How to Catch a Yellowfin Tuna

How to Catch a Yellowfin Tuna

“Ahi” as Hawaiians refer to it; a Yellowfin Tuna is an attractive, tasty, and powerful fish. It is popular all over the world, especially in warm waters. They are a prized offshore gamefish. Yellowfin Tuna travel together in large schools, and can be spotted when they are breaking the surface, especially when chasing after baits.  

About Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna mainly feed on baitfish such as squid, sardines, mackerel as well as small pelagic crabs. It is quite tricky to catch this tasty fish, especially when they are feeding on small baits. As we mentioned earlier, you can see them feeding while swimming at the surface.

Catching a big Yellowfin Tuna requires a lot of experience and expertise. It requires a lot of work. Did you know that Tuna fights like a fish twice its size? Also, did you know that 100lbs Yellowfin Tuna fights as hard as a 300lbs marlin? The only difference is the fact that a Tuna fights deep down while a Marlin fights on the surface. 

This fish swims longer distances compared to others. They can grow big, the largest weights about 400lb, and are found in the Eastern Pacific as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. All Tuna, as mentioned earlier, are good fighters. You will find them pulling hard when hooked, they do not jump, but it is common to look at them coming out of the water to grab a lure as well as bait. In case they accidentally knock themselves on a boat, they would quickly turn sideways. In turn, they will swim in large circles, thus greeting a hold of them, and bringing them on the boat becomes an insane experience. 

It is not easy to bring aboard a large Yellowfin Tuna, and the process can consume a lot time. Other than being a perfect and great game fish, they are tasty and nutritious. You will commonly come across this fish in Sushi restaurants. Other than searing, you will love eating them with soy sauce as well as wasabi, especially when they are fresh. Learn more about Tuna from the World Wildlife Fund.

What Tackle to Use for Catching a Yellowfin Tuna?

A major secret behind being successful in this process is scaling the tackle to the size of the targeted fish. You will do great in small schoolies, especially those of 10lb, as well as 15lb with the light tackle in a range of 15lb. Larger and heavier fishes require heavy gear, as well as several 100lb braided lines. Since you will never find them near any structure, you can use light gear with a good strategy alongside a lot of patience. Keep in mind that this will take a lot of time. Expert anglers can use a Accurate ATD Platinum TWINDRAG Conventional Reel. Calstar rods, as well as Shimano Trinidad 16 reel, are also suitable for tackling any size of Tuna. 

As mentioned earlier, this fish is common in warm water; hence anytime you are fishing, take the sun seriously and wear the right clothing. 

Techniques of Catching Yellowfin Tuna

You can catch a Yellowfin Tuna with a lure as well as bait. Many different techniques have been successful in bringing aboard this fish. For instance, keep in mind that they mainly feed near the surface; hence top-water techniques will work. Tuna have good eyesight; hence if you see them hitting top-water without hitting on anything else, you can use a fluorocarbon leader to minimize their visibility. This will boost abrasion resistance. 

Regardless of the technique that you are employing; you could try chum. Chum has proven to be effective for catching these types of this fish. You can opt for chunks of cut bait as well as chum with live bait.  This will lure fish around the boat. 

Best Lures for Yellowfin Tuna

Try cedar plugs, plastic skirted lures, Rapala plugs, and tuna feathers if you decide to troll. Most experts prefer Halco Max as a trolling plug, as they are fast and accurate. The best colors for this plug are green, blue as well as white. You can also replace the treble hooks with single as well as double hooks.

Cast lures into a school of feeding fish whenyou come across them. Use a popper. Even the traditional chugger will lure retrieved in a “pop-pop-pause” rhythm. The best popper for Tuna is the Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull.  Its colors are excellent, and you can slowly pop it as well as skit it fast over the top.  Following the fact that this fish has good eyesight, you should consider a quicker retrieve.

Shimano Orca is also a stick bait that works quickly near the surfaces.  It is perfect, and you can choose a flashy color. 

When Tuna go deep, you can consider a metal jig in metallic as well as blue colors. 

Best Bait to Catch Yellowfin Tuna

For smaller school sized fish, you can consider Anchovies as well as sardines. For the larger fish, use pacific mackerel. Use Skipjack Tuna in the 2-5lb size for the biggest Tuna. It is worth mentioning that any baitfish works as long as you can use it where Tuna is feeding. Did you know that Yellowfin Tuna also like eating squid as bait?  

You can catch very large Yellowfin Tuna using fish baits, especially when placed below a kite. This keeps the baits over the surface. A baitfish splashing on the surface will always work even if others have failed. They work simply because lashing attracts the fish, and since the line is inside water, Tuna will not see it. When opting for kite fishing, you can consider the Goggle eyes, it rigs a three-way swivel and enables you to fish two all at once. If it is a giant, go for a live Skipjack for slow trolling. You should ensure that your boat has tuna tubes to keep the Skipjack live. 

Chunking works in cases where there is no live bait. It requires you to cut the chunks of a large baitfish then toss them over the side like chum. Hide a circle hook in a side of the chunk and allow it to drift down naturally alongside others. Allow many lines to enable the chunk to drift without too much difficulties. 

Circle hooks are the best for catching Tuna. These fish have a tendency to grab the bait and go on long runs. It is easy to point the rod toward the fish, use a reel as the circle hook slides into the corner of its mouth. This will prevent the fish from chafing against the leader in the course of the fight. After you launch the hooks, it is not easy for the fish to throw them. 

Where are Yellowfin Tuna found?

You can always count on big Yellowfin Tuna on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Usually, the San Diego long-range fleet fish Tuna during fall. You will come across giants in Puerto Vallarta as well as the Hannibal Bank in Panama. Are you in the states and looking for Tuna? Well, visit Louisiana, and you will find an excellent fishery for the 100+ pounders. Louisiana has become a hotbed for large Yellowfin Tunas.

Best Time of Year to Catch Yellowfin Tuna?

As mentioned earlier, Tuna likes warm water sources; hence the best months of the years can be during the fall, spring as well as summer months. Midnight Lump is a popular sport for catching Tuna. It is normally 17 miles away from SouthWest Pass. 

Whether it is a good season for catching this fish or not, keep in mind that it likes fighting, and you must strategize properly to be successful. Panama is the most famous tuna fishery. Every year, many anglers head to this place, especially the Hannibal Bank, as well as the Coiba Island. In this location, Yellowfin Tuna are able to travel naturally along the sea in search of sardines to feed on. 

The Yellowfin Tuna season in Costa Rica is from March up to the end of the dry season. The best time to catch mammoth cow tunas are May, June, July and August. We can, therefore, say that there is no specific time to catch this fish. 

Yellowfin Tuna Fishing Tips

  • This fish is a perfect target for trollers as well as bait anglers. You should employ artificial lures, cut baits, small squid as well as live baitfish to lure Tuna to your hook
  • Scale your tackle to match the size of the Tuna that you are targeting
  • Consider a composite rod, particularly those made from fiberglass, as well as granite, for your preferred gear


How does a Yellowfin Tuna look like?

This fish looks beautiful; it has a torpedo-shaped body, yellowfins as well as dark metallic back. It has a silver belly and can swim miles and miles away.

What does a Yellowfin Tuna eat?

They feed on zooplankton, squid as well as bony fish.

How hard is it to catch a Yellowfin Tuna?

Catching this fish is not easy. Experienced anglers only manage to bring one home after a long and intense battle.


There is no doubt that Yellowfin Tuna is a prized fish for fishermen to catch and cook. They are a beautiful species and taste very delicious. They are not easy to catch; hence you have to lure them properly with the correct bait and tackle, as we have discussed above. 

More To Explore