Tuna Fishing - Topwater Lures for Yellowfin with Seth

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Instructor: Seth Hartwick

Seth Hartwick, a global fishing expert, shares his experience in yellowfin tuna fishing using topwater lures like poppers and stickbaits. He shares tips for using various tackle, including tuna hooks, split rings, swivels, leader types, materials, and angling techniques. He emphasizes the importance of build quality in selecting the right lure for different sea conditions.

Description / Review / Instructor


  • Subject: Topwater lures for yellowfin tuna and related tackle.
  • Evolution: A refined style of fishing has emerged.
  • Expert: Seth Hartwick, a renowned collector and tester of tuna lures.
  • Key Insights: Best lures, angling techniques, lure quality, build cost-effectiveness, sea conditions, and lure placement.
  • Additional Info: Recommendations on rods, reels, and essential tackle.

The world of topwater lures for yellowfin tuna and the related tackle has witnessed the evolution of a finely tuned style of fishing. The wide assortment of poppers and stickbaits vary in size, quality, and price. But how does one discern what's worth adding to their arsenal? Seth Hartwick, a tackle diva and extraordinary collector of tuna lures, has done the hard work for you.

Seth Hartwick: The Tuna Tackle Diva

Seth Hartwick is an extraordinary figure in the world of tuna fishing, embodying a level of expertise that could be described as borderline extreme. His passion for the pursuit of yellowfin tuna has taken him on a global journey, exploring almost every notable sport fishing destination. In his quest, Seth has experimented with every conceivable method and bait, gaining a wealth of knowledge in the process. Now, he is poised to impart this vast trove of insights and experiences, sharing the nuances and secrets of successful yellowfin tuna fishing with others who share his passion. His experiences not only make him a valuable resource for fellow anglers but also position him as a unique custodian of deep and broad knowledge in this specialized field.

The Best Lures, Techniques, and More

In this comprehensive video guide, Seth delves into the intricate world of topwater lures specifically tailored for yellowfin tuna fishing. He meticulously breaks down various aspects of the lures, starting from the types that have proven most effective in his extensive experience. He further elaborates on his preferred lure sizes, explaining how they cater to different fishing conditions and tuna behaviors. A significant part of the video is dedicated to discussing the color patterns of the lures, highlighting how specific hues can be more enticing to tuna in various environments and light conditions.

Seth also provides an in-depth look at terminal tackle and rigging components, offering valuable insights into the most reliable setups for targeting yellowfin tuna. This section includes practical tips on selecting the right equipment and how to properly rig your lures for maximum effectiveness.

Furthermore, the video is enriched with Seth's expert angling techniques, demonstrating how to effectively use these topwater lures. He shares strategies for casting, retrieval, and maneuvering the lures to mimic prey behaviors that are irresistible to yellowfin tuna.

For anyone interested in casting surface lures for yellowfin tuna, this video stands out as a brilliant educational resource. It’s not just a showcase of tools and techniques but a treasure trove of knowledge gleaned from years of hands-on experience, presented in a way that’s both engaging and highly informative for anglers at all levels.

When to Use Topwater Lures

When yellowfin tuna engage in a feeding frenzy at the surface, it creates an ideal scenario for anglers using topwater lures. During these moments, the tuna aggressively trap and smash baitfish on the surface, signaling a heightened state of feeding activity. This behavior presents a golden opportunity for anglers to cast topwater lures, as the tuna are more likely to strike at anything that mimics their natural prey in these conditions.

Surface poppers are particularly effective in such situations. Their design allows them to create a noticeable disturbance on the water's surface, mimicking the movement and sound of baitfish. This can be irresistible to yellowfin tuna, drawing them to the lure with the promise of an easy meal. Diving poppers add another dimension to this technique, as they can dip below the surface, creating a varied action that can trigger strikes from tuna that are slightly deeper.

Stickbaits are also outstanding in this context. Their elongated shape and balanced weight allow for a gliding action that closely resembles injured or fleeing baitfish. When worked correctly, stickbaits can move in a manner that is incredibly enticing to active yellowfin tuna, often resulting in aggressive strikes.

