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Tuna Plugging

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Tuna FishingNothing is more exciting than throwing a topwater plug and witnessing the incredible attacks by yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna.  The recommended tackle found here is suitable for tuna of 20lbs and up.  Lighter tackle can certainly be used for the smaller tuna.

Tuna Rods

The rod and reel combo we recommend for throwing plugs to breaking tuna on top is a 5’6″ to 6’6″ jigging spinning rod with a spinning reel rated for 50lb braid or higher.  Going to higher rated rods will allow the angler to put more pressure on the fish, but will reduce casting distance.  The heaviest rods can handle some of  the largest yellowfin tuna and most bluefin tuna.  Once these fish get over 150lbs, the angler will certainly need every bit of skill to get these fish to the boat.

Tuna Reels

High-end reels are an absolute must.  The high speed runs from big tunas will simply melt the drags on many spinning reels.  There are very few “economical” reels that can withstand the punishment.  Line capacity is also a major consideration.  The reel must be able to hold at least 300yds of line (400yds+ preferred).  A big tuna can rip 100yds out of a reel in just a few seconds (and they can still dive deep).

Braided Line & Leader

We recommend loading the reel with 50-65lb Spiderwire Ultracast Ultimate Braid.  This is a very tough coated braided line.  It not only casts well, but is resistant to wind knots, and is more durable than any other braid.  The breaking strength of this line is typically much greater than the actual rating.  We use a three foot 50lb-80lb fluorocarbon leader.  We connect the leader to the braided line using a 100lb barrel swivel.  The small profile of the swivel virtually eliminates any chance of picking up debris.  Some anglers may want to make a direct connection using an albright knot or a wind-on leader.

Topwater Tuna Lures

We recommend using the biggest possible surface lures.  Anglers need to determine the largest plug that their rod can effectively throw.  It is critical to experiment with several lures to determine the one that gives you the most distance. A common mistake is selecting a plug that is simply too heavy for the rod. You can still cast it, but the distance will certainly suffer.  Only the highest quality lures will survive repeated tuna attacks.  Big poppers that can be worked slowly and produce maximum surface commotion are certainly preferred (especially in rough seas).  However, slightly smaller poppers that “match the hatch” can be more effective when the fish are scattered.

Changing Hooks

We rarely get the manufacturers original hooks to withstand a season of repeated saltwater use.  In many cases we switch the hooks directly out of the package and always replace them with 3/0 – 6/0  3X-4X strong trebles.  The finish one most after-market hooks is more corrosion resistant than the original hooks supplied by most lure manufacturers.

Fighting Belts and Harnesses

We recommend the Black Magic Fighting Belt and Harness. This is a uniquely designed belt and harness system that helps prevent side-to side slippage while reducing back strain. It offers true seat conformation, more stability and fighting leverage!

Tuna Plugging Checklist

  • 5’6″ to 6’6″ spinning jigging rod conventional rod rated for 50lb braid or higher
  • Spinning reel rated for 50lb braid or higher
  • 50-65lb braided line
  • 50-80lb fluorocarbon leader
  • 100lb barrel swivel
  • large popping plugs
  • 3x-4x replacement trebles in sizes  1/0-6/0

Please contact us if you have questions about our recommendations!


