Pro Talk: Trolling for Finicky Tuna Feeding on Sand Eels (pt 2)

Posted by Hogy Lures Staff on


Here’s what we learned…

I can’t tell you how many times in my non-soft bait days have I spent the day trolling circles around finicky tuna busting on sand eels without even a touch.  Usually, I would find the same block to my success: the incredibly abundant sand eel! When tuna are keyed in on sand eels, they can be quite difficult to catch, especially when trolling for the following reasons:

  • 1. Tuna are keyed in on bait balls, which are nearly impossible to replicate.
  • 2. The sand eels are small, so even if you get near a fish on it’s mission to the next bait ball, visibility is a challenge
  • 3. There is something about sand eels that makes tuna wicked smart. :) It must be all those omega 3s…

Location: Anywhere tuna are feeding on sand eels.

Tides: Depending on where you are fishing, the water can be moving heavily or not. I factor in everything when trolling. Do fish want you baits up-tide? Down tide. Up see, down see, into the sun, away from the sun. So for trolling, it’s a dial-in style technique.  One thing I can say, is I like fishing near little rip lines, they can sometimes aggregate bait.

Approach: When tuna are keyed in on pods of sand eels, they are really keyed in on bait balls and when this happens, it is difficult to catch tuna on the blind cast. In part 1, my theory was that you have to be on top of these fish. For reasons unknown to me, I disagree with that statement when trolling. I wish I could have some fancy theory, but I never catch finicky tuna near other busting tuna. Maybe they are so keyed in, they are blind to all others. A spread of lures though breaking fish isn’t exactly natural.

Here three tips that work for me:

  • Fish small baits.
  • Fish Birds with small bait to simulate commotion.
  • Have a bait WWWWWB (Way, way….Back) Usually the one that gets hit.
  •  When you get hit, accelerate the boat; for longer than you think you should. There is often more fish to be hooked. Also helps hook the fish.


Rigging Selection: 9″ Dark Sand Eel Machine  (Instructions to make your own)

Bait Selection: 7″ Hogy® Sand Eel attached with XXL keeper. (Instructions for adding teaser)


  • Single Rigged
  • Daisy Chain
  • Spreader Bar

Why this bait? Hogy® designed this color to specifically imitate oceanic sand eels. When paired with the 7″ Sand Eel with a bait keeper, it is a deadly offering.

Colors: Light Sand Eel, Dark Sand Eel

Retrieve/Trolling Speed: The machines will do their natural thing. Be confident, you are using the right color. Where your game in EXTRA enhanced is with the 7″ Sand Eel teaser.


Rod: Crowder  6′ ESU6050 30-50LB

Reel: Shimano Tyrnos 30, two speed

Line: 40 lb Momoi mono

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