Fishing - Knowledge

Yellowfin Tuna Fishing: Catch the Torpedoes of the Deep Sea

1711 Views - 9 mins read

If you are already into fishing and wish to explore the hobby in depth, you can take up Yellowfin Tuna fishing as your next big challenge. If you are otherwise not used to catching the big species, then you may need some investment in the right equipment, for example, a tuna fishing gear or a tuna fishing rig.

You will also need to learn the right methods for the enhanced angling experience which was otherwise not so sharp till now. Nevertheless, if you do have at least some experience in fishing, it will be extremely amusing to explore the deep waters as the latest member of the Tuna fishing club.

But, before you get into the territory of the endangered yellowfin tuna, you must know all about the fish and then move onto the yellow fish tuna fishing techniques and other aspects. So, let’s get started.

Yellowfin Tuna: Physical Features and Food Habits

Remember those tins of yellowfin tuna that your mom gets home quite often from the nearest supermarket?

Yes, that’s the tuna we are talking about that indeed has yellow fins and are extremely tasty. This is a common variant of tuna also known as “Ahi" in Hawaiian and is amazingly shaped. You would instantly fall in love with this sleek little mammal that more resembles a crescent and can grow over two meters in length. 

Yellowfin tunas are available all over the globe, however, are mostly found in tropical waters. Yellowfin tunas are the largest among the species and can weigh up to 400 pounds (180kgs). These sizes are mostly found in the Eastern Pacific and are usually caught in Mexico. The yellowfin tunas weighing 200 pounds can also be found in Panama. 

While you are wondering about the tuna fishing techniques you must also know how the fish looks and what are its colours. It indeed has bright yellow fins and the colours are visible on the anal fin, the second dorsal fin, and finlets in between these fins and the tail.

The anal fin and the 2nd dorsal fin can extend backward almost up to the tail while looking similar to sickles. The body of the yellowfin tuna is dark metallic blue in colour that gets silvery on the belly consisting of 20 vertical lines. 

yellowfin tuna fishing
Yellowfin, blue body and they can weigh up to 400 pounds (source)

Particular Habits

Generally, the yellowfin tunas are found in the deep offshore waters, but they may find their way to the shores when the conditions are suitable. You would often find the yellowfins feeding on the baitfish close to the shorelines of the Maldives Islands (Indian Ocean), Sainte Helena, Caribbean, volcanic islands of the Atlantic Ocean and in the Western Pacific.

However, as the water temperature and the clarity of the ocean are apt, the yellowfins may then move deep into the shores of the continental shelf. 

What’s interesting to know about tuna fishing techniques is that the yellowfin tunas are known to group together forming huge schools and are often spotted chasing their baits while breaking through the surface of the sea water. While they usually move with their own species of similar sized, they also form a school with other species of tunas at times. These mixed schools often include skipjack tuna. You would also find the yellowfins connect with bigger marine creatures and species like the whales, whale sharks, dolphins, or porpoises. They can also be seen travelling along floating objects like vessels, pallets, logs, etc. 

Their behaviour is similar to all other tunas, for instance, they pull hard as opposed to their size. While they do come out of the deep waters to catch a bait, they do not usually jump when hooked. You can see the yellowfins turning sideways and move in huge circles as you get them close to the boat. This makes the entire process lengthy and it gets quite challenging to get them to the boat. Despite the tackle, you use it would be close to impossible to get the larger ones quickly. 

Food habits

Tuna fishes are known to feed on a large number of various species that includes baitfish or lures in form of sardines, mackerels, tiny aquatic crabs, or the squids. Yellowfin tuna is also known to prey on schooling creatures like the anchovies, lanternfish, or pelagic driftfish. Larger variants of the yellowfin feed on the smaller variants of tuna such as the skipjack tuna or frigate mackerel. 

Distance covered

Yellowfin Tuna travel considerable distances in their lifetime and can even cross entire oceans. Given that these variants of tuna are warm-blooded and possess warm muscles making them strong swimmers, it’s easy for them to escape predators. Yellowfin tunas are known to catch a speed of 50 miles per hours and this is an important information you should know before you get into the tuna fishing techniques.

Where Can You Find Yellowfin Tuna 

Yellowfin tuna are usually found in the mixed surface layer of the waters and above the thermocline, because these tuna variants are epipelagic.

Sonic tracking discovers that yellowfin tuna is mostly found in the top layer of the water column (100m/330ft) and passes through the thermocline rather intermittently as these variants possess the ability to dive down great depths. 

Where can it be found?

While you are keen to know the tuna fishing techniques, you should know where are these usually found. You can find most of the big yellowfin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico away from the mouth of the Mississippi river which according to the experts, is the most productive waters.

Although the yellowfins can be found anywhere in the blue waters of the northern Gulf, the most persistent activity is near the huge deep-water rigs. You can also find the bigger variants consistently in the far south of the eastern Pacific away from the Baja California Sur in Mexico.

