At over 3 feet in length, big game tuna are one of my favorite fish to target. They give a big fight, are active to look for, and are great to eat. These tuna fishing tips will give you the best information to have a successful adventure and get more big fish into your boat.
Schools of tuna can be hundreds of individual fish so you won’t be looking for individuals in the wide blue sea.
I don’t know if it is the power they exhibit as they take your bait or the sight they make when they jump out of the water, but big tuna would have to be one of the funnest fish to catch. While some prefer the calm of bass fishing or the wilderness of salmon fishing, it is hard to beat the feeling when you hook a 200 lb tuna.
Big yellowfin tuna can exceed 300 pounds, so make sure your gear is big enough for that monster you may be lucky to hook.
Table of Contents
- 1 Species of Tuna
- 2 17 Tuna Fishing Tips
- 2.1 1. Look for Birds
- 2.2 2. Plan for Multiple Hookups
- 2.3 3. Move with the School
- 2.4 4. Crank Fast
- 2.5 5. Look for Bait Balls
- 2.6 6. Use Heavy Gear
- 2.7 7. Match the Bait
- 2.8 8. Trolling Speed
- 2.9 9. Follow the Migration
- 2.10 10. Mix Up Your Lures
- 2.11 11. Try Fresh Bait
- 2.12 12. Avoid Windy Days
- 2.13 13. Hide Your Leader
- 2.14 14. Release Quickly
- 3 Tuna Fishing Tips Video
- 4 Recommended Tuna Big Game Lures
- 5 Conclusion
Species of Tuna
There are 8 ‘true’ species of tuna, which include:
- Southern Bluefin
- Pacific Bluefin
- Atlantic Bluefin
17 Tuna Fishing TipsBeginner Saltwater Fishing Tips [2...Beginner Saltwater Fishing Tips [2022 Update]
1. Look for Birds
This often highlights a bait ball that tuna feeding under the water has created. This is a great place to try your luck to hook some big tuna. Find the birds and the fish won’t be far away.
2. Plan for Multiple Hookups
Tuna have large schools, and you can often get multiple people hooking up simultaneously. Make sure you plan for what to do when this happens, so you don’t lose both fish.
3. Move with the School
Tuna schools are very mobile and can often disappear at a moment’s notice, so be ready to move as soon as they vanish – they won’t be far away, so keep your eyes open.
4. Crank Fast
Retrieve your lure as fast as possible – you won’t be able to retrieve it faster than a tuna can swim!
5. Look for Bait Balls
Keep one eye on your fish finder – the bait ball might not be visible on the surface.
6. Use Heavy Gear
Tuna can grow over 300 pounds in size (a lot over!), so make sure you have heavy gear ready to go.
You will need a serious offshore reel with 35-60 pounds of drag. We recommend 60-80 pound braid fishing line with 6 feet of 80-pound flourocarbon leader. Fluoro blends in with the water and gives the fish less chance of being scared by the line.
7. Match the Bait
Match the bait – try a lure that mimics the size and color of the bait the tuna are chasing or the fish might ignore you.
8. Trolling Speed
Trolling over and around bait balls can be very successful, particularly for big tuna. The ideal speed is 6 to 8 knots, but it’s best to slow down to 5½ to 6½ knots for deeper water
9. Follow the Migration
Tuna are a migratory species, so make sure you are fishing at the right time of year for your particular location. The best time to catch tuna around the United States seaboard is:
- Atlantic bluefin tuna – June to November
- Pacific bluefin tuna – May to October
- Yellowfin tuna – June to September
10. Mix Up Your Lures
Artificial squid-like lures with colorful skirts are a tuna favorite, but mix it up until you find something they are looking for – so keep various colors and sizes in your tackle box.
11. Try Fresh Bait
Fresh bait is also a good option. The best fresh bait for tuna is squid, mackerel, herring, butterfish, sardines, or skipjack. The key is to hide the hook.
If the area looks like tuna territory, but you can’t see any bait balls, then chum with cut-up butterfish – this is called chunking for tuna
12. Avoid Windy Days
High wind and rough seas can scare off the fish as much as they scare off the angler.
13. Hide Your Leader
Tuna have great eyesight and can be scared off by thick metal leaders, so adjust accordingly.
14. Release Quickly
Tuna do not survive for long outside of the water, so if you aren’t intending to keep your catch, then get it back into the water as quickly as possible.
Tuna Fishing Tips Video
The video below gives some good tuna fishing advice for Northern Bluefin:
Recommended Tuna Big Game Lures
These lures have a variety of colorful skirts that will catch the tuna’s attention. Change the colors frequently until you find something the fish are hunting for – a big idea is to try and match the bait the tuna are chasing.
These lures are particularly effective for big game fish. You might want to scale down your bait if you are chasing smaller tuna.
In conclusion, Tuna is one of the world’s favorite fish to eat and catch. They can grow to massive sizes and put up a huge fight, giving them a reputation as big game fish.
I have caught a lot of tuna in my time and love the excitement of spotting a bait ball and the birds diving and knowing that I will have a fight on my hands and fish in the boat in a few minutes.
There are plenty of other tips, so read as much as possible to give yourself enough knowledge to make the best decisions when you are out on the boat.
If you have any tips to share with the fishing community, please leave a comment below. I hope we can make all tuna fishermen more successful.