Conundrum - Braid with top shot or not for Blue Fin

Line Set-Up for Bluefin Tuna


  • Total voters
    41

clevel

Skipper
  • Jun 4, 2011
    1,235
    1,049
    Laguna Niguel
    Name
    Cabo Jack
    Boat
    Cobia 261
    I could use some help from guys who are regularly landing bluefin tunas. If you are soaking bait, would you use a braid to mono top shot and short flouro leader or braid to short length of fluoro leader only? Which set-up are you both hooking and landing more tunas on?

    I am worried with the thought that a braid to a short 4 ft. fluoro leader would be more visible and get less of a chance to be bit by bluefin, plus braid floats and is hard to get the bait down. However the advantage is it would be easier to cast out a light bait and I could use a heavier flouro to actually have a chance of landing a bluefin of good size if hooked.

    On the other hand, braid to mono top shot with a short length of fluoro is easier to cast, easier to sink the bait and less visible to the fish. But...the mono line would have to be lighter to cast a light weight bait so their is a good chance that a 30lb mono top shot will not be able to land a big bluefin. Or would you just forget about casting a light weight bait, use a heavier mono top shot ( 40-50lbs) to a 40-60 fluoro leader and just drop the bait in the water and hope it runs out and away from the boat?

    What is your choice of line set-up?
     
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    mike garrahan

    TheSabreGuy
    Sep 7, 2007
    2,179
    2,680
    la habra hts
    Name
    mike garrahan
    Boat
    23 ft. crestliner
    One of the most important things to consider is how well your bait swims and does it look natural. If your bait is trying to swim while pulling around 50 or 75 feet of 50 or 60 pound mono it can't swim very well and won't look right. It will swim much better if it is only pulling around some 65lb spectra and a short fluro leader. Sometimes a short 5 or 6 foot fluro leader will get bit fine, other times a longer leader like 16 or 18 feet works better.
    Sometimes they will bite 80 lb spectra with a 50 or 60 pound leader. Other times you might have to drop down to 65lb or even 50lb spectra with a 30 or 40 pound fluro leader.
    There are a lot of other things to consider. Bait selection, will they hit a big bait or are they keyed in to smaller baits. Hook size is also very important as is how you hook the bait. Do the fish bite better with a butt hooked bait close to the boat or does a shoulder hooked bait and a long soak work better. How about a nose hooked bait and a slow retrieve. Are the fish down and will bite better with a sinker rig. How much weight is best, 4oz, 6oz or 8oz.
    There are a lot of things to consider and fishing a mono topshot is only one part of the puzzle. I stopped using mono topshots 6 or 7 years ago and I usually do fine. Other people use them and they catch plenty of fish. You just have to try both ways and find out for yourself what works best for you.
     
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    fshholc

    Member
    Jul 18, 2005
    660
    337
    74
    Carlsbad, Ca
    Name
    Jay
    Boat
    sold
    JMO here. I fished them both ways. The short fluoro top shot may have a slight advantage with bait presentation but because there's very little stretch it loses out on hook pulls and that violent head shake you feel when fighting a larger fish. I've gone to a 50-60 ft. mono top shot with a 3-4 ft fluoro leader under 60# test. On larger Tuna, it's a 20-25' fluoro wind on. to address your issue on being stealth on short top shots, I've been taking a magic marker and blackening my spectra up about 10-15'. Don't know if it really helps but I've been doing it for years and there's no downside. Better to do that than using dark-colored spectra which is a no no on LR boats.
    I haven't noticed any difference in my hookup ratio vs other anglers so far.
     
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    nate

    Member
    Oct 9, 2003
    436
    185
    San Diego
    Name
    Nate
    Boat
    gone
    I have reels with both spectra to short fluoro and spectra to mono to short fluoro. Basically I start all reels full of spectra. However, sometimes some of the spectra needs to be removed if compromised. So I’ll add some mono to get back to a full spool then use the short fluoro. Eventually I’ll fix those reels and get full spectra back on them. I don’t see much difference in number of hook ups between the two set ups.
     
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    stairman

    ......
    May 16, 2009
    5,369
    3,612
    ramona /ca/usa
    Name
    doug
    Boat
    yak and lowe duck hunting skiff but they identify as sportfishing crusiers
    In the past three years I've caught more bft on plain old mono top shots then anything else and caught more fish on most trips then anyone else on the boat. The trips I didn't kill everyone I was a close second or third.

