Big tuna, big stick? No, you don’t need a heavy, solid‑fiberglass stand-up rod to fight big yellowfin tuna anymore — not since the latest advancements in build materials.

No doubt, all-fiberglass rods are extremely durable, so much so that some anglers may never put down their favorites. Popular examples include Penn International V stand-ups, Calstar West Coast series, Star Aerials and others, though it’s important to note that some of these glass rods utilize hollow or tubular construction.

But with 50- to 80-pound-class conventional reels getting smaller, and the diameter of braided super lines shrinking, it’s not surprising that stand-up conventional sticks — rods that you might have to clutch for long battles — are losing weight and gaining action.

Building Blocks

Over the past decade, composite rods have been taking over. Fiberglass-and-graphite ­construction rods produce the strength of fiberglass, plus the sensitivity of graphite.

Graphite and carbon fiber are both produced from carbon, but graphite is carbon atoms arranged as hexagonal rings and layered, while carbon fiber is a chain of carbon atoms. Carbon fiber helps produce a smaller-diameter sensitive blank with better action.


Piece of the Action

Layered construction in rod blanks means that yellowfin tuna rods no longer have to resemble a ­broomstick. Shimano’s TC4 process creates a thick rod wall but still produces a slim ­diameter by utilizing two inner layers of T-glass and an inner and outer layer of carbon.


Length of the rod also has an effect on its action.

In the Pacific, long-range ­fishermen use rods over 7 feet to clear the corners of the boat when pulling on a fish. These types of boats incorporate high rails; many anglers place the foregrip on the rail, in essence making the rod shorter and easier to pull on fish.

To really clamp down on a massive tuna, a shorter rod helps.

Play Nice

Aside from the blank itself, a rod’s hardware makes a difference. No matter what, make sure your main line slides cleanly through the guides.

Newer rods with aluminum reel seats and butts are fairly indestructible, plus the aluminum provides added strength. Even still, economically priced graphite reel seats have come a long way, and hold up well against yellowfin.

But hardware isn’t the most common cause for rod failure; it’s usually misuse by the angler.  Grabbing past the foregrip, high-sticking the rod, or allowing the rod to smack the gunwale are the most common ways to break a rod.

Don’t accidentally abuse the rod, especially when transporting it in the truck or the boat. Impact fractures that nick the graphite cause a weak point.

I hear fishermen say, ‘I was just pulling on a small tuna, and the rod broke, actually, that rod broke when it was smacked against the gunwale or bouncing around in your truck, but it separated when you were pulling on a fish.

It’s time to gear up and care for your new rod.