Trolling deep for BFT

Jan 7, 2018
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Jeff Kooken
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What trolling jig can be used effectively to get 50 to 100' +/- on a sportboat. I haven't seen a lot of BFT caught on the troll, so maybe the extra depth could help on a slow day. With 4-man trolling teams, seems 4 tuna clones in the surface wash is not very effective.
 

mullet

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If you happen to find something that will troll 50 to 100' deep from a sportboat good luck retrieving it when they call for a troll rotation . Just retrieving a rapala 30 is kind of a bitch .
 

Fearlessfiasco

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Even from a private boat I wonder if down rigging is a useful idea in out local waters? Anybody ever tried it here?
 

woodfish330

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Deep trolling for BFT is possible. .. but takes cooperation from the skipper and the crew. On 2 different trips on the RP, I tried to utilize two effective deep planers. One...called a "Z WING".... has a depth adjustment harness. So....I ran #500 tuna trot line cord to the planer...to hold the depth and retrieve when you got bit. The lure rod connect is through an AFTCO "Roller Troller" set to the proper release tension.... that trails from the rear of the Z WING. BOTH.... must be lowered simultaniously.... With percision.

To do this.... I found that skirted lures are the place to start... and learn. While the boat slowly starts moving (straight ahead) Drop the skirted lure in the water..... and let out the appropriate distance. I started with about 100 yards. Lock up the drag on the lure rod.... keeping the lure rod parallel to the water... on the troll straps. Could never get it to work consistantly with the lure rod in the vertical position.

Now..... wearing good gloves.... take the ZWING. ... run the lure rod line through the ROLLER TROLLER. I had the ZWING #500 cord coiled in the milk crate (used in the corners). Slowly... In a controlled fashion..... with your gloves on.... lower the ZWING to the desired depth. (Previously marked on that tuna cord).

If done correctly..... works like a charm. No need for the downrigger. I practiced for more than a season in N. Cal. on a private boat fishing albacore. It worked when nothing else would! When the fish were down (meter marks).... and wouldn't come up to look at our surface offerings, we kicked butt. Bigger fish too. I later found a number of other deep diving planers that would surface upon getting bit. Still..... it took 1 person to properly deploy, but 2 people when you got bit. One on the troll rod... One retrieving the planer. It's worth the time.... for private boat use.
 
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woodfish330

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😎 thoughts and ZWING suggestions

Another cool thing about effectively deploying the ZWING is this.... you won't be going so fast that a good fish finder or sonar can't be dialed in to actually "see" the ZWING! This means using a wide beam 2D or 3D transducer. We actually mounted a transducer at a slightly rear facing angle specifically for this. But the FF /Sonar units today...... probably have features to compensate. Back then.... when we were working on it....we had to make it work somehow....lol.

So.....when you see the bait on the meter.... or thermocline depth, adjust the ZWING accordingly. If you can do it while moving.....that's the best. Start by marking the Tuna cord for reference. Remember a 100 ft. of Tuna cord with ZWING deployed... running at 4 knots will probably be 75 feet down. Trolling Slower... Z runs deeper. Faster.... Z runs shallower. Get it?

When you can actually SEE the ZWING on the FFinder while running.... adjusting it accordingly is cake! Make new marks (different color) the Tuna Cord..... for "viewed" deployment. Log in your book....for future reference. Adjust "on the fly"!

Brother....that makes it deadly!
 
Jan 7, 2018
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40
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58
Bakersfield, Ca
Name
Jeff Kooken
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14' Aluninum
I haven't seen a local SoCal sportboat with downriggers. I'm not thinking the skippers would think it worthwhile. I think it would need to be a jig. I will look in to the Z-wing. I used to use a Penn downrigger for Salmon. Went to using a Deep Six diving plane as it was easier and quicker than the downrigger. These were plastic, and I don't think they could handle a decent Bluefin.
 
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woodfish330

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Brother your correct....for now. They'll tell you they catch plenty of fish without all the "hassle". That's what happened on the RP. They laughed. But be patient brother. When I brought the first kite to SD and taught them about how to use it effectively for YFT In the late eighties / early nineties THEY ALL LAUGHED TOO.

But I was ready. Did my home work. First 2 YFT taken at Benidicto on the kite came on red plastic crab "toys" I bought at SEA WORLD... for demonstration purposes! They laughed then shit their pants!! lol. True story.... ask Tim E. or Brian or Frank. This after speaking to other boat owners...who said "no way"...right Tommy? lol In the next 2 years... I would come to train most all of the LR fleet how to fish the kite effectively. Just saying.... Sometimes you have to drag them "kicken and screaming". Think out of the box.

