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Old 12-28-2015, 01:37 PM   #1
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Default Please help me fine tune my offshore spread....

Hi all - I'm not new to THT, but usually just read your posts. I'm not a newbie to offshore fishing, but I am self taught, so I have a lot of knowledge gaps. In prep for the upcoming season I hope you all might be able to answer some questions that will help me tweak my skills and increase our catch rate, especially with YFT.

I run a 23' WA out of OI on the OBX offshore to the Gulf Stream for meat. Our typical spread consists of a green machine behind a bird down the middle wwb and medium Bally staggered at different distances (V-Pattern) using various heads (zukers, Islanders, etc) on our riggers & stern rod holders. I have 50lb Dacron as backing with a 100yd top shot of 50lb clear mono, tied with a palomar to a bb swivel. I "hide" the swivel under a small 4" hollow squid skirt. I connect the Bally rigs to the swivel, using 7-9' 100lb floro leader with crimp connections. I troll at 6.5-8 knots dependent on sea conditions.

So here are my questions:

1. When using zuker heads, should we be trolling these naked vs paired with a pinned Bally? Does the Bally make the bait too large for the 30-70lb YFT typically caught off of OI?

2. Do you think the small bulb squid I'm using to hide the swivel detracts / impairs the action of the main bait?

3. We typically start off running a mix of pink/white, purple/blk, naked, blue/white heads with darker colors on one side and lighter on the other in hopes of identifying the preferred color of the day. Unfortunately, our hits are sporadic and spaced apart enuff that we never see a pattern develop. Should I be running all of one color, or just two or doesn't it matter?

4. I usually run my port side long rigger approx 100' back and starboard 85'. On a small WA, should I be running these much farther back for YFT? We get the occasional hit on a wash bait, so I know you can't really have a bait too close.

5. Is 100' floro too large for sharp eyed tuna? Should I be rigging with 80lb?

I apologize in advance for the lengthy post and will be happy to answer any clarifying questions you may have. Thank you!
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Old 12-28-2015, 02:16 PM   #2
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Old 12-28-2015, 02:25 PM   #3
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There are so many things that will be said here in response to your post...but in all honesty...the best thing to do is go on a couple charters during the times you usually fish. I have been a charter captain and mate for quite sometime in the area you fish and would gladly help you out free of charge. I fish the entire east coast concentrating mainly on tuna and billfish out of OI and VB. PM me if interested.
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Old 12-28-2015, 02:29 PM   #4
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Doom,

I fish on the East Coast as well, North of you in OCMD. Quick question, how many rods are you running? In my spread I run 12-14 rods if we are targeting YF's trolling. I will run 4 splash spreader bars, 2 chains (1 of which is a flippy floppy with hoo stinger), and the rest are joe shutes, ilanders, seawitchs, etc with medium/large hoos. My hoo rigs are 30' of 80# or 130# fluoro with a 130# SPRO wind on swivel. No need to hide the swivel as it is very small and 30' away from lure. Certain roller rods will not take these swivels even though they are super small (I have two rods that do not take wind-ons through the rollers so I use them for my spreader bars).

To answer your other questions:

1. I have caught 40-60# YF's that ate horse hoo's while I was fishing for bigeyes. I have also caught YF's and blackfins about 20" long that ate a 12" spreader bar bait. From dink to horse hoo none are too big for a 40+ # YF.

2. Running a wind on rig with 30' of Fluoro you do not need anything in front of it. The windon method you do not need a leader man just a gaff man.

3. Depends on how many rods you are running. I run 12-14 and in my spread can run one side from Blue/Black to Blue/White, to all White, to Pink white, to all pink to Red/Black to Purple/Black. I like to slowly transition colors from one side of the boat to the other. Not sure if it works better then others spread color styles but seems to for me. If I had one color scheme or only enough money to buy a few lures Blue/White would be my go to though. I catch more fish on blue/White joe shutes/ilander/seawitch hoo rigs then anything else. If we see one color, size, type of bait is catching more fish the entire spread changes accordingly.

4. YF and BE's will come right to the back of the boat. I try to have my flat lines in first or second boat wake behind boat. Then next line beside them 10-15', then next line behind it 10-15' and so on creating a large "V." If no bites I will send long and short rigger back further to see if fish are boat shy that day.

