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Q’s About Bluefin Trolling - Teach Me!

Old 08-02-2020, 01:36 PM
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Default Q’s About Bluefin Trolling - Teach Me!

Hi folks.

Up here in the Pacific Northwest (Specifically Oregon) we are seeing more & more big bluefin show up last few years, usually late season (Sept / Oct) so I am Gearing up more intentionally for them. I have big 2 speeds and heavy rods for use in San Diego (long range). Even have some bent butt with Aftco big foot rollers.

Before anyone mentions the search function, yes...I have used it here and read quite a bit. So thanks for all the existing printed wisdom.


I have some other questions on the finer points of trolling for larger bluefin models. Such as:

- For cedar plugs, has anyone come up with an alternative to the stock, long needle eye hooks....that has been successfully tested? Any other tips for use of cedar plugs for bluefin?

- For slow trolling with large baits, do you prefer planer boards, or downriggers, or some other method to troll them below the surface? Or do you sometimes troll large baits on the surface?

- I have heard that some folks use the teaser birds (such as Moldcraft birds) with a hook in them as the lure. Any comments on that, or similar bird lures? The bluefin up here have been coming up into the albacore troll spread, hitting the teasers but not hitting the lure right behind the teasers.


- I read something here in which someone referred to a “wind on swivel” that, as name implies, comes through the guides. I looked on the TFT website and don’t see that phrase. Can someone point me to this mystical wind-on swivel, if it exists.

My goal is to have a spread of the right gear and specifically target bluefin....and ignore the albacore. A few folks just accidentally hook the bluefin on albie gear, and get punished for it.


Thanks very much for any advice. Will let you know of any results.


Last edited by sitka; 08-02-2020 at 01:43 PM.
Old 08-02-2020, 02:36 PM
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Here’s the swivel .....

google: Wind On Swivel there are more than 1 company now

https://www.fishermansoutfitter.com/...ullet-swivels/
Old 08-03-2020, 01:09 PM
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Troll a few of these with horse ballyhoo way back off outriggers about 5-6 mph
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Old 08-03-2020, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Yellow Fever View Post

Troll a few of these with horse ballyhoo way back off outriggers about 5-6 mph
I prefer 5-8oz but that's solid advice. Pink and white with a pink Ronz on the planer rod was the goto for us this past NC giant season. If the water is green planer is awesome have mixed reviews if water is clear blue.
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Old 08-03-2020, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Mak232 View Post
Here’s the swivel .....

google: Wind On Swivel there are more than 1 company now
Thanks Mak. Hah...I actually have some of these, big versions, we use for boat lines.
Old 08-03-2020, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Yellow Fever View Post
Troll a few of these with horse ballyhoo way back off outriggers about 5-6 mph
Thanks much. Ballyhoo are not a natural feed here on the west coast. I realize I could have them shipped here but......what would you think about using small mackerel behind these? Since macs are one of the more prevalent natural feeds here for the big-uns? Or another natural feed - sardines?
Old 08-04-2020, 07:37 AM
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Ballyhoo aren't natural up here off chatham in cape cod, but when guys aren't fishing live bait, 90% of what people troll for bluefin are squid bars or ballyhoo
Old 08-04-2020, 07:58 AM
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The issue you will find on this forum is that there are mostly East coast fisherman here and we have a different fishery and fish differently as a result. Our tactics even vary along the east coast where in the warmer mid atlatnic waters you are trolling a larger mix spread of small to medium bars and shutes/ballyhoo faster for smaller bluefin and you can even toss in divers or cedar plugs. By the time you hit cape cod you are slowing your troll down and fishing less lines with mostly large squid bars and ballyhoo. I would check out the Bloody Decks forum as that's a west coast forum that would have better regional info and you can see what's working in NorCal. I know a lot of guys are flying kites and skipping flying fish.....not sure if the flying fish make it up that far? If I were you I would pick up a pair of squid bars and then fish some joe shutes with some kind of natural bait or sluggo/ronz behind them and see what happens. You can even toss a rapala or nomad or cedar plug in there to see what bites.

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Old 08-04-2020, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by OIReelKeeper View Post
Ballyhoo aren't natural up here off chatham in cape cod, but when guys aren't fishing live bait, 90% of what people troll for bluefin are squid bars or ballyhoo
True, although ballyhoo likely work well because they are close enough to mimicking saurys/halfbeaks in our waters.
Old 08-04-2020, 08:28 AM
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Re: Cedar Plugs
I once saw one re-rigged with a 3x southern tuna hook dressed with feathers. This puts the entire hook out the back of the cedar plug. The downside is that the action isn't the same because the hook is heavier and more towards the back of the bait.

