Bluefin Tuna Teaches Leader Mechanics

Discussion in 'Jigging and Popping' started by pametfisher, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    A few months ago I caught a Bluefin that ran about 69" and a couple hundred pounds. I had fought the fish for about half an hour. I released the fish but later examined the leader which was about 10' long. At about the 8 1/2 foot point, the leader was worn about halfway through; a 100# mono leader had become a 50# leader. How the leader had worn at a point that was a foot and a half behind the fish was a simple mystery. The leader must have been wrapped around the fish at some point during the fight.

    A couple days ago I caught and harvested a 58" fish (photos below). I took some pictures of the fish to record it but learned something about how leaders wrap around fish as I studied the pictures.

    As background to understanding the photos: I put the lure in the right corner of the fish's mouth for the photo op., it had been on the left side during the fight. The leader in the photo was just draped there for the shot and is not intended to imply where it was during the fight.

    From the photos you can see that this fish ran over the leader as it took its first long run. Then the leader got trapped by the Ventral fin, Pectoral fin and at times on the Anal fin. I've labeled some of the larger marks the leader made on the fish: L1, L2 and L3.

    L1 and L2 were most likely made during the fish's first couple of long runs. You can see in Photos 1 & 2 that L1's position is influenced by the Anal fin. Because L1 and L2 are fairly far back, as the fish swam hard the leader must have been shaken back and forth putting extra stress on the connections. (There may even be a mark behind L1.) We all know it's easier to break a line if you jerk it. A spliced leader connection gives extra margin against breaking in this situation.

    In Photos 3 & 4 you can see an array of lines emanating from the Ventral fin. In photo 4, L3 appears to be a pair of lines that were made with the line hung on both the Ventral fin and the Pectoral fin. So at the time I was palming the spool, to add extra drag and lift the fish, my leader was hung up on those bony fin protrusions.

    I haven't included a diagram of this but the laws of physics suggest that if you hook a fish in the left corner of the mouth, as it swims away from you it will veer slightly to the right to keep swimming forces in balance. That makes it likely that the leader will cross under the fish, as it did in this case. As the leader crosses under the fish, it will be hit by the Caudal (tail) fin and then the Anal fin.

    By the time I got the fish within gaff range, the leader had released clear of all the fins, which means it dragged against them at least once at maximum pressure.

    My last thought from these photos is that leaders should be the length of the fish PLUS the girth of the fish plus a margin of a foot or so. That means a 10' leader (120") is good for a fish to 80" or 90". I also use a 12' pre-leader made from double-shielded 80# hollow-weave braid in case the 10' casting leader isn't long enough.

    PF
     

    Attached Files:

  2. semipro

    semipro Senior Member

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    Beatiful pictures,Did you catch the fish with Penn reels?
     

  3. chf1949

    chf1949 Senior Member

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    From the looks of the lines L3 it appears they go up to the top of the fish, but not across the top back. That would make me believe that at some point the fish was actually VERTICAL during that portion of the fight.
     
  4. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    Beatiful pictures,Did you catch the fish with Penn reels?

    Thanks. The fish was caught on a Stella 20000FA, although many have been caught on the Penn 950 SSM which has a good 16-18 lb., bottom of spool drag. The equipment list for this fish was OTI 40/60 Tuna Sniper, 20000FA, 60# JB hollow, 100# Jinkai Streamline leader, Shibuki. Initial drag was 18#, longest run about 100 yards, peak drag est. 25 lbs.

    From the looks of the lines L3 it appears they go up to the top of the fish, but not across the top back. That would make me believe that at some point the fish was actually VERTICAL during that portion of the fight.

    My guess is that the L3 lines came when the fish was circling directly below the boat. At that point I was pulling straight up with the spool stopped by palming. Without seeing the pictures, I would not have guessed that the line, at that point, went from the left of the fish, down, under and past the Ventral fin, up and past the Pectoral fin, etc. At some point, the fish rolled since when I gaffed it, the line was no longer wrapped.
     
  5. John_Madison CT

    John_Madison CT Senior Member

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    Roger: Threads like this one are what make 360Tuna.com the most informative and interesting Tuna fishing website on the internet. Great work !

    After inspecting my smaller tuna leader from last Friday (~46") I too noticed that it was chaffed much further down the line than I thought possible. I did an initial inspection within a few feet of my lure and found it fine and only noticed the serious chafe later on by dump luck.

    I'll soon be ordering some additional Pametfisher leaders from you, but will probably ask for custom lengths of 12'.

    John
     
  6. SteelingHeads

    SteelingHeads Senior Member

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    Great pics and write up Roger! Informative as always!
     
  7. DenisB

    DenisB Senior Member

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    Observation of Thousands of commercially & recreationally line caught tuna have led me to the following conclusions;-

    BTW.......in the following 'pelvic' = what is identified above as 'ventral'.

    The pectoral and pelvic fins are by far the most common "hang up" points for the line and this usually comes immediately following the 'strike' as the fish violently rotates vertically & dives , followed by flattening out its swimming orientation.

    how long the line remains 'hung up' there depends entirely on the subsequent swimming orientation of the fish relative to the "angler".
    - left or right depending on which fin on which side of the fish the line is 'hung up'.
    - after the initial panic runs following the strike the fish does tend to oppose the direction of pull from the line and 'hang ups' tend to stay 'hung up' for significant periods.

    The line marks fanning out from the pelvic fin ( L2 & adjacent marks ) are extremely common

    L3 is extremely uncommon with tuna ( but more common with sharks ).

    line trapped behind the anal fin and/or tailwrapped are fairly uncommon and seem to be caused when a run is stopped with the fish pointing directly away from the angler and for some reason, in confusion, the fish pauses momentarily virtually dead in the water with tail flapping violently before turning to the side to relieve the pressure and swimming forward again.