5. I run 80# fluoro for YF's and 130# Fluoro on large hoo lures and BE rigs. I do have some 60# fluoro I may try for 1 oz hoo lures this year. Last year a boat amongst the fleet had 60# fluoro while everyone else had large fluoro and they were outcatching everyone on YF's. Luck possibly but I think the lighter fluoro gave them an edge.
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:30 PM   #5
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MrConsistency - I have definitely considered a charter for sometime in the future as those of you who are on the water practically every day are a gold mine of information. However, I am also interested in hearing what some of the private boaters have to say too. Thanks again!
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:51 PM   #6
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Arbogb06 - Thanks for the reply.

I'm on a 23' WA, so the MAX # of rods I can run is 7, which we routinely do if there's not a lot of scattered weed around. It's a lot of work on such a small boat, but the thought is to present as big a bait pod as possible. The day we get 5-6 hook-ups at once will probably "cure" me of this, but at present it seems like a good problem to have . Four of my rods have all roller guides and I will probably try the SPRO wind on swivels to see if this increases our hook up ratio.

I did run the small 18" spreader bars with 9" bulb squid from my inside riggers once or twice last year, but the scattered grass hampered my efforts.

Another question came to mind - when you find a temp break with green 65-68' water and 74-78' on the blue water side, do you fish the green or blue side?
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Old 12-28-2015, 07:08 PM   #7
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That is a serious temp break and would mainly only occur early in season say April/may (my season in OCMD and depends on how cold/warm winter/spring is) and late in the season say October/November (OCMD season once again depending on previous months temps, weather, etc). In the summer (July/August) our canyons stay fairly steady temp wise and temp breaks can be as small as 0.2-1.0 degrees.

As far as which side to fish, well that depends. Once a hard break like this is found your next step is to look for life. Life trumps all When offshore. If you see Dolphins, whales, bait etc you are on the right side of the break. If you have decent sonar keep an eye on it as well for life. SST charts the day before will give you an idea of these breaks so long as there aren't any clouds, as well as reports (if you can trust the folks reporting). I also use salinity charts just as much as the SST shots as it gives you a good idea of where the blue and green water is. I use chloro shots, currents and pressure images as well but SSTs and salinity dictate where I am going. Id say over half the time YFs will be on the warmer side of the break as this is where the bait is but I have seen it just the opposite where the fleet is working the higher temp side hard and one boat ventures on the cold side and catches fish.

To figure out where I am fishing;
1) look at current SST's and salinity shots to see where the bodies of water are and where they meet.
2) if the above meets in a specific canyon I then look at chloro, currents, etc to try to zero in.
3) look for fishing reports. This take with a grain of salt as 50% of the reports will point you in the wrong direction. A good thing you can do is make friends with other folks and share information as it is invaluable in terms of previous days reports, what was working, times fish were caught etc. Again this would be coming from folks who fished the day or possibly a few days before that you trust and know aren't bullshitting you.
4) watch weather
5) head for said area/canyon with some sort of idea where to start and work. Once I am getting closer to anticipated area I will stop short or keep going past location pending if I see life, green water, blue water etc.

Water moves out of areas and so do fish. Just because folks caught them yesterday doesn't mean you will today.

Last edited by arbogb06; 12-28-2015 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 12-28-2015, 07:29 PM   #8
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I fish on private boats quite often as well from 22 foot center consoles up to 70 foot sport fishing boats. Just trying to give you a little insight from someone that fishes both private and charter and averages over 100 trips offshore a year. I've got extensive knowledge of rigging small boats for maximum fishability. On your boat if properly rigged you should be able to fish 10 rods without issue, depending on your set up more.
Keep in mind north of Virginia and south of Carolina most everyone fishes different than we do here. Not that it doesn't work, we are just more consistent with what works around here. The rule of keep it simple is your best bet on any boat. Typical spread on a NC/VA charter boat is 90% sea witch, nakeds and squid chain or two.....depending on season and bite a bar or two may make it out as well.... On a typical center console or cuddy style boat like your own, I normally fish the same spread...one thing I see on a lot of small boats is a lack of teasers.....BIG MISTAKE. ...these simple tools can make you or break you. If your boat is not equipped for teasers do like someone else has suggested and use flippy floppy things they make great teaser / hookbait combinations as well as splash bars!
As far as rigging your ballyhoo baits I use no less than 20 feet of fluorocarbon leader ranging anywhere from 80# to 130# rigged to your choice of in-line wind on swivels.... rigging this way all you have to do is cut the leader at the swivel to swap out your sea-witch, squid-witch or lure of choice which takes seconds and then you're back in the water and fishing! I also use only chin pin style rigs on all of my setups..... whether you use wire or rubber bands its interchangeable this way. That way when you get into a good bite you can put a rubber band ballyhoo on in about 5 seconds vs a wire 30 seconds or more. When you're on a hot bite seconds can make all the difference. Just a few tips ....hope they help in some way shape or form..... like I said if your local to coastal Virginia / North Carolina and want some hands-on assistance don't hesitate to let me know I'll gladly come to you and help you anyway I can.

