Penn spinning reels have a reputation for being robust workhorses, and they offer a blend of traditional design concepts while incorporating modern technology. But does this make them a good option for you?
Here we take a look at the best Penn spinning reels, to give you an idea of what models they currently have available, and what exactly you get for your money.
Here are the best Penn Spinning Reels
|Penn Slammer III Spinning Reel||Smooth, tough and powerful reel|
|Penn Battle III Spinning Reel||2020 updated model|
|Penn Clash II Spinning Reel||2020 updated model|
|Penn Conflict II Spinning Reel||Range includes the long cast version|
|Penn Fierce III Spinning Reel||Range includes the live liner version|
|Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Reel||Range includes live liner, long cast, and bail-less versions|
|Penn Pursuit III Spinning Reel||Great Budget Option|
Table of Contents
- Here are the best Penn Spinning Reels
- A closer look at these Penn Spinning reels
- Penn Slammer 3
- Penn Battle 3 – New 2020 model
- Penn Clash 2 – Updated 2020 model
- Penn Conflict 2
- Penn Fierce 3
- Penn Fierce 3 Live Liner
- Penn Spinfisher VI
- Penn Pursuit 3
- What Penn spinning reels bring to the table
A closer look at these Penn Spinning reels
Penn Slammer 3
The Penn Slammer 3 is a smooth yet powerful spinning reel, designed for heavy-duty fishing from both boat and shore.
This reel has become a popular option with fishing charters all over the world due to the excellent performance it provides, its durability and reliability, and of course value for money.
Do not be afraid to put this reel up against the big hard-fighting fish, as it can certainly hold its own.
The new and improved features used in this version 3 Slammer reel have given it added capabilities that really have pushed it on to the next level.
When you start using the Penn Slammer 3, you will instantly feel just how robust the reel is.
It implies confidence immediately, and although it is not the lightest saltwater spinning reel, the super-smooth performance makes it a joy to use.
The size range of the Penn Slammer 3 starts at the smaller 3500 size and goes all the way up to the largest 10,500 size
There are also two ‘HS’ (High Speed) versions available on the 6500 and 8500 models. (more explanation on the different variations of the Penn spinning reels detailed later in this article)
Read my full Penn Slammer 3 review
Penn Battle 3 – New 2020 model
The Penn Battle 3 is the new 2020 model, and some improvements have been made to this reel to make it even better than it was before.
Here are the main features of the Penn Battle 3:
- Full Metal Body, sideplate, and rotor
- HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers
- 5 + 1 sealed stainless steel ball bearings
- Instant Anti- Reverse bearing
- Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
- Superline Spool
- Line Capacity Rings
The Penn ‘Battle’ reel is aptly named. It is designed to withstand the harsh saltwater fishing requirements, and it has the power and performance capabilities to allow you to do hard battle with big fish.
The Penn Battle 3 comes in a good range of sizes, starting at the smaller 2500 model for lighter fishing, all the way up to the largest 10,000 model for heavier offshore requirements.
The Penn Battle III also has three ‘HS’ (High Speed) versions available in 4000, 6000, and 8000 sizes.
To read the full specs for the Penn Battle 3 reels click here
Little touches and attention to detail such as the line capacity rings in the spool just shows that Penn really understands all of the little nuances involved in spinning reel requirements, as well as the core fundamentals that make a spinning reel ‘good’.
Penn Clash 2 – Updated 2020 model
Another reel that Penn has updated in 2020 is their Clash spinning reel.
The new Penn Clash 2 is an inshore spinning reel, which is light and offers really smooth performance, while also keeping Penn’s traditional robust and durable design.
The Hydrophobic Line Roller Bearing system that Penn has used in the Clash 2 ensures that the reel keeps operating at its optimal levels at all time, and the HT-100 carbon fiber drag system will withstand brutal runs from fish and allow you to put the brakes on when you need to.
What I love about the Penn Clash II spinning reel is just how responsive it is. It is designed for lighter lure fishing, and if you want finesse in your reel then the Clash 2 has it in abundance.
