Best Tuna Fishing Reels – Charter Boat Captain picks

Here’s what charter boat captains are recommending as the best Tuna fishing reels:

  • Penn International V or VI
  • Shimano  Tiagra
  • Daiwa  Saltiga
  • Fin-Nor Santiago Wide.

Why are these reels the best?

  • 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.

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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 Reel

  • Conventional reel, RH
  • 6 Ball Bearings
  • 6.3: 1 Ratio
  • Aluminum spool
  • 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 Reel

  • 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 Bluefin Tuna Fishing Reels – Charter Boat Captain Picks

What do Charter Boat captains use on their boats for Tuna?

…only the best

The best Bluefin Tuna fishing reels are the following:

  1. Shimano Talica
  2. Shimano Tiagura
  3. Penn International V – used more often than any other tuna reel
  4. Tika ST Series
  5. Avet EXW50  – best value tuna reel
  6. Fin-Nor Santiago

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

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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 Tiagura

Penn International V

Fin-Nor Santiago


500 lb Bull Shark on Barrett Rod/Shimano TLD 2 Reel

Watch  a young lady hook and fight a huge bull shark weighing about 500 lbs. It’s a brutal fight and was not quick to end. Sharks are brutally strong and it takes a heavy drag and 60+ minutes to wear them down. It is very exciting however.

Shark Tackle

  • Shimano TLD 2 Reel
  • Barrett Custom Shark rod
  • Mustad 14/0 Circle hook
  • #15 wire leader
  • 200 lb mono leader
  • 100 lb braided main line