How to Rig Lures for Tuna

A few years ago I attended one of Capt. Ed Dwyer’s offshore seminars Dwyer is one of the best captains on Florida’s East Coast, and some say discovered the yellow fin tuna fishery on the other side of the gulf stream out of Port Canaveral. Here is the way Ed said that he rigs for tuna:

1. 50W Tiagra reel.

2. 60 lb test main line.

3. 20 feet of 80 lb Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon leader for ballyoo, maybe longer for lures.

4. Crimp the lure/ballyhoo to the leader using chafing gear.

Other points:

  • Ed uses this rig for ballyhoo, speedster lures, and smaller barrelhead Todd’s Lures.
  • Do not use a swivel or wind on leader; connect the leader to the mainline with a blood knot.
  • Do not try to grab the leader; too small. Gaff the fish wen the fish’s head is right under the surface of the water so as not to take pressure off the fish.

Shopping List:

  • Fresh mono main lines
  • 80 lb Berkley Fluorocarbon leader line
  • Crimps and chafing gear
  • Lures and ballyhoo

Bahamas Check List

Planning a trip to the Bahamas next week and are going through our checklist. Here’s the basic list:

1. Tuna tackle (for other side of gulf stream).

  • 4 50W Tiagras
  • Fresh mono.
  • 2 Maurader rigs on 400 lb mono leader
  • 2 Ballyhoo rigs on wind-on leader

2. Wahoo tackle (for high speed trolling while crossing and along the Bahama bank)

  • 4 80W Tiagras
  • Fresh mono
  • 4 high speed wahoo rigs with cigar weights

3. Deep drop rigs

  • Make sure electric reel works
  • Deep drop chicken rigs
  • Deep drop strobe lights

4. 2 Sight fishing rigs

  • 2 Baitrunners
  • Fresh mono
  • Leader and jig 

5. Yellow tail snapper rigs

  • 5 Light spinning reels
  • Light fluorocarbon and hooks

6. Bait

  • Squid
  • Goggle eyes
  • Chum and bag
  • Rigged ballyhoo

7. Dive Gear

  • Mask, snorkel, fins for everyone
  • Hawaiin slings
  • Shafts

8. Tender

  • Check outboard, change oil
  • Gas for tender

9. Anchors and anchor lines

10. Fishing licenses for kids

11. Provisions

  • Ice
  • Food, drinks
  • Fuel

12. Safety Stuff

  • Sat Phone. Make sure it works, and that the sim card subscription hasn’t expired. 
  • EPIRB. Test it to make sure it works.
  • Bolt cutters, cheater bar for through hull fittings, wooden plugs. Check and know where they are on the boat.
  • Life raft (check certification).
  • Check navigation and spreader lights.
  • Check AC strainer, filters.

13. Ditch Bag

  • EPIRB (test)
  • Handheld VHF (make sure it works)
  • Flares and smoke signals
  • Flashlights with batteries
  • Whistle/horn
  • Water
  • Food
  • First aid kit
  • Repair kit for life raft
  • Fishing gear
  • Sun screen
  • Desalinator for water

14. Boat

  • Marina slip reservation
  • Change racor fuel filters
  • Clean AC strainer
  • Fuel
  • Water
  • Hose, shore power line

15. Electronics

  • Sirius Weather subscription
  • Hero cam
  • Mac Air
  • iPad with Navionics



How to Troll for Wahoo

OK, so you’ve gone to your local tackle store and purchased a high speed wahoo lure. Now what? You still have to rig it it. Here’s how. (thanks Capt. Ron Schatman for this info):

1. Lure. Double hook wahoo lure with short shank ring eye hooks, 10/0 to 12/0. Rig so tip of hook is about 1/4 inch behind back of the skirt.

2. Wire Leader. Use 3 feet of #10 stainless steel or music wire leader. Multi strand stainless cable is easier and good too. If using cable, use hard black heat shrink to cover the sleeve and end of the cable.

3. Shock Leader. 12 to 15 feet of 400 lb mono. Attach mono shock leader to wire leader with heavy duty double ring ball bearing snap swivel. Swivel will attach to wire leader. Check shock leader for fraying after every catch.

