While my sights are focused on the “brown ones,” I always keep a lighter outfit ready for the other brown one — the tripletail. Although the tripletail is smaller, they put up no less of a fight when paired with the right tackle. Tripletail are commonly found in the same haunts as cobia, including floating debris, weedlines, current edges and buoys.
Most cobia anglers make the mistake of not having a smaller spinning rod ready to cast at a moment’s notice when you find a tripletail. That’s a big mistake.
Before we head off in the mornings I like to grab a dozen live shrimp and I make sure I have a selection of 1/4- to 1/2-ounce jigs to cast. I prefer a longer, fast action rod around 7 feet spooled with 12-pound test braided line. The fast action and light line helps me pitch a smaller jig or unweighted live shrimp a bit farther. I just started using the 7-foot PENN Legion Xtra Fast rod matched with a PENN Sargus 3000 spinning reel, and so far it’s been a good solution. The light rod is great for casting small baits, but it’s got plenty backbone to fight a big tripletail around structure.
Tripletail are commonly found floating off the coast of Florida and the tropics. They are heavily armored and for that reason I prefer a 25- to 30-pound leader. That heavier leader comes in handy when we stumble across fish weighing more than 15 pounds or we stop to fish the buoys. Well known for their habit of floating just beneath the surface with one side exposed, the tripletail is a master at mimicking floating debris. Some think this might be a feeding strategy because of the locality of their prey to the floating structure associated with this behavior. Smaller tripletail seem to mimic floating sargassum weed, with a speckled brown or yellow color while many times the large fish just look like a white trash bag or shiny flotsam hovering close to the surface.
My home waters off of Cape Canaveral, Florida, make up some of the best tripletail grounds in the world and many records have been set here. I have seen tripletail caught that weighed well over the 30-pound mark but we commonly see them from 5 to 18 pounds.
Tripletail are absolutely one of the best tasting fish out there with delicious firm, white flaky meat.
They fight great and will even jump on ocassion. Being prepared to run across tripletail is a lot more rewarding then running around the boat trying to rig something to throw at them when you do see one. So when you’re out there sight-fishing for cobia, keep an eye out for the floating tripletail.