Video: Trolling for Tuna with Flexi-Bars
Tuna Trolling Action Video
How To: Tuna Spread Deployment
Introduction: It’s hard to beat the jack-in-the-box magical surprise of an outrigger popping, a rod folding in half and a screaming reel, seemingly out of nowhere. While I do love a gold old fashion day of trolling, there are times where it is really your only option when tuna are scattered or lazy. Why? Well, the extremely obvious first answer is that trolling covers ground while fishing but the second and more salient answer is that a very well-executed “BAIT-BALL” pattern will bring the tuna to you!
The 100% Everyday Spread: I fish the same Bluewater spread anytime, anywhere. I love the efficiency of a dialed-in spread, one that you have full command of. I know from past experience it looks sexy, that it works, just how it swims, I know where it goes in the wash, how fast to fish it in any sea condition. I know how the spread does on turns, literally EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. This familiarity allows me to focus on finding fish, not tinkering with lures. Simple. Set it and forget it
WITH Outriggers: For me, trolling with outriggers is ideal as they allow me to fish a couple more rods and with larger spreader bars, namely the Hogy Flexibars that I designed for this spread specifically to pulse and dance just on the edge of the wake on light trolling rods. I just LOVE a bunch of big, lightweight spreader bars loaded with smaller bulb squids. A spread with 5 Hogy Flexi-Bars bars can be fished in Bluewater anytime, anywhere from Cape Cod to Key West and is ultimate simulation of a GIANT BAIT BALL. My secret weapons are the two Hogy Harness Jigs flanking the inside bars a few feet under the surface, simulating a few vulnerable baits lost from “the pack.” Lastly, my third component is WWB (way way back) Center rigger with a floating bird bar is targeting tuna that missed the spread and may be suffering from FOMO.
Bait Ball Effect: I have two variations of “everyday” spreads. One for larger boats WITH outriggers, and one for smaller boats WITHOUT outriggers. Either way, I am trying to accomplish the same thing: a big juicy bait-ball dancing behind my boat! I like MOST of my lures to match in size and profile with a couple of audible options..
The Highly Efficient 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!
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).