You ever hear the saying “Elephants eat peanuts”? I can’t think of a more appropriate term to describe what has been going in SoCal waters for the last 5 or so years.
While we have been blessed with truly historic amounts of bluefin and yellowfin tuna, the same thing that brought them here has been the same thing that makes them so frustrating to target. These fish have come to our waters to gorge themselves 4” pencil size anchovies that are all over our waters in mega tonnage numbers. The result is acres and acres of “foaming” tuna absolutely demolishing the tiny baitfish.
Because these tiny baits are so readily available, the fish have completely keyed in on these tiny morsels and usually won’t even look at a sardine or full-size lure.
This brings us to another cheesy fishing analogy that we have all heard, “Match the hatch”. Savvy west coasters realized several years back that to get a bite from these picky pelagics you have to scale your bait presentation down or you were going to have a very long day of tuna watching.
The go-to bait for these picky fish has become small metal lures in the 60-100 gram size. One of these small lures cast into the heat of the large foamers will many times produce a bite. Of course, these tiny lures were never intended to catch thirty-pound tuna, let alone the eighty and hundred-pound models lurking around lately.
This has facilitated the need to beef up the rigging on these tiny lures so they can handle the long battles and blistering runs of 30–100-pound tuna.
Fortunately, the solution is pretty simple. A hook and split ring upgrade are all that’s needed to get these peanut-size lures to pack a big game punch.
We have been very successful in re-rigging these 60-100 gram lures with a Gamakatsu #7 Superline Split Ring and either 1/0 Gamakatsu 4x Strong Treble hook or 7/0 Octopus SE 4X Strong.
Which hook you pick is a personal preference. In our experience, the treble definitely produces more hook-ups but you also lose more fish due to snags and poor hook sets. The Octopus style hook doesn’t connect as often because it usually won’t snag the fish, but once bit it seems to bring more fish to the boat. In our opinion, it’s a toss-up. We suggest experimenting and see what works for you.
The rigging is very simple. All you need is a quality set of split ring pliers, split ring, and hooks.
Open up your new Superline Split ring, slide the hook, and then the lure on the ring. Work them around the ring and into place.
A quick comparison really shows how “beefy” the upgrade is.
Make sure the hook swings freely and you are ready to rock with a lure that is up to the task.