Fishing for Tuna “on the slide”

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By Mike Rude, September 5, 2013
If you haven’t gotten in on the bluefin tuna bite yet, now is the time to go before they’re gone. There’s also tons of yellowtail out there as well as dorado on the kelps so now’s the time to go. We got into a great bite on the bluefin a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t get a chance to use the swim baits “on the slide” as we stopped on meter marks. I did manage one on a jig. However, if you’re not familiar with using swim baits “on the slide”, this article will help you master this relatively simple technique. This technique is used in conjunction with trolling for tuna and implemented when a tuna is hooked up on one or more of the trolling rods.
Use your standard tuna gear that you would use for bait fishing. (This style of fishing is not suited for spinning gear. Use conventional tackle only). For bait fishing, most fishermen are now using 65 to 80 lb braid/spectra with a short fluorocarbon leader of 25 to 50 b test depending on the size of fish being targeted. When fishing swim baits on the slide, you’ll want at least 30 lb test leader and 40 lb is O.K. I suggest using monofilament instead of fluoro since mono has a bit of stretch to it and fluoro doesn’t have any stretch. If you have a tuna rod and reel spooled with 30 or 40 lb mono already, use that as braid is not needed but you’ll need to watch out for getting cut off if your line crosses another angler hooked up using braid. If you’re going to buy braid/spectra, I prefer PowerPro. Use the white or yellow as it’s much easier to see if you do get tangled with other anglers.
Slide Technique: Attach a Rude Baits 5” swim bait to a ½ oz to 1 oz shad style jig head and tie directly to your 30 to 40 mono leader. The leader does not need to be long, I recommend 6 ft of mono tied to the braid with a uni to uni or Albright knot connection.
Stand at the rail, preferably on the stern or at the one of the corners on the stern ready to drop your swim bait into the water when a fish is hooked on one of the trolling rods. As soon as you hear “hookup” or see one of the trolling rods bend form a hookup, drop your swim bait into the water in free spool to allow the swim bait to fall back as the boat comes to a sliding stop, hence the term, “fishing on the slide”. You’ll typically get bit before the boat comes to a stop. Since your reel is in free spool initially, you need to keep your thumb on the spool to prevent backlash when the tuna or yellowtail hits your swim bait. Simply flip into gear and “fish on”! You need to estimate the distance your swim bait is relative to the fish that has been hooked on the troll rod as the boat is sliding forward with the fish on while your swim bait has been dropped back. If you estimate your swim bait is at the point/distance where the troll fish is and you haven’t been bit, put your reel in gear and that will start the swimming action of the swim bait. If you don’t get bit by the time the boat comes to a stop, reel in your swim bait. You’ll frequently get bit as you’re retrieving the swim bait. Don’t let the swim bait “fall behind” the troll rod fish as that is out of the fish zone.
Casting for tuna, yellowtail and dorado: If the boat is targeting floating kelp as a means to finding fish, have a rod rigged with a Rude Baits swim bait instead of the typical iron jig. For this type of fishing, a quality saltwater spinning rod and reel can be used but it is still preferred that quality conventional casting tackle be used. For style of jig head, I like Kalin’s Ultimate Saltwater bullet jig heads 1 to 1.5 oz size. Whether casting swim baits or fishing on the slide, I prefer to use the 5” size of the following Rude Baits swim bait colors, listed in order of preference: Purple Passion; Mean Sardine, Salty Sardine; Smoke Dawg; Coastal Classic; Cherry Bomb; Kelp Krusher, and Aztec.

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