If you want to level up your angling game, nothing can be as exciting as fishing tuna. They range from 10 lbs. Skipjacks to 2,000 lbs. Bluefins. Across the tropical oceans, you will find around 50 species of tuna. Among all of them, bluefins have charisma like big TV stars. But whenever it comes to sport or hobby fishing, yellowfin take away the spotlight from bluefins. You will easily find them from the Northeast Canyons coast to central South America that also includes the Gulf of Mexico.
Tuna is one of those fish that you will find on every sport angler’s bucket list. There’s a famous saying in the world of anglers, “the chase is better than the catch.” But when it comes to tuna, the chase and the catch is only half the fun. You will discover the real pleasure of catching tuna when you will take its first bite. The subtle savor of tuna will blow your mind. In fact, the taste of the tuna is the main thing that brings many anglers into fishing.
The taste of tuna is delicious, but catching them is challenging. When you hook them up, they will take you down into the water then cleverly escape you. So if you don’t have the right reel, then catching tuna will become a daunting job for you. In this post, we have listed the 10 best fishing reels for tuna that are highly powerful and can also stand the saltwater abuse.
However, if you are not sure which reel to choose, then check our buying guide first, where we have discussed the parameters that you need to consider while selecting a suitable fishing reel to catch tuna. But if you already know the tuna reels choosing factors, then skip the buying guide and jump directly to the list.
Tuna Fishing Reel Buying Guide
While choosing a tuna reel, you have to understand their varieties. Their species range from smaller blackfin to medium-sized skipjacks, as well as giant bluefins. From casting to trolling, the techniques of catching them also vary from one type of tuna to another. So, it is fair to conclude that there’s no such reel that might come handy for all tuna species. So, if you want to catch tuna, then, first of all, you have to decide what kind of tuna fish you want to catch. Is it a skipjack or yellowfin? Or something else? Once you have the answer, take it as a reference and, based on that, make the final call.
While catching tuna, you have to understand that it will give you a good fight. So you will need a robust reel to catch tuna, which means your tuna fishing reel is going to be heavy. But ensure that it is not too heavy or else handling the reel will become a difficult job for you. You need to pick such a reel that strikes the right balance between the weight and strength.
For a successful catch of tuna fish, you will need a high performing saltwater reel that operates smoothly. Our recommendation is a 2-speed reel because it will give you a greater gear ratio and ensure superfast retrieval of line. On the other hand, if you choose a slow reel that features low gear, then you will need more torque to take a massive tuna out of the water. Meanwhile, you also have to ensure that the gears of the reel are made of high-quality corrosion-resistant material. Stainless steel can be a good option because it has the ability to withstand the corrosiveness of the saltwater.
If you want to choose the best fishing reels for tuna, you also have to consider its built material. Since we are talking about saltwater fishing reel for catching tuna, so it is not difficult to understand that you need to pick such a reel, which is made of corrosion-resistant material that can stand the saltwater abuse. For the frame, spool, and the side plates of the reel, you need to opt for graphite or aluminum-made reels. Both of these materials are lightweight and also corrosion-resistant. So, these two materials will make your reel durable without increasing its weight unnecessarily. Stainless steel is the best option you should stick with when it comes to the gears of the reel.
During the process of catching tuna, your spool has to withstand the extensive drag pressure. Due to this reason, you have to ensure that the spool of your reel is solidly constructed with robust material like machined aluminum. Meanwhile, you also have to ensure that the reel has large line capacity or else catching a large, fast saltwater fish like tuna will be become difficult for you.
The reel’s design is one of those factors that you need to consider while buying a tuna reel. In the section above, we have already mentioned that you should opt for a 2-speed reel to catch tuna. So, if you opt for such a reel, you have to ensure that its gear shifting mechanism is super easy. Meanwhile, you also have to ensure that the handle of the reel is comfortable to your hand. If you buy a reel after checking these two things, you will be able to handle large tuna fish without flexing.
The theory of bearing is known to all of us. It is quite simple and straight forward. The more bearings a reel will have, the smoother it will perform. So, while buying a reel, you have to ensure that it is equipped with a number of bearings. Meanwhile, you also have to check their quality because quantity without quality is good for nothing.
