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September 21, 2007

The Magic Box

They didn't want to tell us, but we made them. Six pros reveal their secret weapons for tuna, redfish, dolphin, kingfish, snook and yellowtail.
The SWS Dream Team
Bob Eakes Sam Heaton
Dave Workman, Jr. Dave Myers
Geoff Page George Mitchell

Tuna
Bob Eakes
While trolling for blue marlin off North Carolina 15 years ago, Bob Eakes caught his first giant bluefin tuna. That fish prompted him to become a pioneer in tuna-tag development, tagging studies and the promotion of circle hooks. Eakes is now the owner of Red Drum Tackle in Buxton, North Carolina [(252) 995-5414; www.reddrumtackle.com]. Take it from a man who has boated a 1,200-pound bluefin — this is all the tackle you need to fool tuna.

1 | Copper rigging wire, www.riteangler.com

2 | Spro ball-bearing swivels (60-300 lb.), www.spro.com

3 | Egg sinkers (3/8-11/2 oz.)
"You never know when an egg sinker may come in handy. I like to hide them inside the body cavity of chunk baits to get them down fast."

4 | Iland Lures Ilander (9 inch, 2 oz.) in blue-and-white, www.mirrolure.com

5 | Sampo Rosco ball-bearing snap swivels (300 lb.), www.sampoinc.com

6 | Sampo Rosco ball-bearing snap swivels (100 lb.)

7 | Iland Lures Jr. Ilander (71/4 inch, 11/2 oz.) in blue-and-pink and Ilander (9 inch, 2 oz.) in dolphin

8 | Sea Striker cedar plugs (6 inch, 4 oz.) in natural and black-and-purple, www.seastriker.com
"Natural cedar plugs work great, but I carry some permanent markers so I can color them onboard if I need to."

9 | Mustad circle hooks (8/0-16/0), www.mustad.no
"While fishing on the chunk, circle hooks produce more solidly hooked fish than J-hooks."

10 | Billfisher crimps (150-450 lb.), www.seastriker.com

11 | Sevenstrand Green Machine (9 inch, 3 oz.), www.7strand.com; Mold Craft squid (6 inch) in green, www.meltontackle.com
"The Sevenstrand Green Machine is a tuna fishing standard, especially in the Northeast. I'd be lost without it in my tackle box." "Mold Craft squid offer great versatility. They work well on a spreader bar, in a daisy chain or by themselves."

Redfish
Geoff Page
Captain Geoff Page is revered in the world of redfish angling for his prowess as both a southwestern Florida skipper for Artifishall Charters [(941) 408-9712; www.artifishall.com] and a tournament competitor on the FLW Wal-Mart Redfish Series. He has refined his selection of go-to lures since he first began fishing for red drum at the tender age of five.


1 | Johnson Silver Minnow spoons in gold and silver (1/8-1/2 oz.), www.fishjohnson.com; Texas Tackle Weedless Flats spoons in copper (1/8-1/2 oz.), www.texastacklefactory.com
"If I could only choose one lure for redfish, it would be a gold spoon — period."

2 | Strike King Redfish Magic spinnerbait (1/4 oz.) with gold blade and chartreuse-and-glow-chartreuse-laminate glass minnow, www.strikeking.com
"Spinnerbaits are excellent to have on hand because they can be worked many different ways to accommodate any situation."

3 | Bill Lewis Floating Rat-L-Traps (3 inch, 1/4 oz.) in black-and-silver and black-and-gold, www.rat-l-trap.com

4 | Rapala X-Rap XR08 Slashbait (31/8 inch, 1/4 oz.) in olive green and Skitterwalks (43/8 inch, 5/8 oz.) in golden mullet and bone, www.rapala.com

5 | Mann's Minus 1 (3 inch, 5/8 oz.) and Baby Minus 1 (21/2 inch, 1/4 oz.) in red-and-white and chartreuse, www.mannsbait.com
"When I'm fishing dirty water with a little chop, I'll go with a Mann's Baby Minus 1."

