Sharks are seriously tough to battle on rod and reel. You’ll need one of the best shark rods you can afford in order to win.
You will put your tackle to the ultimate test when you hook into a medium to large shark (300+ lbs). If you didn’t get the right tackle, you will know pretty quick after a 400 lb Tiger shark takes to the open sea and he ain’t stopping.
First let’s take a look at how big some of the common shark species get.
Hammerhead – 20 feet long and 1,200 lbs
Mako – 13 feet long and 1,200 lbs
Tiger – 18 feet long and 2,000 lbs
Great White – 20 feet long and 4,000 lbs
Blue sharks – 12 feet long and 400 lbs
Bull shark – 11.5 feet long and 500 lbs
As you can see, sharks are HUGE and are extremely strong swimmers. You’ll need a powerful rod and large reel with 500+ yards of 50-80 lb braided line to successfully land one. Oh….and a sore back too. I caught many sharks when I was a member of a New Jersey Shark Club. It’s brutal work….like 4-5 hours.
Here’s some top of the line/best shark rods (fiberglass only) to consider.
Penn Ally Boat Rod (6′ Heavy Action)
Penn Rampage Boat Rods
Shimano Tallus Trolling
Shimano Terez Trolling
Shimano Tallus IGFA
Barrett Shark Rods (medium to heavy)
Daiwa Saltiga G Dendoh
Daiwa Maine Power Dendoh
Daiwa Tancom Dendoh
Daiwa VIP Trolling Rods
Daiwa Saltist Trolling
Daiwa Seagate Boat Rods
Daiwa Sealine Boat Rod (SLN66XXHR or SLN66XHR)
Penn Ally Boat Rods – best shark rods for the money
Penn Ally conventional boat rods are all fiberglass, 1 piece tubular with a solid tip. Fiberglass rods are unbreakable whereas Graphite are NOT. Don’t go with a graphite shark rod….it will break.
Penn Ally Boat rods are beautiful, high performing and unbreakable. It’s really hard to beat them. These 1 piece rods are setup with either (or both) Fuji Aluminum Oxide heavy duty guides and/or Pac Bay Roller Guides. The heavy duty reel seats will keep even the largest shark reels in place. The foregrip is EVA Torque which are super durable and provide the ultimate grip even when wet. The gimbals are all aluminum for corrosion resistance and strength.
Penn Rampage Boat Rods – best budget shark rods
Penn Rampage boat rods are available in a line weight rating of 30-80 lb. This is plenty heavy enough for large sharks. They are a 1 piece tubular fiberglass construction with 8 Fuji Aluminum Oxide heavy duty guides or 7 Pac Bay Roller Guides, depending on the model. The reel seat is graphite and very strong and secure. The Rampage rod is available with a gimbal. The Rampage is a bargain at around $80.00.
Shimano Tallus Trolling Rods
Tallus trolling rods are spectacular for shark fishing but are not cheap…around $250 – $300. However they are well worth it.
Tallus Trolling Rod Features
1 piece tubular fiberglass/graphite TC4 composite construction
Large line capacities: 700 – 1000 yards of 50 – 130 lb line
Heavy Duty Gears – reel in 800 lb tuna without failure
High Tech Drag System – heavy, stable drag wears out large fish without failure
Anodized Protection – NO RUST
Competitively Priced – starting at $400
These reels are the best for bringing in Tuna. Tuna are large and extremely powerful and require a very strong and durable reel and rod setup. If you have less than optimal, you will loose the big ones!
I know several charter boat owners that use Penn International for all of their Bluefin Tuna reels. They have never had a failure in over 20 years. Bluefin tuna are the largest tuna species and can take several hours to bring them to the boat. Penn International reels are recommended.
