Tuna, Yellowfin

 (Thunnus albacares)

Commonly referred to as Yellowfin!

The yellow fin tuna is commonly mistaken for the big eye 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 yellow fin 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 yellow fin 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 great respect and kept in premium condition before eating. A tunas main carotid artery is located two finger spacings behind the pectoral fin, a small slice with a knife here will bleed the tuna out correctly. This should be done before the tuna is placed into a sea water and ice slurry to bring its core temperature down. 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!


Yellow fin 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, QLD and Tasmania. They prefer water depths of between 20 – 500 meters or more.


Yellow fin tuna can grow to a staggering 200kg in weight and measure well over 2 meters in length although most fish encountered throughout Australia average around  10 – 20kgs. The largest yellow fin tuna ever taken in W.A. waters was a magnificent specimen of 84kgs landed in the Rottenest trench by Perth game club legend – Basil Downs. The fish was landed on 37kg line and took a large, skirted, trolling lure intended for marlin on 2nd of April 1995.


Yellow fin tuna prefer cool to temperate 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.


Yellow fin tuna are generally mistaken for big eye 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

Yellow fin tuna are the second 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 yellow fin 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 yellow fin in most situations. Rods and reels capable of holding large capacities of  10 – 15kg 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 30kg. Larger fish respond better to deep water live baiting or cubing techniques and require heavier stand up tackle in the 24 – 37kg range. Yellow fin over 100kg are rarely encountered by recreational anglers these days.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Live and fresh dead baits such as nannygai, 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 yellow fin. Larger fish are generally taken in deeper , continental waters on dead and live baits drifted down long berley trails of cubed fish pieces.

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]