    The secret?
    Spend time identifying good baits...know when to fire them from the job...know how or learn how to catch handle and hook that bait with as little trama as possible to the bait as possible. You can catch the hottest bait in the tank but if you make it tap out before it gets a chance to test your tackle it won't matter.
    Look at your rod and the rod of the hottest stick on the boat...is yours scale covered ? Now look at his..not a scale to be found.

    I could walk down the side of a sport boat and identify the skunked fisherman on a picky bft bite day not by the hook..not the length or lack there of of mono...not by the cost of the reel and rid but solely on who has scales all over the handle of the rods.

    Learn to cast...not just backlash less but long soft entry cast that amaze other anglers...that extra 20 feet matters..
    One...that way is the bait is far less likely to swim back to the boat if it can't see it...the other is if it only has fifty feet of line twitching power it is starting out 3/4 of the way to the bite zone it matters.
    Line twitching power...
    Ever been next to a good anglers and they announce this baits gonna get bit and 2 seconds later it happens...it ain't coincidence.. that good angler knows that the bait swimming hard enough make the line twitch...get bit often enough you'll get the feel...
    Notice...none of this has to do with hooks ..line rods and reels...yeah they matter but this shit matters way more.
     
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    Russo

    Almost A Member
    Aug 14, 2017
    189
    128
    41
    Wildomar
    Name
    Jon Russo
    Boat
    If that's what you want to call it
    I've been successful both ways. These days I usually fish braid to short flouro, say 6-8' depending on the length of the rod. This is honestly because I like the versatility of being able to go from 50 to 20 with just a quick leader change (using 65 braid as main line). I don't really see it having to do with getting bit more or less. You may want to fish your drag somewhat lighter because of the lack of stretch, but that's about all the adjustment I make.
     
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    BrianBurchfield

    Almost A Member
  • Apr 26, 2018
    232
    250
    36
    Irvine
    Name
    Brian Burchfield
    Boat
    22’ Trophy CC
    #50 cookie cutters on mono to 5' topper of Flouro. 2 Day limits in 2 hours on either side of midnight. You WILL lose fish from pulled hooks if you don't fish mono on heavy drag, period.

    unnamed.jpg
     
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    ChicoBob

    Newbie
  • Mar 10, 2018
    86
    172
    52
    Chico, CA
    Name
    Robert Wiechert
    Boat
    North River
    Braid to 12 to 15 feet of flouro. Bright Sun and greasy flat, 50' mono to 6' flouro or just 25yds of flouro. This is what works for me. Bait selection is the most important thing. Then again, I see anglers death grip a deen, jam a hook through it and catch bluefin.
     
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    Spoons

    USCG Master
    Oct 21, 2004
    1,475
    975
    San Diego/SF Bay
    Name
    Capt. Erik
    Boat
    21' Center Console
    In the past three years I've caught more bft on plain old mono top shots then anything else and caught more fish on most trips then anyone else on the boat. The trips I didn't kill everyone I was a close second or third.

    The secret?
    Spend time identifying good baits...know when to fire them from the job...know how or learn how to catch handle and hook that bait with as little trama as possible to the bait as possible. You can catch the hottest bait in the tank but if you make it tap out before it gets a chance to test your tackle it won't matter.
    Look at your rod and the rod of the hottest stick on the boat...is yours scale covered ? Now look at his..not a scale to be found.

    I could walk down the side of a sport boat and identify the skunked fisherman on a picky bft bite day not by the hook..not the length or lack there of of mono...not by the cost of the reel and rid but solely on who has scales all over the handle of the rods.

