Tuna on the fly

By Fabrice Bergues – Guideline PowerTeam France


Many people regard bluefin tuna as the most powerful fish in saltwater and many fishermen consider bluefin tuna the ultimate big game fish to catch on a fly. So when some friends of mine called me to do some attempts in Golfe de Gascogne on Atlantic Ocean, my answer was « YEEESSSS !!! »

My lack of experience in saltwater fishing was not to my advantage, then Leif Stävmos advices on rods, reels and lines were very helpful. On the Atlantic waters, close to the shore between the cities of Bayonne and Hendaye in Basque country, it’s possible from July to October to find schools of blue fin tunas looking for baitfish close to the surface. Most of these baitfish are anchovies and these little fishes move in large shoals close to the surface.  When the tuna finds them, the feeding frenzy begins, it’s an explosion on the surface. It’s the right time to try to cast a fly in front of them !


To catch a Blue fin Tuna on the fly in our waters is more than a challenge, It’s a long list of problems to solve in the best possible way….

Problem n°1
To find the tunas in such a so large body of water, a guide who knows the area is a great help. The use of a depthfinder and seacharts are also important tools in the search.

Problem n°2
Try to get the boat close to the hunting in order to have a chance to present the fly, this is the concertation between the angler and pilot, it’s determinant to have a chance to reach success. If tunas actively feeding on the surface, we have to try to determine the direction the school is traveling, then turn the motor off, drift and turn the boat in order for the fisherman to be in a good position to cast. The more tunas that are hunting in the surface, the better the chances to get a hook-up.


Problem n°3
Keep the balance on the boat in the middle of the swell and lapping water during the cast and avoid to keep the feet in the slack line loop on the boat deck.

Problem n°4
Keep calm, and try not to ruin the first cast in the excitement, because it won’t be often you will have a second chance, and then pray !


It’s very hard to tell the most effective presentation, stripping the fly, dead drift, for the moment whe have caught in the both way, but overall stripping the fly. A 12-weight Guideline RSi rod seems to be a good choice for Tuna in low to medium sized ( until around 25-30 kg) This rod usually has the power which helps  when pump the bluefin up from the depths. Although stiffer, higher weight class rods could be more beneficial during the long fight, a 12 weight rod is more pleasant to cast. I paired it with a VOSSO 1113 and filled it with our new 80lbs PE backing.

The struggle with a Tuna is very gruelling for the fisherman, he needs to maintain a constant pressure on the fish through the fly rod, during the lift when pumping, the amount of line gained is generally very small, so it’ts only the constant pressure who can defeat the tuna, wich mean a lot of punishment for the arm, wrist, hand and fingers, overall when no harness are used.


This last image shows how the water looks like when a gang of tunas are done with the baitfish; the ocean is filled with tiny scales.

By Fabrice Bergues – Guideline PowerTeam France. 


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