Wondering how to catch tuna? It’s no secret that tuna tend to be among the pickiest and finickiest pelagic predators in the water, so you’ll need to use the right tuna fishing techniques to increase your odds of bringing home a tasty dinner, a major paycheck, or a mantle-worthy trophy.
While every offshore angler has their own methods, you need to know the rules in order to break them effectively. In this guide, we’ll cover tried-and-true methods for catching both yellowfin and blackfin tuna — two of the most popular species caught by recreational anglers in the United States. Read on to learn the art of tuna fishing.
Use the Right Bait and Lures
Ask ten anglers what they use to catch tuna, and you’ll probably get ten different answers. Small lures and bait tend to be the most popular. As far as lures go, a cedar plug or a wobble-style lure are both great options.
Our Daymaker lure is a superb choice if you’re looking to add some wobble to your spread. It’s designed specifically for enticing tuna, and you can run it way back without any bait, so you know it’s always working. Skwitch lures are another great choice — they’re a simple yet productive favorite among professional charter captains.
If you plan on tuna fishing with bait, you have plenty of options. Naturally, whatever baitfish species are abundant in the area and in season should do the trick just fine. As you experiment with how to catch tuna, you’ll start to gravitate toward specific baitfish. Some of the most common species are herring, blue runners, mullet, ballyhoo, and flying fish.
Timing is Everything
Timing is the true key to catching tuna. Understanding their feeding habits is crucial. Tuna are pelagic fish, so they spend most of their time around the middle depths. However, they do come to the surface to feed, so your goal is to motivate them to head upward — that’s tuna fishing in a nutshell.
When feeding, tuna go down in the water column, round up baitfish, and push them up to the surface where they strike. It’s truly an incredible sight to behold. One of the most effective tuna fishing techniques is to simulate the commotion of splashing bait on the surface. Using daisy chains and spreader bars is a fantastic way to make that happen. You can even use a spreader bar with FlapZ as a great teaser.
Offshore angling is often a numbers game, and tuna fishing is no different. Having more lures in the water increases your chances of getting a bite. A big part of catching tuna is grabbing their attention in the first place, so you want to use large spreads with lots of movement to cause a ruckus on the surface.
Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut
You may need to relearn how to catch tuna in real time, depending on a variety of conditions. What works one day may not be ideal the next. Keep a close eye on your spreads. If you see a specific type of lure or bait getting more action, adjust your approach accordingly. Tuna fishing requires a watchful eye and a willingness to experiment. Don’t be afraid to run a wide variety of teasers to see what’s most enticing that day.
Encourage Follow-Up Strikes
Never leave your line unattended. Besides allowing you to make informed decisions on what’s working and what’s not, someone needs to be ready to alert the whole crew as soon as there’s a strike. If a tuna hits and misses, don’t let the opportunity go to waste. Release your rod’s drag for a few seconds, and then bring it right back to position. That movement may encourage the tuna to take a second shot.
Take Advantage of a Feeding Frenzy
Tuna fishing often involves a whole lot of action all at once — be ready for it! Because tuna are school fish, when there’s one, there’s a good chance that more are lurking. While it might be tempting to slow down as soon as you get a bite, you may want to continue at your current trolling speed to see if you can hook another. Once you decide to slow down, you may want to drop a jig to entice deeper species that are intrigued by the feeding scraps falling down, as well as the action above.
Get Your Gear Now
Learning how to catch tuna like a pro takes time and practice, so don’t get discouraged if you come home empty-handed. Give yourself an advantage by ordering tournament-grade tuna fishing equipment at Fish Razr. Shop our products now, including high-quality saltwater trolling lures that are vetted by the offshore angling community. Utilize these tuna fishing techniques to help you land your trophy. Check our offshore angling blog for more expert guidance on all things saltwater fishing.