The Bite Leader

The Bite Leader

The recent influx of big tuna to Southern California waters has prompted many new techniques and rigs that aim directly at putting these pelagic gamefish on the boat.

One of the more popular ways to target these fish is by way of “flat fall” style lure. These metal lures range in size from 60 grams all the way to a whopping 400 grams, and are designed to mimic a wounded baitfish and flutter and swing action. This erratic fall combined with the flash of a foil finish or glow paint has proven irresistible to tuna of all sizes and especially the bigger models.

Typically, flat falls are fished in the dark or low light hours. Glow lures seem to outproduce their flashy counterparts in most cases, most likely because they are easier for the fish to see and track.

Due to the ability of these gamefish to swallow an entire lure presented it is advised to use a heavy leader to prevent chaffing from their sharp teeth, which often results with line breakage. 

Typically, this leader would consist of heavy fluorocarbon (more for abrasion resistance, rather than stealth) crimped to one end of the lure and the other end crimped to a swivel. In preparation the result is a box full of flat fall jigs with a coil of leader attached ready for action. While this works just fine, it may be cumbersome to store and equally frustrating to crimp leaders in the moment. 

While tripping around Fisherman’s Landing (San Diego, CA) the other day, we came across a handy and easy way to make a leader system designed specifically for flat fall jigs and other smaller metal lures. The rig is simple as can be and will free up your tackle box for more important things, like more tackle. This rig with a good set of split ring pliers will allow you to change out your lures, quickly and efficiently. 

The ingredients are simple. You will need a 24” section of heavy leader. We like Seaguar Premier in 200# for this job. You will also need a quality split ring like the Gamakatsu Superline in about a size 7 (or 180# rating). You’ll also need a quality ball bearing swivel, a couple of 1.8mm crimps and some chafe tube.

First, slide your crimp down the line, followed by the chafe tube and then your Superline Split Ring.

Pull the tag line through the crimp a few inches. Then heat the tag end with a lighter until it mushrooms and tap the mushroom with the side of the lighter to make it flare a bit more.

Slide the crimp down tight to pull out the excess line and crimp using the appropriate hole in the crimpers. Leave about 1/8” of crimp sticking out of the pliers on the short end to provide a flare that will not chafe the line. Crimp the other end of the crimp, rotate 180 and crimp the middle.

Rinse and repeat the same steps on the other side of the leader using the swivel instead of the split ring.

Bam! You’re done and ready to go tackle big tuna like a pro.