Saltwater Fishing

Sportboat Tackle Advice – What I’m Bringing & Why

Pacific QueenI’ve got my long awaited Pacific Queen trip (sponsored by AFTCO) going out this Friday night.  It is a 1.5-day trip.  Now typically, at that range, in January, the game plan would be simple…

yo-yo yellowtails and rockfishing.

Here’s the issue, last week the boats fishing at that length of trip were catching bluefin tuna from 20 to 150+-pounds.  Then as I mentioned last week, a winter storm blew in and now the game plan for this weekend is up in the air.

Listed below is some sportboat tackle advice for Colonet – what I plan to bring and why.  You may not agree with my choices, or have the exact same gear, but by walking you through my thought process you can form your own ideas.

20# Bait Setup

sportboat tackle advice for winter yellowtailFor fishing fin bait, I like to use a pretty long mono topshot so that when I cast, I’m casting mono and it flows smoothly through the guides.  I can tip it on the fly with fluoro if required.  If we encounter paddy yellows, or tuna that are line shy, this will be my setup.  I can also use this setup to throw a small jig like a Colt Sniper or small surface iron like a Salas 7x Jr. light or the small Candy Bar (above), or even a Waxwing.  I’ll bring a 2nd reel, baitcaster loaded with braid (Tranx 400), tipped with mono to throw the jigs.

40# Bait Setup

bluefin tuna on the Pacific Queen caught on 40 lb gear
Pac Queen – 80 on 40

Last week I passed along Capt. Adam Williams’ (of the New Lo-An) recommendation of fishing a 50# bait setup on the current crop of tuna.  I’ve caught up to 80+-pound. bluefin on my 40# gear, so I feel confident this rig would keep me in the game with fish up to 100.  In the coastal scenario, this can be my change up rig to fish a dropper for yellows.  As fun as getting heavy on the yo is, it’s nice to take a break and fish bait, especially if that happens to be what they want.

Yo-Yo (Vertical Jigging) Rig

yellowtail on yo-yo iron
Last year, yo-yo on the 187 full size heavy in blue/white

For this setup, I like to use a reel that is mostly loaded with braid and has a gear ratio around 6:1, in case they want it fast.  I tip it with the appropriate short topshot (40 or 50 mono usually), and then tie on the appropriate hot yo-yo iron: Salas 6x or 7x heavy, 6x/7x Jr heavy, Tady 4/0, the 187 Jigs versions of those jigs etc., in patterns of mint, blue/white, scrambled egg, and because I saw a bunch of red crab when I went in December – red crab.

Offshore, this rig can be your Flat Fall setup.

Rockfishing Dropper Loop Setup

Similar setup as your yo-yo setup, but not requiring the fast reel.  I like to tie a swivel at the end of the braid, and then tie my mono from there.

If it’s similar to the jig setup, why do I need two?

Because if you’re doing one thing like fishing a jig, but you observe that they’re responding better to bait, you want to be ready to switch immediately and not take the time to re-tie.

sportboat tackle advice for lingcod

For myself, I’m chasing a goal of catching a 20+ pound lingcod.  What I’ll be doing during the rockfishing phase of the trip (if it happens) is fish a “jig and fly” setup on the jigging combo, and then have this one ready to go with a single dropper rigged with a trap hook.  The application is if a fat mack comes along, either out of the bait tank or by catch, I’ll put it on this setup and drop it down targeting that big ling.

I may bring an extra reel just to have more flexibility, but 4 rods and 6 reels should have most applications covered without being “that guy” taking up too much rack space.  Hopefully, it works out for all of us fishing this weekend.

Good luck if you get out there!

Joe Sarmiento
Joe Sarmiento is the founder and primary writer of the So Cal Salty blog. The blog covers saltwater fishing, primarily aboard the many sportfishing b...