|Albert Castro believes his team has found a decisive edge when trolling for big game. An accomplished angler and noted custom rod builder, Castro competes as a team member aboard the Sharky’s Revenge — a custom 46-footer — in blue marlin tournaments in St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela. One trick his team uses to add more commotion to the spread involves a daisy chain of bowling pin-like attractors known as the Ultimate Pin Teaser.
A single, in-line daisy chain featuring six bowling-pin teasers is often deployed 15 to 20 feet behind the Sharky’s Revenge. Once the pins are far enough back to swim beneath the surface, they resemble a school of frantic bonito wobbling and darting about. “They look so real and create such a commotion that they attract all sorts of stuff,” says Castro. “We’ve had big dorado, wahoo, sailfish and, of course, blue marlin come up on this teaser. We’ve been pulling it for two years and it definitely raises fish.”
Not Your Dad’s Bowling Pin
Resembling modified bowling pins and sporting paint jobs that depict the blue marlin’s prominent forage, the individual teasers used in this system have been around for decades. When trolled as a single teaser, the pin imitates a large, distressed baitfish frantically swimming alongside, beneath, or just beyond the prop wash. Over the years, the pin teaser has attracted its share of fish; however, it has largely faded from the offshore scene in the past 15 years as more glamorous teasers have entered the market. Nowadays, very few anglers are familiar with the pin teaser.
The resurgence of the pin teaser’s popularity is due in part to a handful of big-game pros who began rigging them daisy-chain fashion and pulling them in blue marlin tournaments. And raise marlin they did — big ones, too! The teasers were so productive that secretive skippers took great pains to keep them out of sight back at the dock. Of course, word of the new “secret weapon” eventually got out, and the pin teaser, now manufactured by Boone Baits, has found itself enjoying a revival of sorts.
When pitch-baiting for blue marlin, the Sharky’s Revenge gang usually trolls a single bonito-colored, six-pin teaser off the right transom cleat, while the left side remains clear to bait a fish. The teaser is positioned so that it dips and dives, yet stays in full view of the crew.
“When a blue comes up on the teaser, we drop a bait back to it,” says Castro. “The drag created by the teaser makes it kind of tough to retrieve on the troll, so we try to bait the fish off of it. When the fish is hooked and the engines placed in neutral, we’ll pull in the teaser. We use it mostly when we’re in a pitch-bait mode.”
When trolling a full spread of lures, Castro recommends pulling two Ultimate Pin Teasers — one off each transom corner — and keeping them parallel with each other. When a fish comes up on the teaser, a lure or bait should be reeled just ahead of the fish while a mate retrieves the teaser.
The Captain’s Private Stock
Harry Vernon III of Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply in Miami sells the individual pin teasers, along with pre-made Ultimate Pin Teasers. His custom-rigged teasers range from a three- or four-pin rig (suitable for boats between 21 and 31 feet) to rigs with six or more pins for larger boats. The pins come in mackerel, dolphin and bonito colors.
The PIN Connection
Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply in Miami offers individual pin teasers, as well as the components to fabricate complete systems. They also sell custom-rigged Pin Teaser systems for both small and large boats.
To order, contact Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply, (800) 327-4088; http://www.captharry.com.
For more information on Boone bowling-pin teasers, contact Boone at (407) 975-8775.
“These teasers are becoming unbelievably popular,” says Vernon. “If anyone could see how they look underwater, they’d understand why. The action is just so incredible, they look better than the real thing.”
One disadvantage of the multi-pin teaser is its size and complexity. To make it run just right and avoid tangles, the pins have to be spaced a specific distance apart. Furthermore, the drag generated by all the pins makes the rig difficult to retrieve at trolling speeds. And this could be a factor when a fish locks onto the teaser and refuses to leave it for the hook bait or lure. In this situation, the angler should pitch a bait back to the fish or reel one in from the spread. Retrieving the teaser often requires a strong arm, or slowing or stopping the boat.
“We designed our teasers with simplicity and ease of storage in mind,” says Vernon. “Some anglers would stow the teaser in a box or bag and it would get tangled. When it was time to fish, they’d spend a lot of time struggling to untangle the mess. We’ve put the individual pins on their own snap-on leaders, and added drop swivels to the main teaser line. The main line remains neatly coiled on a leader keeper until it’s ready to go. As the main teaser line is fed out, just attach the individual pins to the drop swivels. The 3/8-inch nylon rope clips onto the loop of the main teaser line. The rope provides an easy grip for retrieving the system and makes it easy to secure the rig to a transom cleat. When retrieving the system, just unhook the pins as you coil the main line on the leader keeper, then unhook the nylon rope. That’s it. The system is tangle-free, easy to store and ready for quick deployment.”
Vernon also recommends keeping extra pins and snap swivels on the boat. Should a wahoo steal a pin or two, you can add a new one within seconds