The deep six... I also used them for salmon. They're not strong enough. ZWING came in 2 sizes. Either will work well. Will find some more info on those other stronger diving planers.... post for you. Your gonna have to find someone with a private boat... and have your shit together. You may get a couple of chances....that's all. You can do it!!
 

kevina

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Deep trolling for BFT is possible. .. but takes cooperation from the skipper and the crew. On 2 different trips on the RP, I tried to utilize two effective deep planers. One...called a "Z WING".... has a depth adjustment harness. So....I ran #500 tuna trot line cord to the planer...to hold the depth and retrieve when you got bit. The lure rod connect is through an AFTCO "Roller Troller" set to the proper release tension.... that trails from the rear of the Z WING. BOTH.... must be lowered simultaniously.... With percision.

To do this.... I found that skirted lures are the place to start... and learn. While the boat slowly starts moving (straight ahead) Drop the skirted lure in the water..... and let out the appropriate distance. I started with about 100 yards. Lock up the drag on the lure rod.... keeping the lure rod parallel to the water... on the troll straps. Could never get it to work consistantly with the lure rod in the vertical position.

Now..... wearing good gloves.... take the ZWING. ... run the lure rod line through the ROLLER TROLLER. I had the ZWING #500 cord coiled in the milk crate (used in the corners). Slowly... In a controlled fashion..... with your gloves on.... lower the ZWING to the desired depth. (Previously marked on that tuna cord).

If done correctly..... works like a charm. No need for the downrigger. I practiced for more than a season in N. Cal. on a private boat fishing albacore. It worked when nothing else would! When the fish were down (meter marks).... and wouldn't come up to look at our surface offerings, we kicked butt. Bigger fish too. I later found a number of other deep diving planers that would surface upon getting bit. Still..... it took 1 person to properly deploy, but 2 people when you got bit. One on the troll rod... One retrieving the planer. It's worth the time.... for private boat use.
How many BFT have you gotten with this method on sport boats? The size? If it's productive, I don't understand why more sport boats deploy this method especially when it's slow and the fish are responding to the chum.
 

esgeo

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How many BFT have you gotten with this method on sport boats? The size? If it's productive, I don't understand why more sport boats deploy this method especially when it's slow and the fish are responding to the chum.
There has been some success by skiffs in NorCal when bluefin were off Santa Cruz slow trolling live macs, 50’ on the wire, 200 yards back. From what I understand more than two lines is a hassle, and 3-4 knots is the speed that was getting it done. So you can’t cover a lot of water, but if you know where the fish are, may be useful.
 

woodfish330

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First...let's clarify.... "sport boat" meaning ticketed passengers on a commercial fishing boat. With that.... using the ZWING.... 2 that were willing. 3 that weren't willing. Private boats....Best day.... 3 over #100.... 2 around #50. The year after the RP attempt I showed up for my 10 day with a Canon elect. I'd made a special rail mount adapter.... batts and charger. Got their....loaded at the fuel dock early. Frank bout a coronary! "No God D*#m way"!!! That thing's gonna rip the rail off. I Had to drive around....wait for the boat at the dock..... By then he had 4000 reasons "it would never work". His mind was made up. Didn't even let me put it in my stateroom....for fear I would spend the next week trying to convince him, day and night until he let me use it. He knows me so well. ...lol... He was right! So I retreated with the downrigger... looking for someone willing to "break the mold".

Bluefin / Yellowfin /Big eye.... I wasn't chosey. But if you've been fishing for many years, you know each of these species goes through "cycles". We've been beyond LUCKY in recent years to have the fishery at our back door. Plus fish of size....not just 20 lbers. So now is that time! I'm truly convinced. The guys deep dropping for swords. The guys fishing / slow trolling for thrashers / makos are already familiar with what it takes..... have the equipt and know how to deploy it efficiently and effectively. It's gonna happen. "Early Adapters". When I'm on the water.... seeing private boaters using kites...makes me smile. But it was a TOUGH SELL. for years even decades.

My suggestion....I reach out to your fellow BD brothers. There are many here with boats, who look for other "like minded" fishermen to share expenses with. Sometimes they have room.... If your willing to help and contribute. Check that forum. Bring the "planer" set up. Show them you've got the "right stuff" and teach / experiment together.