Re: getting a bait deep
We'll either troll a plug off one corner OR off of the braid main line from the reel connect to a planer bridle to 100' of mono to a spoon or hoo. The planer is a #8 or #16. You'll need a lot of drag to pull these planers though. You can find posts on these setups on here looking for planer bridle and old salty. For bigger fish or inshore better luck when dropping baits back farther from the boat. It's somewhat common practice in the fall to drop a weighted horse hoo bait half a spool back.

NJ bluefin
Old 08-04-2020, 12:09 PM
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Sitka,

Go to bloodydecks.com for west coast BFT trolling tactics.

We have caught one small BFT this year trolling for albacore and a buddy got one last week off of Garibaldi.

We have a few Nomad DTX lures that have worked well for guys in SOCAL.

There have been some big BFT caught off of Northern CA, so they are headed our way and should be here by the end of the month.

You should also get a kite and some Yummy fliers to troll, as they have worked well in CA.

We have a Boston Big Game kite, a kite rod, Tanacom 750, and a bunch of fliers that we are going to try out when the BFT show up in good numbers.

Someone needs to figure out NW BFT to show the rest of us how, as nobody in the NW that I know of is really targeting them.

Good luck and let us know how you do.

Mike C

A guy next to us got this one on iron last year.


Old 08-04-2020, 02:26 PM
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We ended up accidentally hooking into a 670# bluefin on the troll in the Gulf of Mexico using a Makaira Lures Ursa right off the flat line. I would assume that you could rig up a few spanish mackerel or horse ballyhoo and have success trolling for them in the pacific northwest. They aren't going to be picky if you are in the right area. What kind of lures do the guys hook them on when albacore fishing? Maybe beef up some of those setups and put them back on heavy tackle.
Old 08-04-2020, 04:44 PM
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I agree with the guys saying that BFT fishing is very regional. I would say the only method that has no boundaries is trolling a lip diver. But use a color pattern that makes sense for your fishery. I'm not going to pull a Nomad DTX with purple and pink spots on Stellwagen, which is a green water fishery close to Boston. But I will use that lure in Atlantis Canyon--a blue water fishery in the gulf stream 100 miles from cape cod, MA.
Old 08-04-2020, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mr buck View Post
True, although ballyhoo likely work well because they are close enough to mimicking saurys/halfbeaks in our waters.
Originally Posted by Shake N Bake Sportfishing (formerly Colbachlaw) View Post
Sitka,

Go to bloodydecks.com for west coast BFT trolling tactics.

We have caught one small BFT this year trolling for albacore and a buddy got one last week off of Garibaldi.

We have a few Nomad DTX lures that have worked well for guys in SOCAL.

There have been some big BFT caught off of Northern CA, so they are headed our way and should be here by the end of the month.

You should also get a kite and some Yummy fliers to troll, as they have worked well in CA.

We have a Boston Big Game kite, a kite rod, Tanacom 750, and a bunch of fliers that we are going to try out when the BFT show up in good numbers.

Someone needs to figure out NW BFT to show the rest of us how, as nobody in the NW that I know of is really targeting them.

Good luck and let us know how you do.

Mike C

A guy next to us got this one on iron last year.

excellent points but kite fishing is not the easiest for a novice. Sounds like hes looking at some baits to drag around in hopes of getting some large bft. I don't consider myself a novice and 3 years in I still have trouble with a kite and bump trolling. Limited experience with trolling on the west coast is that crackhead albacore show and mid 90s off Catalina Island. Mackeral bars and heavy lures with ballyhoo way back. Shits not as regional as people think. Brought a couple splash bars down to Costa Rica a couple years ago the captain told me they don't work there. Those bars crushed it on yft and they remain there.
Old 08-04-2020, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by mr buck View Post
True, although ballyhoo likely work well because they are close enough to mimicking saurys/halfbeaks in our waters.
Lots of juvenile Saury off the west coast that's why Deadly Dicks work so well for Albies-trolled or cast.






Old 08-05-2020, 08:59 AM
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Old 08-05-2020, 10:19 AM
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Apparently the bluefin that are being hooked off of San Francisco right now are mostly coming on DTX minnows, Rapalas, Zukers feathers, and cedar plugs. But that is pretty much what people are pulling, so... I've seen one photo of a fish caught on a squid chain trailed by a rainbow jet head. It seems like the diving plugs are doing the best. It sounds like people are running their gear waaaay back, like 300 yards.

We don't have flying fish this far north, so I don't know if skipping a kite with a Yummee would work as well as it does down south. Many fish are being spotted crashing bait on the surface, but I haven't heard of any success with poppers or surface iron. This is all pretty new to the Northern California fishery. Many of the guys that are doing well have experience on the San Diego longrange boats. Of course, they are mostly the only ones with appropriate gear, too. Fish are taping out at 150 pounds and up.
Old 08-05-2020, 11:58 PM
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Mr Buck, thanks for the insightful comments. There is a parallel here in that....the San Diego waters (as you might imagine) are a completely different ocean. They are getting the BF in much warmer water. Different feed, etc.

