Trolling Terminal Tackle: Line, Leaders and Terminal Connections for Trolling Tuna #501

Trolling Terminal Tackle for Tuna

  • Braid: I load my Talica 25 with 425 yards of 80lb. Jerry Brown Hollow Core Spectra Backing and 100 yards of 80lb. Momoi Top Shot. I add a spliced loop to the hollowcore braid that will last for years. I then tie a spider hitch or Bimini to make a loop in the mono so that I can easily connect a wind-on leader. This braid/mono combo allows for easy crimping to swivels and enough stretch for trolling but due to the heavier than average top shot, it is abrasion resistant and not too much stretch when pulling bars. Also, the 80lb top shot will allow you to utilize the 45lb. of drag that this tiny reel boasts.
  • Mono: As an alternative to braid, set up above, you can fish entirely with mono which is far more economical but you will hold less line or will be very light in strength. Depending on the reel size, I will use 40lb. on a TLD 25 and 60lb. on a 30 and 80lb. on a 50 class reel.
  • Leader Material: Some anglers use mono leaders for casting and jigging and in addition to the huge cost savings, there are some advantages.
    • Mono is softer and suppler. That means it will sometimes act like a slinky on your reel
    • Mono has some stretch, given its shock-absorbing characteristics and connections hold better when there’s a lot of pressure at boat side
    • It crimps better than fluorocarbon leader. It’s more forgiving and, that being said, I personally use fluorocarbon leader 100-percent of the time for the simply reason that it is less visible underwater.
  • Leader Material (cont).: Tuna have such keen eyesight and I believe that mono over fluoro would trade in a number of those skunky days for single fish days. I’ll live with the headaches. Tip: Fluoro gets dirty. Keep alcohol wipes and wipe them throughout the day. I also replace my fluorocarbon leaders after every trip, even on fishless days. A simple, teeny, impossible-to-see-by-the-naked-eye, nick in the line will hold light and lose its stealth. There are a number of knots you can use to tie leader directly to braid. Some of them are fascinating and ultra-slick through the guides, giving you extra casting distance, but I prefer the ease and convenience of loop-to-loop connection of a wind-on leader. I figure I will have more fishing time if I put a new leader on in a quarter of the time.
  • Wind-On Leaders: I vary between two sizes; 80lb test and 130lb test. I use 80 on days where fish are ultra-finicky and 130 when the action is hot and heavy. Wind-on leaders are great because they collect less junk in the water, flow through guides nicely (compared with knots) and make it easier to land fish. With tuna, the lighter the fluorocarbon, the more likely you are to get hit. Unfortunately, practicality often gets in the way f the fun and you have to live with fewer bites but more landed. For Bluefin likely to be over 100lbs, I use 100lb leader for casting and 130lb leader for jigging. For smaller, school sized fish, my default is 80lb. but I carry 60lb for problematic days when the fish are being super picky.
  • Leader Length: The longer the leader, the better as tuna do not like seeing the braid to fluoro connection. I prefer a 30-foot leader for trolling which is the same leader I use for jigging.
  • Lure Connection: My general rule of thumb is that I tie direct with a loop knot at 60lb. test and below, and crimp the line above. 80lb can really go both ways and I will crimp it if I feel I need the chafing gear. 100lb. and above is crimped all the way. In most cases, I will crimp with 1/2-inch chafe gear to a 220lb swivel and attach a similarly sized split ring to the swivel. This is the best way as the swivel will minimize the torque on the connection during a battle. The split ring gives added abrasion resistance and easy lure changes.