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Rods and Reels for Tuna Popping

May 3rd, 2017

tx tuna popping Rods and Reels for Tuna Popping

Throwing poppers and swimbaits at night can be extremely productive when fishing for yellowfin tuna in the Gulf. Tuna love flying fish and readily come up to the surface to feed. Long, specialized rods and heavy duty spinning reels are best for this type of fishing. From budget minded, to top-of-the-line, these rods and reels for tuna popping will get you on the right track.

oceanxtreme oti Rods and Reels for Tuna Popping

OTI OceanXtreme

MODEL: OTI-3106-765S

These are some of the highest performing, and best valued popping rods on the market today.  With shaped EVA grips, new Fuji “K” series Alconite guides, and a new padded rod sock, the OceanXtreme can defeat monsters. Depending on your needs, the 40/60 or 60/80 rods are best for our size of tuna in Texas. MSRP $249

Specifications 

  • Length: 7’6″
  • Line: 40-60lb
  • Lure: 2-4 oz
  • Weight: 17.1 oz

OTI Tuna Sniper 

MODEL: OTI-3108-808S

The newest line of Tuna Sniper rods are lighter, stronger, and have a faster taper for the longest possible casting distance and more control boat side. These rods have a moderately fast action, with a slightly faster tip section, shaped EVA grips, new Fuji “K” series SiC guides, and a new padded rod sock. The size 40 stripper guide and new 8’ length give this rod a balanced feel and lighter weight than pre-2012 Tuna Sniper rods. MSRP $449.99

Specifications 

  • Length: 8’0″
  • Line: 60-80lb
  • Lure: 2.5-5 oz
  • Weight: 18 oz

Fin-Nor LT100 Lethal

This all-aluminum body reel from Fin-Nor could be one of the best values in high-performance saltwater spinning reels today. The Lethal 100 adds a triple-supported spool shaft, a forged brass main gear and a back-up pawl and ratchet anti-reverse. MSRP $139.95

Specifications 

  • Braid Capacity: 310 yds./100 lb
  • Max Drag: 45 lbs
  • Ratio: 4.9:1 /45″
  • Weight: 30.8 oz

PENN Spinfisher V

This tough, all metal construction reel from Penn works well for tuna at a good value. Features include an anodized aluminum superline spool, five stainless steel ball bearings and a sealed drag system with 3 HT-100 washers that stays smooth during big runs. MSRP $179.95

Specifications for model SSV850

  • Braid Capacity: 650/40,  540/50,  470/65
  • Max Drag: 35 lbs
  • Ratio: 4.7:1 /42″
  • Weight: 31.6 oz

QUANTUM Cabo PT

The Cabo series is built for long-lasting, fish-stopping performance – from the indestructible TiMag® bail to the multi-layer corrosion protection. This reel utilizes hybrid ceramic bearings in high-load areas. Specifications for 80PT model. MSRP $229.95

Specifications for PT80

  • Braid Capacity: 380/65
  • Max Drag: 50 lbs
  • Ratio: 4.9:1 /38″
  • Weight: 24.9 oz

SHIMANO Saragosa SW 

A Gulf tuna staple with excellent performance at a good price. Improvements in the current Saragosa® include SW Concept design with X-Ship & X-Tough drag and durable cam oscillation system for better drag performance. Specifications for 10000 model. MSRP $309.99

Specifications for SRG10000SW

  • Braid Capacity:50/360, 65/260, 80/215
  • Max Drag: 33 lbs
  • Ratio: 4.9:1
  • Weight: 24.3 oz

ACCURATE SR-20

Accurate’s TwinSpin reels are machined from high-grade materials and can handle the Gulf’s largest tuna. Features include Accurate’s patented TwinDrag™ system, five class 5 ABEC stainless steel bearings and a skirted spool that reduces heat build-up and help trim weight. These reels are designed, manufactured and assembled in the USA. MSRP $859.95

Specifications

  • Braid Capacity: 50/425
  • Max Drag: 32 lbs
  • Ratio: 5:1
  • Weight: 26 oz

Shimano Stella SW

Widely considered one of the finest spinning reels in the world, the Stella SW can handle the largest fish swimming our waters. This reel utilizes high quality materials and technology in every aspect, including a high rigidity aluminum body, X tough drag washers at the base of the spool, a cold forged aluminum handle and forged metal internals. This latest version of the Stella is the longest casting reel yet. Specifications for 14000 size. MSRP $1,159.99

Specifications for STL140000SWBXG

  • Braid Capacity: 50/400,65/315,80/240
  • Max Drag: 55 lbs
  • Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Weight: 24.3 oz

Texas Yellowfin Tuna 101

November 4th, 2016

tunapop Texas Yellowfin Tuna 101

A Quick Guide to Fishing the Floaters

By Brandon Rowan

Night owls rejoice, Texas yellowfin tuna fishing is hot from dusk to dawn.  So, it’s pitch black and you’re bobbing along 100 plus miles offshore at the floaters (semi-submersible rigs). Well now what?

blackfin Texas Yellowfin Tuna 101

Blackfin tuna will provide all the bait and chum you need.

