Hooks for Tuna Fishing

November 11, 2021
2 Votes

Tuna fishing involves using small hooks, varying in size, due to their powerful appetites and keen sight. Tuna have sharp vision, making them efficient predators. To avoid hook shyness, use a strong wire hook. Tuna's sporting prowess requires a strong wire hook, as even small tuna can heat up the tackle. Quality hooks are crucial for successful tuna fishing.

Hook selection is incredibly important in tuna fishing for several reasons, all of which contribute to the angler's success in hooking and landing these powerful and elusive fish.

  1. Hooking efficiency: Tuna have tough, bony mouths, which can make it difficult to achieve a solid hook set. Choosing the right hook size, style, and strength can greatly increase the chances of the hook penetrating the fish's mouth and staying in place during the fight.
  2. Bait presentation: The size and style of the hook can greatly affect how the bait or lure is presented to the fish. A hook that is too large can make the bait look unnatural or unappealing, while a hook that is too small may not provide enough weight to cast the bait effectively or keep it at the desired depth. Choosing the right hook size and style for the specific bait or lure being used is crucial for maximizing its effectiveness.
  3. Hook strength and durability: Tuna are incredibly strong fighters, and they can put enormous strain on the hook and leader during the battle. Using a hook that is too weak or poorly constructed can lead to straightened or broken hooks, lost fish, and frustration for the angler. High-quality, strong hooks made from materials like carbon steel or titanium are essential for withstanding the power of these fish.
  4. Hook penetration and holding power: The shape and design of the hook can also affect its ability to penetrate the fish's mouth and maintain a secure hold during the fight. Hooks with a wide gap and a sharp, needle-like point are often preferred for tuna fishing, as they can easily penetrate the tough jaw and provide excellent holding power. Some anglers also prefer circle hooks, which are designed to catch in the corner of the fish's mouth and reduce the risk of deep hooking or gut hooking.
  5. Regulations and conservation: In some areas, there may be specific regulations regarding the size and type of hooks that can be used for tuna fishing. These regulations are often put in place to minimize the risk of injury or mortality to the fish, particularly for species that are considered overfished or threatened. Using the appropriate hook size and style can help ensure compliance with these regulations and promote responsible and sustainable fishing practices.

Overall, hook selection is a critical aspect of tuna fishing that should not be overlooked. By choosing the right hook for the specific situation, anglers can increase their chances of success and enjoy the incredible experience of battling these magnificent fish on the open ocean. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice angler, taking the time to carefully consider your hook choice can make all the difference in your tuna fishing adventures.

Varied Hooks for Tuna Fishing

When it comes to offshore fishing for tuna, hook size is a critical factor that can make or break your success on the water. Regardless of the species or location, experienced tuna fishermen know that using small hooks is essential for consistently hooking and landing these powerful fish.

At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive to use small hooks when targeting such large and strong fish. After all, tuna are known for their incredible power and speed, and it's not uncommon for them to weigh hundreds of pounds. However, there are several reasons why small hooks are the preferred choice among tuna anglers.

Firstly, tuna have relatively small mouths compared to their body size, and they are known for being finicky eaters. When presented with a bait or lure, they will often approach it cautiously and take short, quick bites to test its palatability. If the hook is too large, it can easily deter the fish or cause it to miss the hook entirely. By using a smaller hook, anglers can increase their chances of getting a solid hook set and keeping the fish on the line.

Secondly, small hooks are less likely to be noticed by the fish, which can be especially important when fishing with live or natural baits. Tuna have excellent eyesight and are quick to spot anything that looks out of place or unnatural. A large hook can easily spook the fish or cause it to refuse the bait altogether. By using a small hook that is well-concealed within the bait, anglers can increase their chances of getting a bite and fooling even the wariest of tuna.

Finally, small hooks are often stronger and more durable than larger hooks, which is crucial when fighting a powerful fish like a tuna. Tuna are known for their long, hard runs and their ability to quickly change direction, which can put enormous strain on the hook and leader. A small, high-quality hook made from strong materials like carbon steel or titanium can withstand this pressure and help ensure that the fish stays hooked until it can be brought to the boat.

Of course, the exact size and style of hook used will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of the tuna being targeted, the type of bait or lure being used, and the specific fishing conditions. In general, though, most tuna fishermen will use hooks ranging from size 1/0 to 6/0, with the smaller sizes being used for smaller baits and the larger sizes being used for larger baits or lures.

