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Home » Fishing-Tips-Techniques » Inshore-Fishing » Flat Shad Tuna


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By Joe Cormack

Longtail tuna, being the fickle beasts they are, will undo the best laid plans.

When dreams the night before of huge schools of tuna busting up across acres of flat calm water, smashing every stickbait you throw become a distant after thought - another approach is required. When the top water action simply does not materialise, changing to Plan B is the only option. After all you don't want to go home with the dreaded donut.

It's now time to put the Venom Stick Bait Rods down and grab the 20-50lb Venom spin rod and start working deeper.

Generally I will run a 15-50lb Venom spin stick loaded with 30lb braid and 40lb fluorocarbon leader finished off with 3.5" Zerek Flat Shad.

Flathead lures for tuna I hear you ask? Well yes, the action on these plastics seems to drive the tuna crazy no matter how you work it. The body roll screams eat me and the tuna thankfully are more than willing to oblige. We remove the standard worm hook from the Flat Shad and run a 3/0 Mustad Darter Jighead of varying weights dependent on how we're fishing and the amount of current.

It's now time to make use of the amazing depth sounders we have the pleasure of using and find some bait schools and tuna to play with. Once the bait and tuna are located we have a few ways to fish for tuna deeper then we normally would.

Semi Blind Casting

It's not really blind casting as we've already found bait and fish, hence we're targeting a specific area. Setup a drift so you drift over the bait, cast well in front of the boat allow the lure to sink to the depth you sounded the bait and tuna and simply slow roll it back making sure you're holding onto the rod.

How slow is the key here. You really cannot go slowly enough. The Flat Shad will kick its tail and body roll right down to 1.5km/h. The slower you go the more time it's in the tuna's face asking to be eaten!

Varying the jighead weights from around 3/8oz to 1/2oz should cover most situations. You can mix the slow roll up with some pauses and twitches if required, but often just the simple slow roll will do the trick. This is quite an exciting way of fishing and the sheer shock factor of a big tuna crash tackling your plastic on the retrieve never gets old.

Sound and Drop

This method requires more patience. You're going to need to sound around more and find some solid deep schools of tuna. It will work on solo fish just as well as school fish, just the odds are more in your favour with higher numbers of fish.

The idea is to position the boat directly above a deep school and feed the Flat Shad on a 1/2oz jighead directly to the fish. We generally try to drop the Flat Shad so it runs through the sonar cone so we can see it going down all the way to the fish. Once your lure is in the fish's face it's just a matter of twitching the rod tiny amounts. By tiny I mean you are moving the rod tip no more than a couple of centimetres. The bite that will soon follow is very different from your normal aggressive tuna take. The rod will slowly load up and once the fish realises it's made the mistake of falling for the Flat Shad, it will then tear off at a million miles an hour in a more traditional tuna way!

Options Open Up

Keep your eyes open while fishing plastics for tuna as they're fickle enough to start busting up within casting range at any time. The great news here is the Flat Shad works great casting into schools as well.

So if you are lucky enough to have a school pop up nearby wind up and cast straight into the action and hang on.

Hopefully there's something here to help turn a few of those days where the longtails do a no show into action packed days. I know the Flat Shads have saved us quite a few days this past season. Give them a try, you will be surprised at just how effective a flathead sized lure can be for catching tuna!

 

 

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