Especially when it comes to choosing a saltwater reel, you also have to check the corrosion resistance of the reel material. Stainless steel is one of the best bearing materials because it is known for its corrosion-resistant nature. So, ensure that the bearing of your reel is made of stainless steel. It will be even better if you buy such a reel that is equipped with anti-reverse bearing because, in that case, the bearing will eliminate back play, which is excellent for fishing tuna.
Top 10 Best Fishing Reels for Tuna
In this section, we will reveal the 10 best fishing reels for tuna. But before we jump to that check out here, a quick comparison of our top 5 picks.
|Reels||Material||Gear Ratio||Bearings||Corrosion Resistance||Our Overall Rating|
|Penn SQL30LW Squall LevelWind||Lightweight graphite frame||4.9:1||3||9.8/10||9.6/10|
|Shimano TLD 2-Speed Conventional Reel||Graphite||4:1||4||9.4/10||9.5/10|
|Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed Reel||Aluminum body||5.0:1 – 6.1:1||5 (stainless steel ball bearings)||9.5/10||9.4/10|
|Shimano Talica 16 II||Premium material||5.7:1||7 (6+1)||9.2/10||9.3/10|
|Shimano Triton TLD25||Graphite body||3.6:1||4||8.8/10||9.0/10|
1. Penn SQL30LW Squall LevelWind
The Squall Level Wind series Penn contains excellent fishing reels. This is a series of baitcasting reels, and it contains a total of 7 reels. Among all of them, SQL30LW is our pick because it is rated best for fishing tuna. The manufacturer of this product, Penn, has ideally designed this reel so that it could stand saltwater abuse and can also handle large tuna fish.
The construction of this reel is superb, and its frame & side plates are made of lightweight graphite. So, besides its lightweight feature, the product is also durable. The company has also focused a lot on the gear material of the product. The main gear of this reel is made of bronze, and it also features stainless pinion gear. So, overall it is fair to conclude that it is tough to find a successor of Penn SQL30LW in terms of construction. Penn hasn’t just made the product durable, but in addition to that, they have also focused a lot on reducing the weight of the reel so that anglers can easily catch large tuna fish without any hassle.
The carbon fiber (HT-100) drag system of the reel provides powerful drag without compromising the reel’s smoothness. The max drag of its SQL30LW model is 20 lbs. This is excellent for sport fishing, and it will allow you to capture small to medium-sized tuna fish. 2 of its ball bearings are made of stainless steel. The product also features one instant anti-reverse bearing that surprisingly eliminates the final play of the rotor and ensures the smooth operation of the reel. The gear ratio of the reel is 4.9:1, which is almost ideal for saltwater fishing.
Finally, we would conclude that Penn SQL30LW is an astonishing saltwater fishing reel that comes at an affordable price tag and offers excellent features. Graphite side plates and frames make the product light, but it is still a durable and high performing fishing reel. The reel’s bearings ensure the smoother performance of the reel and allow anglers to drag large tuna fish in a hassle-free way. These are the few reasons that make this product far better than its competitors and this why we have listed it on the #1 position.
2. Shimano TLD 2-Speed Conventional Reel
This is another right product that provides excellent performance in saltwater conditions. So, you can confidently opt for this reel and enjoy catching large tuna fish. However, there’s one thing that we didn’t like about this reel – its built quality. It’s not like Shimano has used low-quality material for making this reel, but when it comes to comparing this product with Penn SQL30LW, Shimano TLD 2-Speed Conventional Reel stays behind. But in terms of performance, both of them are equally good.
Shimano has used graphite for the construction of this reel. Due to this reason, the product is lightweight but not as durable as a saltwater reel supposed to be. You can’t expect this reel to stay with you on the horizon of time. If you take good care of the reel, you can easily use this reel for 3 – 5 years. The product has a total of 4 bearings, and all of them are anti-rust ball bearings. So if you use this reel, then you can enjoy a smooth fishing experience.
The gear ratio of the reel is another thing that you might not like. 4:1 is considered as a low gear ratio, so if you are a beginner, then you should avoid this reel. However, experienced and skilled anglers can confidently opt for this because a reel with a lower gear ratio won’t put a lot of impact on their fishing efficiency.
The reel also features a 2-speed shifting mechanism, which is Shimano’s patented. This is the main reason that makes this reel far better than the other products that come in this price range. The handle of this product is highly comfortable, which will provide you advantages while fighting with a giant tuna fish. These are the few reasons for which you can consider buying Shimano TLD 2-Speed Conventional Reel.
3. Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed Reel
Sport anglers who are looking for the best fishing reels for tuna can consider this reel. Several reasons make this reel far better than other products that come in its price range. The reel is available in 7 different models, and all of them are high performing and durable. The body of the reel is made of aluminum, and due to this reason, the product isn’t just durable but also lightweight. All the versions of Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed Reels have five bearings. Due to this reason, it ensures that you enjoy a smooth fishing experience.
However, their mono capacity, braid capacity, max drag, and gear ratio vary from one another. Due to this reason choosing the best model of Penn Fathom becomes difficult for anglers. In our opinion, FTH40NLD2 and FTH60LD2 are the two best reels that you should consider choosing for fishing tuna. Both these versions of Penn Fathom may be a bit pricey, but they worth the money. The max drag of both these reels is 40 lbs., which is rated suitable for catching tuna. The gear ratio of these reels is 5.0:1. So, one thing we can assure you for sure – if you choose any of these reels, then you will be able to catch market sized tuna fish in a hassle-free way.
4. Shimano Talica 16 II
Shimano has introduced some of the greatest high-quality saltwater fishing reels under the umbrella of Talica. In this style category, they have introduced 11 different types of reels, and all of them are highly powerful and durable. All these reels are powered by high-efficiency gearing technology that offers huge cranking power with an effortless retrieve. In terms of retrieve speeds, you can categorize the reel in two different models – 2-speed and single-speed. But our recommendation is a 2-speed model because it will ensure smooth and effortless retrieval.
Some of its models feature 7 (6+1) bearings, and others have only 6 bearings. The driving power and the technology of all the Talica reels are the same, but you will see some differences in their features. The mono line capacity, weight, gear ratio, retrieve per crank, and max drag of all the reels varies from one another. Due to this reason choosing the best model of Talica series for fishing tuna can be an overwhelming job. However, we always recommend sport anglers to opt for Talica 16 II model.
The weight of TAC16II is 26.5 oz., the gear ratio is 5.7:1, and retrieve per crank is 41″. All these attributes are suitable for tuna fishing. The max drag of this reel is 40 lbs. So, it is fair to conclude that by using Talica 16 II, you can easily drag mid-sized fish out of the water. This is not only high performing but also a well-priced reel. Perhaps this is the main reason for which Shimano Talica 16 II is also labeled as Amazon’s Choice. Finally, we would conclude that TAC16II is worth buying.
5. Shimano Triton TLD25
The body of this reel is made of graphite. It has a total of 4 ball bearings, and its drag system features titanium-impregnated fabric. Due to this reason, the product operates super smooth and allows anglers to catch large-sized tuna easily. This is also the main reason that makes this product one of a fisherman’s favorite reels for tuna fishing. All of its ball bearings are anti-rust, and it features stainless steel gears.
Its line retrieves per crank is 32″, which is quite good compared to the other reels mentioned in this list. The max drag of this reel is 22 lbs., which will allow you to catch small to mid-sized tuna fish. The mono capacity of this reel is also quite good. But one thing you might not like about this reel – its gear ratio, which is listed as 3.6:1. So if you are a beginner, then you should avoid buying this reel. However, if you are a skilled and experienced sport angler and the gear ratio of a reel is only a number for you, then you can opt for this product.
So finally, we would conclude that Shimano Triton TLD25 is a high-quality product that offers premium performance at a reasonable price. Experienced anglers who need higher mono capacity and line retrieve per crank can consider opting for this reel.
6. SHIMANO Tekota Line Counter Baitcasting Reel
SHIMANO Tekota is an excellent fishing reel which is known for its durability and superior performance. The gear ratio of the reel is 6.3:1, which is excellent for catching mid-sized tuna fish. However, the reel has a lower number of bearings compared to the other products on this list. SHIMANO Tekota only features 3 bearings, and due to this reason, the reel doesn’t perform as smoothly as a saltwater fishing reel should operate.
The mono line capacity of this reel is superb and rated suitable for saltwater fishing. The max drag of this reel is 24 lbs. which is quite good. The product is available in 3 different sizes, and according to your preference, you can pick any of them. So finally, we would conclude that SHIMANO Tekota Line Counter Baitcasting Reel is a fantastic reel that offerssuperior performance. Most importantly, the reel is also available at an affordable price. So, you can confidently opt for this reel.
