Tuna fishing is great fun, but it’s very important to have the right kind of reel. Today we are specifically looking at some Penn options to give you some suggestions on what we personally feel is the best Penn reel for Tuna fishing. We have narrowed it down to 5 reels (the Squall Lever Drag is our top pick).
In short you ideally want a a reel with low gear ratio, slow retrieval, high line capacity and a good drag system. Lastly it’s important to make sure the bearings are sealed. The rest really comes down to preference and the size of fish you are planning to go after.
Top 5 Penn Reels For Tuna Fishing: Reviews
Let’s take a detail look at each of our picks, we will be looking at bearings, gear ratio, drag, line capacity and our own pros and cons of each;
1. Penn Squall 50VSW
The Penn Squall 50VSW is our personal favorite for Tuna fishing. This is a heavy duty reel with a lightweight construction that is ideal for saltwater fishing.
Bearings & Gear Ratio
First off, the 50VSW comes with 4 stainless steel ball bearings, ones which help to keep things running and smoothly as possible. There is also one anti-reverse ball bearing included here to stop the handle from running backwards, plus it also helps with smoothness.
The bearings here are made of high quality materials, and they are sealed off in order to ensure maximum protection against saltwater corrosion.
In terms of the gear ratio, the Penn Squall 50VSW is a dual gear fishing reel. It has one low gear setting of 1.5:1, which can crank in 17 inches of line per turn of the handle.
It also comes with a higher gear setting of 2.9:1, which can reel in 33 inches of line per turn of the handle. Therefore, it is a good option to go with whether you are going for small or large tuna.
The Penn Squall 50VSW comes with a nice drag system, one that can handle up to 40 pounds of drag. It will stop a tuna from running off with your line, plus it helps stop your line from snapping too.
40 pounds should be enough to deal with smaller and medium size tuna, but maybe not the very largest ones.
This reel does come with pretty good line capacity. When it comes to mono line, it can handle up to 1550 yards of 30 pound line or 565 yards of 80 pound line, which is very impressive no doubt.
In terms of braided line, it can handle 2485 yards of 65 pound line or 1835 yards of 100 pound line, which is also impressive. It also comes with line capacity lines to let you know how much line is on the reel.
- Heavy duty.
- Dual gear ratio.
- Great for most sizes of tuna.
- Lightweight and durable.
- May switch between gears on its own on occasion.
2. Penn Fathom
The Fathom is lightweight, very durable, ideal for saltwater fishing, and can handle some fairly large tuna as well. The multi-stop anti-reverse feature, plus the super comfortable handle are both nice features here.
The Penn Fathom comes with a total of 5 stainless steel ball bearings. The bearing here help to keep things running smoothly, plus there is one anti-reverse bearing included as well. All bearings here are sealed, which therefore makes this reel ideal for saltwater fishing.
When it comes to the gear ratio, the primary ratio here is 4.8:1, and it allows this reel to retrieve 40 inches of line per turn of the handle, which makes this reel great for fast retrievals.
With that being said, it also comes with a secondary lower gear, which can be easily switched to, which is ideal for slower retrievals that require more patience.
The Penn Fathom comes with a pretty reliable lever drag system, one with a maximum drag of 40 pounds. Once again, this is ideal for smaller and medium sized tuna, but probably not the largest of fish.
Although, it does come in very handy in terms of keeping a tuna from making off with your line, and to help stop a fish from snapping the line.
The Penn Fathom has decent line capacity, although not quite as high as some other models out there. This thing can hold 410 yards of 30 pound mono line or 235 yards of 50 pound mono line.
It can also deal with 785 yards of 50 pound braided line or 565 yards of 80 pound braided line. It can hold a lot of line, but still not quite as much as some others out there.
- Very smooth.
- Great drag system.
- Ideal for saltwater fishing.
- Dual gear system.
- Not the best for large tuna.
- Drag system could be a bit heavier.
3. Penn Squall Lever Drag
The Squall Level Drag is durable, fairly lightweight and medium duty reel. This thing has a versa-handle system, which is very convenient, plus it is built with highly durable materials too.
When it comes to ball bearings, the Penn Squall Lever Drag has 5 ball bearings to assist in smooth casting and retrievals. It also comes with 1 anti-reverse ball bearing in the handle to stop it from turning the wrong way at the wrong times. The ball bearings here are fully shielded and therefore more than ideal for saltwater fishing.
In terms of the gear ratio, this is a single gear fishing reel, one with a 5.1:1 gear ratio, which is quite high. It can retrieve 37 inches of line per turn of the handle.
It’s fairly high, making it good for high speed retrievals, or in other words for smaller and medium size tuna. Either way, retrieval is fast and smooth with the Penn Squall Lever Drag.
The Squall Lever Drag does have frame flush ratcheting lever drag, which makes it very easy to adjust, plus the drag system here is quite durable thanks to the DuraDrag Washers.