Tackle Recommendations
Click on any of the images or names to visit the manufacturer's website.  Click on the links or retailer logo to see prices or purchase.  If you can't find the product you want, try searching Amazon. Please contact us if you find any broken links!
Rods
Penn Carnage Jigging Spinning Penn Carnage Jigging Spinning
Spinning butterfly jigging rod - 5'6" to 7' - multiple one-piece models suitable for 20-200lb braid - rated for lure weights from 1oz-14oz or 30-400grams
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Penn Carnage Jigging Spinning Penn Carnage Jigging Spinning
Shimano Trevala Spinning Shimano Trevala Spinning
Spinning butterfly jigging rod - 5'8" to 7' - multiple one-piece models suitable for 10-200lb braid - rated for lure weights from 2oz-10oz or 55-270grams
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Shimano Trevala Spinning Shimano Trevala Spinning
Reels
Penn Torque Spinning Penn Torque Spinning
Offshore/surf spinning reel - models rated for 12-50lb mono and 20-100lb braid - 5.1:1  and 5.9:1 gear ratios - 7 ball bearings - waterproof drag
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Penn Torque Spinning Penn Torque Spinning
Shimano Saragosa SW Shimano Saragosa SW
Spinning reel - models rated for 6-30lb mono and 10-80lb braid - 4.9:1, 5.2:1, or 6:1 gear ratios - 5 or 6 ball bearings - waterproof drag
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Shimano Saragosa SW Shimano Saragosa SW
Shimano Stella SW Shimano Stella SW
Offshore/surf spinning reel - models rated for 10-30lb mono and 20-100lb braid - 4.4:1 to 6.2:1 gear ratios - 14 ball bearings - waterproof drag
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Shimano Stella SW Shimano Stella SW
Line
Spiderwire Ultracast Ultimate Braid Spiderwire Ultracast Ultimate Braid
Casting braided line - designed specifically for casting and to eliminate wind-knots - lo-vis green only - available in 10 to 65lb test and 125, 300, and 1500yd spools
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Spiderwire Ultracast Ultimate Braid Spiderwire Ultracast Ultimate Braid
Lures
Yo-Zuri Surface Cruiser Yo-Zuri Surface Cruiser
Popping plug also capable of stop and pop, walk the dog or skipping actions. Available in 6inch-1.625oz and 7.5inch-3oz sizes with color change technology, stainless wire-thru construction, extra large eyes, 3x strong trebles, and 3x strong split rings
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Yo-Zuri Surface Cruiser Yo-Zuri Surface Cruiser
Yo-Zuri Bull Pop - Floating Yo-Zuri Bull Pop - Floating
Popping plug available in 6inch-2.5oz and 8inch-5oz sizes with stainless steel wire-thru construction, 3X strong trebles, 3X strong split rings, extra large eyes, and color change technology
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Yo-Zuri Bull Pop - Floating Yo-Zuri Bull Pop - Floating
Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper
Popping plug available in 3.5inch-7/8oz and 4.75inch-1.5oz sizes with thru-wire construction, 3X strong trebles, extra large eyes, extra wide mouth, heavy duty split rings, and 8 different colors
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper
Yo-Zuri 3D Popper Yo-Zuri 3D Popper
Popping plug available in 3.5inch-7/8oz and 4.75inch-1.5oz with internal prism finish, color change technology, thru-wire construction, extra wide mouth, 3X strong trebles, heavy duty split rings, and thru-wire construction
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Yo-Zuri 3D Popper Yo-Zuri 3D Popper
Yo-Zuri Diving Slider Yo-Zuri Diving Slider
Slow sinking lure available in 5.5inch-2.5oz stainless wire-thru construction, extra large eyes, 3x strong trebles, and 3x strong split rings
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Yo-Zuri Diving Slider Yo-Zuri Diving Slider
Hooks
Mustad 3X Strong Treble Hook Mustad 3X Strong Treble Hook
3561D-DT - Treble, ringed, 3X strong, duratin sizes: 6, 4, 2, 1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0
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Mustad 3X Strong Treble Hook Mustad 3X Strong Treble Hook
Terminal Tackle
Mustad Rolling Swivel Mustad Rolling Swivel
77900 - Black Rolling Swivel w/round eye - available sizes/rating: 4/144lb, 6/118lb, 8/104lb, 9/77lb, 10/70lb, 12/49lb, and 14/42lb


Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader
Fluorocarbon leader  - invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear  and disappearing pink colors - 4-200lb test and 30/100yd spools
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Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader
Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader
Fluorocarbon leader - additional abrassion resistance, lower diameter, invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear and disappearing pink colors - 8-200lb test and 30/100yd spools
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Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader
Berkley Prospec Leader Berkley Prospec Leader
Fluorocarbon leader - invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear, blue, pink, brown colors - 20-200lb test and 25/33/75/100yd coils
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Berkley Prospec Leader Berkley Prospec Leader
Other
Black Magic Belt & Harness Black Magic Belt & Harness
Belt and Harness for rods with 15-18" butts - available in 3 different belt sizes (27-48" 34-58" 42-65") and standard 17.25" or XL Wide 19.5" plates
Learn more and buy at Capt Harry's

Black Magic Belt & Harness
Black Magic Fighting Belt Black Magic Fighting Belt
Fighting belt (plate) for rods with 15-18" butts - includes strap - available with standard 17.25" or XL Wide 19.5" plate
Learn more and buy from Captain Harry's

Black Magic Fighting Belt