THIS COULD BE THAT YEAR! It starts with that. As for the "ticketed" sport boats....eventually they'll join in.... "kickin and screaming"!! Your on the right track. .. don't be discouraged. Good luck. Hoping others will become intrigued enough to try this "secret" technique. One season in N.Cal. .. private boat..... 22 BFT on the downrigger / planner. They already have the down rigger skills, from salmon fishing. It's gonna happen. You'll see. Tight lines.

P.S. was there off Santa Cruz. It was tough. ..but persistence pays off. Slow... is key. One only.... correct. Turning is tough with 2. Landing and clearing the down rigger takes coordination. 2 leads to tangling and lost fish. Rig the Macks east coast style (chin weight) to keep from spinning. You can do it!
 
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Cubeye

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I tried an Old Salty Planer ONCE on a sport boat. It was an In Line, Quick Release Planer. I used the smallest one they made, rigged it up, launched it with the help of a friend. It worked, but I put it away. Didn't want to be "That Guy" who tangles the rest of the trollers if I didn't get bit, and it's a hassle to launch.

It would work well on a private boat, but not on a sport boat with three or four other guys trolling.

Might work when the boat is cruising and looking for BF while the kite is up and no one else is trolling, but they won't be cruising at 4 knots. People rarely troll in these cases.
 
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MYNomad

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Even from a private boat I wonder if down rigging is a useful idea in out local waters? Anybody ever tried it here?
I tried years ago without much success. The problem with deep trolling is that you have to go real slow to keep the downrigger down. At those speeds you aren't covering a lot of ground so if there aren't fish around you have no chance until a school swims past. I have scanning sonar, so I can see schools anywhere around me (I typically scan at a max of 600 feet, but when stationary / slow trolling I expand the range to (1,600' - 2,000' +), but in my experience, tuna are always on the move if they aren't feeding on the surface, and chasing a school down is impossible at downrigger trolling speeds. So, the technique would be best suited to situations where there are plenty of tuna schools deep but none on the surface. Then you can wait for a school to swim past. Otherwise, after 15 minutes of nothing (including nothing on the sonar) it is impossible (for me at least) to resist the impulse to pick up the downrigger and surface troll at 8 knots while looking for signs of life.
 
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woodfish330

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"Hit and run" .....your right. Use the side scanner to find those fish.... move off... deploy. All you can do. When the current is right...and the bait is there. .. but the fish refuse to come up to look at chum / troll offerings.... do it then. Lol.... otherwise it's just the "Big Blue Desert" out there. Monterey Canyon offers great opportunity.... but we have spots similar down here... just not so pronounced. Now is the time to prepare and get comfortable with the techniques. Practice on threshers.... by the time the BFT show up. ... you'll be a pro!!
 

sickcat

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"Hit and run" .....your right. Use the side scanner to find those fish.... move off... deploy. All you can do. When the current is right...and the bait is there. .. but the fish refuse to come up to look at chum / troll offerings.... do it then. Lol.... otherwise it's just the "Big Blue Desert" out there. Monterey Canyon offers great opportunity.... but we have spots similar down here... just not so pronounced. Now is the time to prepare and get comfortable with the techniques. Practice on threshers.... by the time the BFT show up. ... you'll be a pro!!
Been a while but I have quite a bit of experience on threshers.

My question for you is what do you think about bait-0-matics with a live mac for BFT. Not quite the depth but a lot easier to deploy/fish.
 
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sealskinner

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These were used for salmon fishing.
IMG_20200215_130532.jpg

This spring loaded device was sold by Lurhs/Jensen. Used for salmon fishing.
That's a 2# ball, I'm sure heavier balls will work.
When a fish bites, the spring is compressed. And the ball falls off. Leaving you to fight the fish with no weight.
 
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woodfish330

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Bait-O-Matic.... never tried it for BFT. Familiar with it .... used for makos and threshers in the past... With some success. Even with that small dive plane head shape.... they don't run too deep, when trolled slowly. The skirt.... around and hiding most of the mack is my concern. But..... I'm also a big believer in throwing it in the water....and try it ALL!!

NO ONE'S INTERVIEWED A FISH......
So until that day...lol.... I try many things, many times.

That being said.... Easy deployment. .. fast.... who knows on any given day. But I would absolutely log all conditions you use it in... day / place/ time/ current/ wind/ temp/ bait avail/ clear cloudy / moon phase / tidal conditions and thermocline depth. Running speed and color of course.

I'm a firm believer that you need more than 1 or 2 successful or unsuccessful deployments in differing conditions to get a feel if it's gonna work. Now if your other rod has gone off 3 times today... and that one ZERO.... change it. But will try it over and over with differing conditions before permenantly "benching it". Look for a pattern.... In those notes. Who knows...it could be the hit of the season.

