Our 4 and 5 inch aku lures have become a favorite with sailboat and handline fishermen over the years. Don't let their small size fool you. Medium sized tuna and mahi will often pounce on these lures as well! A 15 to 20 pound mahi is a lot of fun to catch and will make a lot of dinner portions.
Recently, while completing the Trans Pacific Yacht race from California to Hawaii, sailor Eric Morse took some time to try some fishing with our 100 foot handline rig and rigged aku lures. We spoke with Eric a few weeks before the race and asked about how fast they would be sailing while they were fishing. Since he mentioned they would be making about 7 to 8, we decided to run the weighted aku bullets. I also mentioned that this would be a good "maintanance free" lure, meaning that you could pretty much send it out without worrying to much about how it was tracking or running since it basically just follows the boat...
"I started fishing midway out from San Francisco. I caught this fish and several others using a 100 foot Hand Line with 5in. Green Top Aku Bullet. The idea is to have the lure behind the shadow of the mast. We did not have a net so I pulled the fish in by the leader with GLOVES on. Once on the boat I covered the head with a towel, this kept it calm until it was dead. I then filleted it right on deck, cut some up for sushi and cooked the rest for dinner".
Smaller lures are very effective in catching table fare sized fish and really opens up the fishing to a wider range of species. This can include larger fish as well. Just from looking at the stomach contents of some of the fish we catch here shows that even large fish will feed on small prey at times. Smaller baits in the ocean just don't swim as fast as larger ones do. If your boat speed is anywhere from 5 to 8 knots, that is a great speed to present a small bait that is really "on the move" or fleeing. This is one reason why most of our most effective sailboat lures are fitted with 4 to 6 inch skirts, the 5 inch skirt size being the most popular.
There is nothing wrong with having just one or two lures behind the boat. While sportfishing boats are often equipped to run lure spreads of 4 or more, one can still expect to do some great fishing with just one lure being towed behind the boat. A single piece of mahi like the one pictured can provide for a lot of fresh fish. So keep it simple and tangle free keeping only as many lines in the water as you feel comfortable towing. Running two lures is best done by keeping the two lures as far apart as possible (usually one on your port and starboard transon), and by staggering your spread. One lure can be 50 feet or so behind the boat while the other about 100 feet. If both lures are set back the same distance they will probably tangle while turning one way or the other.
Remember, it's always best after getting a strike to take your time getting the fish in. Keep the handline neatly in the boat as you bring it in and be mindful of where you are standing. Fish like mahi and ono can come up to the boat and leave a burst of energy for when they are boatside and within gaffing range. Although Eric leadered managed fine without one, you may want to have a small gaff aboard. You can make one with a large 12/0 to 14/0 trolling hook. One nice advantage to this homemade version is that the hook has a nice barb on it that may just help in keeping that dinner on the gaff.
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