    Learn to cast...not just backlash less but long soft entry cast that amaze other anglers...that extra 20 feet matters..
    One...that way is the bait is far less likely to swim back to the boat if it can't see it...the other is if it only has fifty feet of line twitching power it is starting out 3/4 of the way to the bite zone it matters.
    Line twitching power...
    Ever been next to a good anglers and they announce this baits gonna get bit and 2 seconds later it happens...it ain't coincidence.. that good angler knows that the bait swimming hard enough make the line twitch...get bit often enough you'll get the feel...
    Notice...none of this has to do with hooks ..line rods and reels...yeah they matter but this shit matters way more.
    We’ll written.
    Here’s my two cents in addition to the above. If you are a new angler and don’t have experience catching brutes or setting up your drag correctly, the mono top shot is your handicap. It has that stretch and give for when you make a mistake. Especially you guys that high stick at the wrong time. There’s many pieces to the puzzle that have to come together to get these big fish landed. Knots, hooks, drags, rod selection. Nothing wrong with giving yourself an edge/handicap. I’ve taken enough people on my boat to see the various levels of fisherman. Some greatly need it some dont. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
     
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    Y E T I

    Newbie
    Jul 1, 2021
    4
    1
    52
    San Diego
    Name
    Scott
    Boat
    Parker
    In the past three years I've caught more bft on plain old mono top shots then anything else and caught more fish on most trips then anyone else on the boat. The trips I didn't kill everyone I was a close second or third.

    The secret?
    Spend time identifying good baits...know when to fire them from the job...know how or learn how to catch handle and hook that bait with as little trama as possible to the bait as possible. You can catch the hottest bait in the tank but if you make it tap out before it gets a chance to test your tackle it won't matter.
    Look at your rod and the rod of the hottest stick on the boat...is yours scale covered ? Now look at his..not a scale to be found.

    I could walk down the side of a sport boat and identify the skunked fisherman on a picky bft bite day not by the hook..not the length or lack there of of mono...not by the cost of the reel and rid but solely on who has scales all over the handle of the rods.

    Learn to cast...not just backlash less but long soft entry cast that amaze other anglers...that extra 20 feet matters..
    One...that way is the bait is far less likely to swim back to the boat if it can't see it...the other is if it only has fifty feet of line twitching power it is starting out 3/4 of the way to the bite zone it matters.
    Line twitching power...
    Ever been next to a good anglers and they announce this baits gonna get bit and 2 seconds later it happens...it ain't coincidence.. that good angler knows that the bait swimming hard enough make the line twitch...get bit often enough you'll get the feel...
    Notice...none of this has to do with hooks ..line rods and reels...yeah they matter but this shit matters way more.
    I'm a new guy and that's me, then guy with scales on his rods. (Although the minute we're chasing YT I'm the best guy on the boat with a fly line, weird) So the question I have is, how do you identify the good bait and how do you handle them to keep them freshy fresh and happy?
     
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    Mr. DRE

    I Should Upgrade My Account
  • Sep 23, 2019
    1,220
    1,329
    West Hills, CA
    Name
    Andre
    Boat
    Private
    Both get bit if the presentation is done correctly. I switched to straight spectra with a long floro leader (10 feet or so) so I can cut back after every fish landed. Only thing I’ve noticed is a slight increase in pulled hooks but I’ve changed a few things to minimize that. I use longer rods and reels with consistent and smooth drags that will be a little more forgiving and absorb the shock from head shakes, rolls and sudden runs. Use an accurate scale and set drags at no more than 40% of line rating. Use lever drag reels and let the fish do a couple of runs at 3/4 drag setting to get a feel for the fish and then go to full strike when the fish is straight down. Lastly, I use circle hooks which (IMO) increase the chance of hooking the fish on the corner of the mouth which will decrease the chances of chewed leader and hold up better during the prolonged fight. Good luck!
     

    ChicoBob

    Newbie
  • Mar 10, 2018
    86
    172
    52
    Chico, CA
    Name
    Robert Wiechert
    Boat
    North River
    I'm a new guy and that's me, then guy with scales on his rods. (Although the minute we're chasing YT I'm the best guy on the boat with a fly line, weird) So the question I have is, how do you identify the good bait and how do you handle them to keep them freshy fresh and happy?
    Look for the ones with the light green backs and no red on them whatsoever. Don't "Chase" the bait around in the well, just put your hand in and let it come to you and gently come from underneath to cradle it. You have to hold the hook with the point towards the baits head so you hook it under a scale and don't shove a scale through it's back when shoulder hooking. This will greatly improve it's performance and survival. Just keep changing your bait, you will know when you have the "one". It may take 10 to get 1 that swims. You will get better at it with time.
     
