Best Tuna Fishing Reels [2022 Review]

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Fishing for tuna can be quite difficult, especially if you lack the right gear which makes your experience easier. Tuna fishing reels are a key part of your fishing gear and using the right reel is vital to having a successful expedition. This is why using only the best reels on the market would do. 

Our Top Tuna Fishing Reels Recommendations

Reeling is practically the final aspect of your tuna fishing, hence why using a great reel is important. Tuna has a reputation for putting up a fight and if your reel isn’t up to the task, you might soon find yourself with a damaged one and no catch. 

Product
Penn's Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel
Shimano TLD 2 Speed Reel
Sougayilang Fishing Reel
Brand
PENN Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel
SHIMANO TLD30IIA 2-Speed Lever Drag Fishing Reel
Sougayilang Fishing Reel, Colorful Aluminum Frame...
Material
Stainless steel;Metal
Graphite
Stainless Steel
Handle Material
Stainless Steel
Aluminum
Stainless Steel, Aluminum
Product
Penn's Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel
Brand
PENN Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel
Material
Stainless steel;Metal
Handle Material
Stainless Steel
Product
Shimano TLD 2 Speed Reel
Brand
SHIMANO TLD30IIA 2-Speed Lever Drag Fishing Reel
Material
Graphite
Handle Material
Aluminum
Product
Sougayilang Fishing Reel
Brand
Sougayilang Fishing Reel, Colorful Aluminum Frame...
Material
Stainless Steel
Handle Material
Stainless Steel, Aluminum

The best tuna fishing reels are designed to be extremely durable to withstand the tuna’s weight and absorb the expected struggle. Now, the next big task is to determine which of the many reels on the market would increase your chances of making a big haul.

Best Tuna Fishing Reel: Penn’s Slammer Spinning Fishing Reel III

PENN Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel

The Penn's Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel should be top on your list especially if you love offshore tuna fishing.

First, you cannot overlook its extraordinary design. The black and gold-colored reel come with a top look which makes owners proud to display this beauty amongst other fishermen. 

In the way of structure, it features a complete metal frame that gives this reel more power during tuna fishing expeditions. It boasts 7+1 bearings which limit friction, increase speed, making this beauty a top-choice if you are a bluefin or yellowfin tuna enthusiast.

With this reel comes a drag of about 60 pounds and 80 pounds of more than 500 yards braided line. 

This reel’s work rate is amplified by its smooth drag and how it increases your chances of a good catch significantly. Compared to the RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan II, Penn’s Slammer can handle bigger tuna and it is efficient, durable, and strong.

This reel has received IPX6 ratings which means that it can withstand extremely high water pressure which makes it stand out compared to some Shimano fishing reels.

This reel is particularly efficient in catching a variety of tuna including wahoos, marlin, bluefin, and yellowfin tuna without experiencing damage, this makes it a worthy addition to your reel collection.

However, it is quite heavy and can’t be used for long hours due to the discomfort it would cause to the angler. 

Pros

  • Long-term durability thanks to the reel’s full metal frame
  • Strong drag feature of this reel ensures that you can catch big tuna as yellowfin

Cons

  • Heavy weight makes it great only for the somewhat muscular
  • You may lose the cap which comes with the knob
PENN Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel
  • Full Metal Body, side plate, and rotor
  • CNC Gear technology
  • IP6 Sealed body and spool design.Drag Type: Front Drag

Best Dragging Tuna Fishing Reel: Shimano TLD 2-Speed Reel

SHIMANO TLD30IIA 2-Speed Lever Drag Fishing Reel

The Shimano TLD 2 Speed Reel proves efficient and durable even when fishing big tuna-like yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna.

Although the Shimano TLD does not have the Okuma Makaira’s thrust bearings and Shimano Tiagra’s hydrothermal drag system, it is still a highly effective saltwater reel.

The Shimano TLD reel employs a ratcheting dog anti-reverse device rather than a roller bearing and this enables you to back up your line without upsetting your bait. TLD versions all have a robust aluminum spool with a graphite frame and side plate which prevent rust and corrosion to the reel.

These reels offer efficiency while also being lightweight. It’s good for capturing a variety of blue water fish, including tuna and marlin.

