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Okuma Makaira 2 Speed Lever Drag Reel Review

Okuma Makaira 2 Speed Lever Drag Reel Review

In this review of the Okuma Makaira 2 speed lever drag reel we will show you why this reel pops to mind when you envision big game billfish and hard fighting pelagics.

This is the new flagship reel of the Okuma brand, and it’s the first joint venture between Tiburon Engineering and Okuma Tackle. This reel has several different patents, and they have tested it all over the world for the past two and a half years.

The company states that they put more research, testing, and development into this reel than they have ever before with any of their other products and it shows.

From the second you look at this reel until you hook into your first big fish, you’ll constantly be in awe over how incredible it looks.

But looks are not everything right? It is the performance of this masterpiece of engineering that will have you convinced that you made the right decision to invest in this reel.  Some have even go so far as to say “Dont’t  let the price fool you, the Makaira is worth its weight in gold”.

The Bottom Line

  • One of the best big game reels at any price.
  • Big drag up to 100 lbs for big fish
  • Incredibly smooth and well engineered with precision in mind
  • Built to stand up to the biggest billfish and palegics in the oceam

The Okuma Makaira 2 Speed is a beast of a reel and is available HERE.


Makaira reels all feature two-speed gearing systems – The 2 speed gearing system offers maximum power and torque along with the ability to get fish back to the boat quicker.

Gold anodized two-speed gear shifter housing – This beautiful design is both eye-popping and functional.

Cold forged, Type-II anodized, machined aluminum spool – The durable spool offers resistance to saltwater and precision retrievals. 

CRC: Corrosion Resistant Coating process – Okuma steps it up and provides anglers with the best corrosion resistance for saltwater fishing.   The CRC process adds a layer of Corrosion X HD which actually bonds to and penetrates the metal to extend the life of your reel.

Patented spool pin system – Works well for both braided and mono lines. 

Carbonite Dual Force drag system – Featuring Cal’s universal drag grease, this system is designed to provide an exceptionally smooth and robust drag.  The drag mounts on the right side of the spool and uses a pull bar drag system to keep everything perfectly aligned.  By doing this, the pressure on the frame is reduced which results in a very smooth and powerful drag.

Custom designed thrust bearing – Alleviates side load on heavy drag settings which puts less pressure resulting in a smoother retrieval. 

4-pcs ABEC-5 precision Sapporo stainless steel ball bearings – Precision stainless steel bearings designed to withstand the harsh saltwater environment, make for a buttery smooth reel. 

MK-80WII features 6-pcs of Sapporo ball bearings – These bearings perfectly compliment the stainless steel ball bearings and work well with the anti-reverse locking system. 

Double-dog, proprietary silent anti-reverse system – As soon as your reel goes backward, the anti-reverse system kicks in to promote a solid hook set for each fish.

Ratcheting drag lever and pre-set knob for precise drag setting – Many anglers prefer the drag lever because it’s easier to adjust the drag and it provides increased precision. 

Patented T-Bar handle with Easy Roll graphite insert on all models – The T-bar handle gives anglers the best angle to prevent fatigue and provides maximum cranking power. 

Heavy-duty stainless steel ratcheting clicker system – You’ll find plenty of stainless steel on this reel from the clicker to the drive and spool shafts. 17-4 grade stainless steel provides strength and durability. 

Type-II gold anodized frame, side plates, spool, drag lever, and handle – This type of frame offers the ultimate in precision, and it withstands more pressure and torque than any other material on the market. 

Open top frame design on MK-8II,10II, 15II,16II, 20II, and 50II – The open-top frame looks great and functions well, but many anglers complain that it exposes the reel to the elements. 

Machined thumb rest on the rear crossbar for improved ergonomics – Comfort and usability are at the forefront of this reel. 

Forged aluminum full hard anodized reel foot and reel clamp – As you can tell, the majority of this reel is forged aluminum for strength and durability. 

Machine-etched marlin logo on left side plate – What can we say it just looks good!

Precision placement of drain holes maximizes water removal from the reel – They placed drain holes perfectly throughout the reel to prevent water buildup and corrosion. 

Special screw ports around side plate screws reduce water/corrosion buildup – This reel is specifically designed for serious saltwater anglers.

 Features at a Glance

  • Makaira 2-speed gearing system
  • Gold anodized two-speed gear shifter housing
  • Cold forged, Type-II anodized, machined aluminum spool
  • CRC: Corrosion Resistant Coating process
  • Patented spool pin system for use with braided or mono lines
  • Carbonite Dual Force drag system featuring Cal’s universal drag grease
  • Custom designed thrust bearing
  • 4-pcs ABEC-5 precision Sapporo stainless steel ball bearings
  • MK-80WII features 6-pcs of Sapporo ball bearings
  • Double-dog, proprietary silent anti-reverse system
  • Ratcheting drag lever and pre-set knob for precise drag setting
  • Patented T-Bar handle with Easy Roll graphite insert on all models
  • Heavy duty stainless steel ratcheting clicker system
  • Heavy duty, 17-4 grade stainless steel drive and spool shafts
  • Type-II gold anodized frame, sideplates, spool, drag lever and handle
  • Open top frame design on MK-8II,10II, 15II,16II, 20II, and 50II
  • Lug and plug system on all open top reel models
  • Machined thumb rest on rear cross bar
  • Forged aluminum full hard anodized reel foot and reel clamp
  • Machine-etched marlin logo on left side plate
  • Precision placement of drain holes maximizes water removal from reel
  • Special screw ports around side plate screws reduces water/corrosion buildup

Out of all the incredible features that this reel boasts, the thing that impresses us the most is the dual force drag system. This was developed from the ground up, and they built the entire reel around this feature. Everything else on the reel got designed around the pull bar drag system.

