Match the hatch with a fiber­glass replica I was walk­ing around the King Kame­hameha ho­tel in Kona, Hawaii, 25 years ago, look­ing at fiber­glass mounts of a big mar­lin with some skip­jack tuna on the wall and think­ing how one of those skip­pies might make a pr


Ten years ago, I brought one of those small fiber­glass tuna down to Gu­atemala and asked my crew to rig up one on a spin­ning rod to use as a retease for mar­lin. They thought I was crazy, but when a 300-pound mar­lin lazily teased half­way to the boat and sank out of sight, I called for the Char­lie Tuna. The mate made a long cast, the fiber­glass fish hit the sur­face, the bail flipped over, and the painted fish skipped along beau­ti­fully. That blue mar­lin came back with some se­ri­ous fe­roc­ity and was then teased into a beau­ti­ful head-and-shoul­ders bite that we had never ex­pected. From then on, the Char­lie Tuna has had a spot in our ar­se­nal.


The fiber­glass mount might not smell like the real thing, but it makes up for it by look­ing ex­actly like a skip­jack, one of a blue mar­lin’s fa­vorite for­age species. An­other ben­e­fit: It doesn’t rip apart if you’re too slow on the re­trieve and the mar­lin grabs it. The slick fin­ish will pop right out of the fish’s mouth. And it can be used over and over, sea­son af­ter sea­son. There are sev­eral com­pa­nies that make them, in­clud­ing Gray’s Taxi­dermy and King Sail­fish Mounts, which is who pro­duced our cur­rent ver­sion. They even glassed in an eye for the leader.

Nat­u­ral bait is also heavy and it sinks, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to cast and re­trieve with a spin­ning rod. The Char­lie Tuna is light and skips very well along the sur­face, mak­ing it per­fect for a high­speed re­trieve. The first time you put this in front of a mar­lin, be ready to reel be­cause he will be com­ing af­ter it.

We use it pri­mar­ily when fly-fish­ing, to retease a mar­lin that doesn’t switch from a teaser to the fly. Once a mar­lin is raised on the pri­mary teasers, we go into neu­tral, cast the fly and fi­nal­ize the ini­tial tease, where the fish will ei­ther bite the fly or fade away. If it swims away, we need to cast a teaser since the boat has now come to a com­plete stop. This is when Char­lie Tuna re­ally shines: The mar­lin will usu­ally be within range of a 40- to 50-foot cast and can be brought back into range for a sec­ond, or some­times even third or fourth shot.


Since we use this for fly-fish­ing, keep­ing the teaser away from the mar­lin is cru­cial. Once it hits the water, go ahead and start wind­ing it in as fast as you can. We have had fish nearly hit the boat chas­ing this thing. You can also use the Char­lie Tuna in other sit­u­a­tions where you have a lazy mar­lin around the boat and need to cast a teaser to get it fired up.

We fish the Char­lie Tuna on a fairly heavy spin­ning rod with 10 pounds of drag. You can ei­ther drill a hole through the up­per and lower jaws or use a glassedin eye­let, where you can at­tach a 3-foot sec­tion of 130-pound-test monofil­a­ment leader, a heavy-duty ball-bear­ing swivel and a short sec­tion of dou­ble line us­ing a Bi­mini twist.

The Char­lie Tuna teaser can be cast to any freeswim­ming bill­fish in or­der to draw it into strik­ing dis­tance of a bait, lure or fly.

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