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Tuna Chunking

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Yellowfin Tuna ChunkingThe rod we recommend for tuna chunking is a 5’6″ to 6’6″ conventional stand-up rod rated for 30lb mono or higher.  Because tuna chunking is used for smaller tunas such as yellowfin tuna and albacore and larger tunas including giant bluefin which can go over 1000lbs, a broad range of rods and reels are recommended.  Going to higher rated rods will allow the angler to put more pressure on bigger fish and shorten the fight time, but may take some of the sport out of fighting smaller fish.  Heavier line can also be a handicap when the fish are line-shy.

A reasonable guide for rod and reel ratings are as follows:

Fish Size Tackle
50lbs or less 30-50lb mono
50-100lbs 50-80lb mono
100-250lbs 80lb mono
250lbs or larger 80-130lb or higher

Tuna Chunking Reels

We strongly recommend using only lever drag reels for tuna chunking.  Two-speed reels provide an added advantage.   Tuna can be notoriously line-shy and for this reason all chunking is done with mono.  For even larger fish and added line capacity anglers can use a mono top shot of 100-200ft backed with braid of equal or higher rating.  The thinner diameter of the braid provides significant additional line capacity.

Lever drag reels are a must for circle hook fishing (also recommended – see below).  The lever drag allows the angler to slowly increase the drag pressure to ensure the proper hook set.

Leader and Connections

There are numerous tips and tricks for tuna chunking rigs.  Use at least 6ft of the lightest reasonable f luorocarbon leader.  Be prepared to sometimes use leader that is significantly lighter than your main line when the fish are line-shy.  We rarely use less than 50lb leader.  When targeting giants we use either 130lb or 200lb leader.  We connect the leader to the main line using a ball bearing swivel that is rated higher than either the main line or the leader (it just needs to be rated higher than one of them).

Tuna Chunking Hooks

Many anglers use 4x strong ringed live bait hooks for chunking.  However, we also recommend using 2x or 3x circle hooks for several reasons:

  • These hooks have a smaller visible profile the “J” hooks of the same rating (great for line-shy fish)
  • Circle hooks virtually ensure the hook will set on the corner of the mouth reducing the chance that the tuna’s teeth will chafe through the leader
  • Circle hooks ensure the least amount of damage to fish that are destined to be released

Fighting Belts for Tuna

We recommend the Black Magic Fighting Belt and Harness. This is a uniquely designed belt and harness system that helps prevent side-to side slippage while reducing back strain. It offers true seat conformation, more stability and fighting leverage!

Tuna Chunking Checklist

  • 5’6″ to 6’6″ conventional rated for 30-50lb mono or higher
  • Lever drag conventional reel rated for 30lb mono or higher
  • 50lb or higher mono or mono top-shot
  • 50lb or higher braid for backing
  • 100lb  or higher ball bearing swivel
  • 4x 5/o and up ringed live bait hooks
  • 2x or 3x  5/0 and up circle hooks

Please contact us if you have questions about our recommendations!


Tackle Recommendations
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Rods
Penn International V ARA Stand-up Penn International V ARA Stand-up
Offshore stand-up rod - 5'6" - 6'0" - multiple one-piece models rated for 30-130lb mono - Aftco rollers - EVA foam foregrip - aluminum reel seat and gimbal
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Penn International V ARA Stand-up Penn International V ARA Stand-up
Reels
Penn International VS Penn International VS
Offshore lever drag 2-speed conventional reel - models rated for 12-130lb mono and 20-200lb braid - 1.4/3.0:1, 1.6/3.8:1,  2.0/5.3:1, and 3.3/5.3:1 gear ratios - 4 ball bearings
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Penn International VS Penn International VS
Shimano Tiagra Shimano Tiagra
Offshore lever drag 2-speed conventional reel - models rated for 12-130lb mono and 40-250lb braid - 1.2/2.2:1 and 1.7/3.9:1 gear ratios - 4-6 ball bearings
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct

Shimano Tiagra
Shimano TLD II Shimano TLD II
Offshore lever drag 2-speed conventional reel - models rated for 20-80lb mono and 50-100lb braid - 1.4/3.5:1  and 1.7/4.0:1 gear ratios - 4 ball bearings
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Shimano TLD II Shimano TLD II
Shimano Tyronos II Shimano Tyronos II
Offshore lever drag 2-speed conventional reel  - models rated for 20-50lb mono and 50-150lb braid - 2.1/5.0:1  and 1.5/4.0:1 gear ratios - 4 ball bearings
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Shimano Tyronos II Shimano Tyronos II
Line
Berkley Big Game Mono Berkley Big Game Mono
Trilene monofilament line - shock and abrasion resistant - clear, green, and solar collector colors - available in 8 to 130lb test and 1/4, 1, 3 and 5lb spools - exceptional knot strength
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Berkley Big Game Mono Berkley Big Game Mono
Hooks
Mustad 4X Hoodlum Bait Hook Mustad 4X Hoodlum Bait Hook
10827NP-BN - Live bait hook, Opti-Angle Needle Point, chemically sharpened, Nor-Tempered, 4X strong, ringed.
Learn more and buy on Amazon

Mustad 4X Hoodlum Bait Hook
Mustad 2X Demon Circle Hook Mustad 2X Demon Circle Hook
39941NP-BN - Opti-angle needle point, chemically sharpened,nor-tempered, kirbed, point curved in, 2X strong, ringed, black nickel- sizes 2/0-9/0
Learn more and buy on Amazon

Mustad 2X Demon Circle Hook
Terminal Tackle
Mustad Ball Bearing Swivel Mustad Ball Bearing Swivel
77250-BN - Black Ball bearing Swivel, two welded rings
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Mustad Ball Bearing Swivel
Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader
Fluorocarbon leader  - invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear  and disappearing pink colors - 4-200lb test and 30/100yd spools
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader
Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader
Fluorocarbon leader - additional abrassion resistance, lower diameter, invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear and disappearing pink colors - 8-200lb test and 30/100yd spools
Learn more and buy at Tackle Direct
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Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader
Berkley Prospec Leader Berkley Prospec Leader
Fluorocarbon leader - invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear, blue, pink, brown colors - 20-200lb test and 25/33/75/100yd coils
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Berkley Prospec Leader Berkley Prospec Leader
Other
Black Magic Belt & Harness Black Magic Belt & Harness
Belt and Harness for rods with 15-18" butts - available in 3 different belt sizes (27-48" 34-58" 42-65") and standard 17.25" or XL Wide 19.5" plates
Learn more and buy at Capt Harry's

Black Magic Belt & Harness
Black Magic Fighting Belt Black Magic Fighting Belt
Fighting belt (plate) for rods with 15-18" butts - includes strap - available with standard 17.25" or XL Wide 19.5" plate
Learn more and buy from Captain Harry's

Black Magic Fighting Belt