Salmon ball and "whistle".... worked up there for slowly trolling for salmon with a noodle rod to see the bites. My concerns are with the "whistle". It has to be strong enough to remain in line while fighting the fish. That's the trouble.

Salmon and tuna fight so differently. Salmon are whimpy in my opinion. When you compare a 40# salmon to a 40# BFT and tied them tail to tail.... that tuna would absolutely drown that salmon!

Would it work... absolutely.... would you get a BIG fish to bite.... absolutely. Would you land the fish? I doubt it. Even a great angler, with good skills have to be concerned with equipment failure. I have a tendency to err on the side of caution. So for me, just not beefy enough. Even the good ones.

Next SPORT SHOW... (ISE SACT?) bring one down and when its slow.... ask them to attach it to the large line testing machine. Tie to both sides of that whistle with heavy enough line.... and do the stress / break test. You'll see for yourself. The ends will pull out of the "whistle" relatively easy. So....smaller fish....all day long. Bigger ones.... you'll be crying.... All day long! Always worth a try. Just my experience. ..

But....Never say never...lol. 😉
Tight lines.
 
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makairaa

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I tried years ago without much success. The problem with deep trolling is that you have to go real slow to keep the downrigger down. At those speeds you aren't covering a lot of ground so if there aren't fish around you have no chance until a school swims past. I have scanning sonar, so I can see schools anywhere around me (I typically scan at a max of 600 feet, but when stationary / slow trolling I expand the range to (1,600' - 2,000' +), but in my experience, tuna are always on the move if they aren't feeding on the surface, and chasing a school down is impossible at downrigger trolling speeds. So, the technique would be best suited to situations where there are plenty of tuna schools deep but none on the surface. Then you can wait for a school to swim past. Otherwise, after 15 minutes of nothing (including nothing on the sonar) it is impossible (for me at least) to resist the impulse to pick up the downrigger and surface troll at 8 knots while looking for signs of life.
What do you consider "downrigger trolling speeds"? I have trolled 7 knots with a Z-wing on a downrigger
 
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MYNomad

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What do you consider "downrigger trolling speeds"? I have trolled 7 knots with a Z-wing on a downrigger
Definitely not 7 knots. If got some z-wings, but prefer the pancake leads (12 lb?). Either way, between 1.6 to a max of 4 knots. I can't imagine anything staying down any faster (and I was shooting for 150 - 200 feet deep -- where I was marking fish.
 

makairaa

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Definitely not 7 knots. If got some z-wings, but prefer the pancake leads (12 lb?). Either way, between 1.6 to a max of 4 knots. I can't imagine anything staying down any faster (and I was shooting for 150 - 200 feet deep -- where I was marking fish.
I prefer the lead for normal speeds also.
 
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woodfish330

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While discussing "pancake" weights, for those not familiar.... they're like 2 flat saucer shaped weights attached to a flat rudder. (Best I can describe). These work excellant. They can only be deployed and retrieved by downrigger, and it better be a good one at that. Even a SCOTTY "hand cranker" has a tough job...but it's do able.

While discussing different downrigger weights and shapes... let's not forget the absolutely beautiful chromed and hammered... fish shaped SHARK (12lbs +) I sold them for years. They Could work..but a qualified word of caution on these. Salmon guys loved them. I was really intrigued. ..you know me.... tuna brain....lol.

One afternoon a "regular" good guy came in pissed...With pictures. Seems the larger salmon were running a few miles outside the "GATE". So he went...set up both down riggers with the big chrome "SHARK" weights. Down they went. Slowly trolling around... kinda foggy... When he heard a strange sound, he later described as a whale coming up for air.

Then it happened he said.....left down rigger bent over and started "screaming". He said in less than 3 seconds it was completely torn off , rod holder and all. With his mouth still agape.... the right down rigger went off, bent, crumpled and it too was completely ripped off the stern. MAJOR DAMAGE....In less that 10 seconds.

Yep... ORCAS!!! They had eaten that those 2 big beautiful chrome "SHARK" weights.... did about 5 grand worth of damage, plus both down riggers and custom trolling rods gone. We didn't know whether to laugh or cry with that guy.

So choose and deploy wisely. Not many orcas locally. ...but I have seen then down here feeding in the Newport Canyon before many years ago. They're also loved by GW....aka "the LANDLORD".

IF you have beefy equipt..... heavy enough to handle the constant deployment and retrieval (electric for sure).... This would be my "go to" weight!! Google it up.... it's beautiful... durable and just down right fishy. Good luck!
 
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