Be it Trevally, Billfish, Mackeral or any of the Tuna species, one thing is sure - it is the pinnacle of visual lure fishing! Many designs have come and gone through the past decade where surface bluewater casting has developed into an obsession in itself. Anglers have learnt, encountered, worked with just about every incarnation of the topwater plug as they cover the globe in search of bigger, better and more hungry fish to catch.
Every once in awhile though, a radical design takes the traditionalists by the neck and forces them into submission. This is one such.
The SPP was a lure launched a good five years ago. It aimed to replicate a slow-moving stunned baitfish and worked miracles in highly-fished locales where truly good lures shone. It had a vertically oriented cup but it wasn't for displacing large amounts of water in big chugs like most poppers. It was designed to swim with a straight retrieve and that vertical cup aided in its side to side sway, much like a lazy unassuming baitfish.
It moved to become a favourite for many and could be able to be used in different fashions, fast and slow, hard and soft. It was truly versatile. One downside would be its large bouyant frame which tend to be pushed wide when a fish hits it with great speed. Another would be its mediocre castability, also due to its large body.
Last year this lure evolved into something even more devastating.
Radically downsized to serve its purpose as a dedicated Tuna lure, it wasn't just a size tweak. In fact, it was created from scratch to mirror the properties of the original SPP, and more. The results, as we have learnt after a few tests, are nothing short of amazing.
All the shortcomings were addressed accordingly, needless to say. It it now a rocket to cast, is made to sink for added versatility, and is shaped to be sucked in by unsuspecting predators. To get a better understanding of this design we first have to dwell into the habits of the finicky Tuna fish. Tuna in general, and all its subspecies, are known to distinctly be fixated to the natural foodsource available. This makes it very frustrating for anglers chasing these fussy fish as a lure half an inch bigger than the fry they feed on are notoriously ignored, even though they may be busting through surface schools in their thousands. One might argue that many a Yellowfin fall for big poppers or the like occasionally when in a frenzied state but this is more the exception than the norm.
Tuna-crazy anglers then found that they had no choice but to downsize their lures but it made them extremely difficult to cast with the heavy outfits needed to stand a chance of subduing a decent fish. An industry was thus created around the Tuna and annually many an angler would hit the different hot spots around the world in search of the holy-grail in surface bluewater fishing. Today, there are specialty rods that are able to cast lighter, smaller lures yet have the power to land behemoths. Lures have shrunk but are cleverly weighted to facilitate long casts towards busting schools out wide. They have also been created to float, sink, swim or dart convincingly enough to fool these fish that have great eyesight. Needless to say the colours and finishes on these contraptions only serve to astound anglers.
FCL Labo creator Yoshitaka Tsurusaki certainly likes his Tuna fishing, and this lure is one created to feed the passion. At first glance it is easily recognisable as an SPP, the shape and proportions serve to tell you that. It is small, but in your hands you instantly notice its weight. Not thoroughly heavy at about 120gm but packed in a small package it sure packs a casting punch quite literally. The size, according to its designer fits the bill for large Bluefin Tuna feeding on Scads, Shads or Menhaden depending on which ocean you are in.
Like its big brother, the SPP Tuna has that same shimey vibe when pulled through water. It doesn't sink overly quick, with hooks and the drag of the line it drops just nicely. Made to be fished with a straight retrieve it can also be swept with long strokes to portray a more panic-striken prey. For us in the tropics, most Tunas are a distant dream given our climatic location but this lure serves to be a refreshing new approach for the species we go after.
There are few schools of thought towards surface fishing. For GTs many feel the bigger the better. Large presence, greater pushing of water and thunderous vibrations sent out can only turn on the biggest baddest GT on the reef. This theory is time-proven has helped many a budding angler achieve their goal of landing the big one. However, as more fish are caught and released and more spots are hammered with time, a second, more subtle approach has surfaced within certain communities. How about not trying to trigger the aggressive fish into hitting, but instead try best to mimic the natural foodsource to snag even the most highly-suspicious fish?
Our regional forays do not see us in remote, virgin grounds often. Some if not most are well-fished and even if caught and released, see fishes smarten up towards tried and true methods. The thinking angler is always on his feet and so it is natural to deduce that size does matter when it comes down to even the apex predator on the reefs. With new developments in lures like the SPP Tuna, we have been able to test the theory with surprising results. Catch rates are on the up, fishes noticeably hit the lures with more confidence instead of sometimes just having exploratory lunges. All in all, these lures just catch more fish off guard.
That fantastic castability comes into its own in locations like the Maldives where distance is key, and they load up a medium GT popping rod well. It has a natural high-flash holographic finish which, coupled with the demure size looks extremely life-like in the water. The compact shape lends to positive hook-ups every time as fish don't miss and when armed even with single hooks tend to have an extremely high conversion rate. They are effortless to work, from slow cranks to twitches to hard sweeps, and drain little away from the angler. That last point is not to be underestimated, especially on week-long trips.
In all, we are glad the game is ever changing and has brought new and exciting approaches. It is afterall the observing, learning, tweaking and applying that consumes every good fisherman as he embarks on every new journey. It is why we'll be on this quest for a long time to come.
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