This is because the big sized tunas do not travel long distances and rather prefer staying in the zone, possibly due to the productive waters. 

yellowfin tuna fishing
Yellowfun form huge schools and swim across Gulf of Mexico (source)

When to Fish for Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin tuna is a game fish that is often caught offshore. Although tuna can be caught year-round in the Costa Rica region, the best time of the year to fish tuna would be undoubted during the green season that is, from May to November. This is the period when the region experiences afternoon rain showers and during most days of the week. This is the time when tourists are less, prices are better and the fishing is wonderful and so, the right to show off your tuna fishing techniques. Tuna starts to show up April/May in Costa Rica and the peak months are from June to August

You can find tunas in the Panamas all the year-round as well, but the actual season takes off in March. It then starts to increases its size slowly towards the end of the dry season in April and as the green starts in May. The best months though would be May to July to catch yellowfin tuna of big sizes. 

Yellowfin Tuna Tackle

Tackle is an important equipment required to catch yellowfin tuna. However, before you target the fish you should adjust the tackle to the size of the fish.

Light tackle within the 15 pounds range is good to catch small sized schoolies weighing in the range of 10 pounds to 15 pounds. The larger ones, on the other hand, would require heavy gear and several braided lines of 100 pounds. 

So, if you are planning to buy yellowfin tuna tackle, you can buy the Accurate Platinum ATD 50 for the bigger variants. Calstar Rods or Shimano Trinidad 16 are also good choices to fish almost any tuna variant. The reels are available in different sizes. 

Yellowfin Tuna Fishing Techniques/Topwater Techniques

Before you know the techniques, you must be aware that the yellowfins are usually found in warm waters and so, you must be prepared according to the sun and wear apparels that can keep you cool. 

The best tuna fishing technique is to catch a yellowfin tuna is using baits and lures, however, there are several other techniques that may work. 

You can use topwater techniques as yellowfins usually feed close to the water surface. They may hit the top waters at times, but not anything else. You can even try a fluorocarbon leader to lower the visibility levels as the tuna is known for its good eyesight. Moreover, the fluorocarbon leader also offers resistance to abrasions. 

Using chum can also prove to be an effective yellowfin tuna fishing technique in addition to the baits and lures while catching any type of tuna and so does it for the yellowfins. Whether you choose to use the chum with live bait or chunks of cut baits, the choice is yours but, this helps get the fish close to the boat. 

Fishing System

While you chose the right bait and the equipment to catch yellowfin tuna, you must also know about the different fishing systems before you plunge in for the catch.

  • Drifting

The drift method in the tuna fishing technique requires you to position the boat in a specific spot so that it drifts or floats with the water current over the pockets of bait that’s discovered by your sonar. However, this procedure requires a master hand since it's complicated else everything can go haywire. It requires you to put several lines in the water at the same time

  • Trolling

Trolling along with chumming is the primary fishing system used by anglers. The trolling procedure requires you to create a snazzy presentation of several lures trolled in the wake of the boat as it travels along at a speed of 7 to 8 nautical miles per hour. 

Trolling technique for yellowfin tuna
Try trolling to catch the deep water swimmers (source)
  • Still fishing

This is the simplest of all the tuna fishing techniques of fishing and one of the basic. If you can practice it regularly you can surely be a successful angler in no time. Still fishing is a procedure where you simply need quietly put your bait in the water and wait for the fish to find it. When practiced properly this can be the most effective methods. 

Yellowfin Tuna Lures

You can try tuna feathers, plastic skirts, Rapala type plugs, and even cedar plugs as best trolling lure for tunas. Halco max is another very good quality plug used for trolling as it offers great speed while trolling. Blue, white and green is some of the preferred colours. You can use single or double hooks instead of treble hooks because the lower number of hooks have fewer chances of bending or shaking. 

For a school of fish, you can use poppers as tuna lures and the best type of tuna would be the Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull. The colours are wonderful and it can be bounced speedily over the top or popped even slower. You can also use Shimano Orca which is a stick bait that has become popular these days and works faster close to the surface. Metal jigs in blue and metallic colours usually work fine when the fish are deep in the water. 


For small school sized tunas, the baits that work well are sardines and anchovies. For the larger variants you can use the Pacific Mackerel and for the even bigger ones, you can use live Skipjack Tuna of 2 to 5 pounds size. There are several baitfish that work, in fact, you can use anything available in the region for the Tuna that it feeds on, for example, squids. 

You can attach fishing baits in a kite for the larger Yellowfin Tunas as the kite holds the bait just on the surface. While goggle eyes work fine with kite method of fishing, you can also try trolling a live Skipjack for the enormous ones. In the absence of live baits, you can use chunking that is, entice the Yellowfin tuna with chunks of a huge baitfish and then throwing them over the sides like chum. 

lures for yellowfin tuna
Lures for Yellofin tuna (source)


These tips will help you to learn the right techniques and increase your chances of catching a yellowfin tuna. So, while you are mastering the tuna fishing techniques, make sure that you have the right equipment, right temperament, patience, and the focus to catch the torpedoes of the ocean. 

Cover Source

Get Started
603 Views - 0 Comments
10 Mins Read