The blackfin tuna may be the most commonly available of the edible tuna species as it swims in most temperate southern waters where literally thousands of anglers can catch them. Blackfins don’t get as large as their more glamorous cousins, the yellowfin and bluefin, but they are scrappy fighters and make great table fare. Perhaps their most virtuous attribute is that there are lots of them.

There are three primary methods for targeting blackfins: trolling, jigging and fishing with live bait. Blackfin have exceptionally keen eyesight and so whatever method you use, it pays to scale down your terminal tackle as much as possible to entice strikes from these wary fish. And using fluorocarbon leader material is always a good plan.

When trolling, try small feathers trolled far behind the boat. Speed is a matter of personal preference. Many skippers think you have to pull your lures fast, but I’ve had excellent results trolling quite slowly. Experiment to see what works best on a given day and go with that. Blackfin will also eat small, black rubber worms trolled slow, and small swimming plugs can be deadly as well.

If you like deep jigging, try medium size metal jigs worked far down in the water column. Try to mark the school on your sounder and keep the jig in the range where the fish are. No need to come all the way to the surface each time, and often, the fish will eat the lure on the drop. Small bucktails with sparkly grub tails added work too.

Finally, nothing beats live bait; at times. Small pilchards are a blackfin favorite, as are cigar minnows. When you can toss a scoop of live chum and get the tunas worked into a feeding frenzy on the surface, you can get them to bite many different lures or baits, including flies. Once again, experiment and see what it takes to get these awesome fish into the biting mode, and you’ll be destined for some fresh sashimi in the near future.


Capt. John Brownlee