Cousins Tackle for Tuna
Given this season’s epic offshore fishing, we asked the folks at Cousins Tackle Corp. in Huntington Beach, for their thoughts on which Rods Every Southern California Tuna Angler Should Have. Now, we realize that this may be hard to narrow down, especially with a summer season that seemingly began in April and has seen everything from triple digit bluefin to finicky, chunk-eating yellowfin to little “pocket rocket” tuna blowing up on surface poppers. Not only that, one day there’s 1-pound mackerel in the receivers, the next, there’s pinhead anchovies that are barely two eyes and a wiggle. However, in the interest of brevity, we’re going to keep it to the main six or seven sticks that will cover most tuna-tugging tasks.
Cousins Graphite Composite Series
Our first two recommendations come from the Cousins SE Graphite Composite Series. The CJB-70ML is a 7-foot, 25-40-pound fast-action stick that is ideal for flylining medium to large sardines and small to medium mackerel with a 30-pound topshot. You could go with the lighter 70L action (20-30-pound, but we like the extra pulling power this rod delivers when going toe-to-toe with bluefin and yellowfin upwards of 30-pounds. The recently introduced CJB-75ML is a 7-1/2-foot fast-action graphite stick rated for 20-40-pound. This extra six-inches provides some versatility — it’s a solid bait rod with plenty of backbone for medium-sized tuna up to 40 pounds, and the added length makes it a dual-purpose rod that can also be used for tossing Flat-Falls and Colt Sniper jigs
This Cousins CJB-70ML is being used to put the wood to a 30-pound grade yellowfin tuna, caught on a fly lined sardine last summer close to San Clemente island. The popular San Diego-based charter boat Pacific Dawn features a rack of these sticks as loaners, showing their all-around application for light-to-medium live bait fishing.
This nice yellowfin was caught recently within sight of the beach at Oceanside, on a trip where the tuna wouldn’t look at a live bait. A Cousins CJB-70ML was perfect for fly lining the chunked sardines that eventually made them bite, when paired with an Okuma Metalloid 5IIs spooled with 50-pound braid and a short, 5-foot topshot of 25-pound fluorocarbon.
Cousins Jig and Bait Rods
For handling bigger tuna and heavier line, step up to Cousins Jig and Heavy Bait Rod models like the CJB-65ML. Still part of the SE Series, this 6-1/2-foot, fast-action rod is rated for 40-60-pound line and features heavy-duty guides and a machined aluminum reel seat. When targeting bluefin or yellowfin tuna up to 100-pounds with bigger baits or jigs, a rod like this will give the you lifting power you need to put maximum pressure on the fish and end the fight. One of the biggest reason jumbo tuna are lost is due to using tackle that’s “under-gunned” for the job. The longer a fight draws on, the greater the chance of it ending badly — with the leader chafing through or a hook working its way out.
Bluefin Tuna Tackle
From left, Cousins Pro-Staffer Will Derrick lays out a 71-pound local bluefin for gaffing by Cousins Marketing Director Charlie Albright. Derrick worked this big tuna to the boat relatively quickly with a CJB-65ML rod, 50-pound fluorocarbon topshot and a two-speed reel.
Double Header Tuna
A tale of two tuna. On the left, Cousins’ Charlie Albright with a 76-pound local bluefin and Will Derrick with a 71-pounder. Albright hooked his fish on a relatively light CJB-70ML and a reel with only 25-pound topshot (in the holder next to him), and it took him about 45 grueling minutes to beat the fish. Derrick hooked his tuna on a CJB-65ML matched with an appropriate reel and line, and he boated his fish in less than half the time. Both rods are very useful to Southern California offshore anglers, just not for the same job.
Cousins Fiberglass Rods
Don’t pass on the glass. While traditional fiberglass rods aren’t as common as they once were, they still have an important place in the serious tuna fisherman’s quiver. For one, their softer, more forgiving actions can be the best choice when you have to drop down to 15- or 20-pound line to get bit. And glass rods are the best for casting light live baits like anchovies. For example, the Classic Fiberglass F-270-8 (rated for 15-25-pound) is a great “chovie chucker” when paired with a small star-drag reel and light line. Another versatile choice is the Classic Fiberglass F-670L, a 7-foot fiberglass stick rated for 20-30-pound that can be used for throwing sardines or dropping down a heavy jig. This rod is like fishing’s equivalent of a 7-iron —it’s a serviceable tool for a variety of jobs. Even top-quality American-made fiberglass rods like these from Cousins Tackle are relatively affordable and much more forgiving (a.k.a. hard to break) when loaned out to newbie anglers.
Bait Rods by Cousins
This F-270 Cousins Fiberglass rod was just the ticket for getting a small anchovy in front of a yellowfin’s nose on 20-pound test. Even with its relatively light action, you can see this rod provides enough power in the lower section to work a nice 25-pound class yellowfin to the boat.
Cousins’ Will Derrick applies maximum pressure on a circling yellowfin using a Classic Fiberglass F-670L rod.
Cousins Rail Rods
Long range anglers have helped drive the development of specialized Rail Rods for tackling 200-pound “cow” and 300-pound “super cow” yellowfin tuna from an anchored boat. Cousins addresses this part of the tuna spectrum, as well, with a full series of Rail Rods available now for anglers heading deep into the “land of the giants” this coming fall and winter.
All About the Leverage
Cousins has developed a full line of new Rail Rods for the needs of serious long-rangers. Probably the most versatile of these is the CRR70XXH, a 7-foot graphite composite rod rated for 60-100-pound line. This rod is designed to help anglers use the rail to generate maximum pressure on giant yellowfin while not wearing themselves out. Each member of this series features the strongest components, including a super-heavy-duty fore grip that is meant to stand up to repeated rubbing against the rail. This rod would also be a good choice when the jumbo bluefin pushing 200-pounds and more make an appearance in local waters, like they have several times this summer.