Best Tuna Fishing Reels To Buy In 2019 [Our 10 Best Picks]

One wonders how big tuna fish can get. In the depth of the sea, tuna can be quite tricky and challenging to fish to catch, especially when the reel does not measure up in terms of specification and performance. You know how funny fishing can get, especially when you lose a hooked tuna fish as a result of faulty reels. 

To help you have a fun-filled tuna fishing experience, we have put together 10 best tuna fishing reels. We have spent hours researching these products, and these reviews speak about our experience.

premium

  • Construct with Machined aluminium frame
  • Line able to reach a depth of 33.5 feet
  • Incorporates with drag grease feature to reduce friction

Popular

  • Constructed with durable stamped graphite frame
  • Features 2-speed settings mechanism
  • Ideal for small - medium sized tunas

A couple of years back, traditional hook and line did wonders even in the depths of the sea. Things aren't the same anymore as the fishes have evolved. Inexperienced fishers would have a hard time making a single catch if it were not for the advent of fishing reels. With quite a number of fishing reels around, many people are now easily drawn to the idea of fishing as a hobby.

Despite how big and troublesome the tuna fish can get, there are reels powerful enough to help you make your catch in a fun-filled and less stressful way.

Top 10 Tuna Fishing Reels [Comparison Table]

We have designed a comparison table below for your easy reference.

However, it is important to note that the positions are in no particular order of importance. Some models may be preferred by others, therefore, please do read in details, which one may suit you the best.

ProductSpecifications & FeaturesOur Rating


Penn Fathom Lever Drag 40N
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Gear Ratio: 5.0:1 / 2.5:1

Bearing Count: 5

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 410/30, 315/40, 235/50

Line Retrieve (in) : 42/21

Max Drag (lbs) : 40

Weight (oz) : 25.7

4.7/5.0



Price: $$$

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Okuma Makaira Off Shore Trolling Reel MK-8ii
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Gear Ratio: 4.7:1 / 2.1:1

Bearing Count: 4+1

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 320/15, 260/20, 195/25

Line Retrieve (in) : 33.5/15

Max Drag (lbs) : 34

Weight (oz) : 24.2

4.5/5.0



Price: $$$$


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Shimano TLD30IIA 2-Speed Reel
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Gear Ratio: 4.0:1 / 1.7:1

Bearing Count: 4

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 800/20, 600/30, 450/40, 350/50

Line Retrieve (in) : 37/16

Max Drag (lbs) : 33

Weight (oz) : 37.5

4.4/5.0



Price: $$$

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Penn Squall 2-Speed Trolling Reel 50VSW
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Gear Ratio: 2.9:1 / 1.5:1

Bearing Count: 4

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 1550/30, 890/50, 565/80

Line Retrieve (in) : 33/17

Max Drag (lbs) : 40

Weight (oz) : 55.6

4.4/5.0



Price: $$$

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Shimano Talica TAC8II
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Gear Ratio: 6.1:1

Bearing Count: 6+1

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 280/15, 200/20, 165/25

Line Retrieve (in) : 38/25

Max Drag (lbs) : 20

Weight (oz) : 18.2

4.3/5.0



Price: $$$$

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Daiwa Saltiga SALD30-25PD 2-Speed Reel
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Gear Ratio: 6.3:1 / 3.1:1

Bearing Count: 6

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 490/14, 295/20, 230/25

Line Retrieve (in) : 37.2/18.3

Max Drag (lbs) : 26

Weight (oz) : 17.9

4.6/5.0



Price: $$$$

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Penn Senator 115l2 Reel
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Gear Ratio: 2.5:1

Bearing Count: 2

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 1150/30, 700/50, 625/60

Line Retrieve (in) : 28

Max Drag (lbs) : 24

Weight (oz) : 57

4.4/5.0



Price: $

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​Shimano Tekota TEK800 Trolling Reel
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Gear Ratio: 4.2:1

Bearing Count: 3+1

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 530/25, 450/30, 370/40

Line Retrieve (in) : 33

Max Drag (lbs) : 24

Weight (oz) : 29.8

4.5/5.0



Price: $$

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​Gomexus 18W 2-Speed Trolling Reel
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Gear Ratio: 3.9:1 / 1.7:1

