Swoffa - Saltwater Flyfishing Australia saltwater fly fishing australia
Australia's best flyfishing
Longtail Tuna thunnus tonggol
aka: Northern Bluefin, LT, Longie

 Photo: © Jono Shales

If you like a thrill, and you can stay cool under pressure, then this is your ultimate saltwater fly target.

Longtail Tuna are the benchmark conquest for the dedicated aussie swoffer. They are hard to approach, extremely fast to cast to, and once hooked will test knot and tackle to the limits. Seeing Longtails porpoising into casting range around a patch of showering baitfish is easily one of the most heart-stopping sights. If the angler has an ounce of 'buck fever' lurking inside, this is the species that will find it out at the crucial moment.

The ability to cast fast, far and on target are the main ingredients to being able to pin one of these speedsters. A typical LT will run a hundred meters of backing in it's first run after it feels the prick of the hookset.


Depending on it's size, it may slow or just continue running. If you manage to stay connected and get the fish back to the boat, the fight descends into a deep circling slugfest beneath the boat in a never-give-up battle.

This is where patience and correct rod angles are important because many a rod has been snapped trying to lift tuna during this stage of the fight. The tropical north has them in good numbers year round, but they will penetrate the mid-east and west coasts in late summer and autumn as waters reach their peaks in temperatures and baitfish abundance.

Gradually the various State Fishery Management Authorities of Australia are recognising the incredible recreational value of this predominantly inshore species.


The reduction of commercial fishing pressure is most welcome as these fish are worth many multiples of their sashimi value as a prized sports fish.


Tackle and methods for Longtail Tuna

What tackle to use
9 - 10wt outfit, large arbour reels with plenty of backing.

What flies to use
Surf candies; Clousers; Crease flies; Poppers; Polar Fibre Minows; Baitfish Patterns

Fishing strategy
Use baitfish imitations that match the size of the bait the tuna are feeding on. Sub-surface flies like candies and clousers mainly but floating flies can amd do work in spectacular surface crashing fashion. Size 1/0 to 4/0 depending on the bait they are eating.

Pink over white, all white and olive over white are favoured colours for flies.

Most fish are caught close inshore and are usually located by the presence of birds hovering above. When the tuna chase bait to the surface the birds will follow them and dive down revealing the tuna's location. Longtails can be infuriating at times only popping up for an instant and refusing everything thrown at them - other times they stay up and feed heavily on the surface creating awesome surface action and will take anything that is thrown at them.

Their feeding behaviour will determine their direction of travel and allow for correct positioning and interception of the boat - long, accurate and fast casts with minimal false casts are necessary when the fish come into range.

Target Longtail Tuna in the following locations:

Target Longtail Tuna with the following guides:

Australian Flyfishing Outfitters

Carpentaria Seafaris

Exmouth Fly Fishing

Fish Philliskirk

Gavin Platz

Mark Bargenquast

Melville Island Lodge

Nomad Sportfishing

One Tree Beach

Paul Dolan

Wilderness Island
Links to more information

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