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December 15, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Bluefin Bonanza

Tuna fishing heats up off Virginia and North Carolina

Joe Mahler /

Jigging Gear
Once upon a time, fishing for bluefin tuna required thousands of dollars of heavy tackle. Now a crew armed with a handful of jigging rods and a pile of vertical jigs can get in on the action too. Start with a heavy-action 5 1/2-foot jigging rod matched to a high-speed high-capacity reel, and spool it with hundreds of yards of 80-pound braided line that is color-coded in 10-meter increments. Tie a Bimini twist in the braided line, and attach a 12-foot length of 80- to 100-pound-test fluorocarbon leader with a Bristol knot. Add a heavy-duty barrel swivel to the split ring on a 250-gram vertical jig, then tie the swivel to the fluoro leader with a uni-knot.

Kite Outfit
When bluefin are feeding on the surface and are hesitant to respond to traditional ballyhoo bait, Haywood breaks out the kite rig. He starts out with a 50-pound-class outfit spooled with 50- to 80-pound braided line. "We used to think that we had to use heavy tackle for these fish," he says, "but we learned that lighter stuff works even better." Next he ties a 200-pound barrel swivel to the running line and crimps on a 15-foot section of 200-pound monofilament leader. The business end of the rig consists of a Yummee Fly'N Fish or a rubber squid armed with a double 10/0 hook. The bait dangles from a release clip attached to the 50-pound Dacron line spooled on an electric reel and a custom kite rod. "They eat the hell out of it," says Haywood.