Trolling 101: The 7-Rod Tuna Spread


I fish the same bluewater spread anytime, anywhere. I like big, lightweight spreader bars loaded with smaller bulb squids. I’ll fish five bars to simulate the ultimate bait ball. I’ll have two weighted lured on flatline clips, where I move their placement in the spread. I rarely deviate from this spread, other than changing colors. In addition to being a highly successful spread, I like the efficiency of a dialed in spread. I know just how it swims, I know where it goes and how fast to fish it in any sea conditions, I know how the spread does on turns, etc. This allows me to focus on finding fish, not tinkering with lures.

Side Note: This spread is ultra light despite its massive footprint, allowing me to fish light weight with an ultra-strong trolling outfit. I like lightweight bars capable of trolling up to 7 or 8-knots to cover ground.

Bar Size: On my flanks, I fish 40-inch bars with 6-inch teasers and a bird bar on the center rigger.

The Highly Efficent Hogy Spread:

  • Outside Rigger 1: 40-inch Flexi-Bar – 6-inch UV Green Mack

  • Inside Rigger 1: 40-inch Flexi-Bar – 6-inch UV Olive

  • Flat Line 1: Pre-Rigged Harness Jig 6oz. Olive Sand Eel

  • Flat Line 2: Pre-Rigged Harness Jig 6oz. Tinker Mack

  • Outside Rigger 2: 40-inch Flexi-Bar – 6-inch UV Rainbow

  • Inside Rigger 2: 40-inch Flexi-Bar – 6-inch UV Amber Squid

  • Center Line: WWB: Pocket Bird Bar

Pocked Squid Bird Bar

I like to fish the bird bar way, way back for a variety of reasons. The bird function of the bar allows the bar to swim well without outriggers, which is important when fished further back. The commotion can add attraction because it is far away from the boats wake, also an attraction. The bird bar will float, so if you back off, you can leave the further back bar out while you fish the fish and avoid tangles. You can see where the bird is. It is so far back, it may be difficult for other boats to know where your lure is, including you!

Harness Jigs

The Harness jigs have become my ALL TIME favorite flat line clip lure and have permanently replaced cedar plugs on my boat. I fish harness jigs on each flat line clip, about 10 feet in front of each of my closest spreader bars. They swim in and out of the wake and have the appearance of a confused, lone baitfish. They can be dropped down and jigged while fighting a fish. This has resulted in dozens of hook ups on my boat over the years and why I like the lightness of my rod and reel combo so much. It’s easy enough to switch gears and jig. They swim well near a spreader bar without getting tangled. I like how they swim close and further away. They are the ultimate sand eel hedge. If tuna are keyed in on sand eels, sometimes they prefer the Harness Jigs over small, olive-colored squids that likely brought the fish to the wake.

Bulb Squid Flexi-Bars

These days, I primarily fish large spreader bars rigged with small bulb squids, even in the Canyons. For starters, the 6-inch common size is perfect for matching the majority of baitfish that school tuna feed on. Secondly, as importantly, they are MUCH lighter so they can be fished on large bars for greater presentation with minimal drag and still used on lighter gear. Lastly, they can be trolled faster, allowing for more ground to be covered. I like our Hogy Flexi-Bars because the ultra-light bar pulses with wave action rather than tumble, allowing for rougher trolling or higher speeds in calm water. They are quite light in terms of drag and they can be fished on 20lb. class gear (like my outfit above).

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