Capt. Mike's Offshore Tackle Crate & Load Out

Posted by Capt. Michael Hogan on

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Here’s a run-down on my “Jig and Pop” Tuna collection. If I can fit it into this mesh crate, I don’t need it. This mesh crate will hold an entire season’s inventory of lures, including multiples of my favorite colors. Yes, this is a new bag and storage method for me this season, but if I were to go back in time for 10 years, I am not missing one lure from a single fish on a single trip. In other words, this is a complete and robust collection.

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SOFTBAITS

THE TUNA HARNESS JIG

Hogy Harness Jig Diagram

It’s hard to beat this lure for vertical jigging when tuna are keyed in on sand eels but don’t under estimate it’s casting ability. Although olive is the logical first choice to imitate sand eels, my two other favorite “confidence” colors are bone glow and silver. Like all of our tuna grade soft baits, the Hogy Harness Eels are UV infused which makes them far more visible in deep water. The Hogy Harness Jigs have a custom paint job to match the eel tails. Bulk packs of replacement tails are available.

Hogy Tuna Harness Jig Lure

Casting: Of course, you can just cast and retrieve this lure. The soft tail has a deadly wobble when on a straight retrieve.  THAT SAID, My favorite way to fish the Harness jig is the “Ker-plunk” method which is my sill way of saying to cast and drop the Hogy Harness Jig into a pile of birds or life and let it drop. It’s amazing how many fish pick it up on the drop. I let it sink for a bit, then reel up and drop again.

"Kerplunk Tuna Harness Jig Casting"

"Troll Scan Harness Jig Trolling"

Jigging: This lure shines brightest on the “slow” jig. By slow, I mean really really slow. I find the number one mistake anglers make jigging softbaits for tuna is to fish them to fast. My play when jigging the Hogy Harness Jig is to drop oin a specific target or on life. Send it to the zone. I’ll make long sweep motions and then let the bait “sit for a minute or three, literally adding zero action. Sounds crazy but it works. So does leaving the jig in a rod holder. Remember how soft the tail is on the Hogy Harness jig. The most subtle movements will roll a quiver through the tail. If I am not getting bit, I will simply reel the lure to the surface at a slow to medium slow retrieve. Then drop it again. NOTE: This lure gets eaten on the drop AT LEAST 50% of the time. If anything “weird” happens with your line on the drop. Engage and reel as fast as you can to get contact with a fish. A hit from below can feel like “nothing” as the tuna is swimming your lure up to the surface. You want to put pressure on the lure before the tuna has a chance to spit it.

"Giant Tuna Harness Jigging"

"Classic Tuna Harness Slow Jigging"

Unique Feature: Harness Rigging System. Air brushed design. Pilot speed rigging hole.
Primary Technique: Jigging, Casting lighter versions
Speed: Slow + Medium
Style: Imitator of Sand Eels
Carry Over to Inshore: None. Very Heavy Duty

THE PROTAIL PADDLE SWIMBAIT

Hogy Protail Paddle Swimbait

To be honest, we designed the original Hogy Pro Tail for very large striped bass and tarpon but designed the lures to spec out for large Bluefin and Yellowfin tuna once we saw the lure’s action in the water. Like everything we do at Hogy, we “over-build” our products and the Hogy Pro Tail series was the first lure in our universal design series where we found the sweet spot in terms of brawn, size, and presentation to be effective on any large sized fish, inshore and offshore. Our universal lure program has a target to max out at a 200lb fish class with 20lb of drag. The Hogy Protail Paddle has far exceeded that!

