Tuna are known for blistering runs, brute strength, and lengthy battles as well as for breaking, straightening, and pulling hooks. So which is the best tuna trolling hook on the ocean? I put three top tuna hooks through a workout. I checked them for initial sharpness, then checked their wear and tear after pulling them through the brine. The next time you start rigging up ballyhoo for tuna fishing, remember how I rated each on a scale of 1 to 10. -Jon Meade
Jobu Trolling Hook
Finish: Slick anti-rust black Price: $15/2-pack
Point: Super sharp! Patented T-shape sports a needle point.
Claims: The point accelerates upon penetration, creating stronger and deeper hook sets. Super-heavy, XXX-hard, forged shank and welded eye mean broken or straightened hooks are nearly impossible.
Experience: These hooks scream high-quality. The finish kept rust at bay; the points kept their edge; and I could put the heat on tuna with these at the end of the line.
Eagle Claw Laser Sharp Titan
Finish: Sea Guard Anti Rust
Point: Sharp out of the box, but I still felt it necessary to hit it with a file.
Claims: Forged Steel is XX strong and has a welded eye.
Experience: Great hook with a good shape. The point curves up a bit more than I like in a trolling hook, but it gave a hook set strong enough to hold a 184-pound yellowfin tuna that won the tuna division of the Mid Atlantic 500,000.
Contact: www.eagleclaw.com Mustad 7692
Finish: Varied Price: $2.09 each
Point: Needed a file out of the box.
Claims: Three-stage, computer-controlled tempering makes it extra strong without making it brittle.
Experience: When it comes to trolling for tuna, I like the shape of this hook the best.
Siderigger $350 • www.siderigger.com It's rare when a meager four-line spread is good enough. If you can't add outriggers to your boat, a new alternative is the SideRigger. Each SideRigger incorporates two 316-grade stainless-steel rodholders welded to a base that fits in standard gunwale rodholders. Attached to the base is a 7'6" telescoping boom, with a single line for running a release clip.
The SideRigger works equally well when slow trolling live baits for kingfish or high- speed trolling for tuna, or as a means to keep an extra line off the hullside when chunking. I tested the SideRigger extensively this summer while offshore fishing on Boating's McKee Craft Express project boat, which wasn't equipped with outriggers. I was impressed at the SideRiggers performance in allowing us to run extra lines - at a fraction of the cost of a pair of conventional outriggers. - Rocky Calia
Fenwick Inshore Saltwater Rod $200 to $350 • www.fenwickfishing.com The specks were taking the soft plastic baits delicately, but I could feel every tap, slurp, and jiggle with the Fenwick Inshore Saltwater rod I was testing. I was slinging a 7'0" spinning rod, but 6'6" to 9'0" models designed for casting are also available. All models feature Fuji silicon carbide guides (which dissipate heat better than lesser guides) Corkalon grips, and Fuji reel seats.
These rods aren't cheap, but the price is in the pudding - the graphite composite blank transmitted strikes right through to my hand, and sensitivity is at the top of the class. Bottom line? You'll enjoy fishing with the Fenwick Inshore Saltwater rods, and you'll miss fewer strikes. - L.R.
Basshole of the Year
"He dismissed the idea that continued massive catches would endanger the species. His reasoning, however, was far from reassuring: 'There are men fish and woman fish, and we usually catch the men fish. When we do catch woman fish, we don't use their eggs. They go back into the water.'"
This quote comes from commercial longliner Antonio Perez in the book Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish by G. Bruce Knecht ($24.95; Rodale, www.rodalestore.com) when speaking about the Patagonian toothfish - a species that is now severely depleted. The immature, unfertilized eggs he speaks of were flushed over the side of the factory longliner, along with the fish guts and waste.
This engrossing book details the Australian vessel Southern Supporter's month-long chase of the commercial fishing vessel Viarsa, after spotting it in Australian waters. Perez, who had previously been fined $100,000 for illegally poaching toothfish in French waters, was eventually acquitted. -L.R.