The book, "Best Marlin Lure?"

Discussion in 'Hawaii Fishing Reports' started by Fred Archer, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. Fred Archer

    Fred Archer Big Game's the Name

    Laguna Niguel/Cabo
    Captain Fred Archer
    36 Custom (Cabo)
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    Here is a short excerpt from my marlin book. If you don't like reading, or you aren't interested in finding out about new twists to the marlin trolling game, please don't read what follows. If you are curious about something that you aren't doing now, whether you intend to try it or not, read on. And remember, I'm not saying that this is the only way - but I am saying that it's a damned good one that myself and others have used with great success hundreds of days a year in blue, black, and striped marlin and sailfish country. And even if you don't believe what's in this book, if you start using SuperBars, the marlin are going to come! Of course, you'll have to wade through lots of ahi and mahi first...oh, drat!




    Here is another area where many marlin fishermen miss the marlin bar boat, and when they don’t and run those great big, fat-headed lures where that “wedge” we discussed earlier is a huge one that makes it difficult for a marlin to “grab and squish” and in turn, get hooked fair and square. As we discussed earlier, these are the lures that, more than the smaller ones, gave birth to those double hook snag rigs, rigs that many big lure fishermen are still using and losing with and don’t like that “snag rig” thing one bit. Sorry about that. That's how I see them and so that's what I call them. One man's opinion.

    Sharp marlin fishermen in particular should take note that while the fish very often zero in on very small baits, there are times when great big baits, especially squid, but including skipjack, tuna and dorado are what’s on the menu. Here too the spreaderbar shines as one of the best squid imitations that swims and also one that successfully imitates the tunas, skipjacks and dorados as far as shape and color are concerned. Best of all, the “Squish Factor” takes “the wedge” completely out of the equation and results in astonishingly high hookup and landing ratios, especially with circle hooks.


    If one stops and thinks about it, it may well be (and I believe that it is) that when marlin are on big baits, fishermen run few lures big enough to “match the hatch” and if they are running monster marlin lures, they are often unarmed teasers because they have learned that the hookup ratios are so bad with those big clunkers – to say nothing of the even more dismal landing ratios. That makes sense to me.
    Of course, the other obvious alternative is to troll live or dead baits that DO come close to or match what the big boys and girls are wolfing down that day. Just as it is with running big, 20” squids in places like the Carolinas, I believe that running them when the marlin are on big stuff will catch just as many, and maybe even more fish than live or dead baits because among other things, you can cover a lot more water trolling bars than you can with live or dead baits. The truth is, based on my own personal experiences, I’m as certain as I can be of that last point. And hollow squid baits are much easier to hook the fish on, too. And if circle hooks are used, the hookups become virtually automatic and the fish just don’t come off them. Man, I really like that!


    Another place where the big circle hooks that I favor really shine is on long rigger bites on big, hollow squids. I am not a big fan of long, long rigger lures or big natural baits because for me, a long rigger bite on a natural squid, tuna, or whatever other whole bait, or big marlin lure can present a real hookup challenge. Ones on soft, natural feeling, “squishing” hollow squids are pure magic. You’ve got to try really try to miss a long fish on a big hollow squid, especially if it's rigged with a circle hook! No thanks...not me. Uh oh!!!! ‘Scuse me...


    “Derecho! I mean, Right rigga, right rigga, right rigga! Mira, mira, mira! Marlina azul grande!” Ka-friggin’boom! Squish! “Ho, ho, ho, Gotcha girly! Take a seat and pour on the heat, amigo...we’re goin’ backwards! Vamanose! Adelante! Madre de Dios, look at ‘er go! Thank you, my sweet Lord! Now, let’s spool ‘em up my sweet, bad assed darlin’, and let’s roar, shake, rattle and roll and blow smoke, go backwards and run her wild ass down! Crank, amigo, crank!”

    Glory days! Sorry, I get a little excited even just thinking about those big, blue girls. Can you tell? Sadly, I have run my races with them and I’ll never get to hunt and run one down again and have her make my soul rear back and howl like a he-wolf making a kill, but I will never forget a single one of those grand ladies that blessed me with their presence. Take it from a sick old man; cherish them while you can! Life is way too short, my friends.


    I hated fishing live baits down in Cabo and elsewhere for one major reason – way too many marlin scarfed a skipjack or small yellowfin down, got deep-mouth or throat hooked and choked on the big bait stuck in its throat and died before I could get to and release them. That's okay if you're going to take them, but no bueno if you're a marlin hugger like me. I saw this happen mostly on other, nearby boats because early-on after having a couple of croakers myself, I quit on the big live baits altogether.



