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Trapping TUNA

2809 Views 15 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  gonzofish
It's that time of year again. Time for the fishing to get really hot. I got the idea for these Tuna Traps form a video I got for my birthday a few months back. So, I decided to make some of these up. While you may not need these rigs most of the time you are fishing for TUNA, there are those days that you wish you had them. Leader shy tuna are hard to catch and while you can catch them with your hook tied directly to your main line the chances of you landing a decent tuna without it rubbing thru your 30, 40, or 50 pound test is very slim. This is just another great rig to stuff in your tackle box.
This rig is intended to be stuffed into a bait chunk. Pick a chunk that the trap will fit in. Cut a slit (like a pita pocket)in your bait and stuff your rig into the chunk. Make sure you don't go all the way thru the chunk You should have only one open end in the bait. Make a small hole or push your main line thru the chunk, opposite the slit of the chunk. Tie off your main line to your trap and pull it into the bait so it's hidden. If done right your main line should be the only thing exiting the bait. When the TUNA takes the bait all you have to do is tighten up and set the hook. The cable should uncoil, set the hook and you have the chaffing gear coming out of the TUNA. Now all you have to do is land that 100+ TUNA.
The materials are as follows.

175 pound 49 strand SS cable
Double sleves (copper or SS)
8/0 Mustad all around hook
12/0 Mustad circle hook
230 pound SPRO swivel
80, 100, 120,pound Mono leader material (For the not-shy tuna)
Double sleve (aluminium)
Welded ring
1/4 " vinil tube, cut into 1/8" rings

Cut a 18"-20" piece of cable. If making multiple rigs it's easier to cut them all at the same time, the same length.
Crimp a swivel at one end and then crimp a small loop at the other. Your thumb shuld fit into this loop. The loop is there to make hook changes easier according to what size fish you are targeting. It also positions the hook in a slight inward position to help set the hook into the fish's mouth.

Thread a piece of the vinil tubeing onto the hook. Wrap the leader around 2 of your fingers (compact) untill all of the cable is gone. Pinch the loops together and stuff them into the center of the tube piece. The swivel or welded ring should be on top (eye of hook)

For those light line rigs 30lb -50lb test use about 6' of 60, 80, or even 100 pound leader mono along with the tuna trap. Instead of the swivel at the end of the cable I use a welded ring and then attatch the swivel at the end of the mono leader.

Certainly not a bad thing to have whe those finiky TUNA are hard to catch.

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Can't see it can you make it bigger? ....I will put that rig on file ...How didi you make that fit...thought we had a size limit on pics.
Cut and pasted from another site. It's the only way I can do it for now. Trying to get the pics to load smaller bot I still have not gotten the hang of this camera.
Simply use the Paint program on your puter and resize them before you try to up load!!

gonzofish how do you deal with the issue of slack. i may have read this incorrectly. but if all the wire and leader is shoved in the chunk bait and the tuna hits aren't you going to loose the fish if you try and set the hook because of all the slack as it unravels?
Finally figured out the pics. They will be smaller next time.

AGULHAS, The 6' leader is only used when you are targeting larger tuna or when the tuna are not line shy. Generally, when the tuna are not hitting because they can see your leader. You would rig the tuna trap directly to your main line from the reel. Wether it's 30, 40, or 50 pound test on your reel. If all goes as planed the tuna will have swallowed the tuna trap along with the chunk. The cable is kept to 18-20" so that as you take up slack and set the hook you are only moving the rod a small distance before it tightens up. Sharp hooks and the vinil tube will help keep some slack out of the rig as it uncoils and the hooks finds it's mark. Genreally, as the fish takes your bait, you would lower your rod tip as much as possible tighten the drag (engage the spool on star drags). The line will come tight as the fish swims away then give it a good hook set. With the circle hooks just push the lever up and let the fish run, the hook should find it's mark in the corner of it's mouth. That is why it's important that your swivel is at the same end as the eye of the hook. Rig one up and set the trap. Pull it and you will see that it has pressure on it at all times as it uncoils. You will also see that you won't have much hook setting to do, especially when a tuna has felt the point of the hook. good luck!
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thanks i appreciate the info.
With the amount of metal involve with this rig I don't see the chunk falling at the same rate as the chum. To my limited knowledge this would be a detriment, please correct me if I am wrong.
Snagged you brought up a good question that I regret to have not answered in the post. I usually take a piece ( about 1' )of a kids pool noodle. You know the ones at wally world that are multi colored. I then slice a thin piece off the noodle and insert it with the rig. A styrofoam cup works just as well. It doesen't take very much to compensate for the hardware. Start with a slice of about 1/16" thick and try it out and see if it sinks naturally. If it floats then just trim the piece untill you get the desired (natural sink rate )results. Remember to tuck everything into the chunk or baitfish you are using. The tuna have very good eyesight, especially during the day.
To be quite honest I see this as a better swordfish rig than tuna rig. it might also work when you have large numbers of shark or barracuda for them.
In my limited expearience I've yet to see a tuna bite through a 60# flurocarbon leader direct tied to the main line. Just too many connections and too much hardware.
I admit the largest yellowfin tuna I've caught has only been 80#, so my opinion is just about worthless.
Please explain to me what I am missing.
What you may be missing is TUNA. I have yet to experience a tuna biting thru a 60 lb line as well that have landed. We have been out there chunking and only caught blackfin on the chunk line. Perhaps the larger tuna were leader shy and therefore not got bit . I have riged up with 30 and 40 pound test rigs and broken off on the initial run. That is what this rig will let you do. Downsize on the mainline so you do get bit and the cable rig to prevent the tuna from cutting you off on the smaller 30 pound test. This rig is mainly designed for those light line/leader shy tuna.
I'm with Snagged on the subject of tuna traps. When I first started tuna fishing, I bought several. I think it is Tournament Cable or one of the companies that sells them. I still have them somewhere.