Jigging

First things first, you need chum. The idea is to create a tasty trail of bread crumbs for fish to follow as you drift away from the rig.  You could bring a bag of shad or other baitfish to get you started but all the chum and bait you need is right below your boat in the form of blackfin tuna.

Cousin to the yellowfin, these smaller tuna max out at around 50 pounds and swarm the night waters around the floaters.  There is no minimum length or bag limit for blackfin tuna in Federal waters.  Take the knife to smaller, football sized fish but bleed and ice the larger 15-30 pounders.  They put up a surprisingly good fight and taste nearly as good as yellowfin, just make sure to remove the large bloodline.  What is the best way to catch blackfin tuna?  Jigs are your best bet.

Blackfin are not particularly finicky and will hit just about any diamond, knife or butterfly jig you send down to the deep.  Jigs from 4 to 10 ounces with glow-in-the-dark colors seem to draw the most attention.  Yellowfin will also hit jigs although not with the regularity of blackfin. In fact, on one trip my two best yellowfin tuna, in the 50-pound class, were caught with glow-in-the-dark and blue 8-ounce diamond jigs.

To start your drift, position the boat down current of the platform and drop your jigs down.  Stay alert as you let your lure fall, many times fish will strike as the jig flutters downward. If your line suddenly goes slack, ratchet up the drag and set the hook.

The Japanese style of speed jigging can work in this situation but is tiring and not necessary when many bites happen on the fall. A slower yo-yo style of jigging is also effective, and if you’re at the right depth then sometimes a few lifts of the rod tip is all it takes to entice a bite. Load your jigging reels with color metered braid to help determine what depth the fish are feeding. Sometimes it’s 30 feet, other times it can be 300 feet.

 

Chunking

If things are going as planned, then you should have plenty of blackfin after a drift or two.  Cut your fish into one-to-two inch chunks and keep them handy in a designated chum bucket.  On your next drift have one angler continue to jig while another tosses out a handful of chunks every couple of minutes.  Set up two drift lines, one long and one short, each sporting a large bloody chunk of blackfin at the business end.

Chunking, as it is called, provides your best chance for landing big yellowfin tuna, so heavier tackle is a must.  Stout stand-up rods, 30 or 50 lb. class reels, 50 to 100 pound fluorocarbon leaders and strong 4/0 to 8/0 circle hooks are standard gear.  You don’t want to be outgunned when that 100 pounder finds its way to your chum line.  Don’t be discouraged if the bite doesn’t happen in first 15 minutes.  Many good fish have been hooked and landed far from the rig’s lights.

 

Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull Metallic Popper

Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull Metallic Popper

Pop the Top

Yellowfin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico sometimes shy away from jigs but will violently assault a topwater lure if conditions are right.  It’s a good idea to have a heavy spinning setup ready at all times for tossing poppers to surface crashing yellowfin. It is not uncommon to see tuna leap high out of the water when in pursuit of flying fish. A Shimano Saragosa or Stella loaded with 60 to 80 pound braid on a 7 – 8 foot rod is a common outfit. See this article for more detailed information on rods and reels.

The technique for working these lures is similar to the ole’ tried and true popping cork.   A flick of the rod tip causes the lure’s cupped mouth to rush forward and create a commotion.  They can also be reeled in ultra fast to create a big splashing disturbance on the surface. If the flying fish have taken to the skies, then it could be a good time to toss a popper.

 

flyfish

Tuna absolutely love flying fish.

Skimming the Big Pool

Flying fish are tuna candy. Sometimes they’re so thick they’ll fly right into the boat.  Other times they drift tantalizingly close but still out of reach. Your standard backyard pool skimming net solves this problem.  Flying fish make superb bait so collect as many as you can and put them to work on a drift line. Nothing beats the real thing.

 

A Bloody Mess

Tuna fishing is exciting, it definitely tests your arms and back – but it is not clean. You might want to wear an old shirt you don’t particularly care about. Tuna must be bled to ensure the highest quality of meat. Cut the gills or make a small semi-circle cut behind the pectoral fin to drain your fish before boxing it. You can go a step further and gut the fish, remove the head and pack the body cavity with ice if you find down time between fish. Good luck and tight lines!

tunadeck