct angle, the 30- or 50-pound mono
can wrap around your hand or wrist, resulting in
extreme injury or amputation.
When a billfish jumps, bow to him and loosen
the yo-yo thumb pressure; when he runs at you
or the line goes slack, you have to place one wrap
after another precisely on the yo‑yo.
Incredible knowledge and boat-handling skills
are a must from the captain, who needs to give you
enough pressure to stay tight. You can retrieve line
only as fast as you can wrap it. One missed wrap and
it’s around your wrist, meaning you’ll have to either
unwrap it or triple‑wrap and break the line.
The yo-yo also requires a cut-out man, whose
only job is to stand behind you with a knife. Fishing
without him is unacceptable, and you can only
imagine my problems in a wheelchair.
Does the use of a yo-yo have a place in our sport?
It already does. People cast them off the beaches of
Australia; they’re used for commercial tuna fishing;
and they are common in many places in the world
for sustenance fishing.
Done properly and safely, catching a billfish on
yo-yo is 10 times as hard as anything I’ve ever done.
It’s also 20 times as dangerous, and 100 times as
By the way, I might be the first cancer survivor,
T‑4 Asia A complete paraplegic in a wheelchair
to have ever caught a billfish on a yo-yo. But does
it matter? With a yo-yo, you feel every twitch the
billfish makes. It is the most sensitive, hands-on
experience you’ll ever experience.
My name is Tred Barta, and I am chairman of
the board of the IBYYA, looking for new members.
Our official headquarters is the newly launched
tredbarta.com. Just don’t try this at home.
Till next tide,
Capt. Tred Barta