Playbook: Hybrid Jigging Methods for Bluefin Tuna #220

Here are two “hybrid” jigging methods for bluefin tuna that pair well with casting and jigging. There are often a number of times when you know the fish are close by but are having a hard time finding them. There are other times where the fish are simply scattered and there and not many of them. In either event, these are two good go to methods to help hedge your vets when jigging or casting.

Capt. Mike fighting a Tuna using the search and drop casting method.

Search and Drop

Search and Drop is the most tactical variations of jigging. With this technique, you have all your anglers poised, holding ready rods and are ready themselves to drop or cast at a nanosecond’s notice. By cruising around at 6 or 8 knots, you are maintaining a relatively solid RPM pitch with your engines that the fish will get used to. As you vector in on life and interesting birds, you’ll be in the zone but ready to change course without much fanfare to close the distance on tuna your seeing.

In this situation, you might be scanning the fish finder for marks and then stopping and dropping but more likely you are in an area where there is scattered fish, many of which are milling around on the surface. In that case, you would be idling around ready to quickly alter course and fire off a cast without too much commotion or engine pitch change. A common example of this would be Bluefin tuna feeding on slow-moving, juvenile butterfish. Both the bait and the tuna get really scattered. When this happens, Bluefin will get very specific as to what they want to eat. Your lure needs to be the perfect size. Furthermore, they will not travel off course very much and will be spooked easily and you need to execute a perfect cast.


  1. Identify an active area.
  2. Find happy cruising speed, maybe 8 knots for searching.
  3. Have anglers rod’s in hand, ready to convert.
  4. Constantly look for changes in the water. Cast at any water that looks “pushed” or otherwise altered.


  1. Pinpoint finicky fish.
  2. Steady RPM will not spook fish.
  3. Cover ground while able to study top-water and fish finder.

Troll Scanning

Troll scanning is a great way to cover ground while fishing all levels of the water column. I refer to this technique as a hybrid between trolling and jigging.  While I’m at idle speed, I will send two lures way back on jigging or casting rods. I generally like fishing two of the same type of lure to avoid tangles while turning as both lures will react the same way. If I see anything – ideally, targets on a fish finder but signs could be surface milling bait, whales, bird life or nervous water — I’ll take the boat out of gear and let the jigs drop for at least 60 seconds, at most a few minutes, for a good target before raising them to the top again with the boat back in gear. Incidentally, the lures rising back to the surface is when most strikes happen on the troll scan. If it’s a long drop on good targets, I’ll fire two jigs over the side on the targets. Sometimes all hell breaks loose and multiple rods will go off. Champagne problems as they say.


  1. Troll 2 lures way back on casting or jigging outfits.
  2. Keep an eye on fish finder.
  3. If you identify a target, take the boat out of gear to let the baits drop.
  4. Once you feel your lures sink to the desired depth, put your boat back in gear.
  5. Sometimes surging the boat will help draw a strike.


  1. Cover a wide area.
  2. Fish multiple levels in the water column.
  3. You can eat lunch while fishing 🙂