The best bait for catching tuna is a topic of debate amongst anglers. The bait must be good at catching the attention of tuna, but also hold up under rough waves. A few bait options are readily available for luring and catching all types and sizes of tuna.
For many years, ballyhoo has been a common bait choice for tuna anglers. It is easy to rig and often brings good catches. Ballyhoo come in a variety of sizes to attract various sizes of tuna. To attract tuna that swim deep, some anglers prefer to troll the ballyhoo below the surface of the water, using downriggers and chin weights.
Mackerel seem to be irresistible to tuna and can be used as live or frozen bait. The size of the mackerel does not seem to matter. When using mackerel, the angler should be sure to keep a good supply of them on hand and rig them with strong hooks and knots as tuna will attack mackerel energetically.
Sardines are a good choice of bait for smaller tuna, although they have been known to attract larger fish as well. They can be used either dead or alive. Live sardines, however, are considered to be a very active bait and should therefore be avoided by the inexperienced angler.
Although some tuna anglers consider it a more difficult bait to rig due to its fragile nature, squid is known to be highly successful at attracting tuna. Squid sourced from the mid-Atlantic is meatier than other kinds and will therefore hold up better in rough waves. Using a sinker to keep the squid slightly submerged can also minimize the degree of bouncing around it will do and keep it intact longer.
Some tuna anglers prefer using a jig head lure instead of natural bait to lure tuna because there is no danger of it disintegrating as it trolls in rough water or below the surface of the water. Jig heads that look like sardines, mackerel and other fish that tuna prey on are readily available.
- Ask About Saltwater Fishing; What Bait and Rigging Works Best For Catching Tuna?; Daniel Eggertsen; September 2008
- Leadertec: Rigging a Ballyhoo
- "Sport Fishing"; Cover All Bases with Ballyhoo; Andy Hahn; October 2001
- Anglerchronicles.com: Live Sardine Tips
- Swimbait; Tuna Fishing Basics for the Private Boater; Josh Dunlap
Jake Essene began writing in 1993 and has published articles in regional newspapers such as the "Daily Intelligencer" and legal journals such as the "Ohio Northern Law Review." Essene earned a Bachelor of Science in theology at Philadelphia Biblical University, with additional studies in archeology at the Jerusalem University College. He then earned a Juris Doctor at the Pettit College of Law.