Last edited by MrConsistency; 12-28-2015 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 12-28-2015, 08:14 PM   #9
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Id definitely take MrC up on his offer in some way shape or form. Local knowledge and experience is invaluable offshore. In my eyes over half the battle with catching fish offshore and in general happens before you hit the water. The boat has to be set up, rods/reel rigged properly, rigs and baits rigged properly and spread done properly in terms of pattern and General idea; not which color where. Having the above done properly also gives you the confidence to know now all you have to do is run over the fish instead of worrying about are my rigs stealthy enough, baits rigged improperly, spread out of whack, etc. Nothing worse then being on the water and everyone around you is catching fish but you.

I agree with the teaser comment too. We run two dredges off each side of the boat. If no luck I pull one or both and deploy a PVC pipe style teaser that has a lot of action and pushes a ton of water leaving a huge smoke trail. Dredges can be a pain in the a$$ especially for an inexperienced crew. Id start with one daisy chain style teaser or bowling pin/pvc pipe style teaser and progress to dredges.

Last edited by arbogb06; 12-28-2015 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 12-29-2015, 07:23 AM   #10
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GM Guys, thanks for the info. Although I do run some spreader bars or daisy's, I haven't run a bigger Teaser, especially anything that's subsurface. I've certainly read a lot about them, but haven't invested in one yet. I did see some pics of the PVC ones, which I'm sure I could make for a fraction of the cost of a strip teaser or something similar.
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Old 12-29-2015, 07:38 AM   #11
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Cheap homemade teasers:

http://bigkahunafishing.com/Marlin%20Teasers.htm

I have made the marlin missile from the above link. This sucker leaves a huge smoke trail and has a ton of action. This season I am going to try adding marbles for a rattling effect and/or adding cut bait inside to leave a scent trail. Not sure if it will work better or worse but time will tell.


http://www.thehulltruth.com/sportfis...e-teasers.html
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Old 12-29-2015, 08:52 AM   #12
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I fish that area and have to agree on keeping it simple and add teasers. That's what you'll see on the charters off of NC. Also... ask any captain at the Fishing Center their fav tuna color and they'll tell you blue/white or white/blue Seawitches and nakeds and maybe something crazy way back like a bird chain with a squid. When the charters aren't getting bites they will often deploy a high quality spreader bar.

I also think your leader is too short. Nothing less than 20'.

For a small boat making an effective teaser set up is really simple. I've taken a Penn 3/0 sized reel loaded with 300# mono and hose clamped it to one of the T-top supports. Use a piece of rubber under the reel seat to stop it from rotating. Run the mono thru the first or second eye in your rigger and put a swivel on it for your chains. Boom. Perfect and super cheap teaser set up for about $125. You do need to keep that reel(s) heavily washed and corrosion protected if you don't take them off between trips. They get build-up real quick otherwise.

For baits you really need to know what's being used. One week the bite is on smalls the next medium large. Local intel will help there.

There's one other bait I've seen on a LOT of charter boats that get used if the fish are a little finicky and below the surface. A Drone spoon fished 30-40' off of 18-32oz trolling weight. You'll often see a mate on the back of the boat heaving that sucker back and forth looking for a bite.
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Old 12-29-2015, 08:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finrazor View Post
There's one other bait I've seen on a LOT of charter boats that get used if the fish are a little finicky and below the surface. A Drone spoon fished 30-40' off of 18-32oz trolling weight. You'll often see a mate on the back of the boat heaving that sucker back and forth looking for a bite.
Now you've gone and done it!!! You have given up the "secret bait"

Finrazor is spot on... another trick I can think of is dont use blue/white or white/blue.....use blue/crystal or crystal/white seriously though...it makes a difference....
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Old 12-29-2015, 09:07 AM   #14
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Default Tuna, mahi, whitey and the man in the blue suit

This is our spread for fishing the canyons off of Jersey.

