Chunking for yellowfin and bluefin tuna requires finesse, strategy, and the perfect tackle. Armed with our TackleDirect staff insights, you're equipped to take on the challenge head-on.
The Right Gear for Tuna Chunking
Are you ready to take your tuna fishing game to the next level? Chunking is the name of the game when it comes to reeling in those prized yellowfin and bluefin tuna later in the year. It's the art of enticing these powerful creatures with a mix of live and dead baits, creating a frenzy that's impossible to resist. Tuna are impressive swimmers known for their fierce fights and delectable flesh, making them a prime target for avid anglers seeking the ultimate challenge and reward.
You need the right gear – the kind of equipment that our TackleDirect experienced staff anglers swear by. If you're eager to learn the ropes of chunking, you're in for an unforgettable adventure. In this guide, our TackleDirect seasoned anglers spill the beans on the ultimate tackle setups for tuna chunking, ensuring you're armed and ready to tackle the open waters.
Tuna Fishing Tactics
When it comes to chunking for yellowfin and bluefin tuna, there's a captivating blend of commonalities and nuances that seasoned anglers must navigate. As much as these tuna species share an appetite for the chunking technique, their preferences and behaviors set them apart. Yellowfin and bluefin tuna exhibit distinct characteristics that will change an anglers' approach.
Yellowfin tuna, for instance, are attracted to well-placed baits around lumps, hills, and wrecks. They're particularly responsive to bait presentation during warm summer months and the transition from summer to fall. Bluefin tuna presents a challenge on an entirely different scale. Chunking for these fish demands the right gear, strategic bait deployment, and a keen understanding of their finicky nature.
Yellowfin tuna image provided by user: @dhamar_sportfishing
Inshore and Offshore Tuna Chunking
Inshore Yellowfin Tuna
When those yellowfin tuna are hanging around in specific areas like lumps, hills, or wrecks, and the trolling just isn't cutting it, it's time to unleash the chunking strategy. This technique can be a game-changer during the warmer months, particularly when the fish are keyed in on a particular structure or area.
Offshore Yellowfin Tuna
While it can be extremely rewarding to find yellowfin inshore, you can still excel out in the deep. A good spot to start is if you are able to locate a pod of working pilot whales. And you never know, you may have a shot at a big eye out in the deep as well amongst the yellowfin. This larger cousin of the yellowfin presents an even more exhilarating challenge. You'll want to make sure your gear is up to snuff to stand a chance against these hefty contenders.
Bluefin tuna image provided by user: @shoot_em_sportfishing_nj
Inshore Bluefin Tuna
Typically found inshore, your favorite lumps and hills in the 20 to 30 fathom range is a great place to start. The class of fish you can find off of the coast of New Jersey is typically quite a bit smaller than what you may find up off of Massachusetts, but it is always rewarding to find a stud bluefin on an inshore lump. They can be found in the same areas as inshore yellowfin at times, but typically found earlier in the season before water temps rise.
Recommended Tuna Chunking Tackle
Ideal Rod and Reel Setup
When it comes to bluefin and yellowfin tuna, your rod and reel is your greatest ally. You'll want a reel like Shimano's Talica 20II or 25II, paired with a rod that typically has a good bit of bend to help finesse light leaders if you need to drop down to say 25 or 30lb leader in order to get a bite when chunking inshore. And don't be shy with the rods – having 4-6 prepped and ready will maximize the effectiveness of your chunking efforts.
For tackling the larger bluefin tuna up north gear up with 80lb or even 130lb class setups. The swivel-based rod holder in the gunnel also becomes your best friend in this high-stakes showdown.
Best Tuna Chunking Rods:
- TackleDirect TDPS643050WTSIN Platinum Hook Standup Rod w/ Winthrop Tip
- TackleDirect TDPS603050SIN Platinum Hook Conventional Standup Rod
- Ocean Tackle International OTI-EGS65080H End Game Standup Rod
Best Tuna Chunking Reels:
- Shimano TAC25IICAM Talica 2-Speed Lever Drag Reel
- Shimano TAC20IICAM Talica 2-Speed Lever Drag Reel
- Penn INT16VISXS International VISX Reel - Silver
Stealthy Line and Leader Tactics
Load up your reel with 60lb hollow core braid backing and a mono topshot – this combo provides the line capacity and stealth needed to outsmart these wily creatures. For your leaders, you will want to be ready with everything from 80lb and less. Dropping down to 40, 30, or even 25lb fluorocarbon leader can make all the difference between getting a bite or aimlessly throwing chunks over the side all day long without any luck.
Starting with a long 40lb leader helps keep the barrel swivel attaching to your mainline discreetly hidden. Then, gradually dropping down in leader strength can tempt even the most wary tuna.
Best Tuna Chunking Line and Leader:
- Jerry Brown Line One Hollow Core Spectra Braided Line 1200yds
- Momoi Diamond Monofilament
- Seaguar Fluorocarbon Leader Material 100yds
- Yo-Zuri SuperFluoro Leader
Bait and Rigging Selection Matters
While live peanut bunker, mullet, spot, and squid are great options for hooked baits, chunked butterfish, spearing, and sardines are great to use as your chunk baits to attract the tuna closer to your boat.
Live baits are a luxury, and when using them, ensure they're hooked through the nose to preserve their liveliness and make them more enticing. For dead baits, concealing the hooks inside the bait adds an element of surprise, making it more likely that a tuna will commit to the bite. Copper rigging wire to close the mouth of a sardine or similar hooked bait can make all the difference to ensure the bait is dropping through the water column with a natural presentation.
Other Tackle and Gear
Embarking on a tuna chunking adventure is not just about having the right rods and reels – it's also about having a well-prepared arsenal of tackle and gear accessories that will elevate your game and increase your chances of landing those prized catches. Whether you're targeting yellowfin or bluefin tuna, being equipped with the right tools can make all the difference.
Deploying Your Chunking Spread
You've got your chunking tackle ready, now what? Setting up your offshore chunking spread requires precision and strategy. Stagger your baits, attaching weights and balloons to ensure they descend directly into the chunks falling through the water column. Some of your reels can sit in free spool with the clicker engaged, ready to release line at a moment's notice.
Bringing It Home
Hooked onto a tuna? Keep your cool and maintain steady, even pressure on the line. If you're using lighter leaders like 40lb or below, gentle pressure prevents snap-offs and prolongs the battle. Tuna often prefer to stick to the surface, so keep that heat minimal for a smooth and successful fight.
With the right tackle, a sprinkle of strategy, and a whole lot of enthusiasm, you're equipped to embark on the thrilling journey of tuna chunking. Whether it's yellowfin or bluefin, or even a surprise bigeye out in the deep, these techniques open the door to unforgettable tuna fishing experiences. The open waters await, and with the wisdom of our TackleDirect experienced staff anglers, you're primed to make every trip count. So gear up, and let the chunking frenzy unfold!
Hooked on a tuna image provided by user: @shoot_em_sportfishing_nj
Bringing in a tuna image provided by user: @marlasportfishing
Main Banner Image:
Tuna chunking before the storm
Provided by User: @dougvaules