How Do You Use A Spreader Bar For Fishing?

Spreader bars have become an essential tool for many anglers, particularly those targeting large pelagic species such as tuna and billfish. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of spreader bars for fishing, explaining their benefits, types, and how to use them effectively. We’ll also discuss how to interlink them with valuable resources provided in the URLs mentioned above.

Using Spreader Bars to Catch Tuna! – YouTube
Spreader bars are a useful tool for fishing.
They mimic a school of baitfish, attracting predatory fish.
Proper rigging and deployment are crucial for their effectiveness.
Spreader bars can be used to target various pelagic species.
Using spreader bars can increase your chances of successful catches.

What is a Spreader Bar?

A spreader bar is a horizontal bar, typically made of metal or heavy-duty plastic, with several attachment points for fishing lines and lures. It’s designed to keep lures separated and prevent tangling while trolling or bottom fishing. Spreader bars are commonly used for targeting large game fish such as tuna, marlin, and sailfish but can also be used for various other species.

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Benefits of Using a Spreader Bar

There are several advantages to using a spreader bar when fishing:

Minimizes Tangles

One of the main benefits of using a spreader bar is that it helps to prevent tangles between multiple lines and lures. This allows anglers to fish with multiple lures simultaneously without the hassle of constantly untangling lines.

Increased Visibility

Spreader bars help create a more extensive and enticing presentation in the water. By spreading out the lures, they imitate a small school of fish, which can attract more significant and aggressive game fish.

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Attracting More Fish

When trolling, the movement of the spreader bar and its attached lures creates a disturbance in the water, drawing the attention of nearby fish. This commotion often entices fish to strike the lures, increasing your chances of hooking a big one.

Types of Spreader Bars

There are two primary types of spreader bars used in fishing:

Trolling Spreader Bars

These spreader bars are designed for trolling and typically have a lightweight, aerodynamic design. They’re often rigged with artificial lures, such as squid or feathers, and are intended for targeting surface-feeding fish like tuna and billfish. Here’s a great guide on how to build your own spreader bar for tuna fishing.

Bottom Fishing Spreader Bars

Designed for bottom fishing, these spreader bars are heavier and more durable. They’re often rigged with live or cut bait and are used for targeting bottom-dwelling species like grouper and snapper. These spreader bars may include additional features like weights and swivels to keep the rig near the bottom and minimize line twists. Check out this guide for an introduction to bottom fishing with spreader bars.

How to Choose the Right Spreader Bar

When selecting a spreader bar, consider the following factors:

  1. Target Species: Choose a spreader bar designed for the specific type of fishing you plan to do, whether it’s trolling for pelagic fish or bottom fishing for reef-dwellers.
  2. Material: Opt for durable materials like stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic that can withstand the harsh marine environment and the pressure of large fish.
  3. Size: The size of the spreader bar should match the size of the lures and bait you’ll be using. Larger spreader bars are suitable for bigger lures and baits, while smaller ones work well for smaller offerings.
  4. Attachment Points: Ensure the spreader bar has enough attachment points for the number of lines and lures you want to use.

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How to Set Up a Spreader Bar

Setting up a spreader bar involves three main steps:

Connecting the Main Line

Attach the main fishing line to the center of the spreader bar using a swivel or snap. This connection point will bear the weight of the fish and keep the bar properly oriented in the water.

Attaching the Lures

Attach your chosen lures to the spreader bar’s outer attachment points using leader lines. The length of the leader lines may vary depending on your target species and fishing conditions. Make sure the lures are evenly spaced to minimize tangling.

Adding the Weight (for Bottom Fishing)

For bottom fishing, you’ll need to add weight to the spreader bar to ensure it stays near the seafloor. Attach a suitable weight to the bottom of the spreader bar using a snap or swivel.

How to Use a Spreader Bar for Trolling

Follow these steps to use a spreader bar for trolling:

Deploying the Spreader Bar

Slowly let out the main line while maintaining a steady trolling speed. This will ensure the spreader bar and its attached lures are properly deployed behind the boat. The distance between the boat and the spreader bar will depend on your target species and fishing conditions.

Speed and Positioning

Trolling speed varies depending on the target species and lures used. Generally, a speed of 4-8 knots is suitable for most game fish. Monitor the spreader bar’s movement and make any necessary adjustments to ensure the lures are swimming naturally and attracting fish.