The ergonomic power handle is known for their ease of use when cranking. The Shimano TLD two-speed variants differ from other models by having a powerful drag system, the capacity to handle larger lines, and an exceptionally low gear ratio. This reduces fight time with your tuna and it doesn’t leave you exhausted after a catch. Also, the spool of this reel accommodates more lines than the regular reel and this allows you to use multiple line measurements when fishing for tuna, giving you a higher chance for a catch.

They are made out of graphite and aluminum making this reel rust and corrosion-resistant for saltwater fishing. The two-speed gear feature gives you the option of hauling fast swimming tunas quickly and also heavy tunas.

However, one flaw in this masterwork is that there are no reinforcements to counteract the noticeable twisting in the frame.

Pros

  • Lightweight which makes it easier to use
  • Long-term durability makes it useful for years to come
  • Sufficient resistance against corrosion and rust

Cons

  • Plastic drag adjuster may snap under strain when handling large fish
  • Tie-down screws appear to be flimsy
SHIMANO TLD30IIA 2-Speed Lever Drag Fishing Reel
  • The Shimano TLD30IIA 2-Speed Offshore Lever Drag Fishing Reels are powerful; light and durable
  • Each Shimano TLD-IIA reel features Shimano's patented 2-speed shifting mechanism and A-RB anti-rust...
  • The A-RB bearings provide the corrosion resistance needed for saltwater use

Best Practical Tuna Fishing Reel: Sougayilang Fishing Reel

Sougayilang Fishing Reel, Colorful Aluminum Frame...

The Sougayilang Fishing Reel comes with ball bearings which are anti-rust and it also features an anti-reverse making your fishing experience effortless and preventing loss of your catch.

Its bearings are resistant to corrosion and the reel comes with an additional graphite spool upon purchase.

This guarantees that this reel continuously delivers over a long time in your tuna fishing expedition. It is lighter, compared to the Okuma Makaira but this does not in any way reduce efficiency.

The Sougayilang Fishing Reel comes with an interchangeable handle made of aluminum and its primary shaft is made of strong metal. This ensures that you can use this reel for tuna fishing comfortably either being left-handed or right-handed and its shaft guarantees usage for a long time.

This reel is really powerful, commonly known as a fortress and it comes with a precise drag great for battling tuna.

This reel is easy to maintain which makes it great in the long run. It is also perfect for different types of waters, ranging from the oceans to seas, lakes, ponds, and rivers. You do not need to be an expert deep seawater angler to benefit from the goodness of this reel and catch some tuna.

The major disadvantage to this reel is that the nut holding the gears together can come loose easily. Also, its frame is made out of less durable plastic.

Pros

  • Handle is perfect, giving you a good grip especially if you have bigger hands
  • Manufacturer provides excellent customer service for easy replacement and repairs

Cons

  • Can get damaged easily. The frame isn’t as strong as other reels, made of plastic
  • Chances of rust during early usage is high
Sougayilang Fishing Reel, Colorful Aluminum Frame...
  • 【Eye-catching appearance】Sougayilang GSM fishing reel have been fully upgraded on the basis of...
  • 【Rigid aluminum skeletal frame】 The Sougayilang GSM spin fishing reel is built for enormous...
  • 【Pro level quality gears】The main drive gear is made of durable zinc alloy matched with a pinion...

Strongest Tuna Fishing Reel: The Okuma Makaira

Okuma MK-80WII Makaira Two Speed Elite Lever Drag...

There are four D’s in the Okuma Makaira design: drag, design, durability, drive. This reel offers anglers a wide range of tuna targets when fishing.

It offers various spool options like the MK10-II which has a line that can withstand the test of any tuna weighing around 15 pounds and the MK180-II which has a line that can handle a weight of up to 80 pounds.

Compared to the Shimano TLD 2-speed reels which are lightweight, the Okuma Makaira weighs more. However, with its weight, in two positions, the lever drag provides extraordinary strength and maximum drag ratings.

This accelerates fight time and makes it easier to turn even the biggest tuna. When the fish become tired of the strike setting, the max setting could be used to finish the struggle.

The Makaira’s side plates and frame are made of the best grade aerospace aluminum, known for stability and strength. This ensures that it can withstand the strength of big tuna and guarantees usage over a long period.

Both normal and special edition Makaira reels come with two-speed gear systems making this reel a good choice for fast swimming tunas and deep water tunas.

As against other handle types like the knob type in the Shimano Stradic reel, the Okuma Makaira comes with an aluminum handle and a T-bar made of rubber for a better grip. It also features a perfectly placed drainage system which prevents water from staying too long and causing damage.