6 | MirrOlure Catch 2000 Suspending Twitchbait (31/2 inch, 1/2 oz.) in black-and-gold-and-orange and Catch 5 Suspending Twitchbait (31/2 inch, 3/4 oz.) in chartreuse-and-gold, www.mirrolure.com

7 | MirrOlure Top Dog Jr. Surface Walker (4 inch, 1/2 oz.) in red-and-white, She Dog (4 inch, 1/2 oz.) in chartreuse-and-silver and She Pup (31/2 inch, 1/2 oz.) in green-and-silver
"MirrOlure She Pups and Top Dogs emit a higher-pitched rattle than other topwaters. They'll call fish in from a long way off."

8 | Assorted jigheads: Norton Texas Lazer, Norton Shad, (361) 790-5329; Bass Assassin Screwlock, www.bassassassin.com; Strike King Flats (1/16-3/8 oz.) in chartreuse, red and natural lead

9 | DOA shrimp (3 inch) in root beer and glow, www.doalures.com

10 | Owner wide-gap worm hooks (3/0-5/0), www.ownerhooks.com
"Owner wide-gap worm hooks are perfect for rigging weedless soft-plastics. The sharp point easily drives through the bait and into the mouth of the fish on the hookset."

11 | DOA Shallow-Running Bait Busters (4 inch, 5/8 oz.) in blue-and-silver and chartreuse
"I use DOA Bait Busters strictly to imitate finger mullet. I fish them very slowly, especially in shallow water."

12 | Mustad Ultrapoint Power Lock weighted weedless hooks (3/0-5/0, 1/16-1/18 oz.), www.mustad.no

13 | DOA CAL shads (3 inch) in avocado-and-red glitter

14 | Mister Twister Exude Twister Mites (23/4 inch) in black, www.mistertwister.com

15 | DOA CAL Grub Tails (3 inch) in root beer-and-chartreuse

16 | Mister Twister Exude RT slugs (5 inch) in golden bream

17 | Mister Twister Exude darts (4 inch) in patriot; DOA CAL jerks (4 inch) in pearl

Dolphin
George Mitchell
Penn Reels Pro Angler George Mitchell has been targeting dolphin around southern Florida and the Bahamas for nearly 40 years. Owner of Fabulous Fishing Adventures [(305) 257-4665; www.fabulousfishingadventures.com], Mitchell is locally renowned for leading his clients to trophy bull dolphin aboard his charter boat, Snake Dancer, out of Key Largo, Florida.


1 | Red Sharpie marker, hook file, Sabiki rig, Rapala Skitter Pop (31/2 inch, 1/2 oz.) in shad pattern, www.rapala.com and bait-rigging floss (35 lb.), www.gudebrod.com
"I use a red Sharpie marker to color over the tip of freshly sharpened hooks. This makes the lure or bait look like it's bleeding and helps stop corrosion."
"Rapala Skitter Pops create a lot of noise on the surface. That commotion, combined with the lure's internal rattle, draw in dolphin from a distance."

2 | Mold Craft Super Chugger (5 inch) in pink-and-white and Wide Range Mini (5 inch) in blue-and-white, www.meltontackle.com

3 | Jim Mayhew jig (1/2 oz.) in chartreuse-and-white, (305) 238-4935; Megabait bucktails in blue, chartreuse and white (1-21/2 oz.), www.megabait.net
Jim Mayhew jigs with spinner blades are awesome for dolphin. I'll often tip them with a six-inch glow worm.

4 | Boone squid skirts (41/4 inch) in green-and-chartreuse-and-orange, www.boonebait.com
"I recommend using skirts when trolling ballyhoo. Without them, the bait washes out too quickly."

5 | Boone squid skirts (41/4 inch) in silver-and-blue-and-pink

6 | Copper rigging wire, www.riteangler.com
If I rig a naked ballyhoo, I like to crimp in a piece of copper rigging wire when I secure my hook to the leader. I use it to fasten the beak of the bait to the leader."

7 | Zoom Trick worms (6 inch) in bubble gum, www.zoombaits.com

8 | Mustad Hoodlum live-bait hooks and Big Gun live-bait hooks (6/0-10/0), www.mustad.no
"Dolphin range in size dramatically, so I always have hooks at the ready to match any size of fish I encounter or bait I may need to send out."

