If you had just one bait or lure to fish with for the rest of your career, what would it be?
If I had to choose one lure to fish with, it would be the Marlin Magic Ruckus. It’s not only because it’s made by Marlin Magic Lures, but I do honestly think it gives me an advantage over other lures for blue marlin fishing worldwide, not just here in Hawaii. The lure is great for the short rigger or long corner positions, rigged with a single 11/0 Dozer hook. I have been involved in countless tournament wins in the last 40 years using the Ruckus in my blue marlin spread.
Having fished Costa Rica for over 20 years, I’ve tried a lot of different lures, teasers and dredges. But if I had to choose only one teaser (since we don’t pull lures), it would be the same one that’s been on my left rigger for 15 years: the Pakula Lumo Sprocket with a green-tinted head and pink-and-white underskirt. It has consistently raised more sails than anything else I’ve pulled, and when the marlin show up in our spread, probably seven out of 10 come on that teaser first. I’ve been pulling it for so long, my mates have named it the Dana-kula.
My choice would be a medium to large ballyhoo with a small soft chugger in front. I like the chugger heads from Squidnation and Fathom in various colors. In Puerto Rico, we have blue marlin of all sizes, but the normal size is around 100 to 300 pounds. The ballyhoo/chugger combination works great for these fish, with a 9/0 circle hook and 130-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. This bait also draws bites from other billfish, dorado and tuna. If a bigger blue marlin shows up in the spread, a horse ballyhoo/chugger with a 10/0 circle hook and 200- to 250-pound fluorocarbon leader gets the nod. There’s always one of those ready as a pitch bait.
My pick for the best all-around lure would definitely be the Ilander. In my opinion, it is one of the most versatile lures out there: You can catch marlin, sailfish, mahimahi, wahoo, kingfish, tunas and more. The lure can also be fished with or without bait — it works well with strips or ballyhoo. My favorite way to pull an Ilander is to use it when high-speed trolling for wahoo without any bait and behind a heavy cigar weight. Whether you’re pulling it at 4 knots or 15 knots, the Ilander seems to do it all.