Choosing the Correct Spinning Rod and Reel Combo For Bluefin Tuna

Targeting small to medium Bluefin Tuna with Spinning Tackle requires some serious gear. You will want to choose a large capacity Spinning Reel with with a sturdy aluminum frame and beefy drag system. The Rod should have a stiff butt-section and fairly light tip. The softer tip will allow anglers to cast the smaller jigs and lures to feeding fish and the stiff butt-section will help lift stubborn fish from the depths. Most anglers opt to spool their Reels with a type of Spectra Fishing Line in the 50-80lb range because of the low diameter to strength ratio as well as it’s low memory features. MAKE SURE YOU USE A TYPE OF BACKING OR TAPE ON THE SPOOL BEFORE FILLING WITH SPECTRA!

Recommended Spinning Reels

Here at Fisherman’s Outfitter we proudly carry three Manufacturers’ Spinning Reels; Penn, Shimano and Accurate. There are other Reels on the market that can handle the Tunas but they are generally harder to service and nearly impossible to get parts for. At Fisherman’s Outfitter we service and stand by all the Reels we sell. Bluefin Tuna make extremely hard and fast runs which in time will wear the drag system down, this is why it is very important to choose a Reel that has good parts availability.

Like everything else in the world you get what you pay for. One should expect to pay at the very least $160.00 on a decent Spinning Reel.

The new revamped Penn 950SSm is the least expensive model, which features a machined aluminum spool with a powerful drag system and large line capacity. It recieved a few upgrades from it’s predecessor, an infinite anti-reverse system and an improved handle with large diameter knob for comfort and increased torque. The Gear Ratio is a medium speed which is great for using large poppers and casting jigs. This Reel should be spooled with Spectra in the 50lb to 80lb range.

Shimano also has a few models with a short price tag, the larger Spheros 14000FB and 18000FB. The Spheros FBs have also recieved some upgrades in recent years. Some of the great new features include Paladin Gear-Enhancement, Cold-Forged Spools with improved drag-sytems and higher line capacity. The most impressive feature is the way they shaped the spool lip. Compared to other similar models these new Reels cast further with much less effort. These Reels have slightly faster Gear Ratios which is great for using large poppers and casting jigs as well as Hi-Speed Jigging. These Reels should be spooled with Spectra in the 50lb to 80lb range.

If your want a Reel with some extra features Shimano also makes Reels in the medium price range, the Thunnus and the Saragosa. The Saragosa is a Higher-End version of the Spheros with more Ball-Bearings and large diameter Power-Knob Handle for comfort and increased torque. The Thunnus is also a great choice with some added features. Some that you will gain with this Reel is the added Ball-Bearings and and Shimano’s famed “Baitrunner” feature. The Baitrunner is a secondary drag-system that pays out line to wary, light-biting fish with the bail closed preventing it from coiling off the spool and keeps the angler in close contact for positive hooksetting. Turn the handle, and the primary drag you have preset automatically engages. These Reels will hold plenty of 50lb-80lb Spectra.

If you are the most demanding fisherman who wants to have the absolute best chance for catching Bluefins on Spinning Tackle you have two choices, the Shimano Stella and the Accurate TwinSpin. If you had to compare these two Reels to cars the Shimano Stella would be a Lamborghini and the Accurate TwinSpin would be a Mack Truck. If you are looking for the Smoothest Retrieve with an insane Braking Power (up to 55lbs!) we recommend the Shimano Stella in either the 18000SW or 20000SW model. They hold about the same amount of line the main difference between the two is the Gear Ratio. The Stella 18000SW has a fast 5.7:1 Gear Ratio for High-Speed Butterfly Style Jigging and casting large lures. The Stella 20000SW has slower 4.4:1 for increased torque which is great for larger lures or casting baits. If your looking to tackle the meanest medium sized Bluefins the Accurate TwinSpin is the Reel for you. Machined from a Solid Block of T6-6061 Aluminum featuring Accurate’s Signature Twin-Disk Carbon Fiber and Titanium Drag-System. It comes in a few different sizes, we recommend the 30 or 30L. Like the Stellas the TwinSpin 30 is a 6.0:l High Speed Reel and the TwinSpin 30L is a Low Speed brute buster.

Recommended Spinning Rods

At Fisherman’s Outfitter we also carry a select Spinning Rods to pair up with your Reel to target the elusive Bluefin Tuna. We have rods available from Shimano, Tsunami and our famed line of Custom Rods. The main features you want to look for in a Fishing Rod are the Blank, Guides, Wraps and Reels Seat.

The Tsunami Fishing Rods are the best bang for your buck. They feature high modulus graphite mesh and composite construction Blanks that gives the Rod extreme sensitivity, resiliance and power. The guides frames are Stainless-Steel with Titanium Carbide inserts for durability and line protection. The Tsunami Spinning Rods also feature Fuji Stainless-Steel reinforced graphite Reel Seats. The downside to these production Rods are the attention to detail spent on the guide wraps, they are more likely to deteriorate over time than a Custom Rod.