Whether you're fishing for bluefin tuna in the cold waters of Nova Scotia or yellowfin tuna in the warm waters of the Bahamas or Gulf of Mexico, using the right hook size is essential for success. By selecting small, strong, and well-concealed hooks, you can increase your chances of hooking and landing these incredible fish, and experiencing the thrill of a lifetime on the open ocean. So the next time you head out in search of tuna, be sure to pay close attention to your hook selection, and remember that sometimes, less is more when it comes to catching these magnificent creatures.

The Predatory Nature of Tuna

Yellowfin, bluefin, bigeye and smaller tuna species are all tremendous predators from the moment they hatch. Their constant movement begets a high metabolism. In turn, tuna have voracious appetites. This has them constantly on the stalk seeking out schools of fish like herring, mackerel, and even eels.

Tuna are sight hunters who possess acute vision to the extreme. It is said that tuna have the sharpest vision of any bony fish. This type of sight allows it to accurately identify a fish it wants to eat and efficiently catch it. The superior vision of tuna may also allow it to accurately gauge the distance to its prey, making it an efficiently lethal predator. The ability to spot its prey by sight and then hunt it down with precision works to a fisherman's disadvantage.

Overcoming Hook Shyness

Great eyesight and strong instincts make tuna leery of anything not completely natural. This equates to tuna displaying extravagant hook shyness. These fish can be discerning to the point of ignoring hooked baits in the midst of a feeding frenzy. You really want to be able to hide the hook in the bait, so the tuna cannot see it. This is where the right small hook serves you well.

The sporting prowess of tuna necessitates a strong wire hook. Even small tuna can pour heat on your tackle. If your hooks are not up to the task, there is the chance of losing a fish to hook failure. The best advice I can offer is to always use quality hooks when tuna fishing. Let's look at a couple of different tuna species and hooks that work well for each.

Bluefin Tuna: The King Kong of Tuna

The bluefin tuna is the king kong of all tuna species, possessing ample size, speed, power to test the limitations of even the most robust hooks. Giant bluefin tuna get well over 1,000 pounds and pull harder than probably any other fish in the oceans. You would think that such a big powerful fish would require a big beefy hook. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have to do everything possible to hide the hook from these bruisers. If there is any part of the hook showing, you might find yourself with a skunk.

A proven bluefin tuna hook is the Gamakatsu heavy duty live bait circle hook in 11/0 and 12/0. This super stout hook is a little bigger than a quarter. That is not very big hook, in appearance, for a fish that exerts the kind of pressure the bluefin tuna does. It is, however, one that will not fail you.

Yellowfin Tuna: Adapting to Varied Sizes

For the ever popular yellowfin tuna, the size of your fish varies based on fishery. In the eastern Atlantic the average size fish is smaller that those caught in the northern Gulf of Mexico. For example, in the Bahamas, which has a well establish yellowfin tuna fishery, the average fish is under 50 lbs. The Gulf fishery, especially out of Louisiana, fish easily exceed 100 lbs and range up to 200.

Just like the bluefin tuna, yellowfin are particular about how they feed and will steer clear of baits with exposed hooks. You need to do your best to hide the hooks in the baits, unless the fish are feeding at a frantic pace. Then you can get away with some exposed hook, but it is best to try a bury it in the bait.

Hook Selection in Different Tuna Fisheries

In both the Bahamas and the Gulf, you will need to use small circle hooks. To gauge the difference in tuna hooks being used, I sampled groups of well known successful tuna fishermen to see what each used in the respective fishery.

The guys in the Bahamas commonly use baits that are not overly large. Since the yellowfin tuna are not that large, the hooks trend on the smaller size. Owner 5363 mutu 2/0, 3/0 or 4/0 for dead bait and live bait are the norm, when dealing with fish under 50 lbs. It is rare to catch 100 lb fish in the islands.

Louisiana is a different ball game. Here you will experience plenty of good sized fish. The crews there will use as big a hook as they can get away with. Tuna hook size is largely driven by bait size. The baits being used vary in size, based upon the season. The yellowfin tuna hooks used range from 6/0 up to 10/0, depending on the size of fish around and the bait size being used. The Mustad 39950 gets used a great deal. With bigger fish over 100 lbs, crews will use 7/0-10/0. For smaller fish under 100 lbs, 6/0 and 7/0 are utilized. It doesn't matter whether you are using dead bait or live bait, bigger baits means bigger hooks. When you are targeting larger trophy sized yellowfin tuna, over a 100 lbs., the baits used will be bigger.

Learn more about yellowfin tuna fishing in the Bahamas and Louisiana.

Seth Horne In The Spread,
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