Dogtooth Tuna Variations

Dogtooth Tuna: Two Variations and their Different Characteristics

Let’s look at some of Dogtooth Tuna’s characteristics and why we believe there are two species of Dogtooth Tuna that we regularly catch here while fishing here in Vanuatu.

The Dogtooth Tuna is on every angler’s bucket list (if it’s not you’re bonkers), pound for pound the hardest fighting fish that I have been lucky enough to be connected to on many occasions. And I think that we have two different kinds of Dogtooth Tuna that we’ve been catching but didn’t really notice until we paid attention to the photos later on.

In the saltwater jigging world, many anglers from all levels of experience have different opinions about how Dogtooth Tuna’s teeth biting through assist cord. On occasion, I have lost doggies next to the boat, and after some investigation we soon find that the assist cord was chaffed through.

Now, this is only my opinion and you can take from it what you will, but we have identified and confirmed that these lost fish at boat-side are Dogtooth Tuna, lost due to assist cord malfunction. Let’s proceed to the topic at hand.

I believe there are two species of Dogtooth Tuna that we regularly catch. After seeing (safe to say) tons of Dogtooth Tuna in my years, there was always something that bugged me. I’m sure a lot of people have noticed it but just passed it off as a juvenile fish or possibly a female / male differentiation like I did.

After speaking to gun guide Stephen Moderan about it on numerous occasions, we have come to the conclusion that there has to be two species. Have some doubt? We did too but let me explain the characteristics in which both of us have noticed and the potential reasoning for the different characteristics.

The “Big Eyed” Dogtooth Tuna

big eye dogtooth tuna
Here are three differences that stand out:

1 This fish have much larger eyes than its counterpart which makes us believe that they spend most of their time in deeper water, feeding on squid during the day. How have we come to this conclusion?

For one, they are most prolific on the deeper drifts that we set. And when we can’t release them, we gut them and 99% of the time they are full of squid. Big eyed fish in general are deep dwellers and this is probably true for this type of dogtooth as well.

(Disclaimer: I have caught them in some very shallow water as well, possibly from the size of the swim bladder that they have to have the ability to cruise most depths.)

2 The jaw is a lot shorter compared to the other. See pictures to compare and make sure to check out your personal archive of photos to see if you have caught the two variations of Dogtooth Tuna.

dogtooth tuna species comparison
3 My favorite: the teeth. With this type they are a lot skinnier and not as big as their counterpart. They are also set closer to each other. They don’t fall off as easily as the smaller eyed type.

The “Small Eyed” Dogtooth Tuna

small eyed dogtooth tuna
With this fish compared to the big eye, there are three features that standout:

1 Significantly smaller eyes which suggests it is a shallower water-dwelling fish-killing machine.

2 The nose or jaw is a lot longer for me this suggests that it gives them the ability to take down bigger prey. For example, I gutted a 25kg one day and pulled out a 7kg red bass… that type of stuff is just ridiculous eating just over one third of your body weight at once.

3 The teeth on these things are nearly prehistoric. It’s like the T-rex got intimate with the megalodon. This would explain their pure power and the mouth they have on them, I’m no scientist but I’m pretty sure we’re onto something here.

Anyway, the teeth are a lot thicker and grow a lot higher than the big eye, again I believe this to be adaptation to catch bigger prey around the reef edges.

Biting Through the Assist Cord

I believe the ones that are to bite through your assists are the big eye doggies just from what I have seen with the way their teeth are.

assist cord fish biting
Also, would like to say I am not a marine biologist or a scientist in any way, just passionate about what we do and we love fishing so much that we try to be innovative in ways that help our Vanuatu fishing guests catch their fish of a lifetime.

Now I would love to hear any other theories that you guys have and a special thank you to Stephan Moderan for his knowledge on this subject.

If you are looking for a true sport fishing company that offers specialized topwater and jigging adventures anywhere in the Pacific Islands, contact Ocean Blue Fishing now for your Vanuatu Fishing trips and needs!

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Dogtooth Tuna: Two Variations and their Different Characteristics

Jed heads up our fishing team. Jed has extensive experience as a fishing guide and running operations in some of the most remote ...Learn more

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