I've never used them for the reasons that Snagged listed.

They are bulky - you have to use too large of a chunk in order to hide them.

All the added hardware and increased size of the chunk means that the chunk drifts at a different rate/depth then your smaller chunks that are thrown out - unless you are only throwing huge chunks...if you are using a chum churner, forget it as its dropped out of your slick. Personally, I like small chunks and have done best on small chunks and small hooks - no bigger than 7/0 usually fishing 5/0 and 6/0. And all circles.

The hooks used are generally not circles (those pictured here are not) so the momentary lapse of pressure while the leader deploys could give the fish enough time to get off (my opinion) if the hook is not properly set.

If you use non offset circle hooks, a tuna chewing through the line or leader be it flourocarbon or mono is a non issue as you will have a corner mout hooked fish 100% of the time. Now if you use circle hooks with a big offset such as Owner or Hayabusa, then yes you can risk having a fish hooked in the soft palate and either pull or the fish chew the line, same if using J hooks.

For leader/line shy fish the best alternative is simply to drop down in line class. I personally don't use floro but some people like it and swear by it. I've had no trouble getting bit without it. I just straight tie to mono and go down in line class as needed. If I can get bit on 80lb mono - fine. If not, I go to 50lb. If that fails I go to 40lb. I have personally not run into a situation where I had to use either floro or drop down to less than 40lb.

My best line class/tuna fish are:

40lb - 75lb yft
50lb - 90lb yft
70lb - 100lb yft
80lb - 170lb yft

All were straight tied.

I think the tuna traps will work - feeding tuna when in a frenzy will bit ANYTHING. But I think its a solution to a non-existent problem. Just my opinion.

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Thak's for your input earl, I will allways look for that edge that might get me those 100+ Tuna. Just thought this would be another rig to help accomplish that. I am glad there are so many experienced fishermen on this board. It's discussions like this that help all of us improve our fishing/catching
No problem. Its what we are here for.

The greatest thing you need for 100+lb yft is luck. Most trips in which you run into yft here they usually top out in the 60-70lb range. Occassionally you'll catch a trip where they'll get up to 80. In my experience, only seldom will you be in the right place at the right time where there are 100+lb yft actively feeding. I've gone on 15-20 or more trips to the spar rigs in the last few years out of Freeport and Port A and have only twice caught or seen yellowfin in the 100+lb range.

I'm not saying they aren't here - just that they aren't here all the time and it isn't easy to come by them. I think most would agree with me on that point.

You can increase your odds of catching them when they are where you are by having any number of means avaialble to you:

1) High quality no to little offset circle hooks - best ones I've used are Mustad 39950BL black demon or Eagle Claw 2004/2005. I seldom miss a tuna with these hooks - I and others have had problems with the fancy Owner and Hayabusa big offsets hooking in the soft palate instead of the corner of the mouth and subsequently pulling - also causing the fish to bleed (not good if doing C&R).

2) Actively chumming - use chum chunks the same size you are fishing with. Also a chum churner is highly recommended (but not essential - I've caught plenty of fish not using one, but still throw a few chunks out every few minutes along with your chunk bait).

