How to Catch Yellowfin Tuna—Light Gear & Big Fish

Increase Your Chances of Catching Tuna

An exceptionally powerful, fast, and unreal fighting fish for an angler to catch is the yellowfin tuna. These fish not only put up a fight that rivals any fish in the ocean but they are also easily one of the best table fares to bring home. Fishing for these incredible fish, however, is not easy but with these tips, you are certain to find success for yellowfin tuna.

Conditions & Locations for Yellowfin Tuna

As with all types of fishing, timing your fishing trip is everything. Yellowfin tuna are often caught post-frontal with winds 20 to 25 knots. 

As for locating yellowfin tuna, though yellowfin can be caught worldwide in almost every ocean, there are few better places in the world than just past the Florida Keys in the Bahamas. 

Every spring, a fishery just northeast of Bimini that is sometimes called the Tongue of The Ocean produces world class tuna fishing. A deep channel cuts between islands almost three thousand feet deep. Just make sure to check into Bahamian customs before fishing the Bahamian waters. This can also give you an opportunity to check in on where the fishing is happening too! 

In the Tongue of the Ocean, a hard east wind in early spring creates a large current rip that attracts not only yellowfin tuna and other species of tuna but also big dolphin, marlin and all other Pelagic fish species.

Gear for Yellowfin Tuna

All fish species require not only good gear, but knowledge of how to use that gear. Fishing for yellowfin tuna is no different. The advances in fishing technology over the past few years has put the angler at the advantage and it is simply knowing how to leverage this gear that leads to not only successful day on the water, but too a more fun day catching fish.


The yellowfin tuna in this area off the Bahamas can range from 10 pounds to over 400 pounds. Long pectoral and dorsal fins paired with a very large tail in comparison to body size, make the yellowfin tuna extremely fast and very powerful. And consequently—very fun to catch! 

The gear that was needed traditionally, was large heavy reels and rods with huge backbone. Now spinning gear has evolved. 

An angler can chase these giant 80 to 100-pound yellowfin tuna on spinning gear that never would have been adequate enough in the past before the advances in technology. This lighter gear makes the fight on a yellowfin tuna vastly more fun than the heavy rods and reels from the past. 

Regardless of the type of tackle you are using, once a yellowfin is hooked, be ready for an incredible fight. They are just simply a powerful fish that not only taste great but make an amazing gamefish. Their strong and aggressive runs put an angler to the test. 

Radar & Bottom Readers

One of the most crucial tools when you are yellowfin fishing, is to have a good radar. A good radar can read up to 15 miles out, helping you locate fish. 

Another vital piece of equipment is your bottom reader. A bottom reader gives an angler an idea of just what is underneath. 

A yellowfin will mark very differently than other types of tuna. Where a blackfin tuna will mark as tiny dots very close together, a yellowfin tuna will mark as a zig-zag, or a small “s” shape on the bottom.

Techniques for Yellowfin Tuna

There are a vast array of techniques an angler can use for tuna, but the key to having a successful day is to have a variety of baits and a variety of techniques in which to chum with those baits.

Find the Birds

One of the best places to start fishing for yellowfin tuna is under the birds. When you see birds and they are dipping or diving down to the water and picking stuff off the surface, you know the tuna are there. 

This is because tuna push little baitfish up to the surface, thus attracting the birds to come into feed. An angler can leverage this by starting off trolling to cover water where the birds are feeding. 

Trolling for Tuna

One of the best things to do when starting your day looking for tuna is to troll. Trolling is essentially prospecting– you are not setting up a drift and chumming just yet. After locating the feeding birds, you roughly know you are in the right area. 

While you are trolling under the birds, look for busts and try to figure out what species these birds are on. Use your bottom reader and radar to help you identify what species of fish are under you. 

Set a Drift

Once you are certain there are yellowfin tuna in the area, get upwind and set a drift. Start chunking, or cutting, up your bait fish and throwing them out. You are leaving a strong scent trail that will disperse as soon as it hits the water.

This scent trail will lure a yellowfin tuna in from deep and entice them to come to the surface. By doing this, you are essentially leaving a crumb trail that spans 200 to 300 yards behind you, leading the tuna right to you. 

After throwing out chunk bait, start sticking out your live baits with hooks. After keying in on the chummed water, yellowfin will be more than willing to come up and grab one of your live baits. 

Be ready for that infamous yellowfin fight but also don’t be surprised if you catch many other types of fish too as a bonus while yellowfin tuna fishing. Reel hard and be ready for anything. 

There is no doubt that after fighting the extremely fast and powerful gamefish, and incredible table fare fish that is the yellowfin tuna, that you will be hooked for life. With these techniques on how to locate yellowfin tuna, leverage your gear, and entice yellowfin into biting, there is little doubt that success will follow suit.