4. Lead. Use in-line cigar lead with 2 feet of #19 stainless wire or 400 lb cable on either end of the lead. Attach one of cable with heavy duty snap swivel to shock leader. Loop at the other end to fasten to rod line. 2 lb lead: allows trolling in calm seas up to 20 mph. Heavier leads up to 3 lbs for bigger seas and slower trolling.

5. Line. 80 lb test.

6. Reel. Tiagra 50 wide.

7. Drag. Set drag just tight enough so line doesn’t come off the reel. At 18 knots, drag will equal 22 lbs.

8. Trolling speed. Average 18 knots (20.7 mph). Troll faster, up to 20 knots in calm seas; slower, 14-16 knots in 3 to 5 foot seas.

9. Crimp Sleeves. Use heavy duty zinc plated or nickle plated heavy wall copper sleeves only.

10. Lure Placement. 3 trolling rigs is effective. Mark lines at staggered lengths. Can do this with heavy duty waxed lace for 2 inches on the line. Lines should be fished flat at lengths of 100 feet, 150 feet and 200 feet. Have a backup rod marked with all three lengths.

11. Where to Troll. Fish along the drop off, using an “S” pattern from outer edge of reef in 150 feet of water to around 500 feet, and back to 150. Once a school is located mark the spot and make repeated passes across same spot for continued results. No more bites? Keep moving.

12. Fighting and Landing. While fish is on, captain must keep one motor in gear keeping line tight. When mate grabs line, put both motors in gear. No gaff method is safest, pulling fish onto boat through tuna door. Choke up on leader with one hand, then grab tail with the other hand and lift fish into the box. No door? Must gaff fish but take the time for a head shot — not body.

Want to make the lure yourself? It’s beyond my skill set, but here’s a cool Youtube video that shows you how here.

In addition to the high speed trolling lures, there are also great plugs you can use like Mauraders, that are rigged the same way — cable, cigar lead, shock cable, etc…. Only difference is that the lure is attached directly to the wire leader. Great thread about these lures over on the Sportfisherman forum here.

Good luck and tight lines.


Deep Dropping, 1972

Gulf GrouperFound this old picture of Curtis Newsome — my grand dad — on the Sweet Thing, our family’s then-new Bertram 28. This picture was taken while grouper fishing in the Gulf out of Crystal River. Check out the old Penn hitched up to an electric reel… sure not gonna miss that fish!

“Offshore Fishing 101”: A Three Ring Binder

Fall WahooSeveral years ago my cousin Harvey and I went in together on a new 31′ Contender. Both of us grew up in Gainesville, Florida fishing in lakes, rivers and the Gulf for redfish and trout. But neither of us knew the first thing about offshore fishing.

About that time my father-in-law gave me a few cardboard boxes full of old fishing magazines. They were full of “how to” articles about how to catch grouper, dolphin and other palegic fish that Harvey and I wanted to catch in our new Contender. So, over the Christmas break, I sat down on our living room floor and started ripping out the good articles. I put em’ in stacks by category, typed up an index, punched holes in the articles, and ended up with a four inch three ring binder I called “Offshore Fishing 101.”

So started the journey. Using the articles in the notebook Harvey and I soon took our first offshore trip alone, without a captain. We went out of Port Canaveral, Florida about twenty miles and bottom fished using frozen sardines and squid, with the tackle rigged like it told us to do in the book. We only caught a few grouper and a nice amberjack but, for us, it was a banner day. There’s a huge difference between hiring a guide or professional charter boat captain and having him put you on a spot, rig your tackle, bait your hook, and tell you when to reel in the fish — and doing it all on your own.

I’m still not much of a fisherman. Still don’t know very much about where to go, what tackle to use, and when are the best times and seasons to fish for which types of fish. However, the book I made that Christmas break has been a huge hit for several of my friends. I’ve probably copied the book a dozen or so times and given it out to folks who, like Harvey and me, wanted to go offshore but didn’t know how.

Hence, this website.

Harvey and I sold our Contender and I now have a much more kid-friendly vintage 41′ Hatteras convertible. I’m not hard core. With young kids who love to go out on the water I fish at their speed, which means we go for fun and come home when it’s not. But because catching is much more fun that being skunked, I’ve started collecting info, articles and videos that are helpful for someone like me, who isn’t a pro and is very much a weekend warrior.

So like my old three ring binder, this website will be a collection of information about offshore fishing and boating. Hope you enjoy.