One major downside here is that this reel is heavy and so it cannot be used for hours at a stretch without feeling pretty tired and sore.

Pros

  • Durable because it is made using materials that are strong and can endure the force of heavy tuna
  • Sleek design makes this reel one of the easiest to use

Cons

  • Heavy, making it hard to use for long hours
  • Not made to be a fast reel, making it hard to catch fast-swimming tuna
Okuma MK-80WII Makaira Two Speed Elite Lever Drag...
  • MACHINE RIGID CONSTRUCTION – Features 6061-T6 machined aluminum frame, side-plate and spool for...
  • CORROSION-RESISTANT COATING – Features Okuma’s CRC: Corrosion-resistant coating process which...
  • DIAL IT IN WITH TWO 2-SPEED GEARING - Okuma's 2-speed technology incorporates two sets of stainless...

Best Lightweight Tuna Fishing Reel: The RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan II

RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan II, Fishing Reel - Full...

When you need a tuna reel that is specifically made to be as light as possible, resistant to corrosion and rust, and also waterproof, the RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan II is your reel.

The manufacturers gave this product a sleek design, without missing out on those unique features that make reels stand the test of time against tuna like power and strength.

Just like the Okuma Makaira, the RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan II comes with a perfect drainage system. In addition, this reel offers a total system that shields its gears from water and dirt.

Before this product was placed on the market, it went through a 168-hour test in salt mist to ensure that it is rigid in saltwater, making it corrosion resistant.

This ensures that this reel stands the test of time when you fish for tuna, which are predominately saltwater species. It comes with a strong drag which enforces its durability and ensures that it still works just fine after dealing with heavy fish.

This reel comes in different sizes, namely: 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, and 6000. The first two types come with three washers each and the last three come with five washers each.

These washers give consistent stopping force, help to increase maximum drag by a whopping 40%, and ensure that you leave with a great catch. The special highlight is excellent corrosion technology unmatched by many other reels.

However, a significant downside to this product is that it wobbles if you reel too fast.

Pros

  • Lightweight, it can be used for a long time effortlessly
  • Durable, ensuring that you get the value long-term

Cons

  • Wobbles when reeling too fast preventing you from maintaining a solid grip
  • Handle is partly aluminum and partly plastic thus reducing durability
RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan II, Fishing Reel - Full...
  • Improved & Enhanced Process: The TITAN II spinning reel is constructed of full metal body with...
  • Silky Smooth Construction: 9+1 precise stainless steel shield bearings, stronger precision NCTM (No...
  • Entire Shield System: The TITAN II spinning reel features a built-in R.E.S.S. (RUNCL Entire Shield...

Features to Consider for Best Tuna Fishing Reels

There is no one-reel-for-all when dealing with tuna. Choice of reel ranges based on various factors like preference, functionality, and effectiveness in specific waters. However, certain noteworthy features should always be looked out for when selecting the best tuna fishing reels:

Silver and black tuna dripping in blood as it is being held by a man standing on a white boat
RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan IIOkuma MakairaSougayilang Fishing ReelShimano TLD 2-speed reelsPenn’s Slammer 3
Target tunaBluefinBig Eye/BluefinBass/YellowfinMarlin/YellowfinWahoo/Bluefin/Yellowfin
Handle‎EVA‎T-Bar CNC aluminum ‎Knob‎Knob
FrameStainless steel and aluminum Aluminum Aluminum and graphite GraphiteAluminum 

Comfortable Weight

For a tuna reel to have what it takes to withstand a fight, it must be well-built. This means that it would not be lightweight. Note that this does not mean that its weight should cause significant discomfort to you when you fish.

The RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan II is light and comfortable, the top reel on our list for this feature. Yet, it is equally durable to withstand a fight.

Bringing in tuna after it hooks your line can take about an hour or even more. Thus, a reel that isn’t light would only reduce the number of times you would be able to stick your rod back in.

Corrosion Resistance

Fishing in saltwater is essential, particularly when dealing with tuna. As a result, all your gear and equipment must be resistant to rust. They must be constructed of stainless steel or similar materials.

The spool, frame, and side plates are all made of graphite or aluminum. These items are less in weight while yet providing a lot of strength and resistance to corrosion.

Reel Speed Type

The speed of your reel choice should correspond to the species of tuna you wish to fish. However, if it does not or you do not know what speed it is, it could make your fishing experience somewhat difficult.

