How To Catch Tuna? Trolling And Big Game Fishing

Tuna fishing

Tuna,  habitat and morphology

Minimum sizes of bluefin tuna fishing

Tuna is one of the most powerful species of our seas.

Maximum size: more than 3 m and more than 600 Kg of weight.

Longevity: up to 20 years.

Fecundity: 45,000,000 eggs / female of 1-1.2 mm. diameter.

Endothermy : maintain a body temperature between 18-25º C in waters between 3-30ºC

Swimming speed and attack: up to 30 Km / h

Sexual maturation: at 4-8 years (16-25 Kg.).

Breeding season: 1.5 months

Tuna fishing, much more than sport fishing

The fishing of the tuna to the brumeo. Almost all the high seas fishermen in Spain know that from the month of May each year the tunas enter the Mediterranean with the healthy intention of reproducing their species, this is called spawning , although it is fully demonstrated that there are cycles of more or less affluence of tunas, which due to different circumstances of water temperature, currents, climatology, abundance of food , and many other factors decide to put them in different places each year, what is certain is that each year the inflow of fish to the coasts is less and less, this is undoubtedly appreciated if you are a fisherman and you dedicate yourself to it either professionally or by hobby.

A relevant fact for this to happen is the super-exploitation of the fishing grounds, whether by local professional fishermen or foreigners who come to the Mediterranean at this time with the intention of making a living, we can also include in this over-exploitation of fisheries the increase in use of:


Volanta nets

Korean longliners

Boats with the latest technologies

Aerial support for fishing

Undoubtedly this contribute to fleecing the tuna, forming part of the current disaster of this species, without a doubt it is a sad analysis, but as we can not solve the problem we will try to continue enjoying this fishing modality as long as we can . Therefore, I believe that the future of sport fishermen involves refining fishing techniques and trying new fishing methods, more selective and aware that at this rate there will be a few years of fishing for tunas in the Mediterranean .

In this post we will also try to capture the classic techniques of tuna fishing and without renouncing them, provide other innovative ideas and try to adapt experiences of this type of fishing in other parts of the globe. Traditionally this fishing modality has been called fishing to brumeo, or fishing of height , although now many fishermen prefer to call it Big Game , that is the same but in English, also it is called Big Game to trolling of height.

In recent years this modality counts every day with more followers in our Spain, now that every day there are fewer copies of tuna, if you read fishing magazines you will have noticed that every summer there are more clubs and communities that organize high-altitude fishing championships , clear with more negative results every day, that is why the uncontrolled organization of this type of competitions further aggravates the decline of specimens in the Mediterranean coasts.

The first sports fishermen, given the lack of means, tried to catch the giant tuna by imitating the local professionals, from using a line with buoys to try to stop the initial tuna bite by holding the rope in hand until it was exhausted, then harpooning it and trying to embark it. Then, butane bottles are sometimes used as buoys, even plastic containers of more than 50 liters filled with foam filling to fish for tuna.

Fortunately for more than 20 years with the development of the economy and the increase of fishermen who are fans of sport fishing , shops specialized in fishing articles and accessories began to appear and with this came technological progress, both in reels and fishing rods. , all kinds of fishing hooks, different lines of high resistance and endless utensils related to the practice of this great sport. This advance allowed those who started fishing for tuna more than 2 decades ago to enjoy great fishing days, with double and triple catches of this great predator of the sea. Although it is true that the regulation in weight and number of catches per fisherman has been reduced,You can already consider yourself lucky if you get 3 or 4 tuna at a time in a season , it is true that the pleasure of the haul is such that it is considered a good one.

What is the best material for large tuna fishing?

Once the concepts are clarified we will start with the equipment, rods, reels, resistances of the same and something very important, the lines and the hooks, our intention is to deepen in this section little by little until completing a fishing equipment in accordance with These great sea monsters that inhabit our waters.