Penn International V Tuna Reel
High-performance 2-speed fishing reel delivers exceptionally smooth and powerful drag
Full metal body and side plates constructed from die-cast aluminum for durability and rigidity
Dura-Drag washers, Push-To-Turn preset knob, and ratcheted drag lever maintain icy smooth drag even under extreme loads
Quick Shift 2-speed system seamlessly shifts into high or low gear
Fluid cranking with 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings and double dog ratchet anti-reverse
HT-100 drag washers provide smooth drag under heavy loads
Ratcheted lever eliminates “drag-creep” caused by hours of trolling and boat vibrations
Easy and reliable two-speed mechanism with Quick Shift system
Push-to-Turn present drag system prevents ‘unknowing anglers’ from accidentally adjusting the drag when backs are turned
Full metal body and side plates to ensure its precision gear alignment
Shimano Tiagra Tuna Fishing Reel
A-RB (Anti-Rust Bearings) – Our specially treated stainless steel ball bearings are at least 10 times more corrosion resistant than standard stainless steel ball bearings.
Forged Aluminum Spool – These spools are made from cold forged aluminum then machined to provide an extremely dense, solid construction that can withstand the heavy drag pressures the reels can apply.
Chrome Plated Side Plate Screws – The side plate screws are chrome plated to prevent corrosion.
2-Speed Gearing – Uses 2 sets of gears that are always engaged for quick, easy gear ratio changes even under load.
Ratcheting Drag Lever – eliminates the chance of the drag lever backing off due to boat vibration and allows for more precise adjustment.
Twin Disk Drag System – uses two drag disks and a floating drag plate to effectively double the drag surface which provides a wide range of settings and increased durability.
Clicker – The clicker increases the tension on free spool and activates a clicking alarm when a fish bites.
Septon – The handle grip material, Septon, is soft to the touch and does not get slippery even when wet.
Permalube – This lubrication improves freespool while maintaining protection and durability of moving parts.
Metal Series – With the Metal Series, metal frames keep moving parts in precise alignment for increased efficiency and durability.
Machined Aluminum Frame – These frames are machined from solid aluminum pipestock, which makes them incredibly rigid and strong for ultra tight tolerances.
Offset Ergonomic Power Grip – The power grip is offset on multiple axes to allow natural hand, arm and wrist angles to improve comfort and power (not available on (TI12 & TI16).
Ergonomic Power Handle – Comfortable, non-slip grip provides maximum comfort and torque (TI12 & TI16).
Daiwa Saltiga Tuna Fishing Reels
Conventional reel, RH
6 Ball Bearings
6.3: 1 Ratio
Line Capacity: Braided 40/840, 50/630, mono 30/350, 40/310.
Offset power handle with Soft Touch grip
Massive stainless steel gears – helical cut for optimum power and smooth winding
Offset power handle with Soft Touch grip
Machined aluminum frame and left side plate are one solid piece for maximum strength and durability
Fin-Nor Santiago Tuna Fishing Reels
4 ceramic/hybrid ball bearings for support and strength
Fully machined one-piece aluminum frame
Forged aluminum spool
Push-button and dial-release two-speed shift system
Line Capacity: 900yds/50lb mono – 900yds/130lb braid capacity
Best Budget Tuna Fishing Reel: Penn Squall LevelWind
The Penn Squall LevelWind reel is most likely the best budget tuna fishing reel. It’s “Penn Tough” and cheap. The price ranges from $100 to $150.00 if you shop at Amazon.com. There is No Way you can beat this deal.
The Penn Squall Levelwind reel has a line capacity range, depending on the model, of 900 yards of 65 lb test braid or 775 yards of 80 lb test braid for the 50 LW model which is the largest. The smallest Squall LevelWind (model 15 LW) has a line capacity of 580 yards of 20 lb test or 435 yards of 30 lb test braided fishing line.
The Penn Squall LevelWind features a lightweight yet strong graphite frame and side plates. Graphite is very strong and durable. The aerospace industry uses graphite frequently because of it’s high performance properties. The all aluminum spool is forged and then machined in the Penn factory on highly sophisticated machinery. The main and pinion gears are stainless steel for strength and durability plus corrosion resistance. The Squall has the excellent Penn Dura-Drag system which is a super tough and reliable drag system. Few drag systems are better. There are 4 stainless steel bearings which provide smooth and reliable function.
Penn Fathom Lever Drag Fishing Reel
The Penn Fathom Lever Drag reel is another top choice for tuna fishing on a budget. The Fathom retails for about $199 – $250 but you can find online deals at Amazon.com. The Fathom Lever Drag 60 online goes for about $220.00.
