Trolling Lures For Pacific Blue Marlin

Although most of the Gamefishing my clients enjoy aboard Bite Me is light to medium tackle, I occasionally get the opportunity to break out the bent butt 80s and go after marlin. Every encounter with these monsters is a learning experience. We have learnt a few things along the way and for what its worth, I will be posting a few examples. You can learn from them, or laugh at them. I recommend both.

2.30pm heading away from the Kadavu Seamount

1. Trolling a spread of 4 lures near the Kadavu seamount – A purple Hollowpoint Cabo Killa on the long rigger, and a blue/white/yellow/pink Black Bart Hot Breakfast on the short rigger, both lures with a single 10/0 Stainless steel hook stiff rigged on wire. 19 feet of 400lb wind-on and 9 feet of 300lb Ande leader. Short and long corners were a huge silver / yellow custom MBT Monster and a John Lau Linda, both 12/0 double hook loose shackle rigged at about 45 degrees. (Pakula style)

A large blue of about 600lbs comes in from the right, nails the short rigger, (skipper guns the boat) then crosses over and nails the long rigger as that lure passes her as well. Two Penn International 80s howling. The fish then charges away in the opposite direction to the boat on the surface for a few seconds and then disappears. (Pandemonium on deck- is it a double hook-up? Who goes in the chair ? – lots of yelling coming from the bridge). Angler standing by each rod till we find out exactly what’s going on. (I know I know, immediate failure to comply with IGFA Rules – but you try standing and indefinitely holding a screaming bent butt 80 with 25lbs of drag – Hays Handle or not) 5 seconds later the blue emerges only 40 yards behind the boat and launches vertically clean out of the sea giving everybody a magnificent image of a huge blue, side on, silver and golden flanks, 15 feet in the air. The blue seems to hang, suspended in the air whilst 6 jaws hit the deck then crashes back in a fit of anger, throws both lures and disappears. Anglers wind in tangled mess of two lures with both leaders heavily scuffed for several feet ahead of each lure. One of the hooks had its point bent.

What went right ?

  • Well, we went to the right place. (had another small blue earlier on a skipbait)
  • We ran the right lures in the right colours. (lures imitating the skipjack tuna and mahi that were in the area)
  • Our hooks were sharp
  • We gunned the boat after the strike to help set the hook.

What went wrong

  1. Single hook stiff cable rig is not the way to go. The blue was able to throw both lures. If they had been rigged with a 2 hook loose shackle rig, the trailing hook may have swung over or under the bill and given us a hook-up. If we had still run single hook rigs (because of extra weight killing the lure action) it might have been better if we had not used a stiff wire rig and used heavy mono instead, allowing the hook to swing a little.
  2. One of the hooks had its point bent. It had tried to penetrate but the point area, being very sharp, was also thin compared to the gauge of the hook. The line pressure must have been trying to set the hook at an angle to the direction of the hook point and instead of driving the point in, it bent it.

In my humble opinion”

If you are fishing for blue marlin, I recommend a two hook rig or a single hook set well back in the skirt and rigged on heavy mono to give it some flexibility. Yes, a 2 hook rig can pin a marlins jaws shut so you absolutely must remove the hooks and yes- a big mahi mahi on the deck with one hook in its mouth and another flailing around is a nightmare for any deckie but if you are worried about that, go with a single Duratin hook on mono. (we do worry about that)

Don’t hone your hook points so much so that the point is long and thin. By all means have a sharp point but keep that point length shorter rather than longer.

As to whether or not you should use hooks where the point is parallel to the shank (like the Shogun T481 or Maruto 1983) or turned in slightly towards the shank (like the Mustad 7691 or Maruto 1962) ?

Jury is still out. I know some skippers use one of each in their large lures with the trailing hook being the turned in style.

I suspect that the whole issue of hook rigs in large Marlin lures is a hotbed of discussion. I have posed the question to Tim Simpson, the Editor of BlueWater magazine. It may be that the next issue of the magazine has some interesting comments from professionals such as Peter Pakula.

Oh, by the way – the Feb/Mar issue has a lead story on the top Blue marlin skippers favourite lures and how they like to rig them.

Adrian was born on the island of Cyprus and graduated to his first rod & reel at the age of five. Having fished around the world from the Arabian Gulf to the North sea and English Channel, he finally settled for the tropical waters of the South Pacific around the island of Kadavu, Fiji Islands. Director of Matava Resort Gamefishing, he skippers ‘Bite Me’, the resort’s 31ft DeepVee Gamefishing vessel and thoroughly enjoys exploring the light and heavy tackle fishing around the island and Great Astrolabe Barrier Reef. An IGFA Certified Captain, he advocates tag & release and is a keen supporter of the IGFA and the Billfish Foundation.

Adrian Watt
IGFA Captain

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