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November 06, 2012

On A Troll

Four Pros' Favorite Rigs for Marlin, Sailfish, Dolphin & Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna

tuna trolling
Jim Rizzuto

Capt. Dennis Cintas
Tropical Sun Sportfishing (Kona, Hawaii)


When and why do you choose to troll for this species?

We troll for yellowfin tuna all year. Our pods of spotted dolphin attract tuna in quantities that vary during the year. However, from June through September, yellowfin migrate to our waters to spawn. We troll in a similar fashion, but we focus on water depths from 500 to 1,000 fathoms off the island of Hawaii. When the ocean currents push in toward the island, we troll in 100 to 500 fathoms, looking for signs of tuna and the presence of bait.

Describe your favorite trolling outfit and rig for this species.

My favorite tuna rig is a 20- to 25-foot section of 220-pound Momoi fluorocarbon crimped to a 7-inch Koya or Joe Yee resin bullethead in either light-blue or mother-of-pearl color with a Flashabou skirt and Mylar wings. Flashabou, which was originally used as a fly-tying material, has revolutionized lure development for yellowfin tuna and blue marlin more than any other ­innovation I’ve seen in 25 years.

Yellowfin Tuna Trolling RigBeneath the lure is a single Mustad 9/0 Southern and Tuna hookcrimped to the leader. Ahead of it is a string of rigging beads.

The top of the leader is crimped into a loop and attached to the 130-pound-test Amilan mono main line with a Sampo HD double-ring snap swivel. The main line is crimped to the snap swivel.

My preferred rod is a 6 ½-foot, 130-pound Seeker blank with roller guides. I like the Shimano Tiagra 130 two-speed reel.

Why is this your favorite trolling rig/outfit for this species?


Jim Rizzuto

Most every charter captain and recreational angler is running one of these Flashabou-skirted lures and enjoying phenomenal success. In my opinion, all the credit goes to my longtime friend and successful charter-boat captain Jay Lighty. This skirt material attached to a straight-running jet head is, in my professional opinion, the absolute best trolled-lure combination for yellowfin tuna today.

All captains I talked with mentioned other bait options and other setups, based on conditions and timing. However, when cornered about which one rig to highlight, their choices jelled quickly.

Will these baits always produce? That’s ­questionable, but that’s also fishing. 




Photos by (First to Last) Capt. Tim Simos/, Pat Ford, Jason Arnold /, Chris Woodward, Jim Rizzuto

Illustrations by David Sheppard