17 Tuna Fishing Tips for Beginners: How to Catch Tuna


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 eating. These tuna fishing tips will give you the best information to have a successful adventure and to 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 go catch. While some people 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 yellow fin tuna can exceed 300 pounds, so make sure your gear is big enough for that monster you may be lucky enough to hook.

Species of Tuna

There are 8 ‘true’ species of tuna, which include:

  1. Albacore
  2. Southern Bluefin
  3. Bigeye
  4. Pacific Bluefin
  5. Atlantic Bluefin
  6. Blackfin
  7. Longtail
  8. Yellowfin

17 Tuna Fishing Tips

  • Look for birds – this often highlights a bait ball that tuna feeding under the water have 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.
  • Tuna have large schools and you can often get multiple people hooking up at the same time. Make sure you have a plan for what to do when this happens so you don’t end up losing both fish.
  • Tuna schools are very mobile and can often disappear at a moments notice, so be ready to move as soon as they vanish – they won’t be far away, so keep your eyes open.
  • Retrieve your lure as fast as possible – you won’t be able to retrieve faster than a tuna can swim!
  • Keep one eye on your fish finder – the bait ball might not be visible on the surface.
  • Tuna can grow over 300 pounds in size (a lot over!), so make sure you have heavy gear ready to go.
  • 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.
  • Trolling over and around bait balls can be very successful, particularly for big tuna. The idea speed is 6 to 8 knots, but it’s best to slow down to 5½ to 6½ knots for deeper water
  • Tuna are a migratory species, so make sure you are going fishing at the right time of year for your particular location.
  • 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 a variety of colors and sizes in your tackle box.
  • Fresh bait is also a good option such as squid, mackerel, herring, butterfish, sardines or skipjack. The key is to hide the hook.
  • High wind and rough seas can scare off the fish as much as they scare off the angler.
  • Tuna have great eyesight and can be scared off by thick metal leader, so adjust accordingly.
  • 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.
  • For best eating, your tuna should be bled immediately.
  • You will need a serious offshore rod 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 from the line.
  • If the area looks like tuna territory but you can’t see any bait balls then chum and chunk.

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 that 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. If you are chasing smaller tuna then you might want to scale down your bait.

We have put together a full post dedicated to tuna lures that you might like here.


In conclusion, Tuna are one of the world’s favorite fish to eat but also to catch. They can grow to massive sizes and put up a huge fight, giving them a reputation as a big game fish.

I have personally caught a lot of tuna in my time and love the excitement of spotting a bait ball and the birds diving and knowing that in a few minutes I will have a fight on my hands and fish in the boat.

There are plenty of other tips out in the world, so read as much as you can to give yourself enough knowledge to make the best decisions when you are out in the boat.

If you have any tips of your own to share with the fishing community then please leave a comment below. I hope we can make all tuna fisherman more successful.

Finally, I have written a guide on other saltwater fish species in USA that you might find interesting.

Happy fishing!

Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.