For sheer pulling power the tuna is probably tougher than any other fish commonly caught on a fly rod in the Sea of Cortez. The fight starts with an amazingly fast first run that goes well into the backing. Following the first run tuna tend to go deep and circle under the boat.
- Rods: We recommend 12 weight and larger rods if you are targeting tuna.
- Lines: Our favorite lines are fast sinking shooting heads or full length integrated sink tips in the 400 grain to 800 grain range. Intermediate sink lines come into play when chasing fast moving schools of tuna that are feeding on the surface with porpoise.
- Leaders: The leaders should be kept short on the sinking lines. We build an 18 inch butt section of 30lb. soft mono and loop it to 24 inches of either 8kg or 10 kg class tippet. Tuna tend to be leader shy; therefore we seldom add a bite tippet. At times we extend the tippet length to four feet or more if the tuna appear to be leader shy.
- Flies: The same flies that work for Dorado are effective on the Tuna with perhaps an edge given to smaller flies that have flash and motion when fished on the dead drop. The Clouser magic and Clousers tied with marabou are favorites of ours.
- Tactics: Tactics for tuna take two main forms: Chumming fish up from deep structure; and finding fish feeding under porpoise.
When fishing over structure the Captain positions the Boat over structure such as a seamount while the deck hand tosses live and or dead chum over board. When the action is hot, Fish are often caught just under the surface by a fast retrieve. More often then not the most effective approach is to cast a weighted fly into the direction of boat drift and let the fly sink deep. The drift of the boat acts to deep mend the line. Greater depth can be gained by stripping additional line off the reel allowing the line to sink down to fifty feet. The deepest point of the drift occurs as the boat passes the line off the stern or bow. From this point the boats drift will start to plain the line back to the surface. Once the line is at its deepest point, rip the line with a long hard strip. Let the line fall back and rip again. If you haven’t hooked up with the rips, then strip the fly back to the surface and start again. Hits will often occur while the fly is on the dead drop. It is important to minimize line slack by keeping the rod tip close to the water.
The other common method involves locating feeding tuna often found with large schools of porpoise. The Captain positions the boat in front of an approaching school of feeding tuna while the angler quickly casts and retrieves the fly with single or double handed strips. Surface poppers can be quite effective in these situations as long as the retrieve keeps the fly moving fast. This is the place where an intermediate line is an aid to picking the line quickly off the water in order to reposition the fly in front of fast moving fish.