Sight casting for TripleTail may possibly be one of the most exciting angling experiences on the water.
Many of us have seen TripleTail, but simply didn’t know what it was when we motored right by the fish and spooked it, or thought it was trash floating beneath the surface.
The best way to describe what to look for when watching for a TripleTail is seeking out a brown paper bag floating an inch or two beneath the ocean surface. As you approach, it will appear to be an old ugly, brown dead fish with three tails floating out to sea with the tide. Not the case.
If you motor up too close, the fish will bolt to the bottom leaving a hole in the water the size of a #4 wash tub if he is a good sized one.
TripleTail range from 1 – 30 pounds and their table quality is out of this world. They are one of my favorite fish to serve up on the table right after you fillet it out.
Sunlight & Sighting Triple Tail
If you decide to do some serious TripleTail Angling, you should be aware of several key factors. Sunlight, as simple as it may sound, plays a major role in spotting these fish as targets for sight casting.
As High Noon approaches during late April through August, you should be idling away from the dock wearing your favorite pair of polarized glasses.
The High Noon light allows you to see more than just one direction when you are in search of TripleTail. Glare is your enemy with this sport as it hinders ALL subsurface vision, and most of the time, those fish are just below the surface with no backs out of the water. Now and then you’ll see a TripleTail with its back up an inch or so, but the norm will be sub surface.
A word on Bait and Flies for Triple Tail
As a light tackle spinning enthusiast, I personally prefer a live shrimp over any method there is. I mean, hey, what doesn’t eat a live shrimp in the Ocean? These fish love a big; thumping live shrimp presented right to its face.
A close friend of mine, Capt. Greg Smith, has had many years of success on TripleTail using a small fillet of menhaden with a small portion of the tail still attached. It should sort of look like a strip bait with a tail. Let me correct myself. It should look exactly like a strip bait with a tail.
Another close friend of mine, Capt. Ed Stelle is a professional fly fisherman to say the least. He has caught more fish on flies than most people have caught on conventional tackle. He suggests that a fly angler be extremely cautious in the presentation and work the fly extremely slow in front of the fish to avoid a “No Take” resulting in a recast(s), and possibly spooking the fish.
For the fly fishing angler, we suggest building your fly to imitate a shrimp and maybe even use a crab pattern. A green and white streamer works the best, though. Of course, any pattern you choose will need to be prepared with floating line.
On light wind days, a 6 or 7 weight rod will work fine. When the wind picks up as it always does in the afternoon, a 7 or 8 weight rod will get the fly into position a bit easier.
The Light Tackle Triple Tail Rig
Believe it or not, this can be some serious and extreme light tackle angling. These fish pull off a pile of line when using 8-pound tackle and fast tipped rods. My choice on tackle is an Ugly Stik (Lite) 8-15 Rod; Shakespeare Catera (4540) Spinning reel filled to the brim with 8-pound line.
Attach a 4 ft. section of Fluorocarbon leader with a bimini or whatever your favorite knot may be. Just don’t use a swivel.
Another HUGE tip for Triple tail fishing is the float. A small, “Pin On”, weighted Crappie or Bream float works wonders. The smaller your float is, the better your results will be. Most of these floats are available in 2 colors, yellow and orange. Whichever you choose is irrelevant.
When you purchase your floats, grab a roll of black electrical tape while you’re out. Wrap those floats from head to toe with black tape. I have found these fish will sometimes hit the float instead of the bait in confusion. You don’t have to worry about that once you have taped it black. They’ll go for the bait instead of the float.
Float positioning on your leader is equally important. Attach your float about 6 inches above your hook so the fish doesn’t have to work too hard to get to down on the bait. God forbid we should make that fish have to think about what to do!
Finally, finish off your rig with a #2 bronze Kahle hook. Don’t leave much tag sticking out of your knot to “tickle” the fish as he begins to sample your offering.
These fish are extremely powerful, so when you do get one to sink the float, you will be absolutely amazed at the power of the illusive “Saltwater Brim”. Fishing with about 3 pounds of drag and 8 pound line will have you chasing one with the boat to recover your line as he peels it down to the spool in a hurry!
When & Where to Fish for TripleTail
Tripletail are plentiful in most areas from April right on through the summer season. This holds true for the Gulf or Atlantic.
One thing is for certain, Tripletail don’t require deep water to feed. They can be sighted in Sounds and Nearshore of the Beaches on the S.E. or S.W. seaboard in 5 to 50 ft. of water.
If you have an outgoing tidal situation, start offshore off the beaches or Sounds and work slowly Inshore in a zigzag pattern until you locate one. Do just the opposite on an incoming tide. Once you spot your first, work that general area and chances are, you will find more just acres away. Work tide lines and temperature breaks, too. These areas are notorious for holding TripleTail.
The fish will begin to show themselves when the water temp. reaches 65 degrees and it will only get better as it rises into the 70’s. The prime temperature seems to be mid 70’s to 80 degrees.
Be Careful, it’s a highly addictive sport, especially when you find that fish that looks like a trash can lid floating, your heart will pound and your trigger finger usually won’t work right on that first cast.
Boat Position and presentation for Triple Tail
There are many theories on how to present your offering and positioning your boat to do so. I have found the best way is to approach the fish bow first, of course, but with your stern to the wind and the helmsman can hold with the engine(s) in Reverse as the wind blows you closer to the target. They will spook, but not very easily. You’ll be surprised how close you can get to these fish as you acquire a feel for the sport.
Cast your fly or bait past the fish and strip or reel it back about a foot or so in front of him. Be patitent as he samples the offering. Normally, he will be more than glad to take it. Just hold still and wait. He will eventually explode on the fly or down the float with authority.
A word on handling Triple Tail
TripleTail have huge razor like plates on their gills. Bring along a large dip net to land these fish and handle them with gloves.