Yellowfin on Jigs

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June 20, 2019
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A fish like this yellowfin produces an adrenaline-pumping strike when it smashes a jig - a feeling that's hard to beat.

Jigging is fun, but jigging for pelagics like yellowfin tuna is FUN!

A fish like this yellowfin produces an adrenaline-pumping strike when it smashes a jig – a feeling that’s hard to beat.

Jigging for tunas, however, is not like jigging for most other species. Rather than lift and drop the rod, it’s pumped with short strokes while the angler never stops cranking on the reel. Tuna like to chase down an active bait, and ripping the jig quickly through the water column is a big part of generating strikes. It’s not, of course, the only part.

Jigging Reels for tuna need to be up to the task. Reels should be high-speed models with lever drags, so you can rip the jig through the water quickly and make fast adjustments to increase pressure on the fish.

Jigging Rods must be uber-strong, of course, but they also benefit from a medium-action tip. This allows the tip to load and unload as the angler cranks, and helps the jig bob and weave. Fast-action rods provide less action to the jig. Jigging rods also need to be as light as possible, since working a large speed jig through the depths does become tiring after a while.

Jigging Lines need to be braid, period. You need the no-stretch properties or in deep water the line stretch will absorb a lot of the jig’s action. However, you also need a top-shot of fluorocarbon leader. Without it, if a large tuna surges close to the boat that stretch-less line can result in a broken rod.

Jigs used for tuna should be four to eight inches long, of a weight appropriate for the depths the fish are holding at. Pink, blue, and green are perpetual favorites, and mackerel patterns often get the fish snapping.

Hooks must be incredibly stout. Not only do they need to stand up to tuna-pressure, they also need to stand up to the heavy drags allowed by braid lines and modern jigging reels.

Tuna Jigging Tip: When you hook a tuna on a jig crank down the reel and apply maximum pressure throughout the fight. The jig hooks tend to wear a hole during extended fights, and if you have a tuna on a jig for more than 15 or 20 minutes, it will often manage to shake free.

Lenny Rudow

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