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Best Tuna Fishing Lures

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Successful Albacore Fishing

Caught Trolling & Jigging

Caught Trolling & Jigging

  1. Clones
  2. Diving Plugs
  3. Cedar Plugs
  4. Iron Jigs
  5. Live Bait

Lure for Tuna Fishing

There are plenty of tuna fishing lures to choose from. The next time you are at the local tackle store by the coast take a look down the aisles for a few of these basic tools of the trade.

Every boat heading offshore in pursuit of fast swimming pelagic fish should have a few of each of these styles of baits as they can imitate most of the forage fish and can catch many different species. The most popular for trolling tend to be Rapala X Rap minnow divers, cedar plugs, and squid like lures called clones. But, when the boat is stopped and active fish are around casting lead head jigs with swim baits and dropping irons / butterfly jigs is very effective at hooking into large numbers of fish.

Albacore tuna fishing is a unique West coast fishery. The fish swim along the warms currents of the Eastern Pacific that touch the shores of the US during the summer months. This popular fish of anglers in California, Oregon, and Washington can be caught with a variety of saltwater lures. Albacore can often be found as close as 15 - 45 miles offshore in warmer water areas along various ocean breaks, targeting these fish require boats capable of making long distance runs to the fishing grounds. It often is no easy task in locating and then catching them and can take significant effort before ever getting a bite, so having the right spread of tuna catching lures is critical to having a great day versus coming home with nothing.

Rapala X-Raps Catch TUNA!

Trolling for Tuna Fish

Trolling lures behind the boat for tuna such as Albacore or Yellow Tail is an awesome way to catch these fish. The troll speed for this type of fishing is much faster than a traditional trolling speed that anglers use in freshwater so make sure you are using lures that can handle it.

A lure that is trolled behind the boat needs to be able to run smoothly at relatively quick speeds and most Tuna skippers will set out a large spread of lures utilizing anywhere from 6 to 12 rods and outrigger equipment, so matching lures together is very important. Some lures run best when tolling at slower speeds and some at faster speeds while others can be fished at any speed and still catch fish. Tuna are often swimming along deep under the surface, however will rise quickly to feed on bait in the surface, which is what anglers trolling lures are trying to imitate. With the wash of the boat prop and a large spread of tuna catching baits, the goal is to imitate an entire ball of bait fish that are getting attacked and ripe for the pickings by a school of hungry fish.

Popular Albacore Tuna Trolling Lures

  • Cedar Plugs - Simple, yet deadly effective. The cedar plug comes in many colors including a natural wood color. Popular colors tend to be white with red head and purple. The bait floats and swishes around and dives a little and rises to the surface providing the right action that a induces a strike.
  • Diving Minnows - The most popular diving minnow tends to be the Rapala X Rap in either a size 20 or 30. These are trolled at a slightly slower speed then cedar plugs and clones and they dive deep behind the boat and have excellent vibrating action. When the fish are on an X Rap bite, that can be the only thing that they want to eat.
  • Clones - The are a squid looking lure that has a large hook inside and skips along the surface. These lures work great when coupled with an outrigger. The clones being soft plastic come in hundreds of colors.

Catching Tuna on the Troll

Albacore at the Fish Market

Albacore at the Fish Market

Casting for Tuna

After catching a fish on the troll, you have located a group of willing fish, so many anglers like to drop chum in the water such as IQF Anchovies, cut herring, or cut squid, to feed the school of fish and keep them around the boat. At the same time, if live bait is aboard dropping a live swimming herring is amazing, however live bait can be difficult to buy at many marina's so using baits that can be tossed towards jumping fish such as swim baits or iron jigs is the preferred method. Drop the lure and let it drop 100 feet or so and start reeling and jigging it back as fast you can to the boat and repeat until a fish is caught. Sometimes only going down 50 feet is better depending on how close the school of fish are to the boat. There is nothing like having the lure stop mid drop when you are sitting in 1500 feet of water, you did not hit the bottom, a fish has eaten the lure, click the reel over and have fun.

One thing many experienced albacore anglers will do is keep one hooked fish in the water until another fish has been hooked, this tends to help keep the fish around as one of there buddies is running around the boat they think there is still bait nearby and will hang around and take a swipe at one of your other offerings. Swim baits such as the ones made by Big Hammer are excellent choices to cast at active fish, a proven technique while on the troll is to set out one or two rods with swimbaits, but place them 150+ feet behind the boat, even when fighting a fish leave those lures in the water and as they sink with the boat slowing and drifting tend to be too much to handle for a hungry tuna and can quickly turn a single fish into a double or triple for the boat.

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Catching Tuna on a Stop


Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on October 04, 2012:

I've always wanted to catch a Marlin. I'm sure my arms would wear out before I landed it, though!

CZCZCZ (author) from Oregon on October 04, 2012:

It is certainly a fun experience. Hope you get to go and chase the long fins or other giant TUNA's someday.

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on October 04, 2012:

I've always wanted to fish for tuna and other big fish - one day, I'll get to do it!

Great hub and videos.

Voted up.

Maddie Ruud from Oakland, CA on September 13, 2012:

I've never been fishing, so it was really interesting to read (and watch) more specifically how it's done.

Georgie Lowery from North Florida on September 12, 2012:

This looks a whole lot nicer than the practically fermented chicken livers we used to use to catch catfish. Great Hub. I learned a thing or two! :)

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