When yellowfin tuna are visibly active near the surface, the use of these lures – surface poppers, diving poppers, and stickbaits – can be exceptionally productive. These conditions are ideal for anglers looking to hook up with big fish, as the tuna are already in a heightened state of feeding and more likely to attack lures presented on the surface. This scenario not only increases the chances of a successful catch but also offers an exhilarating fishing experience, as anglers witness the raw power and agility of yellowfin tuna in action.

The Importance of Quality

When targeting yellowfin tuna, a species renowned for its strength and aggression, the build quality of topwater lures is paramount. These tier 1 predators are known for their ability to easily destroy lures and tackle that are not up to the challenge. Understanding this, Seth emphasizes the importance of selecting topwater lures with superior build quality, designed to withstand the intense pressure and force exerted by these powerful fish.

In his detailed explanations, Seth discusses the specific tuna hooks he prefers, focusing on their durability, sharpness, and strength. These hooks are crucial as they need to penetrate and hold fast in the tough mouth of a yellowfin tuna, which is no small feat. He also sheds light on his choice of split rings and ball bearing swivels. The split rings must be robust to avoid being stretched or broken during the fight, while the ball bearing swivels are essential for their smooth operation under tension, reducing line twist and ensuring better lure action.

Most critically, Seth delves into the rationale behind his choices. He explains why each component is vital in the construction of an effective topwater lure setup for yellowfin tuna. This includes considerations like the material and design of the lures, which need to be both enticing to the fish and durable enough to endure their powerful bites and runs. By sharing this knowledge, Seth provides anglers with valuable insights into how to equip themselves with the most effective and durable gear for these formidable opponents, increasing their chances of a successful and rewarding fishing experience.

Build Quality vs. Cost

The durability and resilience of topwater lures in yellowfin tuna fishing are far more important than their price tag. Yellowfin tuna are known for their powerful strikes and robust fighting capabilities, which can easily damage or destroy lures that are not built to withstand such punishment. Therefore, the focus should be on the structural integrity and material quality of the lures rather than their cost.

Fortunately, the market offers a wide range of topwater lures that are both affordable and well-constructed. Many reputable companies produce high-quality lures at reasonable price points, ensuring that durability does not always come with a hefty price. These lures are often crafted with strong materials, reliable hooks, and robust hardware, designed to endure the vigorous attacks of yellowfin tuna.

For anglers, the key is to know where to start in selecting these lures. This involves understanding the specific characteristics that make a lure suitable for yellowfin tuna fishing — such as its material, weight distribution, hook strength, and overall design. Seeking recommendations from experienced anglers, reading reviews, and researching the products offered by well-regarded companies can provide valuable guidance.

In summary, when selecting topwater lures for yellowfin tuna, the emphasis should be on the quality of the build rather than the price. With a range of well-made, affordable options available, anglers can equip themselves effectively for the challenge of landing these formidable fish without necessarily incurring significant expenses.

Sea Conditions and Lure Choice

Sea conditions play a crucial role in determining the type of topwater lures best suited for tuna fishing. In particular, the size and nature of the waves are key factors to consider. When faced with bigger waves and rougher seas, the effectiveness of traditional floating topwater lures can be significantly reduced. This is because such lures, designed to float and create surface action, may end up merely skipping across the waves without proper immersion or movement in the water. This unnatural behavior can deter tuna from striking.

In these scenarios, sinking stickbaits become a more appropriate choice. Unlike floating lures, sinking stickbaits are designed to dive below the surface. Their weight and design allow them to cut through the choppy water and maintain a consistent swimming action, even in rough sea conditions. This makes them more visible and appealing to tuna, as they mimic the movement of natural prey more effectively under these circumstances.

Moreover, the ability of sinking stickbaits to reach different water columns is advantageous. In turbulent waters, tuna might not always feed at the surface. Sinking lures can be worked at varying depths, increasing the chances of presenting the lure in the zone where tuna are actively feeding.

