You’re ready to head offshore and troll for tuna? Whether you’ll be targeting yellowfin at the rigs or blackfin behind the shrimpers, one thing is for sure: you need a very specific assortment of lures. And while there are countless lures which might be effective on any given day, these three are prove tuna-slayers.
- Green Machine – There are few offshore afficianados on the water who don’t have a number of Green Machines in the tacklebox. Virtually all species of tuna will hit them – actually, most other types of offshore predators will as well – and they can be run either bare or sweetened with a ballyhoo. TIP: Try rigging a green Machine on very light leader, such as 60-pound fluorocarbon. When nothing else is working, set this rig back with no extra bait, strip, or teaser. The light leader will allow the bare Green Machine a lot more freedom of motion than usual, so it quickly darts to the left and right. Often that’s just what it takes to temp an ocean full of fish with lockjaw into striking,
- Spreader Bars – While spreader bars are big, clunky, and cause a ton of drag, they’re also highly effective. Plus, spreader bars cause such a commotion in the water that they do double-duty as teasers, as well as acting as lures. Always be sure to have a pitchbait ready to send back next to a spreader bar, in case a fish attacks the bar but misses the hook bait. Quickly dropping the pitch bait back will often get it on the line. TIP: For the best results run spreader bars from the short riggers, and set them so the plastics are all in the water but the bar itself is not.
- Cedar Plugs – Cedar plugs are old-school, but there’s a reason why they’re still sold in every offshore tackle shop around. Quite simply, they work. And, they work when many other offerings in the spread fail. The key factor here is that they’re relatively small compared to most offshore lures, and they allow you to match the hatch when the fish are hunting smaller prey. Plus, they go sub-surface and often draw strikes when the fish don’t seem to want to hit right on the surface. TIP: Try letting three or four daisy-chained cedar plugs back about 50 yards in the spread, and then jig it continually. Cedar plugs benefit greatly from active jigging as you troll.