Television programs like "Wicked Tuna" on National Geographic have highlighted the drama of commercial tuna fishing and attracted more anglers of varying experience levels. Tuna is one of the world's hardest-fighting fish and an ideal game for anglers looking for an adrenaline-pumping outing. But whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice angler looking to catch your first tuna, selecting the right line and gear is crucial for success.
Types of Tuna and Methods for Catching Them
Tuna are powerful, fast, and large fish found in various oceans worldwide. There are several tuna species, the most spectacular being bluefin, yellowfin, and bigeye.
Tuna fishing requires skill, knowledge, and the right equipment to ensure a successful catch. Anglers often use techniques such as trolling, casting, and live bait fishing to lure these sought-after game fish.
The Atlantic bluefin tuna can reach up to 1500 pounds. These powerful fish are known for their speed and strength, making them a prized catch for recreational and commercial anglers.
Fishing techniques for bluefin tuna include:
- Trolling: Trolling involves dragging lures or rigged baits behind a moving boat. High-speed trolling with artificial lures or natural baits, such as mackerel or squid, is a popular method for targeting bluefin tuna.
- Chunking: This technique involves cutting baitfish into small chunks and tossing them into the water, creating a chum slick to attract tuna. You can then use a hook baited with a piece of fish to entice a bite.
- Live bait fishing: Using live bait, such as mackerel or herring, is another effective method for targeting bluefin tuna. Depending on the tuna's location, the live bait can be drifted or slow-trolled near the surface or at depth.
Yellowfin tuna are known for their beautiful yellow fins and streamlined bodies. They can weigh over 400 pounds and are commonly found in warm, offshore waters.
Fishing techniques for yellowfin tuna include:
- Trolling: Similar to bluefin tuna, trolling with artificial lures or rigged baits is a productive method for catching yellowfin tuna.
- Casting: You can cast surface plugs, poppers, or stick baits near schools of feeding tuna or under birds diving on baitfish.
- Live bait fishing: Live bait, such as sardines or anchovies, will attract yellowfin tuna. You can fish with live bait using a free-swimming hook or a float to keep it near the surface.
Bigeye tuna are known for their large eyes and deep red flesh. They can reach weights of up to 400 pounds and are typically found in deeper, offshore waters.
Fishing techniques for bigeye tuna include:
- Trolling: Trolling with larger lures, skirted baits, or rigging natural baits, such as mackerel or squid, is a common method for targeting bigeye tuna.
- Chunking: Similar to bluefin tuna, chunking with cut baitfish can effectively attract bigeye tuna.
- Deep-drop live bait fishing: Bigeye tuna are often found in deeper waters, so using live bait, such as bonito or mackerel, at greater depths can be successful. You may need to use downriggers or specialized deep-drop rigs.
Equipment for Tuna Fishing
Catching tuna requires specialized equipment designed to handle the power, speed, and size of these impressive fish. Some of the essential gear you need is listed below.
Tuna Rod and reel
Tuna fishing requires a strong and durable rod and reel setup capable of handling the stress of fighting fish. Fins recommends Blackfin Rods for high-end American made tuna rods.
A medium to heavy action rod in the 6-7 foot range with a high-quality conventional reel is recommended. For larger tuna species, a heavy action rod paired with a 50-80 class reel is suitable, but a medium action rod with a smaller 20-30 class reel may suffice for smaller fish. On the popular tuna fishing show, "Wicked Tuna," anglers regularly use Blackfin Rods to land monstrous tuna.
Line: What braid is best for tuna?
Our recommendation for the best line for tuna is FINS Hollow Core because it's ideal for splicing line connections with fluorocarbon leader material. Splicing can eliminate excessive terminal tackle, which could lead to failure. It also allows for additional line capacity on big tuna reels due to its low diameter. A monofilament line with the same weight capacity would be too bulky to be effective.
Braided line has a high strength-to-diameter ratio, abrasion resistance, and minimal stretch. A line with a 60 to 100-pound test rating is suitable for most tuna species, although a heavier line may be required for large bluefin tuna. We also offer FINS Hollow Core in 130 to 250-pound test ratings.
Circle hooks are often recommended for tuna fishing as they are designed to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth, reducing the chances of deep hooking and making catch-and-release easier. Hook size depends on the size of the bait and the target species, and we frequently use sizes ranging from 4/0 to 9/0. A high-quality circle hook rod should be high on your list of supplies for fishing tuna.
Lures and baits
You can use various lures and natural baits for tuna fishing. Common choices include skirted trolling lures, diving plugs, surface poppers, and metal jigs. Natural baits such as mackerel, herring, squid, sardines, and anchovies can also be effective when rigged properly.
When you use chumming or chunking techniques, you'll need a chum bucket for dispersing the chum in the water. We make chum from ground fish, fish oil, or a combination of both.
Gaff or harpoon
To safely and effectively land a large tuna, you'll have to use a gaff or harpoon. A flying gaff with a detachable head or a harpoon is ideal for large tuna, while a standard gaff is suitable for smaller species.
You may also need some or all of the following gear when fishing for tuna:
- Fighting belt and harness
- Durable fishing and fighting gloves
- Trolling gear
- Safety equipment such as life jackets, throwable flotation devices, and a radio
- Sun protection
Equip Yourself for Success
High-quality gear will increase your chances of success and make your fishing experience more enjoyable overall. In addition to Fins Braided Lines, we recommend Blackfin Rods and Glacier Outdoor fishing gloves and sun protection products.