Bearing Count: 6

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 675/18

Line Retrieve (in) : 33.5/15

Weight (oz) : 41.98

4.1/5.0



Price: $$

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AVET SX 5.3 Lever Drag Conventional Reel
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Gear Ratio: 5.3:1

Bearing Count: 8

Mono Line Capacity (yds/lbs): 320/15, 220/20, 200/25

Line Retrieve (in) : 30

Max Drag (lbs) : 14

Weight (oz) : 14

4.5/5.0



Price: $$

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10 Best Tuna Fishing Reels Product Reviews

1. Penn Fathom 40N Lever 2-Speed Lever Drag Fishing Reel

best tuna fishing reels

The Penn 1292934 is a heavy-duty fishing reel and tops the list of the best tuna fishing reels. It is made of highly durable and corrosion-resistant materials. Constructed in a compact and lightweight style, suitable for fishing in saltwater. It is extremely easy to use as it features five well protected stainless steel ball bearings to ensure smoothness on the reel. 

Dura-Drag technology ensures that the reel works with less friction even when the drag setting is at the extreme. It stands as the favorite tuna reel of many experienced tuna fishers and the inexperienced ones.

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2. Okuma MK-8II - Best deep sea fishing reels for tuna

The reel is made of the 6061-T6 Machined aluminum frame. Its side plates are specially forged to ensure proper protection for internal components. The gear ratio is good enough to make tuna fishing a fun experience despite the sheer size of the fish.

The gears are also well protected against corrosion whereby the fishing line can reach as deep as 33.5 feet into saltwater. Drag grease feature eases stress when dealing with a heavy catch. Its drag and strike capacity is quite appealing when compared with reels of the same category.

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3. Shimano TLD 2-Speed - Best bluefin tuna fishing reel

Shimano TLD 2-Speed reel is very powerful, lightweight, and durable. Its 2-speed feature helps fishers adjust line retrieval or release as the occasion demands. Its ball bearings are specially made to give unique anti-rust property. For this reason, anglers can be sure of the efficiency of the reel for a long time. 

Despite its relatively lower price, it scores high on performance and durability. It is very easy to handle. It is ideal for catching small to medium size tuna fish. Inexperienced anglers may find this reel an excellent choice to help them improve their fishing skills.

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4. Penn 1292938 Squall Lever Drag 2-Speed Trolling Fishing Reel, 890/50

The frame of the Penn Squall Lever Drag 2 Speed Reel is made of effective corrosion-resistant graphite to ensure longevity. It is lightweight and easy to use for both experienced and novice anglers. Its highly efficient stainless steel gear system gives smooth cracking even in harsh conditions.

Dura-drag technology keep hook and line intact even when a caught tuna fish puts up a huge resistance. The 2-speed system helps the fisher to manipulate line retrieval or cracking depending on the prevailing circumstances. Without releasing the handle, users can switch between speed

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5. Shimano Talica II Reels

Shimano Talica two reels come in 11 different sizes, so anglers have the opportunity to choose which of the sizes suits their fishing needs. All Talica II reels are built with the same quality components and have the same design. The only difference between this line of product are specifications that are peculiar to the size of each reel. 

They all feature a 2-Speed high-efficiency gearing system which helps in handling hooked fish with ease. Their frames are made of high-quality material which is stress and corrosion-resistant. The reels are also capable of using braided lines.

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6. Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag 2-Speed Reels

This class of Daiwa reels comes with about 5 models having similar build but different sizes, line capacity, and product weight. They come with 6 corrosion resistant ball bearings to give high reel efficiency.

Depending on the model, braid capacity can range from 200 to 800 yards. All models feature the easy-shifting 2-speed feature which can respond to a single touch. Saltiga Lever drag reels were custom made to give stress-free fishing experience. Despite its rugged build, it refuses to sacrifice its fancy look.

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7. Penn 115L2 Senator Star Drag, 700yd/50lbs

When dealing with larger fish, having a reliable and robust reel is a must. Penn Senator Star Drag reels are specially made for catching large fish in very deep waters. As expected, the reel comes with a powerful, durable, and corrosion-resistant drag system. The reel can handle both mono and braided lines effectively.