    Interestingly ( from market observations of longline caught fish ) the predominant side with line marks is different for fish caught in the northern hemisphere Vs southern hemisphere.............indicating that the circling direction preference of fish is different in the different hemispheres.

    A similar observation is noted for preferred swimming direction of live bait in tanks.
     
  8. Capt. Dom

    Capt. Dom Site Sponsor

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    Awesome post Denis, can tell you have been around some fish.

    Thankfully tuna have very streamlined, "soft" exteriors, as a good majority of our fish year in and year out have those line marks all over them. It is as Denis described perfectly, the natural movements of the fish in relation to where the leader rubs is pretty standard, with the anal fins and tail wraps being the least common. Trust me when I tell you just about every tuna you hook is gonna get that line draped over a fin during the fight, and sometimes its only briefly while sometimes they stay that way until you tire them boatside, and they change rotation due to the line impeding their progress, and they turn the opposite way relieving the line from the wrap most times.

    Anuvat hooked a 75" fish on my boat last year that got all wrapped up in the line, actually had 3 or 4 wraps around its tail in the mono, and a good ammount of braid tangled in with it. I was on the rod when it got wrapped, and it stopped dead in the water out of confusion then went ape chit and got himslef hog tied. Only reason we landed it in such a short time(under 15 minutes)


    We have fought and landed over 100 tuna this season already on my boat, and a good majority of them on my or now Pametfishers wind on leaders. Roger and I discussed in depth the length issues with casting vs. chafe defense against larger fish and the tail getting into the mainline. I have found that his 10 foot leader works perfect with the OTI Tuna Sniper as is, but when I put it on a 7 foot rod I trim a good 10-13 inches or so depending on how it lines up on the spool. You want only braid on the spool, and less than 1 wrap of the mono within the wall, no more. This has been a perfect medium between casting distance and keeping the tails of the high 60 inch class out of the mainline. I tried shorter and longer...much longer, and they dont get it done the way it should be.
     
  9. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    Awesome post Denis, can tell you have been around some fish.

    Thankfully tuna have very streamlined, "soft" exteriors, as a good majority of our fish year in and year out have those line marks all over them. It is as Denis described perfectly, the natural movements of the fish in relation to where the leader rubs is pretty standard, with the anal fins and tail wraps being the least common. Trust me when I tell you just about every tuna you hook is gonna get that line draped over a fin during the fight, and sometimes its only briefly while sometimes they stay that way until you tire them boatside, and they change rotation due to the line impeding their progress, and they turn the opposite way relieving the line from the wrap most times.

    Anuvat hooked a 75" fish on my boat last year that got all wrapped up in the line, actually had 3 or 4 wraps around its tail in the mono, and a good ammount of braid tangled in with it. I was on the rod when it got wrapped, and it stopped dead in the water out of confusion then went ape chit and got himslef hog tied. Only reason we landed it in such a short time(under 15 minutes)


    We have fought and landed over 100 tuna this season already on my boat, and a good majority of them on my or now Pametfishers wind on leaders. Roger and I discussed in depth the length issues with casting vs. chafe defense against larger fish and the tail getting into the mainline. I have found that his 10 foot leader works perfect with the OTI Tuna Sniper as is, but when I put it on a 7 foot rod I trim a good 10-13 inches or so depending on how it lines up on the spool. You want only braid on the spool, and less than 1 wrap of the mono within the wall, no more. This has been a perfect medium between casting distance and keeping the tails of the high 60 inch class out of the mainline. I tried shorter and longer...much longer, and they dont get it done the way it should be.

    Thanks Dom (and DenisB for your comments too). When I put this post together I was thinking about three things:

    1. After hearing many times that leaders needed to be at least as long as the fish, I could see that they needed to be that long, plus one time around the fish plus a margin.

    2. After catching a fish, you need to examine the leader from end to end, not just near the tackle end.

    3. Once the tail starts whacking the leader, there is a lot more stress on the connection. The tail beats (especially if unluckily wrapped), can jerk the connection. This is where a spliced leader has a big advantage over most knots since it is about 40% stronger.

    You comment on Anuvat's fish is interesting re: my third point. I think that it is likely that many break-offs occur when a fish gets tail-wrapped in a knotted leader. There is a stress concentration point in the braid's knot that the jerking of a fully wrapped tail could break.

    And thanks for your comments and help with leader length choices.
    PF
     
  10. aassdfg

    aassdfg Guest

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  11. DoubleA

    DoubleA Senior Member

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    yea, now my post doesnt really make sense. this is a great thread though, i really enjoyed it the first time around.
     
  12. levi

    levi Senior Member

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    How do you build your 12' preleader?

    thank you ,
    DL
     
  13. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    How do you build your 12' preleader?

    thank you ,
    DL

    Hey DL, You're the first to ask.

    I start with 20' of hollow 80# braid and splice a regular end-loop in one end. This is the end that I loop-to-loop connect to the mainline.

    Then I take the other end and make the first splice of the end loop 6' long (meaning I insert the splicing wire for 6' and turn that 6' section inside-out on itself). I finish by splicing a one foot tag into the mainline as usual. This gives me 6' of splice covering 6' of mainline on the end near the leader.

    In this design, all of the 80# line near the leader is carrying half tension or less. In effect, it makes it better than using 160# spectra. The reason that it's a bit better than 160# line is that the load get transferred to the inner layer of the long splice in the first few inches. After that, the outer splice is like a sheath with little tension. The inner line is carry the load, protected by the outer splice.

    PF