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Tuna Spreader Bars

Updated on November 4, 2014

Spreader Bars for Offshore Fishing

Spreader bars are popular rigs used in offshore fishing for catching tuna, mahi mahi, billfish and other pelagic fish.

Tuna spreader bars are rigged with artificial squidoo, plastic ballyhoo, or other imitation baits.

Some anglers even rig these rigs as teasers, using ballyhoo, mullet, squid, or other natural baits.

The original tuna spreader bars were complex rigs for catching giant bluefin tuna off the coast of Canada and New England.

Tuna Spreader Bar Basics

Spreader bars have been around for many years but their popularity has grown tremendously in recent years. The original inventions were expensive versions used to catch giant tuna in the northeast USA. Today anglers have a wide selection of types, sizes and price ranges.

Locally, most spreader bars are rigged with 9-12 plastic squid. Anglers can buy the entire setup pre-rigged or assemble it from components. The are several variations. Some bars utilize all squid while others have a snap on the center daisy chain which accepts a lure. Green machines, tuna clones, ballyhoo rigs or other lures can go on the rig. This variation allows the angler to experiment with various baits and colors. Some anglers even run the spreader with no hook at all and prefer to run a lure just behind it, on a separate rod.

Techniques vary with the size and height of the boat and the type of bar. Smaller boats are limited in the number of spreaders and the distance they can run them from the stern. Most small boaters will run 1 or 2 off the stern and in some cases the short rigger. Larger boats can fish the spreader from the short rigger, tower or flat line. In general, the higher the rod's location on the boat, the farther back it can be fished in the spread.

Tuna often crash the spreader, slashing behind it. When this happens the anglers should vigorously jig the rod of the spreader or a daisy chain nearby. Jigging can yield remarkable results but the angler needs to hang on tight as tuna will return and grab the bait at full speed.

Artificial Squid for Spreader Bars and Daisy Chains

Artificial squid have been utilized for many years but their use has really mushroomed along the mid -Atlantic coast in the last decade. Squid can be rigged individually, in daisy chains, spreader bars and dredges. Some anglers use them strictly as a teaser but most are now rigged to catch fish.

One of the easiest and most productive rigs is the squid daisy chain. 4-7 squid are rigged on a leader with a snap at the rear. The squid can be rigged inline or can branch off from the main leader. Attached to the rear snap is a favorite lure, be it a rigged ballyhoo, green machine or other artificial lure.


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