Dogtooth Tuna are a resident-pelagic fish and favor water in the 20 to 30 degrees centigrade range. They occasionally form large schools, but are mostly found swimming alone or in small groups. They patrol continental shelf drop offs and frequent depths between 50 and 150 feet. These impressive predators are usually located around coral reefs, often preferring the deeper, leeward side and openings of the reef. The northern and southern ends of coral atolls also seem to be a good spot to find them.Their upper body fades from black to dark blue and lower body mercury silver to grey. Their caudal keel and finlets are dark. They are without scales and have large eyes. With an average of 20 large conical teeth per jaw they are by far one of the most ferocious looking tuna that can be targeted by anglers. Their diet consists essentially of other fish and squid.
When targeting the super-sized bluewater game fish of the Indian Ocean you are going to need a rod with a lot of lifting power, yet you dont want to compromise on the cast ability. Match the rod with a high quality machined large arbor reel with a capacity to handle a heavy fly line and a large amount of backing.
There are three ways which can be used by themselves or combined to target Dogtooth Tuna. Anglers can blind cast, use chum or teas the fish to the surface. The tactics are varied slightly depending on what works best at the particular venue.
The skipper will target structure like a pinnacle, wreck or drop-off that is not too deep as to allow you to target the fish drawn to it. He will then position the boat as to allow you to cast up current and get your fly to sink to the structure. Even though you will be blind casting, with the aid of modern day eco sounders you will have a good idea weather there are fish present or not. Use a long leader and a heavy fly that will sink quicker than your fly-line, as to allow your target species to see the fly before the fly-line. Always use a full fly-line whether it be a full-sink or sink-tip. Reason being is that often a fish will take at full length and you do not want to end up trying to set the hook with backing or braided running line in your hand.
Often the combination the above mentioned tactics and the use of live bait or chunking works best as it allows you to draw fish from deeper areas. Chunking is the use of finely cut up fish pieces thrown in the water to make a chum line. Once you have found your target area its often best to set anchor or a parachute as to allow you to concentrate on one spot.
Blind casting with the aid of live bait
With the use of a sounder the skipper will target a pinnacle, wreck or drop-off which is holding fish. Once he is convinced a suitable area has been found communication will be made with a crew member to start chumming, at the same time he will imitate predators attacking a bait ball by doing a series of tight circles with the boat After a couple of rotations the engines will be turned off and the chumming will continue. It will take a few minutes, but this will often bring the fish to the surface allowing you to get a few casts in. The secret is to use just enough live bait to keep them coming to the surface as too much will take the emphasis away from your fly. When selecting your fly pattern always try to match the size and colour of your live bait. This is a process that needs lots of live bait, an experienced skipper and crew.
When teasing for Dogtooth Tuna the FlyCastaway guides have found that 2 methods work well. Firstly, trolling drop-offs and structure with bullet-head or soft-head skirts in red and black, green and chartreuse or blue and white works well. As in the case of all teasing having a belly shine or halfbeak adds to the attraction, the fishy taste often brings a hotter fish to the boat, giving you extra time to make your cast. (If you have live bait its the best way to hold the fish at the boat). Also remember that the engines should be in neutral before the cast is made, other wise its not considered as fly fishing. The optimum speed to troll teasers solely for Dogtooth Tuna is between 6 and 7 knots, depending on sea conditions. Another extremely successful method is by casting hookless plugs over the similar areas. As the fish shows interest the plug is quickly reeled in and pulled out the water as the angler places their fly in the path of the fish. Bear in mind the secret to switch-ups with Dogtooth is timing, it has to be very quick as they often loose their attraction to the teaser. As the teaser is removed it should be immediately replaced by your fly.
- Fly Rod: Quick action 12 15 weight fly rod
- Reel & Backing: Saltwater series reel that can hold 500 or more meters of 50 – 60lbs braid. A Bimini Twist to Double Surgions should be tied into the braid, following which the fly line and backing should be joined using the loop to loop method.
- Fly Lines: 500 to 750 grains sink-tip lines with 50lbs braided loops nail knotted on both ends.
- Leaders: There are two methods one can use, namely 60-80lbs single strand wire with a small swivel or 60lbs nylon coated steel. When using the single strand wire and the swivel you can use class tippet of your choice as the swivel will prevent the wire from cutting through the mono. When using nylon coated steel we always match the diameter of the mono to the diameter of the steel.
- Knots: 60-80lbs single strand wire: Fly to leader – Haywire Twist; Wire to small swivel Haywire Twist; Small Swivel to Leader Figer of Eight; Leader to Braided loop Perfection Loop. Or 60lbs nylon coated steel: Fly to Leader – Barrel knot with two rotations; Steel to Mono Two Barrel knots back to back with the mono having three rotations and the steel two; Leader to Braided loop Perfection Loop.NB mono has a stretch factor and a tendency to slip before seating, when tying your knots make sure you leave a tag and seat them property with the use of pliers. But in saying this be extremely careful not to stress the knot.
- Flies: Sea Habits, Mega clousers, Poodles and Flashy Profiles in hot pink and white, chartreuse and green or black and white, heavily tied on a Gamakatsu SL12S or SC152H in 6/0 – 8/0 (Link to fly patterns)
- Sunglasses: Dark amber or blue mirror grey lenses.
Before leaving on your trip you will be briefed in detail by the FlyCastaway guides as to exactly what fly patterns you are going to need and how you should prepare your tackle. For all our destinations we have compiled a comprehensive tackle list.