Hogy Protail Paddle Lure

Casting: The Hogy Protail Paddle makes a deadly cast bait for tuna keyed in on herring, small bunker, butter fish or other small baits. The 6.5” Hogy Protail comes in a number of weights but the 4oz, 5oz and 6oz are the most popular sizes offshore as they are heavy enough to cast with Stella 20,000 sized reels. The 6.5” is the perfect size. It’s just “small enough” to be “small”, just big enough to get seen and more than heavy enough to cast on heavy-duty 200lb class gear. You can retrieve the Hogy Protail Paddle at slow speeds to the very fastest. 99% of the time I use a combo retrieve which I sometimes call the “REEL REEL REEL – PAUSE” retrieve. I’ll burn the lure then let it stall, pause and sink for a couple of seconds… I think it’s the change in speed from slow to fast that triggers the reaction “FOMO” strike. If tuna are keyed in on butterfish, sometimes I will lighten my leader and crank slow and steady but I always seem to default to the “combo” retrieve.

"Protails For Butterfish Feeding Tuna"

"Protail Paddle Surface Milling Tuna"

"Protail Paddle Yellowfin Tuna Casting"

Jigging: Don’t forget to jig this lure. Send it to the bottom and crank it back in. It’s a great bait to “blind jig” (just made that term up!) when you KNOW fish are in the area but not seeing or marking them. The paddle will slow the lure’s sink rate down over a metal jig, giving it more visibility at all the depths. The Paddle will also give the lure some auditory attention with its vibrations of a thumping tail on the retrieve. I do this all the time with great success but almost impossible to get on film as the hits are random and unpredictable.

Primary Technique: Casting
Speed: Fast + Pause
Style: Imitator + Attractor
Carry Over to Inshore: High. Same lures can be used on all gamefish under 300lbs.

HOGY HARNESS PADDLETAIL

Harness Protail Paddle Swimbait

The Hogy Harness Pro Tail series was designed specifically to imitate large baits such as bunker and mackerel. This 9” version the same basic shape of the classic Pro Tail Paddle but scaled up to a much bigger “tunariffic” profile. The Harness Paddle also features Hogy Harness Jig rigging system molded inside the jig, connected to an oversized hook resulting in a massive softbait suitable for giant tuna on all class tackle. The 9”, 6oz versions is ideal for jigging.

Harness Protail Paddle Lure Tuna

Casting: Same as Above Protail Paddle only BIGGER!
Jigging: Same as Above Protail Paddle only BIGGER!

Primary Technique: Casting + Jigging
Speed: Fast + Pause
Style: Imitator + Attractor
Carry Over to Inshore: Low. If you had one in your hand, you would know…

JIGS

 THE HOGY EPOXY JIG LURE®

Hogy Tuna Epoxy Jig Lure®

Large 7” tuna sized Hogy Epoxy Jigs® should be in every self-respecting “Tuna Crate” There’s pretty much nothing you can’t accomplish with these highly versatile jigs. If matching the hatch, color patterns exist for mimicking sand eels, sea herring, mackerel, sardines and half-beaks to name a few. The Hogy Epoxy Jig® can be fished in three different ways, making them very adaptable to just about any casting situation you may encounter.

Hogy Tuna Epoxy Jig Lure®

These lures have three retrieves when casting. Fast on the surface. Medium wobble and slow and low. I like to mix it up for every cast. The beauty of this lure is that when retrieved at a medium speed is a surface lure but when paused will sink at a medium rate. You can leave it as such and fish the dead drop or you can convert to jigging this lure. A slow pitch jigging style is equally deadly as a drop and crank jigging method. You simply can’t fish this lure incorrectly!

"Micro-Forage Epoxy Jig Tuna Jigging"

"Light Tackle Yellowfin Tuna On Hogy Epoxy Jigs"

Unique Feature: Painstakingly keeled to accommodate all fishing styles. Primary Technique: Casting and Jigging
Speed: Slow, Medium and Fast
Style: Attractor and Imitator
Carry Over to Inshore: High

THE HOGY SAND EEL JIG

Hogy Tuna Rigged Sand Eel Jig Lure

The Hogy Sand Eel jig is my go-to metal when it comes to vertical jigging tuna, particularly those keyed in on sand eels. . The Hogy Sand Eel Jig’s knife-like shape gets to the bottom in a hurry and which size I grab has more to do with depth and current than matching the hatch.

