WHEN TUNA KEY IN ON SMALL BAIT, WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH?
Truth be told you’re not safe wherever you go, heart break will find you no matter where you are. Whether you find the girl of your dreams on land or you find the perfect fired up school of tuna 30 miles into the Pacific Ocean, heart break is sometimes inevitable.
Well fret not, we’re here to give you some tips to avoid this gut wrenching feeling. Well, maybe not on land but more so when it comes to tuna.
If you spend enough time in pursuit of tuna you’ll come across a phenomenon of one the most fine tuned creatures on earth gorging themselves on baitfish no bigger then your pinky. At times when they’re focused in on this bait, there’s no getting them off it unless you’re able to present an enticingly similar serving that may lead to a reaction bite.
That being said there are very few lures or baits that give you the ability to deliver a presentation in a timely fashion to these predators.
The idea of getting your artificial lure into a spot of feeding fish and then having them select it out of thousands of baits is a scenario that’s got the odds stacked against. There are a few instances within these scenarios that have been proven to get a reactions out of these feeding fish, using certain techniques with stickbaits and jerkbaits.
STOP AND TWITCH
When faced with a tuna foamer, the instinct is to cast into the school and retrieve and repeat in hopes of a bite, which does happen. It takes a lot of self-control to try and use the method of stop and twitch, meaning casting a small stickbait into the foamer and letting it sit there with an occasional slight twitch of the rod. What occurs is tuna chasing bait out of that spot and having your lure be the last bait profile in the area as a main target. This approach also works with small poppers. This is one of my favorite approaches as you’re leaving the lure in the strike zone for a prolonged period of time.
Probably what we’re most accustomed to when encountered by a tuna foamer cast and quick retrieve, I find that small jerkbaits rather than stickbaits work best in this scenario, allowing for the fastest retrieve as the lip keeps them in the water. This cast and quick retreive mimics a bait wanting to get the hell out of there. The faster you go the better, surely to cause that reactionary strike.
RETRIEVE & PAUSE
This last technique is the one that I’m most often using during these feeding tuna scenarios. The reality has been that we’re normally late to the party. By the time we locate a spot of fish foaming and get up to it most of the damage on the baitball is done. I find that casting in the area that the baitball was just in often produces a bite with lingering tuna looking for any left over fleeng bait. This retrieve takes the most fine tuning as I feel it emulates the most realistic presentation. The retrieve speed can vary and you’ll have to play around as to what works best for your stickbait to swim appropriately. Once you have your action down throw, a pause in every few cranks. The bait will usually get bit on the pause.
There is a huge diversity and variety when it comes to stickbaits and jerkbaits. There’s customs, off the rack, ones intended for specific species and so on. The topic of jerkbaits and stickbaits is extensive, yet as expansive as this category is, not many brands consistently make small jerkbaits and stickbaits that fit all of the needs for the Southern California tuna fishery. Meaning they swim perfectly out of the box, contain through wiring, are equipped with hardware that doesn’t need to be replaced, tough enough to handle tuna in the 100 lb. range and lastly small and castable.
Below are some of my favorites that have been proven time and again to me and have also been responsible for converting anglers into adopters of these lures.
If I could take one lure around the world, this would be it. I’ve literally had more success with this lure than just about anything. I can work it as a jerkbait, slow troll or sink it out. It’s a great all around jerkbait that loves that retrieve and pause action. At almost 2 oz. it has great castability.
Hands down my favorite lure to watch get bit. Due to it’s no lipless construction it skirts on the surface with an erratic swimming action. What ensues is a highly visible explosion on this lure. A great one for that fleeing bait scenario. Helpful tip: white is deadly.
There’s no shortage of amazing lures in every shape and size. The biggest thing for me is have confidence in what you’re throwing. I’m guilty of switching lures impulsively, but that leads to time out of the water and the best way to catch a fish is to have your lure in the water.
Don’t hesitate to experiment on retrieves, speeds, shapes and sizes of lures. If it makes sense to you it’ll probably work.
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