Shopping is about the actual product—its quality, features, and benefits. However, shopping is also about the brand. Reputable brands are popular for performance, versatility, and durability. And when it comes to the best fishing reels, Penn, Daiwa, or Shimano are among the best brands you may need to consider. The best Penn fishing reels are reliable and worth what they cost.
The company continues to be in the market since the 1930s, and that says a lot about its products. But while Penn would be a favorite for any enthusiastic angler, choosing a suitable model from the illustrious list of products under the brand can be a nightmare to both novice and professional anglers alike.
Ideally, the company has something for any angler. It takes pride in a wide range of both affordable and high-end fishing gear. But more importantly, you will not miss a selection of mid-range fishing reels. The implication of this is that Penn has a product for your budget.
And beyond price and budgets, Penn stands out as an ultimate provider of high-quality spinning and conventional reels. Undoubtedly, you will find a fishing reel that meets your fishing objectives. Penn never disappoints.
In this best Penn fishing reel review, we make finding an ideal fishing gear pretty simple. We will discuss various models based on their quality, performance, and durability. Moreover, we review various models based on the fish targets and fishing situations they are ideal for.
Top 8 Best Penn Fishing Reel Reviews
Best Premium Penn Spinning Reel: Penn Torque II
Affordable fishing reels are incredible, particularly for starters who are just considering fishing as a hobby. But if you are a skilled angler with a definite idea of what they want, you may opt to consider a premium reel that delivers exactly what you need. The Penn Torque II is an incredible example of such a type of fishing gear.
Penn promises a lot on this fishing gear. And without any doubt, the spinner delivers more than the manufacturer promises. Thus, while this gear does not come cheap, it delivers beyond expectations.
Key Features and Benefits
Firstly, this is the type of fishing equipment you should go for if your target is the big fish species. It features an excellent drag that will conveniently put any fish under control. It comes in three different models, making an incredible pick for a range of large inshore species as well as the big pelagic.
You can use this valuable equipment onshore from a fishing kayak or boat. Also, it is usable offshore as you would do with most mid-range reels. But irrespective of where you decide to use it from, your target must be the big fish species. You will find it ideal for tuna, amberjack, grouper, and Mahi.
The Torque II features durable construction that will serve you in some of the harshest conditions. The aluminum material is hard and resistant to most hazards. Moreover, it features a completely sealed IPX6 body and spool design that keeps the vitals away from salt, water, sand, debris, and grit.
More durability and reliability come in the types of gear and ball bearings that Penn incorporates into the system. It uses Penn’s celebrated CNC gear technology that guarantees unbeatable power for big game fishing. Coupled with the 9+1 stainless steel bearings, this power comes along with unimaginable smoothness.
- A sealed body and spool protect the fishing gear from salt and other harmful items.
- It features an anti-reverse gear with a silent ratchet.
- The incredible combination of Dura-Drag washers and Slammer drag system guarantees power and smoothness.
- It comes in up to three sizes for maximum flexibility.
- The price looks high for a beginner.
Whether you are enthusiastic about boat fishing or just a fan of going for the big game, the Penn Torque II is for you. With a maximum drag of up to 50 pounds, this device will help you reel in any fish. You can consider this reel if it meets your fishing trends and it is within your shopping budget.
Most Versatile Spinning Reel: Penn Spinfisher VI
It is impossible to talk about Penn spinning reels without mentioning any model from the classic Penn Spinfisher Series. And while at it, the Penn Spinfisher VI, being the latest and the sixth release in the series is an automatic mention. Of course, it is an upgrade of all the previous versions and it comes with better features.
Versatility and flexibility in fishing reels come with the number of sizes available. And with the Penn Spinfisher VI ranging from 2500 to an unprecedented 10500, it is unbeatable. That is an incredible 11 different sizes.
You will certainly get a suitable reel depending on your fishing target. And apart from the varieties in sizes, this model also comes in various sub-series. You will get a selection of live liners and long-cast reels.
