Tuna are some of the hardiest, fastest and strongest fish in the ocean. This makes tuna a prime candidate for deep sea anglers and those hoping to take the fishing trip of a lifetime. But, in order to catch and reel in these giants, you must first have the proper tuna fishing gear. From the rod to the line and even the sinkers – tuna fishing gear must be strong enough to withstand the strength and speed of a fleeing tuna. Below, you will find a list of suggested tuna fishing gear. But, don’t go out and buy it straight away. At Scott Bruce Tuna Charters, we provide all the necessary gear to pull in a large bluefin tuna and the expertise to guide you through the exciting process!
A quick note: Gear varies slightly depending on the type of tuna fishing being done. Chunking, or anchoring the boat and using balloons to float stick bait and live bait to attract the fish, requires sinkers and other bait that will entice the tuna to bite. On the other hand, trolling uses spreader bars that when seen from below (like a fish), look like a school of fish swimming behind the boat with the furthest from the boat containing hooks. Find out more below:
The rod – When attempting to catch a bluefin tuna, rods must be strong. Tuna can weigh from 300 – 1200+ lbs on Prince Edward Island with an avg weight of 700 lbs. Bluefin caught off the coast of New Jersey or Canada generally weigh between 80 and 120 pounds. These “smaller” fish don’t necessarily require the same type of rod used for an 800 pound marlin, but an unlimited class rod can ensure you are ready for anything.
The reel – A strong rod can take the weight of a strong fish like the bluefin tuna, but the reel must also be tough. A 130 pound reel is a good bet. Back this up with 200 pound dacron line in black when chunking. Dacron is a synthetic polyester material used in textiles, but can also be used as backing as it is big, soft and hollow so it floats.
The outrigger – Equipped with roller trollers, outriggers allow more lines to be in the water simultaneously, and it keeps them from tangling – allowing you to have more opportunities to make a catch!
The line – Most trolling crews like to use a high visibility lines to ensure they can see behind the boat. By splicing it to the dacron, you can create a strong and durableline that is less likely to let you down in a fight with a bluefin. High visibility lines can also be used when chunking – but it is not necessary.
The leader – A leader attaches the lure to the rest of the line. This is an often underappreciated piece of tuna fishing gear. Leaders should be strong and durable, and rated for at least the weight of the line they are attached too. Leaders are attached by a knot, a crimp, or both. G crimps tend to be most used by tuna crews.
The lure – Lures are what get the tuna to bite, so using lures that are attractive and enticing is important. Tuna are generally about 60-100 feet below the boat, so lures that dive down will catch their attention more easily. Lures can also be hooked onto a spreader to entice the tuna to bite.
The hook – This is where things begin to get a bit more complicated, depending on the type of fishing you are doing.
- Chunking: Hook size should match the size of the bait you are using. By using a hook no larger than your bait, you can entice the tuna to take a bite.
- Trawling: Hooks can be larger when trawling, especially when using a spreader bar. Spreader bars function as bait – they look like a swimming group of fish
No matter what kind of hook you are using, be sure it is strong enough to withstand a fight with a bluefin.
Tuna fishing gear can be complicated and expensive. If you are considering trying tuna fishing, be sure to consult local guides or other fishermen who may have good tips about what types of bait, line and lures work for them. Looking to try tuna fishing on for size before making the financial investment? Scott Bruce Tuna Charters offers charter trips including gear to spend an afternoon fishing for bluefin tuna. Find out more about the tours and the crew here.