3) If the tuna are crashing you may throw either surface "iron" such as a Tady 45 light jig, or even better a surface popper. Examples would be a big Yozuri Bull GT or large size Yozuri Surface Cruiser. These fish won't generally be your bigger fish but I have caught one that went 100lbs or very near it on a popper.

4) Have plenty of jigs such as Bead Diamond 8oz jigs. These work for first bringing the blackfin tuna to the boat when you first begin fishing, then use the blackfin for chunks. The yellowfin will also bite the jigs. Other good jigs would be a Tady 45 heavy jig. Different people have different favorite colors but the favorite of many is blue/white with a flourescent back. Usually with a large single siwash hook.

5) For a 100+lb tuna you are going to want a good harness/plate to aid in the fight, reduce stress on the fish, get it in quicker (better for the meat, less exposure to sharks), and not put as much a pain on you. There are a variety of good plates/belts out there. Some like the Braid Stealth system. Some Black Magic. I like the Smitty Spyder harness and Special Plate. There are others. None are real cheap but all are a good investment. It can literally be the difference between a 5 hour fight and a stringy, icky tasting lactic acid effected fish or one caught in 30 minutes and sashimi grade when it hits the deck. On the Lump trip I was on last year 3 of us individually landed 3 big tuna, my 170 (165lb at the dock), a 156lb, and a 143lb in no more than 30 minutes for each fish. A sister sized 165lb yft caught that same day by another boat took 5-1/2 hours to land, 4 anglers, and a harpoon dart. It's worth noting that we had the 2 biggest in the boat before most other boats had even anchored on the lump. If we had spent several hours fighting one fish - the other 2 would never have been hooked.

6) If during the daytime, slow trolling live bait such as hardtails around fish attracting devices such as a spar rig can be very effective.

As I mentioned previously, sure there are 100+lb tuna in our section of the Gulf. There isn't but a few pounds seperating the Louisianna state record from the Texas one. However, if I were specifically wanting to target a yellowfin in the 100+lb range - I can reccommend a time and place. Set aside a 2-3 day period during late January or February and book a Lump trip with a reputable guide out of either Venice or Grand Isle, LA. The Lump is situated only 25 miles off the mouth of the Mississppi - approximately a 50 mile trip from either location. Easily a day run. If you book 2 to 3 days you have some leeway incase one or more days is not doable due to weather. The Lump is a shallow "hump" where cold, the nutrient rich waters of the Mississppi meet the much warmer warm Carribean waters - and during January thru March it is a big yellowfin paradise. There, at this time of the year - in my opinion, an angler has their best opportunity at a 100+lb fish, indeed up to 200lb and more. There is the added benefit of kingfish, bottomfish, wahoo, mako's, etc.


gonzofish said:
Thak's for your input earl, I will allways look for that edge that might get me those 100+ Tuna. Just thought this would be another rig to help accomplish that. I am glad there are so many experienced fishermen on this board. It's discussions like this that help all of us improve our fishing/catching
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Just an couple of additional comments.
Tackle quality: I've landed an 80# on 30# test with a jigmaster, fun, but not fun. I spent more time worring about loosing the fish than I should have. Be sure you have a rod and reel with a backbone and drag that can hold up to the task. That means drag pressure as well as smooth.
Line: Quality line and enough to handle long runs if needed. Spectra backing with a top shot.
Harness: You need one! Period. Get one that works for you. Good ones aint' cheap.
Great tips guy's. After reading this I feel like I am ready with my gear. I myself use an Avet EX4/0 wide on a Calstar 665XH that I wraped myself. I's loaded with 3/4 of 100/20 spectra and top shoted with 60 or 80 lb test as needed. I do have the braid belt and harness for the pourpuse you mentioned above. A shorter fight makes a better TUNA. My casting outfit is a Accurate 665HXM boss magnum reel on a calstar GFGR 700 H loaded with spectra and 40-50 pound test as needed. I also have the shimano TLD -30 and 20 two speeds on matching rods. That is just the tip of the iceberg, I have a lot more gear thatn a person should, maybee not.... I have been to Venice 4 times now. Two of them we actually got out and fished. On one trip we blanked on tuna but I did catch my biggest AJ to date, An 80 pounder. The other 2 were weather related. As you said it's good to set 2-3 days asside to avoid getting blanked because of weather. Thanks again for the tips. If you guys ever need and extra person i sure would like to learn some more, firsthand. Thanks again for the tips, I'm sure everyone benefited from this post.
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