Best For Bluefin: The Cape Cod Top 5 - The Fisherman

Best For Bluefin: The Cape Cod Top 5

The 10-inch Ron-Z threaded onto a Big Game Swing Hook Jighead has become a must-have tuna lure around the world.

Five lures that will boost your standup game when fishing ‘out east’.

Standup tuna fishing on Cape Cod presents its own, unique set of circumstances. For starters, the shearwaters are much more plentiful off the coast of Cape Cod than Block Island or Montauk.  These birds can be absolute pests for anglers throwing topwater, constantly attacking plugs splashing along the surface. For this reason, throwing a popper is almost out of the question. I have had a few experiences where the shearwaters were so full of sand eels, they didn’t even bother with our plugs, but you can’t count on that.

Typically, you want a subsurface lure that will swim deep enough to stay out of the birds’ reach. Castability also has to be a consideration, you want something you can launch with accuracy. The forage fish around Cape Cod are relatively large, consisting of large oceanic sand eels, butterfish, mackerel, and halfbeaks, so a relatively large profile is usually ideal. Ultimately, when piecing together your tackle box before a tuna trip off Cape Cod, you want to think “heavy” and “big”.

Massachusetts-made Siren Lures have cemented themselves as staple baits in the Northeast tuna scene and for a good reason, they catch fish. Photo courtesy of Siren Lures


With heavy, deep, and big in mind, the first lure that I think of is an absolute must-have in any tuna arsenal, anywhere in the world. Invented by the late Ron Poirier, The Ron-Z. These simple soft plastics are extremely versatile and they catch fish. They can be fished a number of different ways, including the simple, but effective dead stick. The Ron-Z “Big Game Series” swing-hook Jig head with an 8- or 10-inch rubber tail is my go-to. Obviously, white is a favorite color, along with pink, green and metallic.  When I throw the 8- or 10-inch tails, I usually pair them with a 2.75- or 4-ounce head. They also make a 5-ounce head with the swing hook. That swing hook is an absolute game changer. No more bent or broken hooks and the free swinging Gamakatsu 4/0 HD live bait hook is the stickiest hook in the game giving the angler maximum leverage, during battle. There really isn’t a “correct” way to fish a Ron-Z. It’s too versatile. I will have clients cast them at breaking fish, cast them blind and retrieve them with a slow/sweeping motion, while covering all parts of the water column. I also dead stick them, with incredible success. There is a reason the Ron-Z has been at the top of the game for such a long time. I don’t think any lure in my tackle box has caught more tuna off Cape Cod than the Ron-Z!

Don’t let the small stature of the Daiwa Salt-Pro Bullet fool you, this bait features thru-wire construction and, when refitted with BKK hooks and splits, it catches a lot of tuna, especially when they’re keyed in on sand eels.

Hogy Pro-Tail

While we’re on the topic of rubbers and plastics, I should also mention the Hogy Pro-Tail. Available from between 1 and 6.5 ounces, and 3.5 and 6.5 inches, these awesome paddletails are available in an assortment of colors; Bone, Blue Herring, Olive, Silver, and Ghost are the colors I have found to be the most effective. When the bluefin are keyed in on butterfish, this is usually what I have my clients throw. The profile is spot on, the tuna cannot resist the paddletail and the variety of sizes pretty much ensures there’s a perfect profile for every occasion. I usually stick with baits in the 2- to 5-ounce range with a 6.5-inch Pro-Tail for tuna. The stock hardware has proven that it can handle big fish. A steady retrieve gets the paddletail going and really gets the attention of the tuna. Cast them at breaking fish, cast them blind and don’t be scared to dead stick them, if need be. This lure has really grown on me, along with a lot of other tuna captains over the past few seasons. Even when the fish are on sand eels or halfbeaks, don’t hesitate to throw the Pro-Tail. Last season, there were a few days where the fish were super finicky and picky and wouldn’t touch a thing, except for a well-placed Hogy Pro-Tail.