For dealing with speedy tunas like the yellowfin, using a two-speed reel is beneficial, and a single-speed reel works when bringing the huge ones to the boat. A two-speed lets fishermen immediately rip line in and combat heavy tuna with remarkable efficiency.

Silver fishing reel with a black rod being held by a man while kneeling down on a white boat

A single-speed reel does not bring the lines in as fast as a two-speed. But, it is excellent for slow retrieval of lines and usually the best choice for wintertime tuna fishing. It is excellent for marlin.

The Okuma Makaira, among the reels on our list, has exceptional corrosion resistance thanks to the highest grade aircraft aluminum, which provides strength and stability. It also has a two-speed transmission.

Handle

Tuna fishing requires a great deal of patience and strength due to the struggles that these species may bring. They have been known to fight until their final breath, which can be an hour or more.

As a result, a comfortable handle should be sought after. Make sure that the reel’s handle provides you with the type of grip you desire. It should prevent your hands from slipping off easily. This way, you won’t lose your catch and won’t waste time carrying it into the boat.

Pay close attention to the design of a reel’s handle and the particular grip it offers. For example, if you love fishing for heavy fish, selecting a handle with an offset power grip guarantees that you have power, control, and convenience when fishing.

The Penn’s Slammer III knob handle is the easiest to use on our list for comfort and effectiveness in preventing slip-offs.

Frame

The frame is what decides how effective the reel’s body can be. It must be able to handle other reel components, be sturdy enough to operate efficiently while dealing with larger tuna, and must not be too heavy to provide discomfort.

Huge tuna with gray and yellow streaks being proudly showed off by three men in a white boat stained with red blood

This feature is essential because it ensures that your reel stands the test of time. Aluminum or graphite should be the ideal material to look out for.

The Penn’s Slammer Spinning Reel III is the most durable of the reels on our list, thanks to its entire metal body composed of aluminum.

Spool

When struggling with heavy draw tensions while dealing with your catch, using a poor spool can be stressful and exhausting. As a result, keep an eye out for an excellent spool, one constructed of strong materials like machined aluminum.

If you want to go deep-sea fishing, opting for huge line spools is your best bet because it allows you to use multiple line measurements when catching tuna and this ensures that you are not at a disadvantage against deep-sea species like the bluefin tuna and the bigeye tuna.

Among the reels on our list, the Shimano TLD 2-speed reel boasts one of the best spools. Longer lines are included, allowing for the use of numerous line measurements.

Bearing

For proper functioning and endurance, your tuna fishing bearing must pass three tests: excellent quality, sufficient quantity, and rust resistance. Bearings that pass these tests minimize friction, enhance speed, and make motion easier.

It makes your fishing reel effortless to use and boosts its effectiveness. Casting and retrieving your line would be considerably more difficult without a good reel bearing.

Silver fishing reel with a black rod being held by a man trying to catch a tuna while standing on a white boat

Getting a tuna reel with an anti-reverse bearing that limits your line rolling back is also one to watch out for.

The Penn’s Slammer Spinning Reel III, for example, is one of the reels on our list with a bearing that passes all three of these tests.

Stainless steel is an excellent material for bearings since it is durable and resistant to rust. Bearings that are sealed or protected are much more resistant to corrosion.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Drag Does Tuna Require?

Tuna requires around 130 pounds of drag pressure from a carbon fiber drag system. This pressure should be equal to the strength of your rod, which should be kept at arm’s length on short reinforced rods with full-body harnesses.

Catching tuna, especially the big ones, have traditionally necessitated the use of stronger equipment. This is a challenging task, but with the appropriate drag, you can complete it.

What Kind of Gear Is Useful for Fishing Tuna?

When fishing for tuna, here is a list of equipment that is important to your success.

  • Hooks
  • Balloons
  • Tuna lures or live bait
  • Sinkers
  • Durable line
  • Fishing gaff
  • Reel or rod for tuna

Note that your gear must be made out of high-strength material. It must be durable in battling tunas that are heavy, fast swimmers, which do not give up the fight easily.

Conclusion

Getting the best tuna fishing reel can be the difference between a great fishing experience and an unpleasant one. Beyond getting a name product, getting one that has the right features is vital. This article covers everything you need to know about selecting the right reel and positioning yourself for a successful expedition.