Originally Posted by hoverducky View Post
Apparently the bluefin that are being hooked off of San Francisco right now are mostly coming on DTX minnows, Rapalas, Zukers feathers, and cedar plugs. But that is pretty much what people are pulling, so... I've seen one photo of a fish caught on a squid chain trailed by a rainbow jet head. It seems like the diving plugs are doing the best. It sounds like people are running their gear waaaay back, like 300 yards.

We don't have flying fish this far north, so I don't know if skipping a kite with a Yummee would work as well as it does down south. Many fish are being spotted crashing bait on the surface, but I haven't heard of any success with poppers or surface iron. This is all pretty new to the Northern California fishery. Many of the guys that are doing well have experience on the San Diego longrange boats. Of course, they are mostly the only ones with appropriate gear, too. Fish are taping out at 150 pounds and up.
Ducky, you are spot on. This sounds all too familiar.

Yes, I'm already on Bloody Decks. In So Cal they really don't troll for bluefin much at all. It's either drift (bait / iron / poppers) or use the kite. When there is very little wind they will idle along at a few knots to get the kite up. But they are not trolling surface lures without the kite. So there is not a whole lot of (San Diego) technique from which to leverage.

I've fished San Diego long range a modest amount. I have the big gear for these fish. I'm well aware of how the bluefin have been hooked down off Monterey / Santa Cruz / Half Moon. A long-time friend got a couple nice bluefin trolling the big wahoo lures with 50 ft wire out on downrigger.

You are right in that...they use the gear they have. Out of all the reports (not just this year but going back a ways), I would say more have been hooked on cedar plugs than anything else. 2nd place is probably a diving plug (Rapala, or Yo Zuri). But for every big bluefin landed on a cedar plug there is one or two more that get lost; those needle hooks are a known problem with albacore let alone 150 lb BF. I have an idea I'm going to try, with a particular Japanese hook, if the shank will fit into the plug. I don't trust a factory crimp job anyways so I will re-rig any cedar plugs myself.

The reason I came here to you Easterners is I'm trying to think outside the box. I like the idea of the Joe Shute with the ballyhoo. I am especially interested in the finer points of sub-surface trolling. I have seen the bridles for the planer boards and may experiment with that system. I am taking note of the squid bar idea.

Most of the time up here off Oregon, the bluefin have simply come up into the trolling spread. It's not like off San Diego / San Clemente Island where the foamers of bluefin are up on top, and they maneuver the kite near them. Also you have to realize, the San Diego boats carry loads of live bait for chum, as well as hook bait. If you have never been on a SD long range trip, you should really put it on your bucket list.

Just a few times in my many years of albacore fishing, I have seen a big splash on the tuna grounds but could not be certain it was a big bluefin. One time years ago, a buddy did see the big bluefin jumping clear out of the water chasing mackerel.

So getting a kite set up in my mind is not a priority method for up here. Judging by the way they seem to behave, it seems to make more sense to have a spread of 4 heavy trolling rigs, and be capable of putting 2 of them deep, or all 4 on the surface (or slightly sub-surface i.e. diving plug).

I think the #1 thing for us here is to completely forget about the albacore for a day, or at least part of the day, and only fish the big gear. I hear guys talk about putting one heavy rod out way back, while trolling for albies. And what will absolutely happen....because Murphy is real....is any big bluefin will then bite the little peashooter albie rig....and they'll get hosed. Every year a few guys get spooled on their albie gear. Zing......pow. The bigger BF usually show up in late Sept and into Oct., in cooler water....like 58 - 59, and on the steep dropoffs (edges of canyons here).

Thanks for indulging me with all the replies

Last edited by sitka; 08-06-2020 at 12:25 AM.
Old 08-06-2020, 10:27 AM
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i fish a lot and i fish all over.

in reading thru this string this is one line that jumps out at me most:

“Many fish are being spotted crashing bait on the surface”

if it was me and it was a “new fishery”, honestly, if this was true i wouldn’t be thinking trolling. i’d want to obtain (shag, cast net, sabiki, whatever) some of the “bait” these fish were crashing and put them right back out on a appropriately matched gear and terminal tackle at various depths and drift them as outliers in the area fish were seen crashing.



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Old 08-06-2020, 11:01 AM
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My suggestion after reading this last comment is to pick yourself up two splash bars....one that is a all green machines and another that is 6 or 9in squids in black/purple and run them waaay back. Then grab some of the 5-3/4 or 8 oz Joe Shute heads in blue/white and red head/crystal skirt and and drag them behind bars. Toss in a diver ahead of the bars and you got yourself a good spread to start with. If you don't use ballyhoo behind the shutes you can try another local bait or even try a RonZ or sluggo tail.

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