OR 7th wave iland lure sailure blue/white +bally

IR 5th wave green machine spreader bar
corner naked cedar plug

BOAT Mid Joe yee evil > > WWB bird/williamson lure+bally

corner Downrigger/bally dredge skipping naked bally
IR 5th wave green machine spreader bar

OR 7th wave iland lure sailure blue/white + bally

All lures are rigged on flourocarbon
We have a bally pitch bait and Spanish mac pitch bait ready
All skirts are flat heads that smoke
Outside riggers are just behind and outside the spreader bars
Troll 5.5-7 knts
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:01 AM   #15
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This is what I run for small bluefin/yellowfin in jersey.

short flats 25' back - 2 natural cedar plugs or natural cedar plug and a joe shute/bally
long flats - 40-50' back - splash bars
short riggers - 75' back - green/rainbow machine bars or daisy chains
long riggers - 200-300' back - joe shute/bally or bird/jethead
Center 150-200' back - bird/green machine or kona bullet

If it's rough we pull in the short flats and run 7 rods. Everything is rigged on 6-8' of 130# or 150# mono except for the ballyhoo rigs which are rigged with 10-12' of 130# flouro with a windon swivel. I personally don't see the need for overly long leaders but that's just me.

Last edited by NJSeaCraft23; 01-04-2016 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 12-30-2015, 06:50 PM   #16
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1. When using zuker heads, should we be trolling these naked vs paired with a pinned Bally? Does the Bally make the bait too large for the 30-70lb YFT typically caught off of OI?

You can do a mix of both. I rarely run naked lures in my tuna spread but that's just a personal preference.

2. Do you think the small bulb squid I'm using to hide the swivel detracts / impairs the action of the main bait?

Hard to say without seeing it. However you should not need it. How long of a leader are you running? Tie a snap swivel on the end of the mainline, and clip to the leader. You dont need the bulb squid over it. If you have doubts I would pull it off.


3. We typically start off running a mix of pink/white, purple/blk, naked, blue/white heads with darker colors on one side and lighter on the other in hopes of identifying the preferred color of the day. Unfortunately, our hits are sporadic and spaced apart enuff that we never see a pattern develop. Should I be running all of one color, or just two or doesn't it matter?

Keep the variation. Color IMO is something that comes with years of experience. Any given color can work on a given day. Over the years you will start to see trends of which colors work best for you. But its good to have variation and there is no need to go to all one color unless the fish start to only hit that one color. For what its worth the old rule of thumb is dark colors on dark cloudy days and light colors on light sunny days.


4. I usually run my port side long rigger approx 100' back and starboard 85'. On a small WA, should I be running these much farther back for YFT? We get the occasional hit on a wash bait, so I know you can't really have a bait too close.

Send them back further, like triple that amount.

5. Is 100' floro too large for sharp eyed tuna? Should I be rigging with 80lb?

For trolling no. We use 150 lb flouro and never felt we had a problem.


Hope this helps. I should note I fish in NJ so I'm a bit further north than you so the local tactics may differ a bit but its basically the same principles. Good luck.
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Old 12-30-2015, 08:35 PM   #17
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Hi All,

Thank you all for your great advice. There seem to be a few common themes, so I will try these first. Thanks again.
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Old 12-30-2015, 08:38 PM   #18
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Arbogb06 - i assume the Marlin teaser link you sent me also works for YFT, Dolphin, etc?
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Old 12-31-2015, 10:09 AM   #19
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Arbogb06 - i assume the Marlin teaser link you sent me also works for YFT, Dolphin, etc?
I built one nearing the end of the season last year and deployed it on 2-3 trips. I strictly meatfish (if a billfish comes in spread we will try to get hooked up but we do not target billfish with our spread) for mahi, wahoo and tuna and we still caught tuna with it deployed.

Teasers like the PVC on is just to attract fish by thinking a feeding frenzy is going on. The teaser I made is around 18-24" so the tuna wont likely be going after it more so the ballyhoo, spreader bars etc. They will think it is one of their own that is feeding and join hopefully. Now a big blue marlin or shark may be more interested in the teaser then the smaller baits in your spread.....
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Old 12-31-2015, 10:18 AM   #20
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Ar- do u think it really makes a difference?
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