Fishing team

Fishing reels for tunaThe chapter of the reels is something that could lead us to a long discussion, on the one hand are the purists who advise trying to fish as "sporting" to the tuna , with the finest possible lines and with smaller resistance reels, with the object to give more opportunities to the fish, on the other side is the suffering fisherman, who needs to invest a small capital to try to fish for tuna, and is not willing to make concessions, with much more powerful and heavy materials. Depending on your philosophy as a fishermanand your purchasing power, one material or another is advised. If you decide for the seconds, we will use the best material and the most resistant in each moment, it's funny that you have three bites throughout the season and that they break the thread, for that reason, they are advised:

Big Game fishing rods of 130 lbs or more

Multiplier reels of the same resistance

Drake lines with a minimum of 130 lbs. of resistance

Line foot if possible double or single of 150 lbs. without turning

United directly to the dragon's soul

Use a good well-capped hook

Fishing rods for tuna bruise

Best baits for fishing tuna

The baits we use are the same that are part of the tuna diet, being able to use sardines, boga, mackerel, anchovy, sardinella, jack mackerel . For the brumeo , we use sardines, we also make a mixture of crushed sardines with hard bread, a little sand or sawdust , all mixed with sea water and with a half liter of sardine oil , all this we are throwing into the water in a way intermittent, every 10 or 15 minutes , gives very good results, we also tie a net of 5 or 6 kg of sardines hit in the bow

.At the height of the waterline, with the pitch of the ship you leave an excellent and odorous trail, which is very good for tuna and other large fish. Below we go deeper into the baits preferred by tuna .

Other fishing accessories

Now we are going to comment on the depths to which we have to put the hooks duly primed, we usually use 3 rods , although this depends on the amplitude of our vessel, these are located at 15, 25 and 35 meters deep , for this I use the French balloon technique, measure the line and add a balloon to maintain the desired depth. It is essential to carry good stainless steel hooks on board to bring the fish closer once we have overcome it.

Whenever we have a bite, regardless of whether we are fishing in the pink or anchored, we will have the engines running and free to maneuver the boat and prevent the fish from getting under the hull with the risk of breaking the line. The combat chair does not have to have support , this will facilitate us maneuvering better with the rod and take more advantage of our effort to bring the fish to the boat.

Australian fishing kites or Kite Fishing

Kite Fishing or fishing with Australian kitesThis fishing modality was born in Australia more than a decade ago, as it is to be supposed that the Americans began to practice it immediately and they have perfected it. It consists of launching a kite with a reel and reed that we use to practice trolling deep but without plumb , for this, fresh natural bait is used and if possible live, previously fished in the area, which will guarantee a chopped almost sure, to ensure that the kite is always tense, it is advisable that the decking of the boat is as slow and uniform as possible, we advise you to use a good layer anchor.

Use a mount with a small lead to lost, that is to say that when we have a bit the lead will open and fall to the bottom. Those who do not have nursery in the boat you can use this ingenious trick that we show you next , in a bottle of mineral water without bottom, then to enter sea water with a hose through the mouth of the bottle with little pressure, this will keep the bait alive and fresh until it is used. You can make assemblies with leads and without leads, you can put as many lines in the kite as you can, if you have a dive, the rest of the rods must be out of the water in order to avoid unpleasant lines that can jeopardize the capture of the piece.

What is the preferred bait of tunas?

On this issue we could extend for pages and pages, one thing is very clear, when there is a year of good entry of tuna, any bait will be the right one, now, when few enter as it is happening in recent years, we must try tune to the maximum with the baits . Traditionally both the mackerel or the boga have gone to the hook by the spine, and depending on the size of the bait with the straw put by the eye to keep it stiff. But when we use sardines, sardines or anchovies as bait, the most used in these places is to pass them to the hook directly through the eyes to prevent them from being released from the hook.

There are times when the tuna does not want to eat , it is bad, because it sees the hook or the line, so what we do here, is to start it with the same bait that we are using, but if we step on it and almost disembowel, we throw it by stern, another one by prow, if we see that they eat it, that usually they do it, we prepare another well trodden one and we throw it to him this time with hook and it almost always turns out, itch!