9 | Spro swivels (No. 6, 80 lb.), www.spro.com

10 | Billfisher crimps (300 lb.), www.seastriker.com

11 | Mister Twister Exude Salt Water Crystal slugs (5 inch) in blue surf, www.mistertwister.com

12 | Mister Twister Exude RT slugs (5 inch) in bubblegum ice

13 | Gambler Flapp'n shads (6 inch) in rainbow trout, www.gambler-bang.com

14 | Berkley Gulp Sinking minnows (5 inch) in chartreuse pepper, www.berkley-fishing.com

Kingfish
Dave Workman, Jr.
Dave Workman, Jr., is a highly respected tournament pro on the Southern Kingfish Association and has earned the Angler of the Year title three times. Boasting his own line of Boone kingfish tackle, Workman can be found in Jacksonville, Florida, at his store, Strike Zone Fishing [(904) 641-2433; www.strike-zonefishing.com] when he's not on the water targetting kings.


1 | Boone Dusters (3 inch, 1/4 oz.) in pink-and-white and chartreuse, www.boonebait.com
"Sometimes I'll position my Dusters slightly ahead of my bait instead of just above the eye of the hook. This gives the illusion that the bait is larger."

2 | Hayabusa Sabiki rig, www.meltontackle.com; Boone pearl dusters (7 inch, 1/4 oz.) in pearl and pink

3 | Boone King jigs (1/2 oz.) in silver, chartreuse and purple
"To make sure my ribbonfish run straight, I rig them on Boone King jigs. Believe it or not, the color of the jig can make all the difference even though it's a small part of the trolling setup."

4 | Billfisher glow beads (10 mm), www.seastriker.com
"Slipping a glow bead on my line ahead of a trolled bait is a little trick I use to attract more kings into the spread."

5 | VMC Perma Steel treble hooks (No. 4), www.vmchooks.com; Eagle Claw Bronze treble hooks (No. 4), www.eagleclaw.com

6 | Owner flyliner live-bait hooks (1/0 and 2/0), www.ownerhooks.com
"Owner flyliner hooks are a must if rigging live baits through the nose. They are the sharpest hooks around, which is important when setting on the toothy jaw of a big kingfish."

7 | Billfisher Krok ball-bearing swivels (100 lb.)

8 | Egg sinkers (1 oz.)

9 | Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnum(55/8 inch, 13/4 oz.) in red head, www.yo-zuri.com; LB Huntington Drone spoon (51/2 inch, 11/8 oz.) in blue-and-silver, www.tackledirect.com; Clark spoon (21/2 inch, 1/4 oz.) in silver, www.seastriker.com
"If I need to imitate a cigar minnow or menhaden, nothing beats a Drone spoon. It works great when trolled on a downrigger or flat line."
"The Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnum is built to take a kingfish-size beating. I find it works especially well when trolled way back behind the boat."

Snook
Sam Heaton
How much does Sam Heaton love snook? Enough to get one permanently inked onto his leg. Working as the field promotions manager for Minn Kota, Heaton gets to spend more time on the water than most fishermen could ever imagine. His passion for the species started around the inlets of Florida where he has spent years figuring out what's hot and what's not in snook tackle.


1 | Bagley Bang-O-Lures (51/4 inch, 3/8 oz.) in gold-and-black-stripe and (41/4 inch, 1/4 oz.) in black-and-silver, www.bagleybait.com
"When there is too much chop on the surface for a walking lure, a Bagley Bang-O-Lure worked very slowly just under the surface always produces for me."

2 | Smithwick Devil's Horse AF200 (41/2 inch, 1/2 oz.) in black-and-silver-and-red and AF100 (41/2 inch, 3/8 oz.) in blue-and-silver-and-orange, www.smithwicklures.com

3 | Excalibur Super Spook (5 inch, 7/8 oz.) in speckled trout, www.excaliburlures.com
"Super Spooks are a favorite of mine for big snook. I work these lures as slowly as I can in short, steady jerks."

4 | MirrOlure Top Dog (4 inch, 1/2 oz.) in blue-and-silver-and-chartreuse, www.mirrolure.com

5 | Lucky Craft Pointer 128 Salt Water (5 inch, 1 oz.) in metallic sardine and Pointer 78 (3 inch, 3/8 oz.) in aura gold, www.luckycraft.com; Luhr Jensen Jerk N Sam (4 inch, 1/4 oz.) in gold foil-and-black, www.luhrjensen.com
"Early in the morning or during the evening, a Luhr Jensen Jerk N Sam works really well for enticing larger snook."