Other middle of the road Spinning Rods are the Shimano Trevala Butterfly Jigging Rods. Shimano Trevala Jigging Rods feature Shimano’s TC4 Blank Construction, which is a double wrapped inner horizontal layer of advanced, dynamic fibers with an inner and outer spiral of high modulus graphite. This breakthrough in design construction results in an extremely strong, yet lightweight Fishing Rod. Other key features of Shimano Trevala rods include Fuji Stainless-Steel reinforced graphite Reel Seats and Fuji  Alconite or Silicon Carbide guides (depending on Model). We suggest only using the XXH models for targeting Tuna.

Fisherman’s Outfitter offers a complete line of Custom Fishing Rods. All of our Custom Rods are Hand-Built with extreme care. We use the Finest quality Blanks, Epoxies, Threads and Components and all Feature a Limited Lifetime Warranty on the Blank. We offer middle of the road Rods like our LBC70H 7′ 20-50lb Spinning Rods. These feature high quality E-Glass Blanks, Stainless-Steel reinforced graphite Reel Seats, EVA Foam Grips and large diameter Fuji Hardloy Guides for improved casting performance.

 For the Ultimate in Performance  and Durability is the Fisherman’s Outfitter Custom Elite Spinning rod. It is built with Calstar’s 7′ Graphiter Blank which is originally designed as a Long-Range Stand-up Tuna Blank. We have converted this beast to accomodate the most powerful Spinning Reels on the market which until now couldn’t be fully utilized. The Blank is the Strongest on the market and lightest in weight. The Butt is constructed of High-Modulus stiff Graphite which is blended to an E-Glass Tip for sensitivity and softness. It features double underwrapped, double overwrapped Fuji Silicon Carbide guides (the strongest on the market!) with the finest epoxies and threads. The Fisherman’s Outfitter Custom Elite Spinning Rod also features a machined aluminum reel seat with a Custom 14″ “Shark-Tooth Fore-Grip. The hard plastic slick-butt reduces weight and allows the Rod to be lifted out of a rod holder with minumal effort as well as an aluminum gimbal for a fighting belt.

Selecting the Correct Fishing Line

To maximize the Strength and Line Capacity your Reel can hold you should fill it with a Braided Spectra Line. Although a Monofilament or Fluorocarbon leader is still needed at the terminal end for stretch and abrasion resistance. The length of leader is all personal preferance, just make sure it is going to be longer than any fish you are planning to catch. 

At Fisherman’s Outfitter we carry three brands of Braided Spectra Fishing Line; Diamond Products Spectra, Jerry-Brown Line One Spectra and Power-Pro Spectra. You may or may not be familiar with Spectra Fishing but it has been around for about 15 years now and has gone through some major transformations. There are two major categories for todays Superbraids; Hollow-Core and Solid-Core Spectra. The first decision you need to make is Pound Test you are going to use. The second the whether or not you want a Hollow-Core Spectra or Regular Solid-Core. The final decision is brand (this is the least important).

Like mentioned before Spectra in the 50lb-80lb class is all you need, although you may be catching fish much larger. This is the reason for purhcasing a High-Capacity Reel with a Smooth Drag System. Let the Rod and Reel do their job. The more line the fish takes the more the drag increases because of angle it comes off the spool and the amount of line it is towing through the water. You will not stop a Bluefin Tuna during a run, if you put too much pressure the fish you will either pull a hook or break your line.

The Pound Test is determined by a few factors. Most important is the rating on the Fishing Rod and Reel and what type of lures you will be using. If using lighter lures you should stick with 65lb Test or Smaller, while heavier lures can easily be casted long distances with the heavier 80lb line (which only has the diameter of 20lb mono).

Solid-Core Spectra is less expensive and is the most commonly used line for targeting Bluefin with Spinning Tackle. With practice it is fairly easy to tie knots and will take years of constant abuse with little upkeep, just make sure to make necessary cut-backs if your line is starting to show frays. The drawbacks to Solid-Core Spectra is that a knot is needed to connect a leader. There is no knot that has a 100% connection, but some like the Albright is the easiest most secure (around 90% if tied correct).

Hollow-Core Spectra is fairly new to the market and is the ideal choice to fill your Spinning Reel. Although initally more expensive than Solid-Core, Hollow-Core will save you money in the long run. As the name implies the Spectra has a hollow center, which has the gripping properties of to “splice.” You can either splice loop ends to utlize Wind-On Leaders or a Chinese-Finger style splice for Top-shots. Both connections will pass through guides with minimal resistance. Top-shots give the angler a 100% strength knotless connection. Hollow-Core also allows for the virtually invisible and 100% connection of a Spectra to Spectra Splice of additional lengths of hollow Spectra, providing the ability to replace a damaged sections of line.

By: Joe Curcuru, Fisherman’s Outfitter