The ACID Test
March – May, 2003
One Man, One Reel, 6.5 TONS of Fish

The Man: Dan Fuller
The Reel: Smart Shift 12/50
The Line: 750 yds 50# Spectra w/ 50# mono Top-Shot

The Results:



  • 247 – Bigeye Tuna: 7 fish @ 101-120#, 15 fish @ 70-100#, 225 fish @ 20-60#
  • 99 – Yellowfin Tuna: all fish 15-20#
  • 15 – Skipjack Tuna: all fish 15-25#
  • 45 – Dorado: 1 fish @ 35#, 44 fish @ 5-15#

This incredible number of fish was caught by Dan Fuller in a Tiburon SST12/50 reel, on a 90-day long bigeye tuna tagging expedition for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. Project leader Kurt Schaefer reported that he, Dan, and crew tagged and released a total of 9,714 tuna during the voyage. He also stated that the Smart Shift reel was the only reel to have ever survived an entire 90-day tuna tagging outing with his team.

Late in February, 2003, Tiburon Engineering was invited to send two Smart Shift reels out on a 90-day tuna tagging expedition organized by senior research scientist Kurt Schaefer of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Kurt and his research partner Dan Fuller were about to embark on their third such tagging trip where they target Pacific bigeye tuna in equatorial waters.

The IATTC team chartered the commercial lift-pole tuna vessel “Her Grace” out of San Diego, California. The total numbers of tunas tagged and released during the cruise were as follows: bigeye tuna: 8,695, yellowfin tuna: 871, skipjack tuna: 148, total fish: 9,714.

Most of these fish were caught by crewmen with the use of lift-poles fished from the racks. The fish are lifted from the water and immediately placed into specially designed cradles where they are measured, tagged and released. The majority of the fish are tagged with a “spaghetti” tag placed at the base of the second dorsal fin. Eighty of the bigeye tuna were tagged with an archival tag that is surgically implanted into the gut cavity and sewn up with the light sensor exposed.

When the fish go deep and won’t hit the lift-pole feathers, the crew resorts to hand-lines and rods & reels. All of the rod & reel fish are caught on iron jigs. The name of the game is to land them as quickly as possible to ensure the capture and release of healthy fish.

Kurt Schaefer and Dan Fuller are dedicated researchers who work full-time to meet the responsibilities of the IATTC. To many of us, organizations like the IATTC or the NMFS are just acronyms for large faceless governmental organizations. Kurt and Dan are the guys who work in the trenches and turn all of the boring statistics into powerful tools to ensure that we have fish for the future.

Tiburon Engineering is honored to have the opportunity to contribute to such an important project, and extremely proud to be part of this team.