Top Three Barrel Tuna Tips

21 Mar 23

Xavier Ellul has had a massive 2023 barrel season, landing multiple fish to over 100kg- and already has fish on the board for 2024. Xavier shares his top three tips for barrels in the southwest, learned through many hours on the water and networking with other tuna gurus.

Number 1:Time on the water; the most important thing for fishing for barrels is time on the water. Fishing first/last light and tide changes are the best times to catch a barrel, these are the times they are most likely to feed. If you're on the water and around life (diving birds, seals and dolphins) at these times the barrels are not far off and a bite shouldn't be too far away. If you’re not around this type of activity it is best to pick the lures up and travel to find it but it is always best to start in well-known areas off the port you're fishing out of. Keep an eye on local fishing reports, chat to anglers at the ramp and be in touch with local fishing stores to get the inside scoop on depths and productive areas as these can change daily.

Number 2: Setting your spread of lures; whether you're running a spread of four, five or even six lures, it must be set so that there are no tangles and that the lures are working at their best. This is done by setting the lures to the pressure waves created by the wake of the boat at different lengths, usually setting the corner rods short and the rigger rods longer. Stagger your lures out at varying lengths so you don't tangle when turning. This allows you to make turns and keep your lures in the hot zone. Also need to be running lures that represent the bait fish being eaten. this can be found out by dropping a bait jig and catching the bait in the area then changing your lures to match them.

Samaki Pacemaker DD ‘Blue Pink’ (short corner)
JB Dingo ‘Lumo’ or ‘Pink Evil’ (short corner)
Bonze D Shackle ‘Salmon’ (second short)
Bonze Exocet ‘Paris’ (shotgun)
Jaks Zeus ‘Angry Skittle’ (long rigger)
Jaks Zeus ‘Redbait’ (short rigger)

Number 3:Using high end tackle; there have been way too many stories of barrels lost due to tackle failing. Poor hooks, line, leaders and even swivels leading to fish of a life time being lost. But most importantly the quality of rod and reel, poor quality rods and reels simply cannot keep up with the speed and power of these fish, drags fail and lines will snap. High end tackle provides confidence and comfort when fighting the fish, allowing you to fish heavy drags and put the most hurt on the fish so it can be caught without worrying that the gear will fail.

Xav’s combo of choice: Wilson Live Fibre rod with Shimano Talica 50 (24 or 37kg line with a topshot braid/mono combo)