Pro Talk: Light Tackle Drop Back for Blackfin Tuna

15 Minutes with: Capt. Ross gallagher

Here’s what we learned…

Location: Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Waters

Tides: N/A

Approach: Begin by starting your troll over high profile structures such as a shipwreck or underwater hump in at least 90′ of water. While locating fish, be sure to cover some ground and study their patterns. If fish are scattered, trolling is hands down the most effective technique.

When I am searching for tuna activity, my first reaction is to look up! Scanning the horizon for signs of bird activity on or near the surface. Follow these signs, as they help narrow down a big ocean into practical fishing areas saves time and increases productivity.

Rigging Selection: For a lightly weighted-weedless presentation, the 5/0 Weighted Swim bait Hook is perfect.

Bait Selection: The Hogy® 7inch Original and 9″ Skinny Series.

Why this bait? The 7inch Original has a shorter wider profile. This size perfectly replicates sardines, mullet, or many of the smaller forage that black fin are fond of.

The 9inch Skinny doesn’t really replicate common forage, but all we know is that it’s deadly. It’s probably equally popular as the 7” Original and is most popular in black.

Colors: Our top Florida Key’s Captains report black as their most productive color.

Retrieve:  When approaching the structure, slow down to around 3.5 knots and begin feathering out the bait, in this case the Hogy 7inch Original or 9inch Skinny rigged on a 5/0 Weighted Swim Bait Hook. You’ll want to look at your wake, and have the bait swimming behind the second or third wake. Each boat has a different wake, so use your best judgment on where seems to swim most naturally.

If you are not scanning the skies and horizon, your eyes should be on the fish finder.  When I begin marking puffs of bait or tuna arcs, I will save a waypoint over that area. Often these fish will be relating above structure or a temperature break. Having several waypoints can help mark a track that increases the effectiveness of the troll.

Sweepin’ Troll:

Continue trolling over the structure, but begin actively sweeping the rod while keeping the rod tip parallel to the water. This sweeping motion creates a fleeting baitfish presentation. If you’ve had a strike and the fish missed, open the bail and let out 10’ – 15’ of slack, then quickly close the bail. This quick directional and speed change of the bait is often what triggers the bite. For the best hook up ratio, when you have a strike, retrieve the slack and use a low sweeping hook to drive the hook home.

Flat line Clip:

If you’re trolling with “hands off” anglers, keep in mind you can Set it and forget it with soft baits.  You don’t technically need the flat line clip, but it is handy to keep a lower angle of line. If you troll off your rod tip, you will need more line out to achieve the desired trolling depth. If you don’t have flat line clips, you can use a rubber band to connect your line to the reel.

Fish Holding Deep?

Have the anglers grab each rod and back the throttles into neutral. The weighted swim bait hook will actually begin to nose dive towards the bottoms, mimicking a wounded bait fish. Let the bait sink for 30 – 40 seconds then begin a rapid jigging retrieve towards the surface. Sometimes that is all it takes to trigger a tuna blitz.


Rod: 7’6” Heavy Fast Action Spinning Rod

Reel:  6000 sized spinning reel: With the potential for fish in the 30lb+ class, I like to have the added line capacity for a long initial run while on the troll.

Line: 30lb Mono or 40lb braided line.

Leader: 8’ Section of 40lb Flourocarbon leader.

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Posted in Blackfin Tuna, Capt. Ross Gallagher, Target Species

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