    The solution for me was to basically be a 100% lure man and considering my belief that matching the hatch is of critical importance when fishing for anything, I turned to the big hollow squids as the closest that I could come to the real thing when big baits were on the menu. This didn’t just cover squid imitations. Take a look at how realistic this jumbo, dorado colored squid comes to a real dorado...

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    When the fish are on dorado, this big, 20” momma is just right. I used my airbrush to move the eye on this particular squid to make it look even more like a dorado. As you can see, I even added the yellow tail that dorado often have. I don’t think it matters to the fish, just to me, but if color matters to you, do you have a marlin lure that looks this much like a dorado? And does your lure do this?....

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    Just like the real deal and unlike a dead bait or marlin lure, a hollow squid collapses in that marlin’s mouth and all that’s left is the hook. That means one thing - Hook up!
    That big dorado colored squid chasing after a little pod of baitfish and not on the lookout for a blue marlin surprise does what you’d think it would turns on a big marlin’s incredibly powerful prey drive and competitive juices and it comes down on that big squid like the Hammer of God and then it gets grabbed, crushed and gulped big time! If skipjack are getting hammered, a blue and white or black and purple Monster Squid will get the job done. If it’s tuna they are after, I usually opt for a Zuchinni model.


    One of the beauties of these “smaller pelagics chasing a pod of bait” things is that in nature, this is not a lollygagging, slow paced stalk. As most of you know, excited, hunting dorado and tuna don’t have it in low gear when they are chasing and closing in on a little pod of bait that is hauling ass like its life depended on it, which in fact it, they have the peddle to the metal and the turbos kicked in and jacking them up to full attack speed. This is a natural scene that marlin see and interrupt every day of their lives.

    This is all good news for me because I tend to troll at the higher end of the normal speed range (8-9 knots). Pure and simple, this is because I often troll multiple lures (bars) that look like they are being chased and as stated above, I want mine to look like the real deal, hotfooting it away from the closing predators that the chasebaits represent so downright well. I believe that I turn a lot of passive fish into aggressive ones by trolling faster than most folks. And furthermore, I feel that I get way more focused, positive strikes from fish that think that they are seeing and running down those honking dorados, tunas, skipjacks, or squids that are hauling tail past them. (“Bait configured” bars with same sized stragglers behind them often work better at lower speeds.)


    That is when the billfish are acting like tuna and feeding on very small fin baits, squids and such. These little critters are for the most part slow swimmers, so if I am matching the hatch and running small bars I slow down, sometimes a lot, so the fish have an easy time sliding up on and gulping down a bar full of “appetizers.” Of course, if the small prey happen to be fast ones, I speed up. Too many don’t think of it that way, but speed is all part of matching the hatch.
    Remember here that the fish, be they marlin or the bigger tunas, are likely to gulp down at least some of the teasers on the center leader when they hit what appears to be a nice mouthful of little baits. It would be very inefficient if large fish like marlin and big tunas chased down and caught small baits one at a time, so it just doesn’t happen and that is an important point to remember when it comes to choosing the right lures to fish for them at those times. As I suggested earlier, shorten up on your chasebait leaders and if you rig your own bars, be sure to use stout leader material, especially the main leader and, of course, wire if the toothy critters are around.

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    On the left are two 20 inch Monster Squids and the ones on the right are 15 inchers


    If you are a blue or black marlin fisherman who is only interested in billfish, one potential problem occurs if there are big tunas around. As you might have guessed, that problem is them, instead of marlin, climbing all over your bars with Jumbo Squid chasebaits. I’m sure that I don’t have to point out to serious blue marlin guys that yellowfin and blue marlin are often found together with the marlin feeding on the same prey as the tunas and sometimes with the marlin eating the smaller tunas instead. These being very common situations, we need to discuss them.


    If you don’t already know, you are going to be shocked at how small some of the tunas are that will go after what looks to you and me like a really big squid. Little, fifteen pound peanuts will pound it and that big looking squid is pure candy for those 30 to 50 pound school fish. This all goes back to “The Squish Factor”.



    Rather than tossing that fish in the box with the other “normal” ones, I slit its taut and distended belly open, expecting to find a huge tumor, or something like that. Instead, I found a big Humboldt squid that was, including the tentacles, fully as long as the tuna! Humbolts are heavyset squid with big diameter heads and mantles, just like the ones on our Monster Squids and it looked impossible for this small tuna to have even swallowed the mantle of such a big squid, to say nothing of cramming the whole animal down, but it obviously had.
    Closer inspection of the squid provided me with my first lesson on “Squid Squishing”. The fish must have repeatedly bitten and squished the squid in order to get it down and that was obvious when I inspected it closely. Sure enough, it had been “deflated”, big time!