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    stairman

    ......
    May 16, 2009
    5,369
    3,612
    ramona /ca/usa
    Name
    doug
    Boat
    yak and lowe duck hunting skiff but they identify as sportfishing crusiers
    I'm a new guy and that's me, then guy with scales on his rods. (Although the minute we're chasing YT I'm the best guy on the boat with a fly line, weird) So the question I have is, how do you identify the good bait and how do you handle them to keep them freshy fresh and happy?
    Once you have them cornered in the tank where they cant get away you only need enough pressure on only the head to controll them and even then very little pressure is needed. If I have the time and I'm really trying to make every bait be the best you can possibly be I'll actually on pin it on underwater in the hand well then let go of it then turn to look and find the spot on the rail I want to be throw that bait out get there and get that done as quick as possible.
     
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    Rude Baits

    Almost A Member
    Mar 22, 2012
    107
    29
    SD
    Name
    Tony
    Boat
    -
    I'm a big mono top shot guy (w/ Flouro leader if needed). I'm just used to it and feel comfortable and confident fishing this way. I see it about 1/2 and 1/2 on the party boats and see the catch rate about 1/2 and 1/2 as well. As of my vote right this minute, the voting is exactly 1/2 and 1/2. They both have their advantages and disadvantages which your self and others have pointed out. My point? Try both and fish what ever you are more comfortable/ confident with. My 2 cents...
     
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    2Rotten

    Live in Oregon/Love to Fish San Diego!
    Jan 10, 2010
    542
    1,223
    Junction City OR
    Name
    Rod Lathrop
    Boat
    24' North River Seahawk Hardtop "Sun Dog"
    Braid to 15 - 20' of Okuma Fluoro-Stretch leader.
    • One fewer connection/point of failure compared to a mono - fluoro. I have heard of multiple connection failures this season.
    • More capacity for extra yards of braid compared to mono - fluoro. There have been several persons spooled with insufficient braid capacity lately / larger models BFT.
    • Fluoro-Stretch has significantly more stretch than other fluoro leaders I have tested, and also has By Far the highest knot strength of any fluoro I have tested. Including the Only 30# fluoro with San Diego Jam knot to hook that actually lifted 30# of lead for me.
    • 20' of fluoro will allow several re-ties if necessary, and still have plenty of material to keep your braid from being visible to BFT eyes
     
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    afraser

    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Apr 20, 2008
    1,789
    1,523
    sf, ca
    Name
    aaron
    Boat
    NA
    In the past three years I've caught more bft on plain old mono top shots then anything else and caught more fish on most trips then anyone else on the boat. The trips I didn't kill everyone I was a close second or third.

    The secret?
    Spend tim
    e identifying good baits...know when to fire them from the job...know how or learn how to catch handle and hook that bait with as little trama as possible to the bait as possible. You can catch the hottest bait in the tank but if you make it tap out before it gets a chance to test your tackle it won't matter.

    Look at your rod and the rod of the hottest stick on the boat...is yours scale covered ? Now look at his..not a scale to be found.

    I could walk down the side of a sport boat and identify the skunked fisherman on a picky bft bite day not by the hook..not the length or lack there of of mono...not by the cost of the reel and rid but solely on who has scales all over the handle of the rods.

    Learn to cast...not just backlash less but long soft entry cast that amaze other anglers...that extra 20 feet matters..
    One...that way is the bait is far less likely to swim back to the boat if it can't see it...the other is if it only has fifty feet of line twitching power it is starting out 3/4 of the way to the bite zone it matters.
    Line twitching power...
    Ever been next to a good anglers and they announce this baits gonna get bit and 2 seconds later it happens...it ain't coincidence.. that good angler knows that the bait swimming hard enough make the line twitch...get bit often enough you'll get the feel...
    Notice...none of this has to do with hooks ..line rods and reels...yeah they matter but this shit matters way more.
    Okay, I'm sure these methods work, but others do too. The best advice is definitely pick the best bait. I do the hand test over the bait tank and pick the most skittish bait. Works 75% of the time. I told this to 2 teenagers that were having hard luck on a trip and they both caught fish on the next stop. If the baits don't swim once you put them in the water, rip em off and get a new one. I do have scales all over my rods, can't hook the 'dine in the shoulder with a circle hook without holding him a bit, so a little of that doesn't matter. I'm sure if I could do it without losing scales it would be better, but it really isn't a problem unless it affects how skittish the bait is. And I don't cast baits anymore. I'll swing them out maybe 10-15 feet, so they lay easily into the water. You don't need to cast your bait at all. I get my baits out farther than most of the best casters by directing them where I want them to go. The key here is the deep shoulder hook (just in front of the dorsal fin) allows me to direct the bait away from the boat as long as I keep a little pressure on the bait. If I hold the rod tip down, he swims out. If I hold the rod tip up, the bait swims down. Plus, you reel back only a hook on the retrieve avoiding all the tangles. By the end of most trips, half the anglers are hooking their baits in the back shoulder. As for the bait twitching, yep, that's a thing. I think it's more like he's running a little harder than he was. 10% of the time, it's because you got picked up by another angler :), but most of the time the bait is trying to escape, and you can tell that with the speed of the line coming off the reel. I will say that if I see a super frisky bait in the tank and he matches that in the water, I'm 90% sure he'll get bit, even when no one is getting bit. Bait selection is THAT important.

