Spreader bars create the illusion of terrified bait schooling for protection near the surface, luring predators up from the depths. They come in different varieties, shapes and colors employing shell squids, hard plastic lures, jet heads, rubber ballyhoo, bird “splash” bars and more. Bars are typically fabricated from stainless steel or titanium and measure from 30 to 48 inches in width, using three to five chains of teasers, with the last lure in the center chain lagging back from the pack, looking like easy prey — but this one has the hook in it. On your next trip offshore, bring some bars along. These four tips will get you into the game.
1. The More the Merrier
If one spreader bar looks like a pod of terrified baitfish, four to six bars in close proximity look like a mini migration. The more commotion you make on the surface, the more likely you will bring up tuna and other predators from the thermocline down below.
2. Dredge the Depths
Spreader bars are an offshoot of the umbrella rigs, and dredges are next-generation spreader bars. Dredges take the multiple teaser concept to the max, featuring four to six arms rigged with strings of squids or Mylar ballyhoo on each branch. A heavy weight or drail keeps these under the surface at 4 to 6 knots.
3. Hang ‘Em High
Outriggers are the ideal launching points for spreader bars, since the higher angle helps keep the bars from plowing into the waves. Use the strongest rigger clips that you can (I like Rupp Nok-Outs and Aftco Roller-Trollers) to keep max tension in rough seas but still allow a smooth release after the strike.
4. Magic Carpet
Ride The secret weapon for tournament anglers is a “carpet” or “meatball” bar that employs twice as many squids (25 to 30) as the “normal” bar that uses 15 (2-3-5-3-2) on its five branches. These are more challenging to deploy and require a separate leader man and gaffer to control a frenzied tuna at boatside, but the results can be extremely rewarding.