Thus, when considering topwater lures for tuna, especially in challenging sea conditions, anglers must evaluate the sea state and opt for lures like sinking stickbaits that can maintain an enticing action and stay in the strike zone, rather than being rendered ineffective by surface turbulence. This strategic choice can significantly increase the likelihood of successful bites in less-than-ideal sea conditions.

Lure Placement

Mastering lure placement within a tuna boil is a critical skill for minimizing lure loss while targeting yellowfin tuna with surface lures. A tuna boil, characterized by frenzied activity as tuna aggressively feed on baitfish at the surface, presents both an opportunity and a challenge. In these moments, yellowfin tuna are less cautious and more likely to strike at lures, but their swift and powerful bites, coupled with the chaotic environment, increase the chances of lures being cut off or damaged.

Effective lure placement involves casting the lure to the edges of the boil rather than directly into the middle. This strategy serves a dual purpose: it positions the lure close enough to attract the tuna's attention while reducing the likelihood of entanglement with multiple fish or getting caught in the melee, which often leads to cut-offs. By targeting the periphery of the boil, the lure can be worked through the active zone with a better chance of a controlled strike, allowing for more effective hook sets.

Furthermore, understanding the behavior of yellowfin tuna during a boil can guide the retrieval speed and movement of the lure. Quick, erratic movements often mimic the behavior of panicked baitfish, making the lure more enticing. However, the angler must be prepared for sudden, aggressive strikes, which are common in such scenarios.

Despite these precautions, losing lures is an inherent risk when fishing for yellowfin tuna with surface lures. The combination of their sharp teeth, strong jaws, and the often abrasive nature of their environment (like rough seas and other underwater structures) means that cut-offs are sometimes inevitable. However, by honing their skills in lure placement and retrieval within a tuna boil, anglers can significantly reduce their losses while increasing their chances of successful catches.

Rods and Reels

In his topwater lure video, Seth Hartwick's comprehensive approach extends beyond just the lures themselves; he thoroughly covers the essential gear, including rods and reels, which are pivotal for successful yellowfin tuna fishing. Recognizing the intense demands of battling these powerful fish, he discusses his preferred gear choices, which tend to be higher-end in terms of price and quality. These selections are based on their durability, performance, and ability to handle the rigorous challenges posed by yellowfin tuna.

However, Seth is also mindful of the varying budgets of his audience. He acknowledges that not every angler can or wants to invest in top-tier equipment. Hence, he provides alternative options that are more affordable yet still effective. These middle-of-the-road budget options are selected with care, ensuring that they offer a good balance of quality and value. His recommendations in this regard are particularly beneficial for those who are serious about their fishing but need to adhere to a more modest budget.

In conclusion, Seth Hartwick's deep dive into the realm of topwater lure fishing for yellowfin tuna is a rich resource for anglers at all levels. His insights cover a broad spectrum, from the intricacies of lure selection and technique to the critical considerations of choosing the right fishing gear. His expertise, honed from extensive experience, provides both novice and seasoned anglers with valuable knowledge to enhance their fishing techniques and increase their chances of success. This video is not just an instructional guide; it's a treasure trove of wisdom for anyone passionate about tuna fishing.

Who is Seth Hartwick?

Seth Hartwick is a recognized expert and collector of tuna lures, with extensive experience fishing for yellowfin tuna worldwide.

When is the best time to use topwater lures for yellowfin tuna?

When yellowfin tuna are actively feeding on the surface, it's the ideal time to use topwater lures.

How important is the quality of the lures?

Extremely important. Yellowfin tuna can easily destroy inferior lures and tackle, so it's essential to invest in high-quality equipment.

Does a higher price always mean better quality?

Not necessarily. The key is to find lures that can withstand the punishment from the fish, regardless of their price point.

How do sea conditions affect lure choice?

In rougher seas with bigger waves, sinking stickbaits might be more effective. The lure should swim in the water, not skip on its surface.

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Seth Hartwick

Seth Hartwick is a topwater fishing enthusiast, traveling worldwide to catch GTs and Tuna using big poppers and stickbaits. He values the natural state of the ocean and far off reefs, and has made over 83 overseas trips. Seth has shared adventures with his dad and works as a journeyman lineman for a power company in SE Michigan.

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