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June 12, 2012

Green-Sticking for Tuna

A top captain offers tips for using green sticks to target yellowfin tuna

The V of the idling boat’s wake fades into the oily flat sea. Just beyond, two acres of porpoises break the calm as they blow before heading back down to their feast on opelu — Hawaiian mackerel. Between the boat and the porpoise, 150-pound ahi tuna leap from the water, sometimes twisting in midair with acrobatics more common to sailfish than tuna.

Only one thing could provide a much more exhilarating show: yellowfin leaping from the sea to eat trolled artificial squid.

“The yellowfin are competing against porpoises, not just other tuna, so they’re really aggressive,” says Capt. Russ Nitta, owner of Lepika Sportfishing in Kona, Hawaii. “They’re moving 35 mph when they blow up on our squid. It’s spectacular!”

Nitta is green-sticking — the term given to trolling artificial squid from the top of a fiberglass pole more than 30 feet in the air. The plastic squid spend more time out of the water than in, which he says is as effective as it is exciting.

Nitta shares his 10 years of green-stick experience with Sport Fishing readers.

The Stick & Rig
Named for the greenish tint to fiberglass poles made in Japan, green sticks are sold in 11-foot, hollow tapered sections. The outside diameter of the base of one nestles within the inside ­diameter of the top of the section below it, overlapping 12 inches at the joint. Nitta secures joints with strips of rubber and hose clamps.

Some captains fasten only one section high on the tuna tower. Nitta uses three sections, setting the base section (about the size of a softball) into an aluminum socket on his flying bridge. Another bracket clamps around the pole six feet higher, fastened to his half-tower. This puts the tip 36 feet above the water.

Nitta crimps 700-pound monofilament to a ring at the tip of the green stick. He crimps a loop in the other end, making it just long enough to reach the tip of his trolling rod.Nitta fishes four squid from 100 yards of 400-pound Momoi X-HARD monofilament atop 400-pound spectra braid spooled onto a Fin-Nor 130 reel. He divides his main line into sections with simple crimped loop-to-loop connections.

From each connection, he attaches a longline clip with several yards of 530-pound Momoi X-HARD monofilament. At the other end of each of these drop lines, Nitta rigs 9-inch Mold Craft artificial squid with 11/0 Dozer hooks. “I tie a Flemish knot with the mono where it passes through the hook,” Nitta says. “That keeps the squid from traveling up the drop line, away from the hook.” (See this knot below courtesy of YouTube member chainheart3)