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Jack Erskine

Jack was inducted into the Cairns Gamefishing Hall of Fame in 2006.

Also usually known as “Erko” in the best Australian tradition of corrupting all names to something simple. Jack was certainly never simple and it is fair to say that his mechanical aptitude and technical skills revolutionized the sport of big game fishing, certainly in respect to the equipment and techniques required to subdue giant billfish.

Much of what went on in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s at Cairns in relation to tackle development can be directly attributed to Jack. He took up the challenge to develop tackle and accessories that could withstand the enormous energies of marine creatures weighing half a ton and more, for use by skippers and anglers who had to have confidence their tackle and equipment could last the distance. He continued to have significant input into fishing tackle development world wide, including that used in giant black marlin fishing. Jack has freely given advice and knowledge to many captains and crews over the years earning him great respect throughout the industry

Bio from Jack’s website

Born in Bourke, in western NSW, Jack grew up in Sydney. Apprenticed as a motor mechanic, he worked for BHP, before moving into the tackle trade in 1967, when he was 22 years old. His first job was with Arthur Chapman’s Sport Store in Rockdale, Sydney.

Jack’s first visit to Cairns was in 1968. Two years later he packed up his family and moved there, opening a tackle store with George Bransford, the legendary Cairns game boat skipper responsible for finding and catching the huge black marlin that put Cairns on the world’s game fishing map.

Known for his expertise with fishing tackle, he is equally highly regarded for his extraordinary angling skills and is the only angler on record to capture eight black marlin on IGFA 2 kg (4.4 pounds) line class in one day, setting four consecutive world records at the time.

Jack is well known overseas having spent many years working and fishing in the United States. It was there that Jack met with Johnny Morris, owner of Bass Pro Shops, who invited Jack to assist him in establishing Offshore Angler in Florida and their friendship continued from that day.

In 2006 the Cairns Black Marlin 40th Anniversary celebrations announced the names of five recipients of the inaugural Cairns Black Marlin Hall of Fame awards. Among them was Jack, who is credited with revolutionising big game fishing in respect to the equipment and techniques required to subdue giant billfish. Much of what went on in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s at Cairns in relation to tackle development can be directly attributed to Jack.

But the gongs got bigger in 2009 when Jack was inducted into the International Game Fishing Association Hall of Fame. This is a rare honour given that despite several decades of existence, just 69 anglers have been presented with this prestigious award.

And why not? After all, for more than 30 years, the name Jack Erskine has been synonymous with the cutting edge of tackle innovation and development. Few Australian anglers command the degree of respect and authority, as does this Cairns-based tackle guru.
Jack’s technical savvy isn’t been lost on the tackle industry. When he talks – and the words come out at a hundred kilometres an hour – industry captains listen.

But for all his technical wizardry, Jack is primarily an angler: one of our finest light tackle specialists. A founder member of the Australian National Sportfishing Association, he has participated in all forms of fresh and salt-water fishing, nationally and internationally, for more than 40 years. Whether it’s billfish on fly off Cairns, barramundi at Tinaroo or tarpon in Costa Rica, he’s done most of it.

And, if tournament credits mean anything, then he has a record of fishing in teams that have either placed first or in the first three places in over 45 tournaments; as well, he is one of only three Australian light tackle anglers ever invited to fish the prestigious Masters Tournament conducted by the Sailfish Club of South Florida.

In the early 1970s Jack pioneered the successful introduction of heavy duty spinning tackle for casting live baits (pitch baiting) to sailfish and small marlin, and he now has over 300 captures of billfish to his credit. Not a bad effort for a method of fishing that some doubting Thomas’s said couldn’t be done, going so far as to unkindly label it ‘stunt fishing’. These days the use of spinning tackle for both live baiting and trolling for the smaller species of billfish is popular around the globe.

  • Cairns Game Fishing Hall of Fame Inductee 2006.
  • IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame award 2009.

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