Hogy Sand Eel Jig Tuna Lure

My general rule of thumb is:
120' or less = 3.5oz to 4.5oz
120' - 180' = 4.5oz to 6.5oz
180' to 250' = 6.5oz to 12.5oz
250'+ = 8.5oz to 16oz


As far as colors go, obviously Olive is the “go-to” for matching the hatch for sand eels. Green and Pink are attractor colors and my go to when I am trying to stand out, perhaps in extreme bait situations. You can fish the sand eel jig at all speed. The beautify of this lure’s highly imitative finish is that if a tuna gets a good look at it at slow speeds, it will appear very natural. To that end, I am more inclined to fish the olive version slow and the brighter pink and green versions at higher speeds.

Primary Technique: Jigging
Speed: Slow to Fast
Style: Imitator
Carry Over to Inshore: High. Which size is all about how deep and how much current.

FLUTTER PITCH JIGS

Flutter Pitch Jig Lure Diagram

This fat thin jig is all about the slow pitch! This lure is specifically for vertical jigging and comes pre-rigged with a pro-grade teaser assist-hook. This baitfish design if perfect for imitating herring, mackerel or sardines. The Flutter Pitch Jig is designed with a flat Body with a raised elevation along its lateral line results in a deadly flutter when fish slowly. This lure Is very light relative to its size which means you can have a bigger bait offering without too much weight for the depth. This lure is ideal for commitment phobic fish that need a lure int it’s face for a long while, with action to elicit a strike.

Hogy Flutter Pitch Tuna Jig Lure

Unique Feature: The lure fishes as well on the drop as it does on the pick-up due to its “flutter action.
Primary Technique: Slow Jigging to cover a variety of depths.
Speed: Slow
Style: Attractor
Carry Over to Inshore: High. Which size is all about how deep and how much current.

PLUGS

CHARTER GRADE POPPER

Hogy Charter Grade Popper Diagram

Big poppers are really your best bet when blind casting to tuna, assuming there’s not too many birds to mess with your lures. The Large style Hogy Charter Grade Popper has the body of our slider (see below) but the cupped face from our widely poppers in smaller sizes. The result is a typical “NOISY” popper that can transition to a walk the dog action by dropping your rod type, making this lure extremely versatile.

Charter Grade Popper Tuna Lure

Primary Technique: Surface Casting
Speed: Slow
Style: Attractor
Carry Over to Inshore: HIGH, anywhere fish are big enough to eat this lure!

CHARTER GRADE SLIDER

Hogy Charter Grade Slider Diagram

Sliders are great for imitating tuna that are keyed in on mackerel, sea herring and half beaks. Sliders are also great for blind casting as their large size presents a very visible target. You’ll want to fish sliders on a medium retrieve with your rod pointed so that it is slightly upward – almost horizontal to the water. The lure is designed to have a slow, side-to-side wobble built in. The 6oz version is a casting machine and also has the added benefit of sinking below the birds at a “safe rate.”

Charter Slider Tuna Lure

"Spin Casting Tuna On Charter Sliders"

"Charter Grade Slider Tuna Casting"

Primary Technique: Sub Surface Casting
Speed: Medium
Style: Imitator + Attractor
Carry Over to Inshore: HIGH, anywhere fish are big enough to eat this lure!

RIGGING

I keep a compact rigging box with the following:

Split Rings: I’m always swapping out plugs. So having a split ring connected to by crane swivel speeds this process up. Also handy for swapping out hooks if the split ring gets tired. I keep a Hogy Split Ring Kit on Hand.


Crane Swivel: Having a crane swivel on the business of my wind on leader infront of my splitring is SOP for team Hogy. 120lb test is sufficient.


Chafe Gear: A teen piece goes a long way. “Just enough” to form the smallest loop possible to the crane swivel.


Wind On Leaders: I carry 12’ casting lengths and 25’ Jigging lengths. 80, 100 and 130lb in each length.


Jig Biki Rigs: Cod and Haddock crush these things. Handy for “Plan B” or even juist a little white meat to go with your fat tuna!


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