The Fathom Lever Drag reel is constructed with a full metal body and side plates. It’s a very robust reel that will bring in the biggest fish and last many years. The main and pinion gars are all stainless steel. The Fathom features the world famous Penn Dura-drag washers for smooth and consistent drag pressure. 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings give this reel a very smooth operation while resisting corrosion from fresh or saltwater. There are line capacity rings on the inside of the spool. This lets you monitor how much line is out while battling big fish. There is also a double-dog ratchet anti-reverse system. The Penn Fathom is built to battle big fish and it is recommended that you fill the spool with superline. This will allow you to put more line (2-3 times as much) on the reel which will enable you to catch bigger fish.
The Fathom 15LD will hold 355/12, 305/15, 200/20 (yards/lbs) yards of monofilament or 550/20, 415/30, 290/50 yards of Superline braided fishing line.
The Fathom 25NLD will hold 325/20, 295/25, 240/30 (yards/lbs) of monofilament and 680/30, 475/50, 395/65 of Superline braided fishing line.
The Fathom 30LD will hold 435/20, 325/30, 250/40 (yards/lbs) of monofilament and 635/50, 525/65, 455/80 of Superline braided fishing line.
The Fathom 40NLD will hold 410/30, 315/40, 235/50 (yards/lbs) of monofilament and 785/50, 665/65, 565/80 of superline braided fishing line.
The Fathom 60LDHS will hold 480/40, 355/50, 315/60 (yards/lbs) of monofilament and 995/65, 860/80, 735/100 of Superline braided fishing line.
Shimano TLD Offshore Lever Drag Fishing Reel
Shimano makes some really fantastic reels but are not cheap however the TLD (Triton Lever Drag) reel is quite affordable at around $150 – $200. It’s quite the bargain.
Charter boat captains favor this reel because of its reliability and light weight. The TLD frame is made from a super strong graphite that is practically indestructible and light weight. The spool is aluminum which is very resistant to corrosion from salt water and also light weight. The stainless steel ball bearings are treated to increase the corrosion resistance. They are claimed to last 10 times longer than traditional stainless steel bearings. The TLD has 4 A-RB bearings and provide a super smooth action and extreme durability.
The TLD features a ball bearing drag system that is unlike any other. It features a space-age titanium impregnated fabric which runs smoother, last longer and dissipates friction heat very efficiently. The drag tension is also very consistent. Some drag systems will increase the tension when they get hot.
Avet SXJ 5.3 Fishing Reel
Retail Price $189.99
The SXJ is precision machined from marine grade 6061 T-6 aluminum and stainless steel components for corrosion resistance and maximum durability.
Exterior components are anodized for superior corrosion resistance and a beautiful finish. This is part of what makes a great fishing reel, attention to detail.
The one piece frame provides maximum strength/weight ratio. Strength is super important but you don’t want a heavy reel. It will tire your arms too quickly.
The lever drag system is powerful, reliable and consistent with an adjustable strike pre-set.
The precision machined stainless steel gears are strong, durable and corrosion resistant. The Avet gears are also very smooth.
Avet patented (indestructible) SILENT dog and gear anti-reverse system is the most reliable in the industry.
The Ave-drag dry carbon fiber drags are designed for reliability, superior stopping power, smoothness, and wear resistance. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Maximum drag is 14 lbs on Full and 9 lbs. at strike
The 8 stainless steel ball bearings assure reliable and smooth operation at all times.
Alarm clicker lets you know when you have a bite on your line.
The offset machined handle arm reduces the centerline profile and cranking wobble. I always hated reel wobble when cranking a fish in fast.
The large, comfortable soft touch handle knob is a pleasure to hold even after 2 hours of fighting.
The light, narrow spool is designed for optimal jig casting efficiency and less line leveling while retrieving.
Avet reels are made in USA.
Daiwa Seagate Levelwind Fishing Reel
Retail Price $149.99
One piece, rugged, corrosion-proof composite frame provides a reliable and rigid reel structure. Composite frames are much lighter than metal and are just as strong. You will appreciate the light weight after 2 hours of fighting a 300 lb Bluefin tuna.
