10/7 Big Bluefin on Flat Fall @ SCI

J_Rudd

Member
Oct 18, 2009
36
112
33
San Diego, CA
Name
James
Boat
none
Fished our annual charter on the Cortez with Captain Jim Hughes over the weekend. It was a 2.5 day charter trip (fished Friday and Saturday). I caught this beast on a 250 gram glow-in-the-dark flat fall just before gray light using an Accurate 665H 2-speed reel spooled with 80# braid connected via a San Diego Jam knot (6 turns) to a swivel that is connected to a 2 foot long 130# flouro leader with crimp-ons at both the swivel and the jig end. Keeper hooks upgraded to wire connections instead of factory braid connections.
IMG_2579.JPG

It taped out over 140 lbs and weighed in at the processor at 140 lbs after it had been gilled and gutted, so I'll go with 150 lbs (processor estimates 15% loss when gilled and gutted).
I'd like to make a note about flat fall fishing:
I hated it.

Every trip I have been up at the hairy butt crack of dawn and dropped and reeled in endlessly for nada. Never a bump nor a bite. I've seen people get hooked up on them, heard about people getting hooked up on them, but they have never worked for me. I was starting to think the whole thing was a Shimano marketing scam... until Saturday morning.
After about 30 minutes of working the water column between 10 and 15 fathoms I got picked up on the retrieve. Felt like I was snagged, reeled up tiny bit of slack to load the rod and did one quick hook set. Got him right in the lip.
IMG_2569.JPG

IMG_2568.JPG

I almost missed him. It's amazing how hard you can pull on those lips. It was a short fight, thanks to the crew, Kyle and Tanner. They helped me horse him in by keeping the rod on the rail and wouldn't let the fish run down the rail. Kept the fight straight up and down. I barely moved during the 15 minute fight. I feel like if the fight was any longer or if he took me around the boat, I would have pulled the hook.
Post-catch inspection of the jig and leader reveals teeth abrasions about 12" up the leader, 6" up the leader, and teeth marks on the jig. This means he inhaled the lure right away, and took a couple of chomps as I took up the slack and set the hook.
I am seriously considering rigging my Flat Falls with a single hook connected directly to the jig with a split ring or with the keeper hooks attached to the top of the jig. This was pretty close to NOT landing the fish of a lifetime. I'm not really sure what I could have done differently in terms of rigging or setting the hook that would have given me a better hook placement.
Anyways, I hope this post helps others better understand how to target and fight these fish. Have the right gear along with the right crew and you have a fighting chance! And there's that thing about persistence because it is bluefin fishing after all...

Edit:
I made a conscious decision to wear black socks on this day. I wore white socks the day before and got skunked, so I wanted to see if the socks would change my luck. I need to go buy some more black socks.

Additional analysis:
Here are the bite marks on the leader and lure. Shows he inhaled 15" at first. Again, it was on the retrieve so there wasn't much slack in my line when he hit. I started winding and set the hook once pretty much right away. I can see how they could inhale the lure much deeper if it's on the fall and the angler takes a few extra seconds to realized he's bit. This is why these fish get gut hooked. Anyone ever try a wire leader like a Wahoo setup?
IMG_2631.JPG
 
Last edited:

blubby07

Well-Known "Member"
Aug 24, 2009
778
534
93
Oceanside Ca
Name
Josh
Boat
21 Parker cc , and 2556 cierra yes its a bayliner (The Dude Man)
Killer and congrats on a slob!
Idk about 150 though, maybe 149!
 
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Mojo1

Well-Known "Member"
Apr 24, 2015
356
367
63
Ca
Name
None
Boat
None
Fished our annual charter on the Cortez with Captain Jim Hughes over the weekend. It was a 2.5 day charter trip (fished Friday and Saturday). I caught this beast on a 250 gram glow-in-the-dark flat fall just before gray light using an Accurate 665H 2-speed reel spooled with 80# braid connected via a San Diego Jam knot (6 turns) to a swivel that is connected to a 2 foot long 130# flouro leader with crimp-ons at both the swivel and the jig end. Keeper hooks upgraded to wire connections instead of factory braid connections.
View attachment 873443
It taped out over 140 lbs and weighed in at the processor at 140 lbs after it had been gilled and gutted, so I'll go with 150 lbs (processor estimates 15% loss when gilled and gutted).
I'd like to make a note about flat fall fishing:
I hated it.

Every trip I have been up at the hairy butt crack of dawn and dropped and reeled in endlessly for nada. Never a bump nor a bite. I've seen people get hooked up on them, heard about people getting hooked up on them, but they have never worked for me. I was starting to think the whole thing was a Shimano marketing scam... until Saturday morning.
After about 30 minutes of working the water column between 10 and 15 fathoms I got picked up on the retrieve. Felt like I was snagged, reeled up tiny bit of slack to load the rod and did one quick hook set. Got him right in the lip.
View attachment 873445
View attachment 873444
I almost missed him. It's amazing how hard you can pull on those lips. It was a short fight, thanks to the crew, Kyle and Tanner. They helped me horse him in by keeping the rod on the rail and wouldn't let the fish run down the rail. Kept the fight straight up and down. I barely moved during the 15 minute fight. I feel like if the fight was any longer or if he took me around the boat, I would have pulled the hook.
Post-catch inspection of the jig and leader reveals teeth abrasions about 12" up the leader, 6" up the leader, and teeth marks on the jig. This means he inhaled the lure right away, and took a couple of chomps as I took up the slack and set the hook.
I am seriously considering rigging my Flat Falls with a single hook connected directly to the jig with a split ring or with the keeper hooks attached to the top of the jig. This was pretty close to NOT landing the fish of a lifetime. I'm not really sure what I could have done differently in terms of rigging or setting the hook that would have given me a better hook placement.
Anyways, I hope this post helps others better understand how to target and fight these fish. Have the right gear along with the right crew and you have a fighting chance! And there's that thing about persistence because it is bluefin fishing after all...
Savey work.
 