When we go out fishing for tuna it is so important to prepare the bait or bait , as well as the mixture that we will use to fish from the boat to the brumeo although it seems trivial, this mixture will serve to attract the tuna or some other predator that is inside the trail that we will leave, so we will start by gathering the ingredients that we will use to prepare a tasty and smelly mixture, but very attractive for the fish that we intend to capture. We must prepare the mixture with sardine or crushed anchovy, for this I advise you to use a meat grinder driven by a crank, which are used to make sausages, you can find it in any hardware store, they have a small adjustment lathe and you can adjust it to the ship's gift to work comfortably.

Once crushed the sardine you will see that it is turning into a paste to which you will add sea water and if you are foresighted you will have brought some loaves of hard bread , all this mixture is forming a kind of smelly but perfect dough, if you also have oil of sardine , very common today in fishing supply stores , will be the perfect mix. So we will throw sardines crushed with the hand before the launch, and every ten or fifteen minutes a pot of the potion that we have prepared previously. If with this you do not fish a tuna, friends is that there is not.😉

Trolling tuna fishing

Fishing tuna trolling or trollingTuna curry fishing is one of the most exciting fishing modalities that can be practiced in the Mediterranean. There is nothing else to see in the Nautical Salons the fascination caused by high seas videos . Tuna is not only one of the most potent fish we can fight, but we also have the luck to enjoy in the Mediterranean the two most delicious tuna species in the kitchen, the bluefin tuna and albacore tuna also called bonito north . The bluefin tuna is considered by the Japanese as the Jabugo of the tunas and they even pay more than € 60 per kilo for the tuna belly (called Toro in Japanese restaurants) of a Mediterranean bluefin tuna.

The albacore or bonito of the north is the best tuna to prepare in preserve (to be fixed in the price of a tuna belly in any supermarket) and to prepare with the traditional recipes of the Mediterranean cuisine. Do not confuse the white tuna or bonito of the north (Thunnus Alalunga) with the Bonito (Sarda Sarda) which is a much coarser and dark meat fish. Nor with the so-called tuna clear (typical of canned) that is no more than yellowfin tuna or skipjack tuna , culinary qualities much lower than albacore or albacore tuna. Both bluefin tuna and albacore are deep-sea pelagic specieswith migratory customs and therefore within our reach only a few weeks a year. In the Balearic Islands are usually fished between June and September and the sizes vary a lot but in general trolling get copies of between 5 and 15 kilos  that guarantee a powerful combat, adrenaline and fun if we use light equipment of a maximum of 30 pounds .

Trolling is a technique of fishing from a boat consisting of dragging a bait or decoy , so that the fish feels tempted in its capture. There are a number of techniques depending on the type of species that is to be captured. We must have several aspects in mind, such as:

Fishing tackle

There are several ways of troll fishing , these will be defined as:  troll surface, trolling medium background and trolling background . Within each of these modalities there are different methods, conventional and personal methods used by each fisherman according to their experiences.

Surface trolling

Surface trolling differs from other modes in that the bait is not ballasted, so that it remains on the surface or a few centimeters away from it at all times. The species are varied since they can capture species whose habitat is indistinctly background, medium background and surface. You can capture all kinds of species such as bonito, frigate tuna, mackerel, pompano, amberjack, sea bass or even some varieties of bottom fish. Unlike with the rest of troll modalities, in this one, and whenever you want to obtain small pieces of mackerel, verdeles, palometas, horse mackerel, dubbing, spit , etc, you can do without rod and reel, only having a line of line and supporting the thread with the hand.It is advisable to use this technique only for small pieces , but it usually happens when you are not prepared that if you pick a bigger piece, we will lose the piece almost sure, and we will thank you not to lose a finger if you get tangled in your hand .

After this short introduction we are going to delve into the surface trolling for tuna:  Depending on the characteristics of the area where we go fishing, we will need a type of boat according to the distance we have to travel to reach the area of fishing, you will wonder what comes this, well, for example, in the area of the Gulf of Valencia there is little depth, to reach 100 meters deep you need to travel 13 miles. This will give you an idea that the boats that we use to practice this type of fishing must meet a minimum of requirements necessary to go fishing with all the guarantees of safety.

