Anglers are notorious when it comes to trying to build better fish-catching rigs, including those they drop back behind the boat when setting a mixed spread for offshore fishing. It seems we’re never satisfied with what’s dragging behind the transom – even if it does catch fish. Every so often, something new makes an appearance on the offshore scene and becomes all the rage. Some simply never fade away, because they’re just that good. Back in the day when I started fishing offshore, SevenStrand developed the Green Machine. If memory serves me correctly, this was in the late 60’s or early 70’s. It was a revolutionary lure at the time, and caught everything swimming in the deep. At about the same time, squid daisy chains were being used to raise and catch fish. Then in the mid-80’s Boone developed the bird teaser, and every charter boat began using them religiously. Shortly thereafter somebody came up with the bright idea to create a ménage a trois between the Green Machine, daisy chain, and bird. By the 90’s, it was the go-to rig for tuna. Day in and day out, the charter fleet pulled a green bird with triple Green Machines off their shotgun line. And day in and day out the rig was responsible for tuna blood on the decks.

tuna caught on a green machine
The Green Machine has been responsible for many bloodied decks and tuna in the box through the decades.

Pages on the calendar turned, until a new type lure hit the scene: suddenly, spreader bars were a mainstay in the charter fleet’s spreads. However, even with an array of squid clones, the Green Machine was not forgotten. It didn’t take too long until the Green Machines and the birds were incorporated right onto the spreader bar, and most of you know the rest of this story. Spash bars became common, then bars that run off to the sides.

However, new doesn’t necessarily mean better. Last season the dust was blown off a bird/Green Machine rig and run in the shotgun position. It didn’t disappoint when the gaff was sunk into a chunky bluefin. This rig may get overlooked these days thanks to the brightest, newest, shimming rigs hanging in tackle shops or discussed in magazines like FishTalk. But make no mistake – this rig remains a pelagic producer today, especially for yellowfin and bluefin tuna.

Making the Bird and Green Machine Rig

bird green machine rig
The bird and Green Machine is a top rig for tuna. Create the rig using the measurements shown in the photo. Rig with a Mustad Classic 2 Extra Strong Dublin Point Double hook, to increase the hook-up percentage.

The rig is made using 150- to 200-pound mono leader if you’re old school, or fluorocarbon, which certainly can’t detract from the rigs’ performance. I believe much of this rigs’ success comes from the mirror wings on the Play Action bird, which flashes fish-attracting sunlight down through the water surface.

rigging a green machine
Crimps should be firm around the line, but not crushing or pinching it. Practice by crimping a loop in leader material, secure the loop around something solid like a fence post, and pull (using gloves) on the leader to test the crimp’s integrity. The hook should be set at the end of the Green Machine or can be slightly past the skirt.

So there you have it, a blast-from-the-past charter boat tuna rig!

Next month, Part Two: Making Ballyhoo rigs for tuna

-For more offshore tips and rigging, see John Unkart's book Offshore Pursuit.