4 bearing system:1 Corrosion Resistant Ball Bearing, 2 Ball Bearings and 1 Roller Bearing – very smooth and reliable.
Dual system Infinite Anti-Reverse
Ultimate Tournament carbon drag (UTD)
Oversize line guide aperture for copper wire line or 250 lb mono leaders.
Loud spool click – may not seem like a big deal but it really is. You want to hear when a fish takes your bait.
Fast 6.1 to 1 gear ratio – recovers line really fast compared to other reels with a 5:1 gear ratio.
Maximum drag 20 lbs
Oversize Soft Touch handle knob – super comfortable even after hours of reeling. This is really important when fighting large fish that take 45 minutes to several hours to bring in. Your hand will appreciate this feature.
Line Capacity: SGTLW50H – 830 yards of 40 lb test braided/Superline or 650 yards of 50 lb braided /Superline. SGTLW60H – 820 yards of 50 lb braided/Superline or 700 yards of 60 lb braided/Superline
Available in 50 (SGTLW50H) and 60 (SGTLW60H) sizes
What do Charter Boat captains use on their boats for Tuna?
…only the best
The best Bluefin Tuna fishing reels are the following:
Penn International V – used more often than any other tuna reel
Tika ST Series
Avet EXW50 – best value tuna reel
Tuna Reel Benefits
Huge Line Capacity – wear out larger fish without loosing them
Heavy Duty Drag – wears out large fish faster without failure
Heavy Duty Gears – failure free reeling even with 800 lb large tuna
Anodized Exterior – corrosion free fishing
2 Speed – reel in line faster (high gear) when tension is low or use low gear to muscle the fish in
If you want to take a look at a huge inventory of fishing reels and at very competitve prices, check out….Amazon.com
All of these tuna reels are the best there are for battling 800+ lb Bluefin tuna. They all have super heavy duty construction and gears. Line capacities are extreme, upwards of 1000 yards. IGFA fisherman are using some of these reels today and the reason is…they’re the best money can buy. Don’t go cheap on a Bluefin fishing reel….you will regret it!
Bluefin Tuna are the largest tuna species and can reach 1000+ lbs. If you hook one, it may take 4+ hours to bring it in. The battle is grueling, back braking and endless. Some have given up because his/her body could not stand the punishment.
Shimano Talica Features
6 +1 high performance bearings
38-41 inches retrieve per handle crank
Maximum Drag: 20-60 lbs depending on model
11 Talica models available for line weights of 40 – 150 lbs braid.
Line capacity ranges from 540 yards of 50 lb braid to 825 yards of 150 lb braid.
2 Speed retrieval
MSRP $450 – $999
Shimano Tiagura Reel Features
Cold forged aluminum construction for strength, lightweight and corrosion resistance
6 +1 A-RB bearings for reliability and smooth operation
Lever drag for positive engagement and simplicity
Maximum drag ranges from 33 lbs to 99 lbs depending on the model
10 models to choose from
Large line capacities from 40/795 (lb test/yards) to a whopping 150/3315 for the Tl130A reel.
MSRP $450 for the 12A and $1299 for the 130A
Penn International V/VI Fishing Reel Features
Machined and anodized aluminum body and side plates for lightweight, strength and corrosion resistance.
Stainless steel main and pinion gears provide smooth and reliable operation
Quick-Shift II™ 2-speed system gets line back on the reel faster than most conventional reels
Dura-Drag™ system provides heavy drag that won’t overheat or fail
Versa-Strike Adjustable Strike stop
Double-dog ratchet anti-reverse
MSRP $649-99 – $899.99
Fin-Nor Santiago Fishing Reel Features
4 ceramic/hybrid ball bearings for reliable and smooth operation – these are the best bearing available.
Fully machined one-piece aluminum frame provides the ultimate strength with minimal weight. Excellent corrosion resistance also.
Forged aluminum spool is precision made and super strong with excellent corrosion resistance.
Push-button and dial-release two-speed shift system
High line capacities of 30/800 (lb test/yards) to 130/1600.
MSRP $650.00 – $900.00
Fin-Nor Marguesa Conventional Reel Features
Machines from 6061 aluminum for light weight, strength and corrosion resistance