The boats they use have a minimum of 8 meters in length and double motorization , in addition to being perfectly equipped. To pretend to fish in the outings, the first thing is that it is the time of the tuna , in Spain it usually starts from May, but as we have said before, this depends a lot on the temperature of the water and the climatic conditions of the previous winter. Sometimes they advance a bit to come, secondly to know a little to what depth meters are usually , for this it is important to know where they are fishing professionals who fish the sardine and anchovy, the tuna needs to feed and goes looking for banks of this type of fish for that purpose.

The Secrets of Fishing in the Sea

Do not you still have the best book on all the Secrets of Fishing in the Sea?


Well now we know that there are tunas and where they are more or less, once checked the proper functioning of our boat, reviewed the equipment we are going to use, rods, reels, lines, baits and lures etc. It is important that we are in the area at dawn , it is common knowledge that the tuna when it is best to eat is at this time. We will adapt the speed of the boat to the speed necessary for this type of fishing, between 5 and 8 knots , the days of calm sea we can reach up to 10 knots, once the lures of different colors have been chosen, we will start to launch the lines, first the exterior ones to the boat, we will launch them 50 meters away, then we will launch the ones that will fish more inside with a bit of lead, with the end that do not get confused when we see the boat and we will reduce the distance 7 or 8 meters with respect to the previous ones , and so on alternating without lead and with lead and also, reducing the distance

At sea there are signs that indicate activity by the tuna , logically if we see them jumping eating, seagulls or other seabirds also tell us that there may be tunas, so it is important to see if there is any sign that denote their presence. We will navigate at the chosen speed and direction for half an hour . If we have a dive, we must identify what decoy it is and proceed to change the rest by lures of the same color as the one that has been bitten. The fishing knots are very important, because if we locate the tuna bank and we are well equipped, with the necessary baits, and it turns out that when the bites start we lose pieces due to bad knots, it is a mistake that we can not commit as sports fishermen .

Trolling equipment for tuna

The first and most important thing is to have an adequate boat. Unfortunately, deep sea fishing is very demanding given the distances we must travel and the distance from the coast. Therefore, to practice tuna curry, it is convenient to have a solid boat with a minimum of 7-8 meters and ideally with 2 diesel engines and of course with the appropriate electronics and safety means, including the best GPS and VHF .

We must have poles to separate the lines because we must carry a minimum of 6 since the possibilities of mincing multiply. As for the rods and reels ideally light equipment between 10 and 30 pounds depending on our experience and the desire we have to fight. The lighter the teams, the funnier the fight will be, although it will also be longer and more likely to make a mistake. We must remember that we are not professionals but we are practicing a sport and therefore it is not about taking fish but fishing and having fun. Using 50-pound or 80-pound equipment to fish for 10-kilogram tuna is like killing flies with cannons, losing all sporting grace as the fish will have no chance and the fight will last a few minutes.

However, the adrenaline and satisfaction of fishing a 15-kilogram tuna with a 10-pound team and after more than 15 minutes of combat is incredible and as soon as we have a little experience we will rarely lose any fish. Of course with a team of 10 pounds it will be very difficult to get a tuna of more than 30 kilos but we must take into account that 99% of the time we will drive tuna of less than 15 kilos which are the ones we have gone out to look for and which are the ones that should entertain us When we want to go for his older brothers the best thing is to try the brumeo with heavy equipment that there we can find real monsters of more than 150 kilos.

In any case with reeds and reels of 30 pounds we are more than enough and if we can load them with 50 pounds if we are rookies. The quality of the rods and reels is important . The better they are, the easier it will be to fish and the more we will enjoy. Carbon fishing rods are advisable , better with bearings at least at the tip, and reels with lever brake better than star. Penn, Shimano, Everol and Alutecnos, among others, are great reels although somewhat expensive, but the price is worth it. In addition to the rods and reels, we need a good battery of lures of various colors , generally feathers, submachine guns, poppers, pulpitos and pretty. For the curri the most indicated lures are the smallest, no more than 11 centimeters and it is good to have a variety of shapes and colors since the tunas are very capricious and every day they will choose a different one. It is therefore very good to carry between 6 and 8 types of lures depending on the size of the boat and the poles since this way we can walk a good diversity of shapes and colors. Finally we will need a combat belt to fight the tuna in stand-up and a hook to embark the bigger ones . With this and a handful of swivels and hooks, usually doubles, we complete the equipment.

