Tuna, Big eye

(Thunnus obesus)

Commonly referred to as Big eyes!

The big eye tuna is commonly mistaken as a yellow fin tuna at smaller sizes and is considered to be one of the most powerful tuna species swimming in our oceans. Their firm, succulent flesh has gained the big eye tuna the reputation of being one of the finest species when eaten raw as sashimi and fetches ridiculously high market prices when sold in such countries as Japan. Although big eyes are generally encountered more often than not by commercial fisherman some smaller specimens are occasionally taken by recreational anglers also. They are a prized species that should be treated with respect and kept in great condition before eating. All tuna species need to swim at least 3 times their body length per second to survive and are the only species of fish designed to produce perpetual motion from birth until death. Whilst their heart still beats so will their tails making them one of the strongest fish species on the planet!


Big eye tuna can be encountered in W.A waters from as far south as Albany right up to the Exmouth region as well as N.S.W., S.A., VIC and Tasmania. They prefer water depths of over 100 meters or more.


Big eye tuna can grow to a staggering 250kg in weight and measure well over 2 meters in length although most fish encountered throughout Australia average around  10 – 20kgs. The current world all tackle record stands at a staggering  435lbs!


Big eye tuna prefer cooler, southern waters and are most commonly encountered feeding along the edge of current lines, bait schools and deep reef ledges. Smaller fish can also be found in shallow areas with healthy reef systems and large numbers of bait fish present.


Big eye tuna are generally mistaken for yellow fin tuna at smaller sizes and are identical in appearance. Only when cutting the liver from the fish will determine the difference between the two closely related species. Big eyes have a streaked liver when it is held into the light and yellow fin have a solid liver. Big eye tuna also emit a faint ammonia smell when the skin is cut and this is also a good indication of determining the difference between the two species.

Taste rating

  • Ninety Taste Rating

Big eye tuna are the most sensational tuna species to eat raw as sashimi and are also fantastic when slightly cooked on a BBQ but left pink in the centre!

Sport rating

  • Ninety Sport Rating

Big eyes are a fantastic game fish species and deserve the respect of all anglers!

Tackle requirements

Light to medium lever drag trolling outfits or spinning combos are best suited for targeting big eyes in most situations. Rods and reels capable of holding large capacities of  6 – 10kg line are most commonly used and are attached to wind on leaders of around 100 – 150lb in breaking strain when trolling skirted lures for smaller specimens to 15kg. Larger fish respond better to deep baiting or cubing techniques and require heavier stand up tackle in the 24 – 37kg range. Big eyes over 100kg are rarely encountered by recreational anglers.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Live and fresh dead baits such as gar fish, small mullet, flying fish and mackerel are all ideal baits for targeting big eyes, with small to medium jet head or resin head, skirted lures also proving to be quite effective on smaller specimens. Larger fish are generally taken in deeper , continental waters on deep set baits designed for sword fish etc.

Handy hints and tips

Try to ensure all baits, lures and tackle used are of premium quality, there are no second chances when it comes to tangling with big tuna!

Preferred fishing times and tides

Most pelagic game fish species prefer low or high tide changes and new moon phases.


[What The Fish]