Key Features and Benefits
While many fishing reels will carry the saltwater fishing tag, many of them wear out as soon as they come in contact with salt water. However, the Penn Spinfisher VI is a reliable saltwater fishing reel, thanks to the patented IPX5 Sealed spool and body design. This technology ensures that your fishing reel is can keep off salt, debris, and sand.
Penn uses HT-100™ drag washers in this reliable fishing reel. Made from high-quality carbon fiber, these washers will deliver the stopping power you may need for any large catch. It is a tried-and-tested material previously used on other models.
Another amazing feature of the HT-100™ drag washers is their full metal body construction. Even on the heaviest imaginable loads, the reel will not show any signs of flex. An all-metal construction protects the gears from too much pressure and maintains the alignment. Thus, such gears will not have too much friction or undergo unnecessary wear and tear.
Finally, you will like the fact that this fantastic fishing reel comes with a line capacity ring. So, you can instantly see the amount of line left in your spool when fighting your catch. The spool will conveniently provide you with indications on the 1/3, 2/3, and full line marks.
- It is available in up to 11 different sizes.
- The newest version of the Penn Spinfisher VI is more suitable for saltwater.
- The device delivers a very smooth drag in all the available sizes.
- It uses a reputable CNC gear system for top-notch smoothness and precision.
- The coating may not last long on exposure to a harsh outdoor environment.
- You may need to readjust the bail arm after some time.
The Penn Spinfisher VI fishing reel is one of the best spinning reels on the market. It is an improved version of Penn’s earlier models in the same series. But while this is a top-rated fishing reel with many special features, it is pretty affordable. Besides, you will also enjoy some new features including the CBC gear technology and IPX5 sealed system.
Best Spinning Reel for Beginners: Penn Pursuit II Spinning Reel
Are you a novice looking to start up with an affordable but highly functional reel? Do you intend to start up with a fishing reel from a reputable manufacturer? If you answered yes to both or any of the two questions, the Penn Pursuit II Spinning Reel is your ideal choice of a reel. Of course, it also makes an incredible choice as a gift for kids or loved ones.
The reel costs much under $50 for smaller models, making it a good reel if you are on a budget. However, the catch is not on the price. The system is reliable, dependable, and performance-oriented. What’s more, it comes in up to five sizes beginning from the 3000-rated model way up to an 8000-rated model.
Key Features and Benefits
The first selling point of the Penn Pursuit II Spinning Reel is its reasonable weight. The fishing device features an excitingly lightweight body, thanks to the choice of construction material. Both the body and rotor are made from graphite. But despite this miniature weight, this reel still stands out as a very durable fishing tool. Moreover, the included metal side-plate further increases its durability.
Ideally, most affordably priced fishing reels lack the required smoothness synonymous with most high-end versions. It will surprise that this is not one of the problems of the Penn Pursuit II Spinning Reel. It works with an impressive smoothness due to the amazing combination of a machined aluminum spool and an oiled felt drag system.
It is impossible to review the Penn Pursuit II without mentioning its instant anti-reverse function. It is a single-way bearing that guarantees solid retrieve without exhibiting back plays in the handle. It is a racket-style system that delivers reliable anti-reverse.
The Pursuit II comes with 4+1 stainless steel ball bearings. The up to 5 ball bearings deliver smooth casting and retrieval process. And with a proper shielding of all the gears and ball bearings, this reel is pretty stable. However, the shielding will only protect the spool and essential parts from debris and sand but not from saltwater.
- The reel is very affordable.
- The machined aluminum spool delivers remarkable smoothness.
- It features a proven and dependable drag system.
- It has no sealing on the gears and ball bearings, making it inappropriate for saltwater.
Undoubtedly, this is a good reel for the money for anyone looking to get started. Unlike most cheap reels, the quality construction and performance of the Penn Pursuit II Spinning Reel are unbelievable. It is a fishing reel that will outperform many fishing reels that come at higher prices.