Infographics: Fishing season of bluefin tuna

Infografia season bluefin tuna fishing

Preparation and assembly of the rigs

We can attach the lures to the reeds in two ways . Some people prefer not to use bass line and carry in a small fishing box the lures without arming and in another the hooks armed with a swivel. So for each cane we will pass the line for a lure and then we make a simple knot against the rotary and it is already mounted. To change the lure we have only to cut the line on the knot, change the lure and re-knot.

This method has 3 main advantages :

One is the saving of material by saving us carrying hooks for unused lures, avoiding the typical hoops to stow the lures, thimbles that we would need in the basses and swivels with clips.

The second is the ease of stowage both for the reeds (the thread when cutting the knot is completely collected on the reel) and especially for the boxes of the lures (not being mounted we can carry numerous feathers and pulpitos in a small small box in front of a big box that we will need for the lures armed in the typical plastic rings).

The third advantage is that we can work the tuna up to the tip of the rod in the absence of a spinner that prevents us from collecting the last meters of the bass and thus facilitating the collection of the piece.

The second alternative is to mount the lures in line basses and leave a swivel with clip on the end of the line of the rod. In principle this allows us greater speed to place or change the lures and avoid having to make knots offshore that some bothers. The problem besides not enjoying the advantages described above is that we have to mount something more powerful bass with thicker thread and thimbles to prevent wear . The lures will be placed at a short distance from the stern, leaving the center lines shorter and those of the poles further apart. So for an arrangement of 8 linesIt is convenient to start with the shortest line 15 meters from the stern and increase 5 meters each line to leave the furthest at 50 meters. The normal thing is that in the short lines we bite the red tunas that usually go solo or in a group and in the longest the albacore that usually go in pairs. Thus, it is not uncommon to have multiple bites of up to 5 or 6 red tunas in the shorter or double-billed reeds of albacore in the longer reeds .

Speed of the boat

We will move at a speed between 7 and 8 knots depending on the state of the sea (faster the more calm). The brake of the reel will be tared about a quarter of the resistance of the line. The fishing place is the hardest to hit. The tuna is gregarious and can move a lot in a single day so we are forced to walk our lures miles and miles to be more likely to find them. Obviously there are more suitable areas than others but this is not a guarantee of success and this is the difficulty and the grace of deep sea fishing. It is very common to find the bite without having seen any sign of tuna. Once we have a bite we will lower the speed until the idle of the outboard motor, that after having waited a few seconds in case we are lucky enough to drive more than one tuna at a time. Depending on our experience and the crew , it will not be necessary to collect all the lines, although usually the shorter ones.

From there we put on the combat belt and start pumping to try to recover line without touching the brake. The tuna is a powerful fighter so it will hit several races and offer a lot of resistance . Only when it begins to run out will stop leaving the line of the reel and we can start to recover. With light equipment the braking resistance will be lower so the tuna will have taken many meters of yarn and the fight will be long, hard and fun . The cane will bend until it's scary and we'll sweat a lot. Once we have the tuna in sight, the normal thing is that it is scared with the noise of the engines and some stick one last race making us rise the adrenaline and we enter the nerve.

With heavier equipment and tight brakes we lose this fun and we would just drag the fish and get it out of the water. When we have it within reach we can give a pull and raise it over the side or put the hook to ensure. If we are not going to eat it, we have to avoid the hook so we can release it alive after the "photo". If we snag it, it is normal to mount a blood show in the bathtub that will require a good wash before it dries. Once the tuna on board it is worth looking at the faces of the crew because we can see the excitement and happiness of all whether they are novice or expert fishermen.