Rigging up

When Kim and Blake Fouquier leave the dock, they carry a small arsenal of rods and reels. Their basic tuna rigs include Tiagra 50W Shimano Two-Speed Lever Drag reels mounted on J & M Tackle custom rods.

Shimano is preferred over Penn because the pair thinks that Shimano’s drags are better.

J & M rods are built in Orange Beach, Ala. The Fouquiers were having “a lot of issues” with rod breakage before shifting to the custom rod builder.

“Their rods are so good for stand-up tackle. I’ve seen them almost bend in half and not break,” bragged Blake Fouquier.

Four of their rods are straight rods and one is a bent-butt rod. In a rod holder, straight rods stick up straight in the air. With the bent-butt rod a fish can be fought with its rod in the holder, or if they are used with a harness, they are a perfect fit. The cost per rod is $460.

All five rods have a Shimano Tiagra 50W reel mounted, costing in the vicinity of $480 each. The reels are spooled with 130-pound tested hollow core braided line top shot, with 50 pound test monofilament.

The end of the mono is inserted 5 feet into the braided line using a threading needle and then super glued in place. Essentially the reel is half filled with braided line and half filled with mono, with the braid being on the bottom. The advantage in this set-up is that braided line is much smaller in diameter than monofilament and the reel can hold more line, a decided advantage when fishing for big powerful reel-strippers.

Six feet of fluorocarbon leader is tied to the business end of the monofilament with a uni knot. It is all finished off with a 4/0 to 6/0 Frenzy circle hook that is tied to the leader, not snelled.

Blake Fouquier noted that the clearer the water is, the smaller the hook they will use. In dingy water, they will occasionally use hooks as large as 8/0 and sometimes dispense with the fluorocarbon leaders because the fish cannot see as well.

Besides the five basic tuna rigs, the Fouquiers keep a monster on board, a huge Shimano Tiagra 80W, mounted on a bent butt J & M rod. “We bought that after we got spooled three times on 50s the first season,” grinned Blake. The big capacity $4,500 beast is spooled with 250-pound test braid and 80-pound test monofilament.

About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.