The knob and handle are well positioned around the frame to ensure easier retrievals, especially when fish is struggling with the reel. All parts are well protected from corrosion to ensure durability and sustained efficiency.

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8. Shimano Tekota 800 Conventional Reel

Shimano is a big name in the fishing reel market. Tekota 800 is a relatively cheap but high-quality tuna fish trolling reel. It has a very smooth drag for a fantastic fishing experience. It performs excellently in saltwater as well as inside freshwater. Its frame is made of highly durable materials which offer up to ten times protection against corrosion.

With its line capacity, it can go deep enough to locate the tuna habitat. It works appropriately regardless of the season. It is ideal for both experienced and inexperienced tuna anglers.

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9. GOMEXUS 18W 2-Speed Trolling Reel

The frame of the Gomexus Saltwater Trolling Reel is made of anodized aluminum to give a durable and high performing reel anytime on the waters. Its parts are also made of coated stainless steel to make them highly resistant to corrosion from exposure to saltwater. The presence of ball and roller bearings make its drag system very easy to operate for even an inexperienced tuna angler. The drag system is powerful enough to secure the fighting tuna once it is hooked.

Apart from its exceptional drag and trolling features, it also comes with a 1-year limited warranty to ease the minds of buyers.

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10. Avet SX5.3 Lever Drag Conventional Reel

Avet SX 5.3 is made of aluminum and stainless steel components rated 6061 T-6 marine grade. It has 8 corrosion resistant ball bearings that help increase its pulling efficiency. The product ranks high when it comes to longevity and performance.

It is an ideal reel for beginners. This reel is suitable for angling small and medium-sized fish. The reel effectively combines strength and weight to give a durable and compact reel.

It features gear anti-reverse system and is very easy to use. The reel can support both mono and braided lines. All parts are made to meet up with high-quality standards.

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Tuna Fishing Reel Buying Guide

When searching for the best tuna fishing reels, you will be literally swarmed by endless products. There is a need to know what to look out for if you'll like to get the best tuna reel. One needs to consider quite a lot of factors, but we have outlined one of the most important factors.

Most of the reels listed above score high on many of these features. However, your fishing need is likely going to make a huge impact on it. So, pay more attention to these features as they lead you to the best reel you need.

1) Quality of Materials and Construction

Considering the cost of most reels around, you want to be sure that the reel you buy is going to perform and serve you for a very long time. Reel performance and longevity partly rely on the quality of materials and construction. If you’re buying from a physical store, you may need to feel the reel frame to ascertain the quality of the reel.

However, one good indicator of the quality reel is the size to weight ratio. Medium-sized reels with moderate weight usually last longer than the relatively bulkier or smaller ones. This is a good indicator for picking the best fishing reels for tuna.

2) Size Vs Weight

Size and weight can be good indicators of longevity and durability. However, you must also consider how long you will need to hold the reel when fishing. There are two different types of reels when it comes to tuna fishing. These are spinning reel and the trolling rig reel. The later can stay on a holder, hence, may not require holding in the hands for a long time. Despite this, you need a medium-sized yet lightweight trolling rig reel.

The spinning reels, on the other hand, are carried on the hands almost throughout the fishing duration. For this reason, ensure you can easily manage your reel size and the weight without suffering pains in hands too soon.

3) Number of Bearings

Because ball bearings reduce friction, the more the bearing, the lesser the effort required to pull back the line after a catch is made. For fish as big as tuna, you want to be sure that your reel makes it easier for you to handle your catch without much stress.

As smoothness depends on the number of ball bearings, you can check reels having from four ball bearings and above to get a perfect reel for you. Many high-quality reels have about five ball bearings.

It is not uncommon to find good reels having only about two ball bearings. An example is found in the Penn Senator Drag reels. This type of reels is ideal for hooking very large fishes in deep water.

For this reason, you will expect the reel to have slower retrievals. This may lead you to hold the device for a longer time. The shoulders and elbow may feel the brunt of the sheer weight once a large fish is hooked.

