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Old 04-08-2016, 11:25   #1
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Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

I recently had some beginner's luck catching my first tuna trolling one line off the back of our sailboat. I used a Penn 80stw and a trolling rod.

Question: Will adding a second rig increase the odds of catching a fish, or will it just complicate things when we hook onto a tuna? As in tangled lines and potential lost equipment like loures etc.? Usually, it's just the two of us onboard.

I was thinking about adding a second reel and rod next season.
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:43   #2
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

Two isn't too bad. But it can cause complications if a fish runs fast before you get the second one in. If it's normally just you fishing and no one to retrieve the second rig I would stick with one. Had some terrible tangles before.


My impression is you pass over "hot spots" and there are a number of fish there. Two rods would increase the odds of catching two fish over those areas, likely at the same time. But I don't think two rods will increase the odds of catching a fish in general in areas where your are just dragging it behind and slow fishing. Hope that makes sense!
They will likely see one lure anyway. Just my impressions.
it seems any debris on the water can be a hot spot, also changes in bottom from deep water to shallow etc. I've dragged a lure all day with no bites and just before going thru the opening in a reef when the sea goes from deep blue to shallows... Bam!
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:46   #3
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

The sport fishermen put out a dozen lines out at a time, so it is certainly possible. Hard to imagine how more lines would decrease the likelihood of a catch.

I think the name of the game is to use different lures and distances to keep the lines separate while in the water. I have been using a diving plug and a surface lure with success both in catches and not getting tangled.

If you hook a fish that dances everywhere, then sure you run the risk of creating a tangle. But on the bright side, you caught a fish! Perhaps once you get a strike and move the drag setting up, reel in the other line tight (and slow the boat if you like) while the hooked fish is tiring out.
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:49   #4
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

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Originally Posted by fallingeggs View Post
The sport fishermen put out a dozen lines out at a time, so it is certainly possible. Hard to imagine how more lines would decrease the likelihood of a catch.

I think the name of the game is to use different lures and distances to keep the lines separate while in the water. I have been using a diving plug and a surface lure with success both in catches and not getting tangled.

If you hook a fish that dances everywhere, then sure you run the risk of creating a tangle. But on the bright side, you caught a fish! Perhaps once you get a strike and move the drag setting up, reel in the other line tight (and slow the boat if you like) while the hooked fish is tiring out.
Makes sense to me. But does it double my odds or is it more like buying lottery tickets, where you need to buy one just to be in the game? But buying the second ticket only increases your chance by just a minute amount. Do you need more lures just to be seen, or can the fish see that one lure for quite some distance? Or, am I better off using multiple lures on a single line?
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:04   #5
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

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Makes sense to me. But does it double my odds or is it more like buying lottery tickets, where you need to buy one just to be in the game? But buying the second ticket only increases your chance by just a minute amount. Do you need more lures just to be seen, or can the fish see that one lure for quite some distance? Or, am I better off using multiple lures on a single line?
My impression is it doubles your odds of catching more than one fish IF you run over a school of fish.
For instance, if you go out charter fishing there may be 20 poles with lures/bait in the water. You may go all day with not a bite. Then all of a sudden, half the people have a fish on at once!
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:11   #6
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

Our technique is to troll two lines, each at different lengths and from different sides of the transom. The longer line is elevated higher on a pole whereas the shorter is attached directly to the pushpit. If you hook a fish on the shorter of the two lines, you can just leave the further out one and deal with the catch.

If on the further out line, the shorter of the two lines is trolled fairly close to the boat and is not too much of a bear to reel in short order.

We've met some pretty serious sailboat fishers out there using a lot more than two lines, but two seems like the right level of complexity for us.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:35   #7
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

Who knows on the chances? Greater than if one line out but less than double? It feels like I have a better chance and isn't that enough? Plus, my second is currently on a hand line, so super cheap to set up.

I like the idea of a bigger distance separation then multiple hooks on the same line would allow. A daisy chains is, what, 4 feet line? The distance between a diving plug 25 food under water with 200' of line out and a surface-ish squid with 100' of line out is a lot more.

