Now that summer has officially finished and the water begins to cool back down the anglers attention will now turn to the annual run of big bluefin tuna. Now I’m no expert and haven’t actually landed one yet due to my weak stomach but I have learnt a lot of things about these fish that bring grown men and women to their knees each year. I’m going to quickly run through some of the set ups and the way to set these up which will give you the best chance at staying connected to the “barrels”. Now this is purely for trolling for these monsters of our sea which is the most popular method for targeting the tuna.
Line: one of the main pieces of equipment that has changed in recent years is the type and types of lines used to target the big blue fin. The guys that chase them commonly have now adapted both the use of braided main line and mono main line. Typically what will happen is the angler will get the reel spooled up with approximately 600-700m of 80lb braid. This is on the bottom of the reel and is purely used for 2 things which are less drag in the water due to its thinner diameter and the other is the actual amount of line you can fit on each reel. Now braid traditionally has little to no stretch so with the aid of a top shot of 37kg and around 100-150m of this you get the stretch that is needed to allow for less pressure on the hook. Now this type of spooling isn’t ground breaking as it has been used for many years now for those chasing broadbill sword fish at the shelf off New Zealand and Tasmania but the anglers down our way have slowly adapted to this. Now one thing that anglers who are just starting out on the bluefin don’t consider is setting their drag pressure to the right setting. As a rule of thumb you should set your drag to a 3rd of your weakest rated lines breaking strain so for 24kg line you should have your drag set at strike for 8kg. Although this is a common rule it’s not set in stone and can be altered which is what most of the elite anglers have done now. Most of these guys and girls are prepared to absolutely smash their bodies on what is called sunset which is the furthest the drag lever will go up. Don’t be fooled this is extremely dangerous in the wrong hands and can cause the angler to be dragged in the water by the fish as there is very little allowance given to the fish. Extreme care is needed doing this and I would strongly recommend someone standing very close to you at all stages of the fight just in case. Now main lines aren’t the only piece of line that is designed to give a bit of stretch which is exactly what a wind on leader from a double is supposed to do. Not only does a double give you more strength but it also gives the angler more stretch and acts as a bungy cord. If you need to learn how to tie this knot then come into store and I can run you through it as it’s really not that hard especially if I can tie it.
Rods: now when people think of game rods they think of a 37kg bent butt rod with a full set of big rollers on the rod and to a degree you’d be right but the times are changing and more boats are filled with standard guides with a roller tip on the rods. The idea of the roller only on the tip is to cut down friction at the greatest angle on the rod which is at the tip. If a mono line is running through something that isn’t moving constantly then after a while the line will become weak and will break. There is little to no friction when using a good quality roller tip but you do need to keep maintaining them to ensure they continue to operate smoothly. The other thing you will notice is there is 2 types of rod butts used on game rods. These are simply bent butts and a straight butt and they both have their advantages and disadvantages. The bent butt will allow the angler to place the outfit lower on the body which in turn makes it easier on your back and legs. The disadvantage of these is that they don’t work in standard gimbal and harness sets due to the curve in the butt. The straight butt and more traditional of the two allows you to fight the fish without a gimbal if you chose. A disadvantage of these styles is when using a gimbal they usually sit fairly high on your body and can cause some distress to the angler in a long fight. Now with the rod blanks that are used they are typically around the 4ft6-5ft6 size range and are anywhere between 15kg and 37kg rated. Often made from graphite or a composite graphite which gives you less weight but still the strength.
Reels: a game reel is the big mumma in the tackle shops that your eye is usually drawn to straight away. They are quite big and often heavy which scares people off but when set up correctly they are the only way to go. Holding a lot of line is just the beginning to why anglers use these essentially winches to fight these brutes of fish. A typical 50 size game reel will have around 20kg of drag and can be adjusted via a lever drag which simply pushes up on the reel. But like all things when you get a reel with a lot of drag then the rest of the reel needs to be able to cope with that too. The gearing in these reels are machined and made to not only withstand the pressure placed on them during a fight but also the environment that you are using it in.
Lures: I’m not even going to dig deeply into the types of lures you can use for these fish as it is endless and will only confuse me and you. I will though just tell you the more popular down our way that might help you decide. By far the most popular is trolling around a lead or resin epoxy filled head with a couple of rubber skirts attached off it. The many different shaped heads will give the lure a different action and depth that it will swim at. Typically a cup faced pushed as they are called will sit on top and throw lots of water in front of it while being trolled. A more bullet shaped head has the ability to dip and dive under the surface and get below the wash from the surface. When setting these lures in a spread they need to be placed at the correct spot otherwise they won’t get the full effect of their action. By a rule of thumb if you go by the smaller size of the head on the lure then the further out the back you run it and vice versa you should be right. Again if you have any questions about running a set of lures and don’t know how to set the spread then come in and see us and we will show you how to rig them and the position of the skirt.
Now I have probably missed out on something in this but hopefully it gives you anglers who haven’t had much experience on barrels the chance to get stuck into them. Until next week tight lines and best of luck.