Yellowfin Tuna Fly Fishing

Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) are torpedo-shaped with a silver belly, inky metallic blue backs, and yellow sides. Both their dorsal fins and finlets are bright yellow. This fish species can be spotted in the (sub) tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna is found around the Seychelles Islands. Fly fishing for yellowfin tuna is hectic as they are prize fighters!

fish species yellowfin tuna
anglers with a yellowfin tuna
Good example of a yellowfin tuna

Anglers are still spoilt to be able to catch yellowfin tuna throughout the year, even though this fish species is one of the most overfished tuna species globally. Still, with Alphonse Fishing Company’s strict catch and release policy, the fly fishing impact on marine life has been minimalised. Although the yellowfin tuna is not an easy catch – known to be aggressive, only skilled anglers manage to land one. 

Key Facts About Yellowfin Tuna


Yellowfin Tuna Average Lenght

1.2 m


Yellowfin Tuna Average Weight

180 kg


Yellowfin Tuna Diet



Yellowfin Tuna Diet



Yellowfin Tuna Age

12 – 14 years

Angler with a yellowfin tuna

The Search For Yellowfin Tuna

Spotting a yellowfin can sometimes be difficult as they don’t like to play with their food. There will most probably be a boil on the teaser or a splash, and your guide will urge you, often in an elevated tone, to drop your fly. There are also times when you will see the obvious feeding frenzy with birds dipping into the water to pick up bait; a sight like this may also produce breaching fish, and that’s where you will want to make your shot.

Best Yellowfin Tuna Flies


This popper is tied on an 8/0 Gamakatsu hook and resembles most baitfish, but most importantly makes some noise when stripped through the water. Hook quality has a lot to do with the fly chosen for this job, as tuna fish are very quick to bend out or break poor-quality designs.


A Tandem Tube Fly not bigger than 20 cm in length with lots of flash will work great. These flies work well because, like most others, they appeal to a fish’s carnal instinct, causing it not to think twice and eat. Flies that have a lot of flash seem to work well with enticing these fish.

Best Yellowfin Tuna Rod Set Up

Fly fishing is an art form that not everyone can master. It takes skill, patience, determination, and knowledge. The right rod will take you a lot closer to landing the catch. Now, when going up against a yellowfin tuna fish, you will want to have as much rod-bend as possible as they are notorious for sounding or swimming deep when hooked. Big flies and poppers are generally used when targeting tuna off-shore. Thus a heavier rod is also needed to turn over the fly and make a decent shot. A 12-weight rod is perfect for this task as it has enough bending capacity to not break and to ensure you have enough fun, whilst at the same time having enough stiffness to keep that fish in close proximity and away from any luring predators. That being said, if you were to commit to just fishing for yellowfin tuna on the fly, stepping up to the larger sizes like your 14-16 weight range, one could turn this fish around a bit quicker.

A yellowfin tuna upclose

Best Tides For Yellowfin Tuna

The best tides for targeting these beautiful saltwater fish would be on a spring pushing tide and an hour before the drop on a neap tide fishing right into the high tide. The main reason for this is because the areas where we fish for the tuna are more than likely affected by dirty water leaving the flats of nearby atolls, which in turn affects the visibility for these fish to feed.

Angler with a yellowfin tuna
yellowfin tuna
A yellowfin tuna
yellowfin tuna

Making The Catch

Now, if the yellowfin that you are trying to catch has come up on a teaser and your fly is in the water, then give it a couple of strips to try and create some disturbance. More often than not, these fish travel in schools, and there will be more fish around. Alternatively, if you’ve spotted your fish in a feeding frenzy, your guide will position you in the spot where, even if you think you’re casting in the wrong direction, those fish will circle back around to where your fly is. In both cases, constant contact with your line is a must, and we suggest popping your fly to create the most disturbance and strip setting once the fish has grabbed the fly. Absolutely no rod setting as this will pull the fly away from the fish.

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