Anglers usually find yellowtail just a few feet above the bottom. When a fish hits, it slams hard, and the fisherman must set the hook and keep the yellowtail from reaching into the rocks and cutting the line. Heavy drag and lines are called for, along with rods that can match the strength of the opponent.
Many California headboats use live chum to draw yellowtail away from wrecks, rocks and kelp beds and to get them feeding near the surface. Anchovies and sardines are tossed behind the boat to hold the fish near the surface and keep them feeding while anglers cast live baits or jigs into the melee.
Yellowtail can also be taken by yo-yo jigging bucktails and heavy metal "irons" through the water column. He trick is to work the lure from the bottom to the top until you find pay-off zone.
Live baits should also be fished at various levels using small rubbercore sinkers or split shots. A fly-lined anchovy or sardine fished is ideal when the 'tails are feeding at the top.