Thank you for the nice comments. I do enjoy writing these reports and of course reading reports and what worked info from others. I hope other B.D. er's who are not as comfortable writing dissertations on their trips would take a few minutes to comment on what was working for the hot sticks or what was not working for the cold sticks on their trips. Every bit of info shared is great for all of us as nobody is privy to all the great intel.
By the way, I am not a photo guy so you will rarely see my with pics unless someone sends them to me.
As far as the poppers used I have narrowed the choices down to just a few at this time. I have always had good luck with my Halco Roostah Poppers but this time I really tried to stay with the smaller ones. The 105 and 135 sized Bonito and Flouro Green colors worked great and may become my favorite poppers. However, be warned, one needs an appropriate setup for lighter lures to be able to cast these effectively. I threw most of these on the Blackhole Cape Cod Nano 8 foot Popping rod and Phenix Black Diamond 869H paired with the 10K New Saragossa by Shimano as well as a Saltist 6500 spinner. I have no idea how these lures will hold up on Cow sized fish (I would use my heavier gear for cows) but no problem on the medium and smaller tuna and of course all sizes of Wahoo. The other popper I really like and have use successfully for years is the YoZuri Bull Sashimi in CCFF (Flyingfish) color. The Yozuri is a bigger and heavier popper.
I rig my poppers for tuna in several ways. This trip I found I missed a lot of strikes by not having a belly hook. As soon as I added a large J hook, in addition to my trailing J hook, to the Yozuri, my hookup ratio went to almost 100%. I do use a rubber band doubled up and connected to the back eye of the lure which is then attached to the belly of the belly hook in order to keep from snagging the main line on the cast (When using a belly hook). This also keeps the point of the hook facing outwards. I have used this technique successfully for years but have not seen others do it. On the smaller Halco's I used a single, large sized, Assist J hook (With short chord) off the back end of the jig only. I believe the smaller popper allows for the fish to get more mouth around it so the belly hook is not necessary. I find my hookup ratio is almost always better on the smaller poppers and I really believe the fish react better to the smaller presentation. I probably have another 25 - 50 years of testing before I come to any conclusions regarding poppers and proper setup as it always seems to change depending on conditions. Not sure why but it does.
Retrieve techniques of poppers can be mindless or the angler can actually pay attention to how tuna are attacking both bait and the artificial. When I see tuna chasing my lure then I might have a faster pace. If the Tuna are more rolling on the bait or lure then I slow down (Sometimes it helps to see how and where the tuna are biting the bait guys to get an idea for your artificial). By changing the angle of the tip of the rod I can change the pace. For example, if I pop with the tip almost straight up using a relatively fast retrieve but very short popping stroke, I can keep the lure longer in a shorter space on the water yet still get a great popping action. If I keep the tip down lower I can get more of a chug action. By using combinations of tip location, short or long popping strokes and by varying the speed of the turning of the handle of my spinners, I can greatly change the action of the popper. On the other hand, I can just go mindless, put the tip up high, reel quickly and pop quickly and forget about why the tuna are reacting as they are. By the way, Mindless can many times be the right method as sometimes it is easy to over-think the entire equation.
On thing I did not try, as I am all about poppers, are stick baits. The sinking varieties and sub surface stick baits are very effective but do not give the visual I am craving. The usual culprits will be great lures such as the Smith Baby Runboh and Daiwa Dorado slider but I really love the Shibuki. For those looking to fish artificials with perhaps a better chance of a hook up this is a great way to go.
As you can tell I love artificial fishing. On these long or mid range trips this technique provides the angler something different to try. Additionally, get proficient on light weight poppers or stick baits will definitely help the angler in getting their live bait into the zone more efficiently.
Hope that helps
Great read this morning. Been meaning to stop by Bob Sands and see how Sal did. Jamie when your using your pl68s, do you attach a #200 leader and crimp this to your 130lb setup, or straight tie. I recently lost a couple on a ten day. My druthers tell me to put heavy leaders on them and crimp your connections. Sorry if I just assumed you were using big gear when jigging with the pl68s. You may want to describe the setup you use for this purpose. I've had considerable luck catching trash fish at night until they got bit off by a shark or such. Makes me want to consider a 300lb leader. What's your loss ratio on those things?