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Let em eat 74

Well-Known "Member"
Jul 12, 2016
648
998
93
45
Irvine
Name
Kevin
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Whichever1is leaving
Wow, talk about by skin of the teeth. For this very reason I have been rigging mine with a ringed 8/0 super mutu attached to the split ring on the 200 and 250 sizes. Congratulations to you James, just goes to show what time and effort at the rail can produce when you don't give up..... A well deserved trophy. Rambo must have been stoked for you!
 
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Grumpiest1

Member
Jun 19, 2012
180
161
43
Carpinteria
Name
Jon
Boat
Ocean Oddity
That picture should be widely circulated so anglers can see the teeth on a blue fin. This is what everyone should think about when they throw the 60 for big fish and say " I can land it, no problem". The head shake will get you every time. By the way great fish!
 
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pacificscout

Hey! You got any frozen ice?
Jul 28, 2012
2,281
1,493
113
Fullerton
Name
Wally
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16ft Scout EMBUSTERO
That is one nice fish. Glad you landed it. You deserved it for planning and effort.
Now you'll improve with gained knowledge.
 
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embo

I've been recommended for a recommendation...
Aug 25, 2006
540
154
43
619
Name
n/a
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17' Bluewater
Excellent informative write up, Thank You and Congrats!
 
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tunacraze

Well-Known "Member"
Nov 27, 2006
534
383
63
Santee
Name
Steve Brunton
Boat
The Big Ones
I hate flat fall fishing too because I have never caught one on any of the 20 jigs that I have! I'll keep trying after your post though! Great job and excellent information!
 

J_Rudd

Member
Oct 18, 2009
36
112
33
San Diego, CA
Name
James
Boat
none
I hate flat fall fishing too because I have never caught one on any of the 20 jigs that I have! I'll keep trying after your post though! Great job and excellent information!
I hate to say it, because it's so frustrating, but you have to keep at it. Damn thing finally worked. Just make sure you consider all of the potential weaknesses in your rigging of it so you don't squander any of the few opportunities that you'll get.
 

Predatormonster

PredatorMonster
May 18, 2013
671
654
93
Cali
Name
Dan Monster
Boat
Predatormonster
Nice ! Great fish . I still think the flat fall is all marketing . You work for Shimano , Right ?
 
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the_tunaman

Well-Known "Member"
Jun 28, 2017
538
602
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59
Norco
Name
Roger Nelson
Boat
Ranger Z20
Thanks for the report, and congratulations on landing a beautiful fish!

I too have fished the flatfall a lot this year for nada, and started to lose faith. This is just the encouragement that I needed to continue.

At the suggestion of Eric at Longfin, I swapped out all of the rigs with Owner replacement hooks (9/0) straight to heavy split rings, and they're rigged with 130# mono leaders tied to good quality ball bearing swivels.

Hoping I still have at least another shot or two before the season is over.
 

surfgoose

active geezer
Jul 29, 2010
2,651
3,638
113
Long Beach, CA, USA
Name
Gary
Boat
whichever has the longest bunk
Congratulations on an excellent Bluefin, and outstanding photography! I've watched flutter-down lures from the bottom of my pool of many sizes and makers, and the one thing that they all have in common is that the hooks, both assist-type and heavy J-hooks, have no effect on the wobble-fall action of the lure, the hook(s) ride upright above the lure on the fall, so a fish coming up from below, which is the usual attack, don't see the hook(s) at all. And on a retrieve, it's still an attack from behind and the whole jig is inhaled anyway.

All of my falling-leaf action lures of whatever make now wear cow-strong J-hooks.
 

walkerman

I've posted enough I should edit this section
May 7, 2008
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Did you change the hooks too, or just the braid? You mentioned changing to a single hook. I wonder if anyone has changed to a single circle hook?
 
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walkerman

I've posted enough I should edit this section
May 7, 2008
3,560
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Ventura
Name
Steve
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n/a
Thanks for the report, and congratulations on landing a beautiful fish!

I too have fished the flatfall a lot this year for nada, and started to lose faith. This is just the encouragement that I needed to continue.

At the suggestion of Eric at Longfin, I swapped out all of the rigs with Owner replacement hooks (9/0) straight to heavy split rings, and they're rigged with 130# mono leaders tied to good quality ball bearing swivels.

Hoping I still have at least another shot or two before the season is over.
What split ring? What type of 9/0 hook?
 
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getusum

Well-Known "Member"
Apr 8, 2014
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324
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Jeremy Pebley
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222 wellcraft fishermen
Very nice fish, way to keep after it.
 

Tunaslam

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 25, 2003
20,461
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Diamond Bar, Ca 91765
Name
Cory Visser
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N/A
Congrats on that brute, lady luck was with you, as any little thing could of dislodged that hook. I had also felt that working a Flat Fall was a lot of effort with few rewards until I caught 122 and 90 pounders on back to back trips. Sometimes I took a break and fished bait until my arms recovered to allow me to continue cranking! My first one was hit on the drop and my next one on a full crank half way up.

When you think you are deep enough go deeper!
 
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