With that being said, the maximum drag for this particular reel is only 20 pounds, which is not too high. It should work just fine for smaller and medium-small tuna, but it won’t do too well for larger fish. Sure, this is better than nothing, but when it comes to large tuna, it could use some improvements.
In all honesty, as you can see from the other sections here, the Squall is meant for smaller applications, which can also be seen by the line capacity.
In terms of mono line, it can hold up to 300 yards of 40 pound line, and in terms of braided line, it can hold up to 625 yards of 65 pound line. It’s not meant for long distances or for very large fish.
- Ideal for saltwater fishing.
- Very lightweight and durable.
- Smooth and fluid.
- Gear ratio ideal for fast retrievals.
- Drag system will not do for larger fish.
- Not meant to hold a lot of line.
4. Penn Senator Reel
If you need a big time and heavy duty reel with a great multi-stop anti-reverse feature, a very comfortable handle, a heavy duty build, lots of capacity, and a great mechanical braking system, the Penn Senator is a really nice reel.
One thing to note about the Senator Reel is that it does only have 2 ball bearings. Now, generally speaking, this is a bit less than we would like to see. With that being said, the 2 stainless steel ball bearings used here are of the highest quality, plus they are sealed off to make them corrosion resistant too. All in all, this thing operates quite smoothly and it really could be much worse.
We do like the Penn Senator Reel for the fairly low gear ratio it has. This thing has a gear ratio of 2.5:1, which allows for a line retrieval rate of 28 inches per turn of the handle.
As you can see, this reel is ideal for larger fish and slower retrievals where some patience and muscle power is required, such as for a big tuna.
This particular reel does come with an excellent HT-100 drag system. The materials used in the drag system here are super tough and long lasting. The maximum drag of the Penn Senator Reel is 24 pounds, which is admittedly not all that much.
It’s fine for smaller and medium-small tuna, but probably not the largest of specimen. However, it is a tough drag system to say the very least.
The Penn Senator Reel is very impressive in terms of line capacity. It can hold a whole lot of heavy line, making it ideal for heavier fish and long distance fishing.
If we are talking about mono line, it can handle up to 1150 yards of 30 pound line or 625 yards of 60 pound line. If we are talking about braided line, it can handle up to 1700 yards of 80 pound line or 120 yards of 130 pound line.
- Ideal line capacity for big fish and long distances.
- Gear ratio ideal for larger fish.
- Sealed ball bearings.
- Very smooth with a reliable drag system.
- Drag system could be able to handle some more weight.
- Could use a couple more ball bearings.
5. Penn Squall LevelWind
This final option on our list is another good one to go with for medium size tuna. One of the best features here is the level wind system which helps to wind line evenly. It is also a very durable and lightweight reel that is more than ideal for saltwater tuna fishing.
The Penn Squall LevelWind comes with 2 ball bearings and 1 anti-reverse roller bearing. Now, just like the other model we just looked at, we would like to see a couple more bearings. Although, the bearings used here are of a very high quality, plus they are sealed to resist saltwater, and the anti-reverse is a good feature too.
This reel comes with a 4.9:1 gear ratio, which allows it to retrieve 35 inches of line per turn of the handle. It is a reel meant for fairly fast retrievals and therefore is ideal for finesse fishing and for catching smaller and medium size tuna.
The Penn Squall LevelWind comes with an HT-100 drag system, and all of the components used here are of a very high quality.
Although the drag system here is very smooth, easy to adjust, and highly reliable, the maximum drag on it is only 20 pounds, which is not that high. It’s fine for smaller and medium-small tuna.
The Squall LevelWind has OK line capacity, but it is definitely not meant for long distance fishing or for very large fish. In terms of mono line, it can hold up to 455 yards of 25 pound line or 285 yards of 40 pound line.
In terms of braided line, it can hold up to 1020 yards of 30 pound line or 590 yards of 65 pound line.
- Level wind.
- Fairly smooth and fast retrievals.
- Ideal for smaller and medium tuna.
- Great for saltwater fishing.
- Not too much maximum drag.
- Not the best line capacity.
Ideal Reel Specs & Features For Tuna
Yes, there are some things which you should look out for before you buy any reel for tuna fishing, whether Penn or otherwise.
- For large tuna, a low gear ratio with a slow retrieval is best. For medium and smaller tuna, a higher gear ratio is best. The bigger the fish, the slower the retrieval should be.
- For most tuna, you do want the reel to have high line capacity, and be able to hold heavy test line. Tuna can get really big and they love to fight.
- A good drag system is a must for tuna fishing, and the more drag it can muster, the better. These fish can get real big.
- No matter how many bearings the reel in question has, make sure that they are sealed, because tuna fishing takes place in saltwater.
We have we have given you some good suggestions, it’s generally hard to go wrong with a Penn reel but most of it really comes down to preference but all of the 5 reels we covered are very viable for Tuna fishing in our opinion.