This system pulls everything to the right side plate, so the drag gets mounted on the right side of the spool. Internally, you have dual carbon fiber drag washers and dual 17-4 grade stainless steel drag plates.

Tiburon Engineering designed a custom made thrust bearing specifically for this reel. If you haven’t realized yet, you’re getting top of the line new generation technology in the Makaira. This thrust bearing is mounted on the right side of the spool, and it eliminates all side pressure on the right side plate bearing. This design allows you to fish higher drag ratings.

For example, the 80 wide reels can output over 100 pounds of drag pressure with complete free spool. The 50 and 50 wide can put out 80 pounds of drag pressure, the 20 and 30 generate 50 pounds of drag and the smaller compact 10 and 15 generate 34 pounds of drag.

One of the first things you’ll notice besides how beautiful the reel looks is that it feels completely different than other big game reels. When you turn the handle on this one, it’s silent and smooth. It has a high-end feel to it as we would expect from a reel in this price range.

As you crank the reel forward, you get friction-free retrieval. As soon as the handle goes backward, your anti-reverse locking system kicks in to offer you a secure hookset every time.

The Makaira series has a unique and impressive gear system. It features helical cut gears and the only machined aluminum lever drag reel in the industry to do it this way. The main pro of the helical cut gears is they receive less impact blow when they mesh. As a result, they run much quieter and smoother than most other reels.

Internally, the reel has top of the line components to bring you a serious anglers reel. It has 17-4 grade stainless steel on the drive shaft, spool shaft, main gears, pinning gears, and drag plate washers. This type of stainless steel provides you with exactly what you need. You get the strength and durability you need plus the corrosion resistance on this saltwater reel.

To make the Makaira series highly compatible with saltwater fishing, they equipped the reel with the best type 2 and type 3 anodizing processes available in the industry. They feel so confident that these reels are the best in the industry that they offer a five-year high-performance warranty with all the reels in the Makaira series.

Best Big Game Trolling Reel

I think that there are a number of features that would make the Okuma Makaira 2-Speed Lever Drag a contender for the best big game trolling reel on the market.

We have already talked about the fact that the reel is engineered from the ground up with strength and durability in mind.  When you start to take a close look at the reel you can see that attention was paid to every detail, from the machined aluminum components to the state of the art 2-speed gearing system and the incredibly strong and durable dual force drag system.

The other feature that makes this reel stand out is the “Pull Bar Drag System” that shifts the drag from a push to a pull which means that the pressure on the plates is distributed as close to evenly as possible.

When put to the test against hard fighting billfish such as Marlin, Swords and Sails, the Makaira gives you the tool necessary to troll with confidence and then bring your catch back to the boat.

When you finally get that fish of a lifetime on the other end of your rod you want to know that you can count on your drag to provide enough resistance to wear down these massive beasts.

While fishing out of Venice, off the coast of Lousiana we had an opportunity to put the Makaira MK50II to the test against some nice Yellowfin Tuna.  Overall I was very impressed with the performance of the reel, it seems smoother than the Penn Internationals that I have used in the past and puts out 85 lbs of drag as compared to the Penn Internationals 45 lbs in the same 50 size.


  • Silky smooth retrieval
  • Top of the line design with the highest level of manufacturing quality
  • The most powerful drag in its class
  • Okuma’s statement to the fishing community with a 5 year warranty


  • Uneven greasing of the drag washers


Probably the first reel that comes to mind is the Penn International VI Series of trolling reels.  These reels have been around for a number of years and have gone through a number of design changes.  The Penn is a more expensive reel and frankly we feel, as does Alan Tani, that overall the reel does not measure up to the Okuma due to attention to the detail when greasing of the reels and the lack of an offset handle.  Check Penn International VI Series Pricing.

From Shimano I would have you take a look at the Shimano Tiagra A 2 Speed Lever Drag trolling reel.  These reels are known to be very reliable, but again are slightly more expensive that the Okuma.  The Shimano Tiagra A S Speed has considerably less drag 44 lbs in a size 50 as comapred to the Okumas 85 lbs in the same size 50.  A few other things to keep in mind about the Shimano is the weird offset of the handle and the fact that the back of the drag washer is not greased as are a number of other parts that can easily lead to corrosion over time.  Check Shimano Tiagra A 2 Speed Pricing.

The offering from Avet would be the Avet EX 2 Speed Lever Drag Big Game Reel.  This is a very good reel and has a very similar price point as the Okuma Makaira 2 Speed, however when it comes to long term durability there are some concerns.  Due to the fact that this series of reels from Avet have been found to have minimal and in some cases such as the drag – NO GREASE.  There is plenty of opportunity for saltwater to make its way into the reel and cause corrosion.  Check Avet EX 2 Speed Pricing.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, you have to think about what kind of reel you want. To clear the air, this reel is not cheap, but you get what you pay for. With the Okuma Makaira, you get a reel to stomp all reels. The design and appearance of this reel is next level and the result of many years of research and development.

The most impressive feature is the dual force drag system on this reel. They designed the entire reel around it, and it’s the main thing that makes this one stand out amongst the crowd.

One very important thing is also the attention that is paid to making sure that the drag is properly greased.  We expect to see a lot of imitators in the years to come.

You get a smooth retrieval due to the helical cut gears, great strength in the drag, body and spool. I know there are some that have had a less than perfect experience from Okuma in the past but they have really out done themselves with the Makaira.  If you are looking for a big game reel to land some monster fish then it is time to check out this reel and let the past be just that.

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