7. GOMEXUS Saltwater Trolling Reel
If you are serious about tuna fishing and if you want to take your saltwater fishing efficiency to the next level, then it could be a good option. From yellowfins to bluefins, you can catch all types of tuna fish by using this reel. The reel features HT100 drag system that causes smoother fishing even in extreme drag settings. These are the few reasons that make this reel one of the top fishing reels for tuna.
The frame of the reel is made of aluminum, and due to this reason, it is neither too heavy nor light. The robust aluminum frame also allows the reel to withstand saltwater abuse. So overall, it is fair to conclude that GOMEXUS Saltwater Trolling Reel strikes a balance between strength and reliability. Due to this reason, the reel is suitable for saltwater, long-rangetuna fishing. The mono line capacity of the reel is 1000yd./130lbs. and its braided line capacity is 2140yd. / 200lbs. The gear ratio of the reel is 2.1:1, which is quite lower compared to the other reels of its category.However, all of its gears are made of stainless steel. So, due to this reason, the reel can easily withstand the harshness of the corrosive environment.
The max strike of this reel is 173lbs. that can easily cover almost all the sea monsters, including bluefins. However, it is also compatible with normal-sized tuna fish such as yellowfin. So finally, it is fair to conclude that GOMEXUS Saltwater Trolling Reel 2 is a versatile reel that you can use for different types of fishing. The reel is available in 3 different models, and according to your preference, you can pick any of them.
8. Shimano Twin Power SW-B
This is a saltwater fishing reel that you can use to catch tuna. The weight of this reel is 12.50 ounce, and its gear ratio is 6.2:1. The product is available in 5 different models, and their mono line capacity is 8 lbs./240 yd., 10 lbs./200 yd., and 12lbs./160 yd. The line retrieve per crank of this reel is 37 inch. Shimano Twin Power SW-B contains a total of 12 bearings, 1 among them is roller bearing. The max drag of this reel is 24 lbs. So, it is fair to conclude that you can easily use this reel to catch small to mid-sized of tuna fish.
The price-performance ratio of this reel is excellent. This is the main reason for which we have added this reel on this list. Shimano Twin Power SW-B isn’t just high performing, but it can also stand the corrosiveness of the saltwater. If you are looking for a high-quality reel that comes at a reasonable price, then you can consider opting for this reel.
9. Avet 5.3:1 Lever Drag Conventional Reel
The product is made in the USA, and the manufacturer of this reel, Avet, has used marine-grade aluminum (6061-T6) for manufacturing this product. So overall, it is fair to conclude that the reel is highly durable and can withstand saltwater abuse. Avet has also tested this product for quality and durability. So, you can confidently choose this reel and start your tuna fishing journey.
The reel features 8 sealed stainless ball bearings. So, one thing we can assure you that if you use this reel, then you will enjoy a smooth fishing experience. The product also comes with a comfortable soft-touch handle, which will give you a significant advantage while fighting with a large tuna fish. So, in the end, we would say that Avet 5.3:1 Lever Drag Conventional Reel is an outstanding fishing reel that doesn’t just perform brilliantly but also look premium and stylish. The reel is available in many different colors, such as blue, golden, red, green, etc. According to your preference you can pick any model you like.
10. Okuma Makaira Off Shore Lever Drag Trolling Reel
This frame of this premium reel is made of 6061-T6 machined aluminum. In addition, it also features corrosion-resistant stainless steel gearing. So overall, it is fair to conclude that the reel is corrosion-resistant from all the angle. So, you can confidently opt for this reel because it can easily stand the harshness of the saltwater.
The product is powered by the Carbonite Dual Force drag system that improves the efficiency of the reel. In addition, you can also alleviate its side loads during heavy drag settings. The gear ratio of the reel is 4.7:1, which is quite good compared to the other products on this list. The weight of this reel is 26.8 oz. and its line retrieve is 33.5″. At the point of strike, its drag is 27 lbs. and 34 lbs. at the full.
The streamlined and muscular bodies of tuna make them the fastest and hard fighting fish. In this list, we have revealed the top 10 best fishing reels for tuna. All these reels are corrosion-resistant, features high-quality gears, smooth drag, and powerful gear ratio. According to your preference, you can pick any reel you like to enjoy catching tuna.