Two From Siren

Now that we’ve covered the best of the “plastic” side of the game, let’s think heavy, deep and even sometimes, big: Siren Lures ( made by Jason Ward. The Siren Antidote and Deep Seductress are my favorites but everything this guy makes, catches tuna. Although, a bit pricey, these works of art are worth every penny. Jason makes the lures out of resin, they look amazing and are perfectly balanced, which is the key to their effectiveness. Prior to 2010, tuna fishing with a spinning rod was in its infancy here in the Northeast and there weren’t many lures that could stand up to the abuse or even get attention from a tuna. There were some baits coming in from Japan, but they were nearly impossible get and cost around $200 each!  Jason saw the need and set his mind to filling the void and his work is second to none. Also, being from Massachusetts and building the lures here in the USA makes them extra special and they are specifically designed for Cape Cod.

My go-to Sirens are the Antidote 130s and Deep Seductress 185s. First, let’s talk about the Antidote 130. At 130 mm (5.11 inches) long and 90 grams (3.2 ounces), the Antidote sinks very fast, while maintaining a horizontal position to keep you further from the birds and closer to the fish. This is why Sirens fish so well around Cape Cod, plain and simple. Also, the sexy, sinking, sweeping action doesn’t hurt either. Instead of covering the whole water column with the weighted plastics, Sirens are usually fished only in the top half of the water column. Make sure the fish aren’t pinned on the bottom. I will have my clients cast them at breaking fish, under birds, and blind with a slow, but steady retrieve along with a sweeping motion. I rig these with 4/0 BKK Lone Diablo inline single hooks with a #7 or #8 BKK split ring on both the belly and tail of lure. My favorite colors are Pina Colada, Anchovy, Sand Eel, Butterfish, and Midnight Halfbeak. But all of the colors are good and they all have their place. This lure was HOT in 2022.

Next from the Siren lineup is the Deep Seductress 185. At 185 mm (7.25 inches) and 145 grams (5.1 ounces), labeled “very fast sinking”, it’s the heaviest and fastest sinking resin lure from the siren lineup. Ideal for when both the halfbeaks and shearwaters are thick, this lure sinks extremely fast and stays horizontal to keep you deep, while maintaining a natural presentation. This is why nothing out-fishes the Sirens when the tuna are on halfbeaks. When rigging the Deep Seductress I will use a BKK Viper 41 belly hook on a #8 or #9 BKK split ring and BKK Lone Diablo 7/0 inline single Hook on the rear.  Fish these the same way you would fish the Antidote. Cast them, along with a steady sweeping retrieve. Fish these when the shearwaters are being pests and the halfbeaks are thick.

Shown here are a couple Daiwa Salt-Pro Bullets rigged for tuna, a Hogy Pro Tail and a 10-inch Ron-Z rigged on a 2-3/4-ounce Big Game Swing Hook Jighead.

Salt-Pro Bullet

The last lure I am going to mention is a personal favorite and maybe the “dark horse” lure for targeting bluefin on the Cape: the Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow Bullet. When the fish are picky on sand eels, which they will be at some point during the season, I will give the Daiwa Bullet minnow some love. If this lure doesn’t get them to bite, nothing will. Its full-thru-wire construction means it’s up to the task when battling the mighty bluefin tuna. I fish the 2-1/8-ounce, 6-inch fast-sinking Bullet and my top colors are Chrome, Laser Shiner, Laser Sardine, Laser Green Shiner, and Bone. When rigging and upgrading my terminal tackle on these baits I use BKK #6 split rings and swap out the stock hooks for BKK Lone Diablo 4/0 Inline single hooks. I also fish these with VMC 4X trebles, without the action being affected. These are stick baits so fish them with a steady to fast retrieve with either no tip action or an erratic twitching action. These lures fly under the radar in the tuna game, but don’t let that fool you as I’ve seen these lures out-produce everything else in the box, especially when the sand eels were thick. Keep an eye on this lure in the coming years.

That’s my top five, but don’t be fooled, there are many more lures that will get bites “out east”. The jig and pop tuna game has come a long way over the past decade, the innovations in lures, tackle and gear have been mind-blowing and it’s only getting cooler and more intense. I can’t wait to see how this fishery evolves in the coming years!



Inshore Tuna: South Jersey Checklist

Put these 7 hot, midrange spots in your pocket for the season ahead!


Offshore: Nearer Shore Yellowfin

Diversify your options this month, and hopefully closer to port.


“Jiggy-Pop” Late Summer Tuna Essentials