Over the warmer months South Australia starts to see an increase in bigger fish activity. Species like yellowtail kingfish and southern bluefin tuna are arguably the most popular targets. With plenty of forums on the net, as well as magazines and discussions through fishing clubs and close fishing mates, we often find ourselves planning big lure purchases to cover the upcoming season.
There are trillions of lures out there; some seem identical but have different brands written across their backs, some have good terminals, some have poor terminals and some have no terminals at all. Then the common issue of price and quality comes into question. I often find myself thinking about what makes a good lure and what I should look for to cover our two most popular offshore species in kings and tuna.
Below is a list of some of my favourite lures for small to medium sized southern bluefin tuna and large yellowtail kingfish. I’ll also include a list of the terminals that require upgrading when you target big, angry fish like yellowtail kings.
One of the most obvious and important attributes we all want from a good lure is that the intended swimming action suits the target’s location, once tied correctly to your leader. There’s certainly no point in grabbing a lure that dives too deep or too shallow for the location and species. There’s also no point in grabbing a lure that dives to the right depth, but doesn’t swim correctly once used at the required speed.
Another important factor that needs to be ticked off is that the lure will withstand the amount of abuse it will go through. This includes the internal construction of the lure, the external attributes, such as weld eyes, split rings and trebles, as well as the bib and towing point. It’s really important that we think about all of these things seriously, as there’s absolutely no point in having loads of lures that you just don’t trust to do the job! True ‘lure junkies’ will know all about this…
Southern Bluefin Tuna
Southern bluefin tuna feed in a variety of depths, but the most popular way to target them in SA is by trolling skirted or hard-body lures. Based on experience and trial and error, the top three lures I would purchase for chasing tuna are the Live Target Spanish Mackerel, Rapala CDMAG18 and the Halco Laser Pro 190. All have worked extremely well for me in the past and they are always the first to be tied on.
Trolling for tuna requires a speed of about 7-10 knots and these guys all swim perfectly when connected to your leader correctly. Because of the tuna’s teeth, I tend to go for 150lb trace, and tying a knot with 150lb mono isn’t very easy. I use a couple of suitable alloy crimps and a Flemish eye in the leader through a barrel swivel; you will need a suitable split ring and a pair of pliers to change your lures over.
Not only do these three lures represent good value, they also last a long time if you know how to look after them. Tuna have small, razor-sharp teeth and they will smash most lures to pieces very quickly, particularly the cheap and nasty ones.
Kingfish are renowned for feeding on the surface and they would have to be one of the hardest fighting fish in our waters. Everyone wants to catch one, but catching one on a lure is something else! Surface strikes are absolutely brutal when a kingfish is involved. It will often smash the lure so hard that its body flies half out of the water on the strike. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like sight fishing; it’s one of the most spectacular elements to our sport. When I’m given the chance to throw a lure or a bait at a kingfish, I almost always go for a lure, purely based on what happens on the strike.
My top three kingfish surface lures are as follows – Smith Baby Runboh, Tackle House 145mm Feed Diving Wobbler and the Yo-Zuri 150F Sashimi Bull in CCDR colour. These lures are proven winners in kingfish circles and are used 90 per cent of the time whenever I get out chasing them. The Yo-Zuri and Tackle House lures require upgrading of split rings and trebles before use. I’m sure that the original hooks and rings will be fine in most cases, but as a rule of thumb in lure fishing I always upgrade to minimise any possible failures.
The Smith Baby Runbohs come without terminals and cost a pretty penny, but they certainly work well. Owner Hyper Wire split rings in size 9 and Owner ST66 trebles in size 3/0 are well suited to all three lures, but make sure you have a decent set of split ring pliers before you attempt to open any of them up. Always be careful when changing big trebles on your lures; accidental piercings happen a little to regularly these days. Shimano Brutus Steel split ring pliers will do the job and they are in the affordable bracket too.
Connecting a stickbait to your leader requires a loop knot. The Rapala loop knot is what I always use. A loop knot will enable the lure to swim with its designed action. Most stickbaits or sub-surface lures can be worked using a side-to-side sweep of the rod tip during the retrieve. This action often makes the lure dart around and can be irresistible to a bunch of hungry kings.
Connecting a popper to your leader is often done via a locked blood or uni knot. The blood knot ensures that the lure will track straight, which is what a surface popper is designed to do. The Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull is an absolute ripper of a lure, as it throws loads of water when worked correctly and gets smashed more often than any other popper I’ve seen. Tip: Avoid using split rings and barrel swivels as part of the towing point. Both can be a potential liability that don’t need to be there.
The lures and terminals mentioned above will not just help you catch southern bluefin tuna and yellowtail kingfish, they will also allow you to continue saving for the property you wanted to buy before you turn 30. Lure obsessions can get very expensive, very quickly. I only wish that I had been privy to this sort of info’ before I began lure purchasing. No doubt I would have had several house deposits by now!