Best Fishing Reel Under $100: Penn Battle II
One of the reasons why Penn continuous to dominate the fishing gear market is its ability to balance its prices while still delivering high-quality products. The manufacturer continues to keep the price points affordable without compromising in quality. The Penn Battle II is a perfect example of such a product.
So, if you are looking for the best fishing reel under $100, this is your type of reel. But despite the affordable pricing, the Penn Battle II is a solid reel that will serve you for several years. Released in 2014, this mid-tier fishing reel beats most of its competitors hands-down on build quality.
Key Features and Benefits
First off, the Penn Battle II is a perfect fishing gear for hunting big, hard-fighting fish species. It features a full metal body, rotor, and side plate, which guarantee maximum stability. The reel will not flex under considerable pressure from large fish. Even more, it can sustain heavy use applications such as using on a charter boat or seiner.
Unlike most models that use traditional felt washers, this model uses reliable HT-100 washers made from keyed carbon fiber. The High Tech 100 drag system not only delivers maximum smoothness but also increases drag pressure by up to 20%.
Also, the construction features a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire. The bail wire improves the durability and reliability of the reel as it does not warp even on extreme abuse. Consequently, a bail wire that remains in good condition will reliably help with line management.
Finally, unlike many bails that will lose their paints after a very short period, the Penn Battle comes with improved paint quality. The paint lasts longer and will reliably protect the reel against corrosion during use. The reliable paint also helps to protect your fishing reel against saltwater. Many uses of the previous model raised the issue of its paintwork and will confirm that this model scores remarkably well on that.
- The reliable sealing of the ball bearing protects the system from saltwater and corrosion.
- You can load the spool directly with a braided line without backing it with a monoline.
- The high-quality paintwork improves the lifespan of the fishing reel.
- The instant anti-reverse feature eliminates back-play on the rotor.
- It is slightly heavier than most of its competitors.
- It may need servicing after a long period of usage.
There are so many positive things to say about the Penn Battle II fishing reel. The fishing gear looks incredible at first sight, and it lives up to the billing in the long run. Penn treats its customers to an array of fantastic features on a single reel. You will like the spool rings, the high-quality paintwork, stainless steel ball bearings, and the improved drag system.
Best Saltwater Fishing Reel: Penn Slammer III
Beginners always opt to go for very affordable fishing reels. But once you master your craft, it is only logical that you go for a fishing reel that does exactly what you want it to do. The Penn Slammer III is that type of fishing device.
Released in 2016, this is arguably your best saltwater fishing reel for the money. Like all the previous Slammer models, this latest version stands out when it comes to durability. It goes a notch higher to blend the durability with competitive performance levels. It is a mid-range heavy-duty reel that is difficult for the money.
Key Features and Benefits
The Penn Slammer III features a sealed body and spool design. The sealing makes this device a perfect choice for anyone looking for the best saltwater spinning reel. You can use it for surfcasting and trust it to withstand constant spraying with saltwater, getting dunked during wades, and consistent drops in the sand. It can also handle repetitive casting of cut baits and heavy lures. Trust this reel to handle it all.
As already mentioned, the Penn Slammer III comes on top of its competitors when it comes to durability. The manufacturer uses the unbeatable combination of a Sealed Slammer drag system alongside the patented Dura-Drag technology. If you are familiar with drag systems, you will agree that the combination delivers better smoothness and performance than the celebrated HT 100 carbon fiber.
The Slammer III also takes pride in up to two handle knobs. The first option is a machined aluminum knob that many people use for cranking, particularly if you have a big catch on your line. However, if you prefer comfort over power, the soft EVA knob will do the trick.
The spinning reel comes in several sizes, with the smallest size rated at 3500 while the largest size is the 10500. That is a good sign of versatility. The smaller models have automatic bail trips while all the larger models come with manual bail trips. While both options work well, those with manual trips often outlive models with automatic bail trips.
- It features a heavy-duty design and construction.
- The hardcore drag system can handle the pressure of up to 60 lbs.
- A reliable IPX6 sealing guarantees protection against salt and debris.
