Nosara Fishing Tactics

Bait and Switch - High Speed Lures

Developed and perfected in Costa Rica, the Bait and Switch Tactic makes for one of the best strikes in all of fishing. This yields maximum excitement and fish strikes extremely close to the boat.

This spread consists of medium or large sized high-speed lures running off both outriggers and the shotgun line. We add a pair of teasers off both outriggers and one teaser in the exhaust alley. The high-speed lures are trolled off Shimano Tiagra reels and 50lbs. class rod and reels at 9-10 knots. The pitch baits can be armed with live bait (Black tuna or Blue runner) or dead bait (Ballyhoo or Black tuna strips).

The larger fish like to strike the high-speed lures but also will come up the spread towards the teasers bouncing along the surface. The mate identifies which fish species are in the spread and relays to the Captain on which line or teaser the fish has fixated. The crew immediately extracts the teasers to draw the fish in close. The appropriate size pitch bait is dropped back to the target fish on Shimano Tiagra and the switch is complete. The strike is imminent so hold tight.

This medium sized/high speed spread run at 9-10 knots is brutally effective on big Marlin, Dorado, and Wahoo. The advantage of the Bait and Switch tactic is that you can apply the right bait/tackle combination on the target fish to maximize the chance of a great catch.

For the safety of both fish and angler, FishingNosara crews uses only circle hooks for pitch baits. This guarantees safe live releases of ALL Sailfish and Marlin caught by our team.

Bait and Switch - Low Speed Lures with Live Bait

This variation of the Bait and Switch is ideal for catching Dorados, Sailfish, and Yellowfin Tuna. The fishing approach is identical, but the spread blends real bait into the mix of lures.

This spread consists of small-sized lures with Ballyhoo or Black tuna strips running off both outriggers and the shotgun reel. We add a pair of teasers off both outriggers and one teaser in the exhaust alley. The low-speed lures are trolled off 30lbs. or 50lbs. class rod and reels at 4-6 knots. The pitch baits can be armed with live bait (Black tuna or Blue runner) or Black tuna strips.

Using freshly caught live bait is essential in this presentation which is why the FishingNosara boats all have live tuna tubes and most have a live baitwell.

Once again, the mate identifies which fish species are in the spread and the teasers are retracted as the target fish approaches. When the teasers are extracted the appropriate pitch bait is presented. However the slower boat speed means that the baited rigs may get hit on the way into the boat, leading to some pulse-pounding multiple strikes.

The small lure and bait combination at these low speeds is a very effective spread. The only drawback is that slower speeds limit the amount of ocean you can cover. However when the bite is on this tactic leads to double and triple strikes that keep the whole party smiling.

Basic Inshore Spread

Not all fishing in Nosara is based around the massive behemoths that live off the shelf; there is plenty of action-packed fishing within a mile of the shore. This spread intrigues the appetite of multiple species of fish and can lead to the most strikes of all our tactics. We like to put this spread out and watch the Cierro Mackerals, Dorados, Yellowfin tunas, Black tuna, White tuna, Wahoo, and even Rooster Fish line up for their turn to get in the boat.

We use surface baits with small lures trolled off the outriggers, Ballyhoo or Black tuna strips trolled off the outriggers. You can bait the shotgun as well, but sometimes we like to use a cedar plug on a 30lbs. rig instead. Our teasers are short spreader bar teasers off the outriggers and run off the 3rd wake. Also, the center teaser is run right down the middle of the exhaust alley.

Finally, throw a planer/spoon combo rig on starboard transom with a 50lbs. rig. On the port short line we alternate between Lip Diver Rapala lures, Braid Diving lures, or jig depending on conditions.

Troll around at 4-6 knots and wait for the feeding frenzy.

Yellowfin Tuna Tactic

We like to deploy a bunch of different presentations to catch BIG Yellowfin Tunas.

Our spread consists of ballyhoo on the long and short lines, flanked by cedar plugs and/or teaser lures on the outriggers. Live bait is rigged and dropped from the rear corners, and then we sight top-water poppers in front of the school of Tuna. A useful tactic is to follow the spinning porpoises to the tuna school, then try to cast in front of the porpoises.

We use the Penn 7500 Slammer and Shimano Saragosa 10000 spinning reels to ensure that no tuna will out-class our tackle. This technique provides tons of action and a hands-on style of fishing that suits sight-casting anglers who are used to skinny water, lakes, ponds, and piers. Plus the quality of Yellowfin Tuna meat is second-to-none as sushi or as table fare.

Yellowfin Tuna Tactic

Planer/Spoon Tactic - Craig's Secret Weapon

Though a common rig in Northeast Florida, the Planer/Spoon combo was brought to Nosara by US Representative for FishingNosara Craig Sutton. Known for nailing big Kingfish and Wahoo up in Florida, this rig is an absolute monster for catching Costa Rican Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Ciero Mackerel, and more.

The Planer runs 10-20 feet deep and creates a different angle of attack from the rest of the spread which swims on the surface. Of course, we up the trolling speed a tad (3-5 knots) to compensate for the increased drag from the planer.

A 30 foot section of 150lbs. monofilament is connected to a barrel swivel (this enables the spoon to swim properly) then a 15 foot section of 100lbs. Flurocarbon connects to the spoon. The deep bubbling of the spoon is irresistable to the fish.

The secret to making this rig swim is in the barrel swivel, the knots, and using the proper style flurocarbon. When this rig is working we can increase or decrease the trolling speed to target different species, making the Planer/Spoon a true marine harvesting weapon.

Planer/Spoon Tactic - Craig's Secret Weapon

Near-Shore Rooster/Cuberra Fly fishing

For the fly-fisherman we offer a unique option for near-shore fly fishing for big Rooster Fish and Cuberra Snappers.

We start by working fertile reef areas with large hookless topwater plugs; this keeps the smaller fish from hitting the lures while we wake up the big boys.

Once the target fish is lured up from the reef we pull the plugs and then the angler presents the fly.

This tactic is extremely effective on the big Cuberra and Roosters because they are selective hunters who won't budge from the reef unless there is commotion overhead.

We do not provide the fly rod or tackle, so make sure to bring yours from home. Don't be surprised if you'll need a 14-16wt. fly rod for these guys, where 10-12wt. will be sufficient on smaller reef fish.

Near-Shore Rooster/Cuberra Fly fishing


Large topwater hookless plugs

Preferred Fly Colors: Blue/White Blue/Pink Blue/Red Blue/Yellow.


Large Rooster Fish and Cuberas (Not for WEAK, MEEK, or FAINT OF HEART. DO NOT ATTEMPT)

FishingNosara has perfected this tactic to catch the biggest Cubera Snappers and Rooster Fish on the whole reef!

We start by slow trolling over a near-shore reef with live Black tuna or Blue runner from the outriggers for 30 to 45 minutes; this commotion will bring the large Cuberas out of their holes where they can't use the protection of the reef. They will ascend the water column, sometimes striking the bait right on the surface.

If they need a bit more encouragement after the 30-45 minutes of slow trolling, we rear-hook the same bait fish and send them swimming to the bottom.

HOLD ON! Usually the fish will be within 40ft. of the surface and they are STRONG! You will need at least 25lbs. of drag, and perhaps an extra crewman to keep you in the boat.

Starting in 2019, ALL Cubera Snappers are released.

Large Cuberas Only


Shimano Tiagra or Penn Slammer 7500, 100-150lbs. leader, Live Black Tuna or Blue runner, Nerves of Steel