6 | DOA shrimp (3 inch) in glow, www.doalures.com
"DOA shrimp are my go-to lures for fishing boat docks and bridge pilings. If I could bring only one lure out on the water, a three-inch glow shrimp would be it."

7 | DOA CAL jerks (4 inch) in avocado-and-red glitter
"I really like DOA CAL jerks coupled with DOA CAL jigheads. When they hit the bottom, they create a puff of sand that drives snook crazy."

8 | DOA CAL jerks (4 inch) in red-and-gold glitter

9 | DOA CAL jerks (4 inch) in rainbow trout

10 | Old Bayside shrimp (31/2 inch) in root beer-and-white, www.oldbayside.com

11 | DOA CAL jerks (4 inch) in white

12 | Old Bayside shrimp jigs (1/8-1/4 oz.)

13 | Daiichi Bleeding Bait treble hooks (No. 4), www.daiichihooks.com

14 | Daiichi Bleeding Bait treble hooks (No. 2)
"Snook have a tendency to knock a topwater lure into the air without getting the hook. I'll often put Daiichi Bleeding Bait hooks on my plugs so the lure looks more natural and the snook will grab on."

Yellowtail
Dave Myers
While pursuing wily yellowtail off the coast of Southern California for the past three decades, Dave Myers has whittled his tackle box down to the essentials that bring the 'tail over the rail. A former president of Daiwa American Corporation and Fenwick, Myers is the owner of The Jig Stop [(949) 496-3555; www.jigstop.com] in Dana Point, California.


1 | Lead Masters Banana jigheads (1/2-1 oz.) in white, www.jigstop.com
"If I'm casting live squid to yellowtail, I'll rig them on a Lead Masters Banana jig. These lead heads allow the bait to sink fairly slowly so fish can nail it on the drop."

2 | Gamakatsu live-bait hooks (2/0-4/0), www.gamakatsu.com; No. 4 Owner flyliner live-bait hooks and ringed flyliner hooks (1/0), www.ownerhooks.com

3 | Assorted weights: split shot, egg sinkers and torpedo sinkers (under 1/16-6 oz.)
"When I use Sabiki rigs to catch bait, I'll use a chrome torpedo sinker along with it instead of a regular lead weight. The shiny coating actually helps attract more bait."

4 | Billfisher ball-bearing swivels (75 lb.) and Krok snap swivels (220 lb.), www.seastriker.com

5 | Mustad 3X No. 2 salt water treble hooks, www.mustad.no
"If yellowtail are just bumping a live mackerel without getting the hook, I'll switch from a single to a treble hook. Run only one point through the nostrils of the mackerel and hang on. The other two exposed points won't deter strikes."

6 | Salas 6X Heavy Irons (6 inch, 7 oz.) in white and scrambled egg, www.jigstop.com
"While working heavy jigs, like a Salas 6X, I'll give the line a few sharp jerks so the lure rises and falls before I start a continuous retrieve. This simulates the jet-swimming action of a live squid."

7 | Tady 45 Light Surface Hard Irons (61/4 inch, 3 oz.) in brown-and-yellow-and-white and sardine, www.meltontackle.com

8 | Megabait Kudako jig (41/4 inch, 41/2 oz.) in blue-mackerel and live jig (41/4 inch, 41/2 oz.) in dolphin, www.megabait.net

9 | Rapala Magnums (43/8-51/2 inch, 7/8-11/4oz.) in dorado and sardine, www.rapala.com

10 | MirrOLure Deep Divers (7 inch, 21/8 oz.) in hot pink and orange-and-yellow-mackerel, www.mirrolure.com
"Large, vividly colored plugs like MirrOlure Deep Divers trigger yellowtail strikes like no other. I use these lures on the fast troll; they'll dive up to 30 feet."

11 | Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnums (43/4 inch, 3/4 oz.) in blue- and chartreuse-mackerel and (53/4 inch, 1 oz.) in purple-mackerel, www.yo-zuri.com; Rapala Magnum (51/2 inch, 11/4 oz.) in silver
"Standard blue-mackerel-pattern Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnum plugs have become the ticket for trolling in small boats. Depending on the mood of the fish, I'll switch to more unusual colors, such as purple- or chartreuse-mackerel."