4) Gear Ratio or Reel Power

Gear ratio measures the power of a reel. It tells how many lines your reel can collect for every turn. For big fish like tuna, gear ratio ranging between 4.9 to 5.1 is good enough. On the other hand, high power reel can lead to line breaking and the loss of fish.

Depending on your need, there are reels with two adjustable gear system. One has a higher gear ratio and is used to pull sizeable fish. The other is relatively smaller and is used for catching comparatively smaller fish.

5) Mono Line Capacity

Another essential factor to consider is how deep or long your line can cast. User's choice of line capacity usually depends on the type of fish to be caught. Considering how hard tuna fish can fight and how fast it runs, getting a reel with good line capacity is a must.

The downside of having inadequate line capacity on your tuna fishing reel is that you tend to lose more fish than catching them. A reel having line capacity 300-400 yards is ideal. However, for tuna fishing, any reel having line capacity less than 200 yards is a no-no.

6) Braided Line Capacity

A fishing enthusiast may sometimes use braided lines on their reels when hunting tuna fish in the deep. When compared with the usual lines, braided lines are less likely to twist to form knots on the line. Because of their ability to be compacted, braided lines can be used to extend line capacity. That being said, not every reel can run braided lines easily. It is essential to ensure that the reel you are buying has the in-built capability to run braided lines.

7) Drag System Quality

A good drag system is supposed to give you fast and accurate signals when your line has caught a fish. It should be strong enough to withstand stress which may arise from the pulling war between you and the fish. Where the drag system is inadequate, fishing can become very frustrating. To ascertain the quality of the drag system on your preferred reel, check trusted users' reviews online or ask fishing enthusiasts around you.

8) Corrosion Protection

Since you will be fishing mainly in saltwater to catch a tuna fish, your reel is more likely to corrode. Once corrosion sets in, the reel becomes less efficient. More effort is required to secure a catch, and there are higher chances of losing hooked fish. 

Check that your reel is corrosion resistant. An excellent place to also examine is where the ball bearings are located and how secure they are against spilling or splashing seawater.

9) Handle & Knob

Comfort is very crucial when deciding which to choose between the best tuna fishing reels that are available on the market. A reasonable long handle ensures comfort. Short handles can make handling your reel a serious headache. Using the right knob also improves the fishing experience. For fish as sizable as tuna, a circular knob should work just fine.

Some reels come with an anti-reverse handle which allows fishers to release some line when struggling with fish. This increases the chances of safely securing the fish after all the struggle.

10) Waterproof Frames & Parts

Reels will have to come in contact with water every time you use them. So, it’s advised that your reel must be waterproof. That way, the frame, and internal components don't get rusty. A rusty reel is so inefficient and can easily breakdown during use. Look for sealed tuna reels to ensure waterproof fishing device

11) Corrosion Protection

To get high-quality tuna fishing reels, there is probably a need to spend reasonably more than the price of the cheapest reel around. As with many other products, high performance and quality do come at a higher price. To an extent, this same rule holds with tuna fishing reels.

Lower priced reels can be found below $300, but their suitability for catching sizeable tuna fish is more or less questionable. This is reasonably evident when you compare the size to weight ratio of the reel and the gear ratio. You may need to look between $500-$300 price range to get the best tuna fishing reels that will serve your fishing need.

FINAL VERDICT

We choose Penn 1292934 Fathom 40N as our best tuna fishing reel from the lists above. It is not surprising as it offers tuna fishers the best deal for their money when its features are carefully considered. It is quite compact and lightweight. It has five ball bearings to make tuna fishing stress-free even for beginners. 

Though it costs more than some of the reels listed above, it is sure to deliver performance and durability. We rate this product 4.7 stars out of possible 5.

When buying a fishing reel, many people use the trial and error method. Don't just try your luck. Use our guide to make a well-informed choice.


4.7/5.0
Our Rating
Adam Parsons

Hi! I'm Adam Parsons - a fishing enthusiast. I have been fishing for more than 15 years now and I still strongly remember that the toughest part for me was during the learning process. Most guides I read during that time was too technical to understand. Therefore, I make sure that everything I post on dream-guides regarding fishing is written well and easy to understand even if you are a newbie.

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