    Tunas can be a real quandary for those who fish for marlin only, but who get around those tuna schools that the blacks and blues are feeding with, or on. If the situation is the former and the bait is on the small side, the tunas will probably mostly ignore the big squids, because tuna can be incredibly selective about bait size, especially when it’s the small stuff. The problem there is that the marlin might do the same. In that case, one obvious solution is to settle for the inevitable and keep wading through the tunas until you get a shot at a marlin (not “bad duty” for many folks!)
    In my eyes, a far better option is to do what we do in “biggest tuna” tournaments and take the chasebaits off the bars and fish the bars and teasers as just that – teasers. In those cases we use the original chasebaits as pitch baits for when the right tunas, the big boys, show up. We will discuss the bait and switch technique in great depth in that chapter.
    Of course, if you fish TeaserBars you can avoid tunas altogether by simply not baiting them when they show and waiting for a marlin, which as I pointed out earlier, is even more likely to show to investigate all of the excitement and commotion that the tunas are stirring up. More on that later. For now, here are some MarlinBars, all “armed” with hooks.

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    This is a basic, Ballyhoo ProSquid SuperBar. Like all marlin capable SuperBars, it catches everything that eats ballyhoo and other slender baits, and striped marlin, whites, sails and blues go insane over this one! It can be fished on it all, from 16# (or even less) gear, all the way up to 130#. Trolling speed range, 4-15 knots.

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    Our “regular” squids also make for excellent teaser pods and they offer you a wide variety of sizes and more colors.

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    Here is a DaisyBar version of the same killer MarlinBar for those who would like to offer up a little bigger bait pod or who want to put more squids in any position in the pattern so that they will be more visible to the fish and to put more “chum” in the water to raise fish. I personally like dark teaser colors on the corners. This one is bigger than the small one we just looked at, but it’s still narrow and handles like a dream. It is death on tunas.

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    Speaking of bigger bars with more teasers, meet our biggest SuperSquid Ballyhoo MarlinBar. With its twelve great ballyhoo imitations, this one puts over seventy ballyhoo/flying fish and other slender bait clones in a half dozen nice, natural, tight schools, each with an armed straggler trying to catch back up to its school.
    And that’s only a six rod spread! These are simply awesome bars for the short corners and they are the heart and soul of my best bait and switch marlin and tuna patterns, but I would only run those two short ones for bait & switch marlin fishing because the over seventy or almost one hundred “ballyhoo” in a six or eight rod spread is such an incredibly powerful “tuna magnet” that the cover-ups are a huge pain for someone after marlin only. If you are after them all, or especially tuna, the six bar spread is the one. A regular, armed spread will probably work better for you if you aren't picky about what you catch.

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    This is a Spider Dredge, designed to run under the surface behind an eight or twelve ounce trolling sinker. And unlike any other dredge that I know of, it is so light that without the trolling weight it runs as an incredible surface bar that we call a “RuckusRaiser”. Our “JT (Josh Temple) Special" model is a beefed-up version for really big tunas and marlin and hard core charter fishing. It is yet another good short corner choice, but I must warn you, this is another one that should only be used on the short corners only, if you are after marlin. Even fished only on the short corners, it will raise schools of tuna. (“Dang!”, say some of you...”Yay”, say others. I’m with that second group most of the time.)


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    This is my other favorite teaser bar for bait and switch fishing and you can do so with ease because that lets you decide whether or not you want to bait a big tuna or dorado, or even just one tuna for some on-board sushi. One of these bars on each corner puts twenty two pieces of “artificial chum” in a favorite tuna hole and they will come if you have them out. Marlin will too, but as I keep pointing out, if there are a lot of tuna around, they might drive you crazy if you don’t want them. If you like that “tuna by-catch”, this is great, go ahead and pitch a chasebait or two back to them. If you want to cut down on that sort of thing, ignore the tunas or stick with the smaller teaser pods or go with the Spider and again, simply don’t bait the tunas.


    Please do yourself and me a favor and go about marlin fishing with spreaderbars the right way, with true marlin-capable and designed marlin grade SuperBars. This book states that SuperBars are among the best marlin lures and they are, as long as they are the right ones, used the right ways. If you have some of those metal tuna ones around,

    Balance of this paragraph omitted, as a courtesy to our competitors


    Even if you aren't going to try this, I hope that you found this information interesting. Now good luck and be careful out there.

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