With reports of Bluefin, Yellowfin, and Blackfin Tuna along with some scattered Wahoo showing up off the Outer Banks, it won't be long before the Spring Offshore season is in high gear. Now is the time to get all your gear ready to go. Take time to make a check list of items to give a good once over. From scheduled boat maintenance, safety equipment checks, trailer inspections, rod and reel maintenance, GPS updates, fishing regulation changes, licenses, and the never ending bucket of last seasons lures, rigs, and spreader bars. With all of these things taken care of and maintained, you and your buddies can concentrate on catching more and bigger fish!
Many of us use spreader bars on a regular basis while hunting down tuna. Here I'll cover some things to look for to make sure your bars are ready for tuna like this!
The Line: Just as you replace line on your reels, you should maintain the mono on your spreader bars. Check to make sure the mono isn't chalky or milky looking. This is caused by exposure to extensive sunlight or over stretching from that last 70 pound Yellowfin that was tugging on it last Fall. Run your fingers down the mono to ensure there are no cuts or abrasions that can increase the chance of breaking at the worst possible moment. As a rule, I re-line all bars at least once each year, sometimes more if they've received extreme fish abuse.
The Bar: Inspect the bar for corrosion, especially around the swivels. Some minimal corrosion can be removed with WD-40. The Mini Bar and Tiki Bar are both rigged so the main line is not dependent on the swivel for holding on to the fish, but any corrosion can cause the outer strands to not run correctly. If the swivels are hard to turn, its better to replace the bar completely. Also make sure the bar isn't bent out of shape. This can cause the bar to "tail-walk" over the water, spooking fish instead of raising them.
The Hook: Check the hook for excessive rust, especially around the eye. Rust around the point can be sharpened off. After sharpening, use a permanent marker to color over the newly sharpened area. This helps prevent oxidation of the metal. I like to use a red marker...looks like a touch of blood. If there is a lot of rust, replace the hook. I like Mustad hooks, either 7731 or 7691. I also prefer to use hooks that have welded eyes. This helps prevent separation at the eye. I also like to use only non-stainless steel hooks. These will rust out faster if there should be a premature separation between you and the fish.
The Snap Swivel: Again, check the snap swivel for rust and corrosion. Make sure the barrel turns freely and the snap doesn't show any signs of fatigue. This is a crucial point of the spreader bar. Use snaps that are equal or greater to the mono's breaking strength. I prefer coast lock snap swivels, either with barrel swivels or ball bearing swivels.
The Floats: Inspect the floats to make sure they aren't cracked, broken, or missing. These help keep the bars splashing on the surface while running, keep the squids' shape, and also keep the bars in play on the surface while fighting fish on other rigs.
The Squids: Make sure the teaser squids or skirts are in good shape. Look for teeth marks on the teaser strands and missing sections of skirts on the tail ends of the squids. These may seem like minimal damages, but the slightest difference in the squids can cause the bars to be out of balance and therefore not run correctly. If the squids/skirts look faded, replacing is not the only answer. Taking a page from Canyon Runner Sportfishing, spray them with Pledge. That's right, furniture polish. This will bring the color back to squids and skirts, making them look good as new. If you decide to replace all the squids, make sure to balance out the bar. Just because all the squids come out of the same package, they are not all equal. Some may be thicker than others. Distribute the weight evenly on the bar.
Hopefully these tips will help eliminate some worries as you prepare for the upcoming Offshore season. Don't be caught offshore with equipment you "think" will be okay. When you're hooked up to the fish of a life time, you want to be thinking, "How are we going to get that thing in the boat?" and not, "I wish I would have re-rigged that bar!"
Get Reel Lure, Co does offer a Re-Rigging Service for Mini Bars, Tiki Bars and Conga Lines. Basic re-rigging includes brand new spreader bar, completley re-strung with Momoi's Leader material, new snap swivels, new floats, and new Mustad hook and rigging spring. Squids and Shooters will be inspected and if damaged will be replaced and charged accordingly.
Conga Line: $8.00/rig
Mini Bar: $15.00/bar
Tiki Bar: $20.00/bar
Contact me at email@example.com or (757)576-4013 for rigging questions or for GRL Re-Rigging Service.
Get Out There and Catch 'em Up!!