Where I am, it is actually enough of a difference to target different fish. Stripped bass on the diving plug and blue fish on the surface. There are maybe 5 tunas of the NY coast, but I think (and hope) they would enjoy my surface squid. (Will deal with reeling in a tuna on the hand line if it comes to that...)


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Old 04-08-2016, 12:37   #8
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

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Our technique is to troll two lines, each at different lengths and from different sides of the transom. The longer line is elevated higher on a pole whereas the shorter is attached directly to the pushpit. If you hook a fish on the shorter of the two lines, you can just leave the further out one and deal with the catch.

If on the further out line, the shorter of the two lines is trolled fairly close to the boat and is not too much of a bear to reel in short order.

We've met some pretty serious sailboat fishers out there using a lot more than two lines, but two seems like the right level of complexity for us.

This,
Except I have never bothered to have them at different heights, except for when we ran outriggers on Sport fishing boats, and there you may be running a downrigger to for five lines, six if you have a kite, although I have never run a kite.
You may also run a diving lure on your long line and a surface one on your shorter line, and once in a blue moon, you will get your lines entangled, but it doesn't happen often and if it does you still can bring in the fish and often it is real easy to untangle.

But short answer is more lines you have in the water, the better the odds.
Most people do not run the same lure, until after they know what is working today. If I'm running a red and white cedar plug and a spoon on the other pole and catch three fish on the red and white, the spoon is coming off
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:41   #9
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

All helpful advice so far. I'm leaning towads a second rod and reel or short handline.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:42   #10
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

So far the biggest revelation for me is that we tend to troll at much higher speeds and therefore a lot of my lures aren't useable. I used to troll to fish and of course would run the right speed for the lure.
Now I fish as a function of trying to get somewhere, and I will not shorten sail to slow down to proper trolling speed.

BTW, fishing is ALL beginners luck, that is why most of us go fishing, only a very few go catching.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:46   #11
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

With fishing boats, the words "Fish On" means immediately cut to idle and start reeling in the lines that don't have the fish.
You may want to ask your wife to reel in the other line, if you have a good fish, I don't usually bother for the smaller stuff.
Fishing off a sailboat is really way different, or said another way, it sucks, they are terrible fishing platforms, especially if under sail, at least mine is.

Oh, do you have a GOOD gaff? if not get a good one, one that has an easily removable cover is important to me, I like the ones with the big springs. I want a long one too.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:55   #12
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

Fish like a meal, not a snack.

In fishing conditions, we often had two rods and two handlines, all at different lengths. The more little fishy-looking things disturbing the water at the surface, the more likely a pelagic will divert course to see what's on the menu. Sometimes we had multiple strikes, many times we had one hit even though 4 lines were out.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:55   #13
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

We have an excellent long, lightweight gaff with a removable but still attached hook cover.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:59   #14
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

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Fish like a meal, not a snack.

In fishing conditions, we often had two rods and two handlines, all at different lengths. The more little fishy-looking things disturbing the water at the surface, the more likely a pelagic will divert course to see what's on the menu. Sometimes we had multiple strikes, many times we had one hit even though 4 lines were out.
Do you recommend a mix of lures or multiples of one type? So there's no problem setting two rods and two short handlines all at the same time? Instead of handlines, I've met people who clamp a big game rod directly onto a rail and use it like a handline.

How far behind the boat would you trail your lure attached to the short handline?
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Old 04-08-2016, 13:07   #15
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Re: Trolling for Tuna, One Line or Two?

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So far the biggest revelation for me is that we tend to troll at much higher speeds and therefore a lot of my lures aren't useable. I used to troll to fish and of course would run the right speed for the lure.
Now I fish as a function of trying to get somewhere, and I will not shorten sail to slow down to proper trolling speed.

BTW, fishing is ALL beginners luck, that is why most of us go fishing, only a very few go catching.
This has become very apparent to me with my new-ish 25' diving plug. It either pulls like there is a fish on or it is skipping across the surface. I'm going to try running it with some weight to see if it will at least consistently stay under. Still have to figure out how to tell when there is a fish on rather than just the "normal" pulling action... I have to put my drag setting at around 10 to 15 pounds to get the line to stop letting out.
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