- It is comparatively heavier than most ordinary models. However, that makes it ideal for big game fishing.
If you love inshore or deep-sea fishing, the Slammer III is for you. It is also the type of reel you will prefer for surfcasting and larger pelagic. It is a waterproof fishing device for fishing enthusiasts who find their reels dunked or sprayed with saltwater during surfcasting.
Best Lightweight Spinning Reel: Penn Conflict II
If you love long fishing expeditions, you must understand how a heavy fishing reel can make your hands sore at the end of the day. A lightweight fishing reel often comes as a savior to such anglers. And if you are in the market for the best Penn lightweight fishing reel, trust the Penn Conflict II to deliver beyond your expectations.
Released in 2017, this model ranks as the most lightweight fishing tool in Penn’s illustrious list of fishing reels. It is available in various sizes ranging from 1000 to 5000 options, with all of them very lightweight. But despite its lightweight nature, this product compares competitively to some heavier models.
Key Features and Benefits
If you are a big fan of the previous Penn Conflict Series and used the previous model, this edition will wow you. It is impressively lightweight and durable. Even more, the fishing reel looks great and complements the looks with an equally fantastic array of functional features.
The Penn Conflict II features a reputable Rigid Resin RR30 Techno-balanced rotor system. Technically, this technology is responsible for the dramatically reduced weight of the product. The Rigid Resin RR30 potentially lowers the reel’s weight by up to 20%. But despite its lightweight nature, this material is sturdy and durable.
The fact that this fishing gear also comes with a Superline spool is also unique and worth highlighting. The Superline technology eliminates the need for linebacking, thanks to the included rubber gasket that will reliably keep your line from slipping. Additionally, this technology improves your line capacity as well as smoothness during casting and retrievals.
The ability of your line to lie flawlessly on the spool determines your reel’s performance. Thus, Penn incorporates the unique Laveline system into this product. Unlike the previous model that lacked this technology, you can now enjoy slower oscillations and improve how your line lays on the spool. In turn, your line will create less friction and provide you with longer casts.
It is 20% lighter than the original Penn Conflict fishing reel.
You will find it incredible for inshore fishing.
You can enjoy maximum casting distance with the Laveline system.
Some anglers opine that the appearance is not very appealing.
It is only ideal for freshwater fishing.
The original Penn Conflict fishing reel performed incredibly well for most users. However, the company delivers a better device in the Penn Conflict II. It is a remarkable improvement from the older version. And as you would expect, the improvement is not only on the looks but also on the performance.
Best Conventional Fishing Reel from Penn: Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed
The Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed Conventional Reel is arguably the best conventional reel in Penn’s line of fishing reels. It comes in a variety of up to 5 sizes, making it convenient to choose what works well for you.
The Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed fishing reel is an upgrade of the Penn Fathom Lever Drag. The original version remains a favorite for many, and you can as well take a look. Although both models have stainless steel pinion gears and full stainless steel gear trains, the upgraded model has two gear settings.
Key Features and Benefits
The entire Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed features a die-cast aluminum construction. The full-metal body ensures maximum durability. The metallic frames and side plates potentially keep off corrosion. But while many people associate metallic fishing reels with tons of weight, die-cast aluminum material is fairly lightweight.
And in the place of ordinary washers, Penn uses Dura-Drag washers on this item. The technology has a proven track record and is a common material used in transmission engines for racing cars. That is how highly-rated it is. It will deliver amazing drag and remarkable smoothness.
Another incredible feature of the Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed conventional reel is its double-dog ratchet anti-reverse systems. The system delivers remarkable backup and distributes pressure when you engage the anti-reverse. Thus, you can expect less wear and tear when using this system.
The Quick-Shift 2-Speed Gear that Penn uses on this fishing reel is an incredible upgrade. With a simple push of a side button, you can move from low speed to a higher speed and back. The process is a breeze, and you can easily alter speeds without getting your hand off the reel.
- The efficient speed adjustability feature is awesome.
- It uses a reliable Dura-Drag system for a strong drag.
