If you watch “Wicked Tuna: The Outer Banks” on the National Geographic Channel, you’ve seen the bandit reel in action.
In this video, Jay Muenzner, first mate of the Hard Merchandise, offers a more in-depth look at the setup than is normally seen on the show.
According to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC), the bandit reel (or bandit rig) is commonly used by commercial anglers in the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. The reels can be electric or hydraulic, like those seen on the show.
The name of the reel/rig, says the SAFMC, comes from its resemblance to slot machines in casinos (one-armed bandits).
SAFMC says that the bandit is often used to target reef fish, such as grouper, snapper, triggerfish and amberjack.
When fishing the lines, anglers use live or cut bait, or body lures, like on the show. The main line can hold several hooks, and the line can sit and soak for hours or be reeled in for every strike.