Tuna, Northern longtail

(Thunnus tonggol)

Commonly referred to as Longtails!

The long tail tuna is the warm water specialist of the tuna species. They are famous for their finicky eating habits making them incredibly difficult to get within casting range of. Long tails are known to feed on very small bait fish and have eluded many a keen angler over the years.  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!


Long tail tuna can be encountered in W.A. waters from as far south as Jurien Bay right up to the magnificent Kimberley region and also northern N.S.W., QLD and the N.T. They prefer water depths of around 10 – 100 meters.


Long tail tuna can grow to around  25kg in weight and measure well over one meter in length although most fish encountered throughout northern Australia average around  10 – 15kgs. The largest long tail tuna taken by IGFA standards was a fish of 24.3kg landed by John Yates out from Exmouth back in 1989.


Long tail tuna prefer warmer, tropical 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 bays with large numbers of bait fish present.


Long tail tuna can be easily recognised by their elongated, torpedo shaped bodies and blue to grey colouration.

Taste rating

  • Fifty Taste Rating

Long tail tuna are better recognised for their sporting abilities rather than their eating qualities.

Sport rating

  • Seventy Sport Rating

Long tail tuna are a fantastic game fish species that will test most anglers on light tackle and fly!

Tackle requirements

Light to medium lever drag trolling outfits or spinning combos are best suited for targeting tuna 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 long tails to 20kg try running lures back to around 40 – 50 meters behind the boat and increasing speed.  Larger fish respond better to deep water live baiting or cubing techniques and require heavier stand up tackle in the 10 – 15kg range.

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 most tuna species, with small to medium jet head or resin head, skirted lures also proving to be quite effective on long tails. Long tails are a fantastic species to cast lures such as metal slices and surface lures into with the visual aspect of this technique proving to be very hard to beat!

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 including tuna prefer low or high tide changes and new moon phases.


[What The Fish]