    Back to OP. Unless the BFT are on fire, I go with longer fluoro leaders. In a picky bite, 25 feet of fluoro, sometimes longer. I use 40 feet on my stealth 80# rig. Then you can cut them back as you catch fish and still have a long leader. But if you hang a 150# fish on 40#, that leader is done. No mono necessary. I would not use short leaders with BFT, it has clearly made a difference in catches for me. If you don't want to spend the money on the fluoro, then mono to fluoro will work. Also, remember it's not just YOUR leader you have to pay attention to. Make sure you aren't fishing next to someone with their spectra way out, right next to yours. Try to find a way to get your bait away from the other lines, either deeper, on the bow, go in early on the slide, or if you stop on a school and you don't get bit in the first 60 seconds, pull in, get a new bait and start BEHIND everyone else. Usually they are still chumming, so this often works well. Maybe you've noticed a captain coming down and getting bit right away after dropping in 2-3 minutes after everyone else. Part of it is technique, part of it is having an isolated bait near the chum.
     
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    eDUBz

    Member
  • Feb 9, 2009
    486
    308
    Inland empire
    Name
    Ricky
    Boat
    4 kayaks
    Braid to 8-10ft flouro leader for me. Lately 25/30# leader is what’s working. Next trip out I think I’m going with a longer leader tho.
     
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    Bergonzi

    Newbie
  • Dec 8, 2011
    10
    4
    77
    Big Bear Lake
    Name
    David
    Boat
    none
    I could use some help from guys who are regularly landing bluefin tunas. If you are soaking bait, would you use a braid to mono top shot and short flouro leader or braid to short length of fluoro leader only? Which set-up are you both hooking and landing more tunas on?

    I am worried with the thought that a braid to a short 4 ft. fluoro leader would be more visible and get less of a chance to be bit by bluefin, plus braid floats and is hard to get the bait down. However the advantage is it would be easier to cast out a light bait and I could use a heavier flouro to actually have a chance of landing a bluefin of good size if hooked.

    On the other hand, braid to mono top shot with a short length of fluoro is easier to cast, easier to sink the bait and less visible to the fish. But...the mono line would have to be lighter to cast a light weight bait so their is a good chance that a 30lb mono top shot will not be able to land a big bluefin. Or would you just forget about casting a light weight bait, use a heavier mono top shot ( 40-50lbs) to a 40-60 fluoro leader and just drop the bait in the water and hope it runs out and away from the boat?

    What is your choice of line set-up?
    I've seen very few experienced guys cast a live, flylined bait on an extended trip (10-16 days) unless they do it underhanded along the rail at the corner. Instead, just drop it in as fast as you can and guide it away from the boat by using light tension when it goes the wrong way, and releasing tension when it goes the right way. You can vary this scheme according to bait size and quality. As for choice of top shots...the less the bait has to pull around behind it, the better your chances of getting bit. What you do after that is often the result of experience. Drag setting is critical. If you are set a little light you can add pressure with your off hand on the spool. This technique assumes you can use your off hand (rail rod). Too much drag will cause lots of lost fish.
     
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    ChicoBob

    Newbie
  • Mar 10, 2018
    86
    172
    52
    Chico, CA
    Name
    Robert Wiechert
    Boat
    North River
    For jigging, I use 100 and 120 braid to 50ft of same size mono to a 200 or 300lb mono bite leader. Is this what you are looking for? Daytime jig I will go lighter and use flouro for leader 60 to 175# depending on size of fish
     
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