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Monitoring and Adjusting

Regularly check your spreader bar for any tangles or fouled lures. Adjust your trolling speed, lure spacing, or leader lengths if necessary to optimize your presentation.

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How to Use a Spreader Bar for Bottom Fishing

When bottom fishing with a spreader bar, follow these steps:

Dropping the Rig

Lower the spreader bar rig to the seafloor, allowing the weight to make contact. Maintain a tight line to feel any bites and prevent the rig from drifting too far from the intended location.

Detecting Bites

Pay close attention to your line and rod tip for any signs of bites. Fish may strike the bait aggressively or nibble on it cautiously. Be prepared to react quickly and set the hook when you detect a bite.

Fish FindersSonar devices that detect and display fish presence, helping detect bites.
Bite AlarmsDevices that emit an audible or visual signal when a fish bites the fishing line.
Electronic Bite IndicatorsElectronic devices that detect subtle movements or tension changes on the fishing line, indicating a bite.
Strike IndicatorsFloats or bobbers that indicate when a fish bites by showing movement or submergence.
Rod Tip LightsLED lights attached to the fishing rod tip that illuminate when the line moves, signaling a bite.

Setting the Hook

When you feel a bite, give a sharp upward jerk on the rod to set the hook. Once the fish is hooked, reel in steadily and maintain constant pressure on the line to prevent the fish from escaping.

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Spreader Bar Maintenance and Storage

Proper maintenance and storage of your spreader bar will ensure its longevity and optimal performance:

  1. Rinse the spreader bar with fresh water after each use to remove salt and debris.
  2. Inspect for any signs of wear, corrosion, or damage, and repair or replace components as needed.
  3. Store the spreader bar in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, which can cause plastic components to become brittle over time.
  4. Keep the spreader bar organized and free from tangles to prevent damage and make it easier to set up on your next fishing trip.

Safety Tips When Using Spreader Bars

When using spreader bars, keep these safety tips in mind:

  1. Wear gloves when handling the spreader bar, lures, and hooks to prevent injuries.
  2. Use caution when deploying and retrieving the spreader bar to avoid accidents.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings, especially when fishing in crowded areas, to prevent entangling your spreader bar with other boats’ lines or gear.
  4. Follow all local fishing regulations and guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

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Spreader bars are versatile and effective tools for both trolling and bottom fishing. Understanding the different types of spreader bars, their benefits, and how to use them will greatly improve your chances of success on the water. Don’t forget to maintain and store your spreader bar properly to ensure it remains in top condition for years to come. Happy fishing!

Further Reading

Fishing with Spreader Bars: Learn about the technique of using spreader bars for fishing and how they can improve your chances of success on the water.

Spreader Bar Tuna Tactics: Discover effective tactics and strategies for targeting tuna using spreader bars, including tips on gear selection, trolling techniques, and bait presentation.

How to Build a Spreader Bar for Tuna Fishing: Get step-by-step instructions and guidance on constructing your own spreader bar specifically designed for tuna fishing, along with valuable insights on choosing materials and assembling the rig.


Q1: Can I use a spreader bar for freshwater fishing?

A1: Yes, spreader bars can be used for freshwater fishing as well, especially when targeting large, schooling species like striped bass or muskies.

Q2: Can I make my own spreader bar?

A2: Absolutely! Many anglers opt to create their own spreader bars using readily available materials like PVC pipe or metal tubing. There are numerous resources online, like this guide, to help you build your own spreader bar.

Q3: How far apart should I space my lures on a spreader bar?

A3: The spacing between lures on a spreader bar depends on the size of the lures and the target species. Generally, a spacing of 12-24 inches is a good starting point, but you may need to adjust based on your specific fishing conditions.

Q4: Can I use live bait with a spreader bar?

A4: Yes, live bait can be used with a spreader bar, particularly when bottom fishing. Attach the live bait to the leader lines using appropriate hooks and rigging techniques.

Q5: How do I know if my trolling speed is correct when using a spreader bar?

A5: The ideal trolling speed depends on the target species and the lures being used. Observe the movement of the lures and adjust your speed to ensure they are swimming naturally and creating an enticing presentation. Generally, a speed of 4-8 knots is suitable for most game fish.