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First Pacific Bluefin Tuna Caught on Fly Tackle
by Jim Hendricks
Bennett Mintz
Colin Waters' 16-pound Pacific bluefin tuna is believed to be the first of this species caught on fly tackle. Waters made the fly (upper right). The catch is a pending 20-pound-tippet IGFA record.

What is believed to be the first recorded Pacific bluefin tuna caught on fly tackle has been submitted to the Internatonal Game Fish Associaton (IGFA) as a potential world record in the 20-pound tippet category

Fly angler Colin Waters of Santa Susana, California, was fishing on a multi-day trip aboard the Apollo, a sport-fishing passenger boat out of San Diego, California. Waters landed the 16-pound bluefin tuna on August 1.

“Around 9 a.m. on our second day, we stopped on a sonar mark that, after a while, developed into a slow pick for the bait guys," said Waters.  "Half an hour or so later, I was doing the deep-soak with the wind in my face, as I had been doing for two days, every chance I could.  I was about to start a retrieve when the line got heavy.  I thought I’d tangled with a bait guy for a second, but then the fish took off.  Fight lasted about 10 minutes.  It was a little guy, but the first recorded Pacific bluefin on the fly.”

Waters was using an Abel fly reel with a fly he tied himself to replicate a smallish dark-purple fish that the tuna had been eating. Though Waters is unsure of the bait species, he designed the fly in an attempt to match the hatch. 

Waters is no newcomer to offshore saltwater fly-fishing.  In 2003, he set an IGFA record with a 43.2-pound Pacific albacore on a 16-pound tippet.