- The metallic frame and side plates give it durability for high abuse use.
- The sealing is incomplete and may allow saltwater into the spool.
The Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed is a good conventional fishing reel for the money. The manufacturer gives it a solid build and beyond the build are an array of great features. Notably, this is a good value reel that will serve you religiously with good maintenance.
Best Small Conventional Fishing Reel: Penn Squall Star Drag
Of all the reels in the Penn Squall Series, the Penn Squall Star Drag is the smallest model. It is a perfect model for any angler looking for a conventional open round fishing reel design devoid of a level wind system. It is pretty cost-friendly and any starter will find it worth trying.
It comes in five different sizes, with two drag limits. The size 12 and size 15 models have a drag limit of 15 pounds, while the remaining three sizes (25, 30, and 40) have a drag limit of 20 pounds. Interestingly, all the models use the Versa-Drag system with HT-100 washers.
Key Features and Benefits
First off, the fishing reel uses a live spindle or the popular free-floating spool design. The technology makes the Penn Squall Star Drag one of the best open casting reels on the market today. The mechanism allows your spool to float and spin without the pinion gear and spindle. This means less friction, making it possible to achieve long distances with minimal effort.
Many fishing reels use five stainless steel bearings. However, the Penn Squall Star Drag uses a total of up to six ball bearings. All the ball bearings are conveniently shielded against saltwater intrusion. Therefore, you can conveniently use the reel in salt water without any corrosive effects. What’s more, it comes with an anti-reverse bearing to prevent unsolicited reverse action under pressure.
There is a big catch if you opt to go for the size 12 and 15 models. These two models come with an externally adjustable magnetic brake. And instead of a slider, the braking system comes with a dial to withstand saltwater intrusion.
Finally, you have the convenience to choose the handle design that is most suitable for you. All the available models have power or counterbalance handles. You have the convenience to choose what works for you.
- It is pretty compact and easy to handle.
- The fishing reel features amazing premium features despite the moderate pricing.
- It features a strong and smooth drag system.
- It is not fully sealed.
The Penn Squall Star Drag is one of the best fishing reels from Penn. And being a reputable manufacturer, these conventional fishing reels is difficult to fault. Despite not having a full metal body construction, Penn does an incredible job with this reel. The graphite on parts of the body is strong and makes this product a deal-breaker.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Fishing Reel
Hopefully, the above review should help you land an impressive fishing reel. But before you make your purchase, this section should help you with the buying process. Look out for the following factors when shopping for a fishing reel;
Of course, brand means a lot when shopping for fishing gear or any other product. And while the three leading manufacturers include Shimano, Daiwa, and Penn, we focus on the Penn brand. All the models reviewed here are some of the best in the mentioned categories. Besides, you can always trust Penn to deliver precisely what you need.
Fishing Reel Body Type
Fishing reel bodies are either made from graphite or aluminum. However, some fishing reels are made from a combination of the two materials. Fishing gear made from aluminum is stronger, more durable, and exhibits less flex. On the other hand, graphite models are lighter and better suited for those who fish for long sessions.
Ideally, fishing reels come in a variety of sizes. In fact, even the models reviewed in this article are available in various sizes. Choosing the right size will depend on the size of the fishing line you want to use. A smaller reel size will accommodate lighter lines and vice versa. Also, note that line size is directly proportional to the size of fish you can handle on the line.
Another factor worth considering is the drag system. It is the drag system of a reel that provides the required pressure on your catch. You do not want to break your line and let your catch away with a poor drag. Opt for spinning reels with smooth, high-quality, and non-constrictive lines.
Many anglers, new and experienced, end up with fishing reels that do not fit the kind of fishing they intend to do. And while Penn may just have what meets your need, finding it can still be a big fluke. This article helps to solve this problem for you by putting all the reviewed items into their relevant categories.
Anthony has been an angler for the past 15 years. His experience makes him an invaluable asset to FISHING GEN and writes on fishing expeditions as well as fishing gear.