- 3000HS (High Speed)
- 4000HS (High Speed)
To read the full specs of the Penn Clash 2 spinning reel click here
The updated Clash 2 from Penn is an extremely good inshore reel, and if you were looking for a quality inshore spinning reel that performs well and will last you a very long time, all without having to pay a premium price, then the Penn Clash II is a great option.
Penn Conflict 2
The Conflict 2 is Penn’s lightest spinning reel, and it is ideal for active inshore spinning sessions, where you need to throw a lot of lures around in different spots.
The stealth-like black design of the Conflict II reel is very eye-catching, and it really does look like a high-quality reel. But you also have the performance to match the looks, as this reel is super-smooth and very responsive.
The Penn Conflict 2 is available in the following sizes:
This full range of inshore sizes has you covered for whatever your needs are.
Penn has packed the Conflict 2 full of their high-end technology, which is why it performs so well.
It uses their HT-100 carbon drag system, which performs so well and is silky-smooth. Then you have the ‘RR30’, which is their Rigid Resin body and rotor design.
This makes the reel super-light, which keeping the strength and stability intact at all times.
The CNC Gear technology used on the Conflict 2 is precision machine cut and offers unparalleled durability.
Penn Conflict 2 Long Cast model
The ‘Long Cast’ variation of the Conflict II is also available.
The difference between this and the regular Conflict 2 reel is the spool design and also the slower oscillation.
The spool on the Long Cast models is taller and shallower than on the regular Conflict 2 reels.
This, coupled with the slower oscillation allows the line to be laid much more consistently to reduce friction when casting, allowing for longer casts to be achieved.
The bigger reel sizes available in the Long Cast variation of the Conflict 2 will expand your fishing capabilities to more offshore, rock, or surf fishing.
While the Long Cast variation offers bigger sizes, it is still a lightweight technical spinning reel.
Penn Fierce 3
If you’re looking for a really good quality spinning reel that isn’t going to cost you more than $100, then the Penn Fierce 3 could be the ideal option for you.
Penn has included their excellent HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers in this reel, which considering the price, is a great inclusion that really adds to the performance of this reel.
It is also hard to find a reel at the price that runs as smoothly as the Penn Fierce III does. From the bail arm to the retrieve, every movement on this reel just seems to happen with complete fluidity.
The Penn Fierce 3 comes with a big range of size options, so whatever your requirements are you should be able to find the right size Fierce 3 reel for your needs. Here are the sizes available:
To see the full specs for the Penn Fierce 3 range click here
Penn Fierce 3 Live Liner
The Fierce 3 range also has the Live Liner variation available in the following sizes:
The ‘Live Liner’ functionality is not used for spinning, but rather if you’re fishing with a live or dead bait.
The way it works is that you release the Live Liner lever and when a fish picks up the bait it will be able to run with it without feeling any resistance (think of it like a very light drag).
Then when you start to reel it will flick the Live Liner lever off and this will engage the proper drag system and will allow you to set the hook.
This feature has become increasingly popular with anglers fishing live or dead bait and is a great option to have in the Fierce 3 range of reels.
*Note* The Live Liner versions of the Fierce 3 reels are slightly more expensive than the regular Fierce 3 models
Penn Spinfisher VI
One of the most popular reels from the Penn spinning reel range is the Spinfisher VI. The 6th generation of this reel was launched in 2018 and it came with several improvements from previous versions.
In the Spinfisher VI range, not only do you have the regular spinning reel option, but you also have three other variations:
- Live Liner
- Long Cast
Core design features
- IPX5 Sealed body and spool design
- CNC Gear™ technology
- HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers
- 5+1 sealed stainless steel ball-bearing system
- Full Metal Body
- Superline Spool
- Line Capacity Rings
- Sizes 2500-4500 have automatic bail trip
- Sizes 6500-8500 have manual bail trip
As you can see, the Spinfisher VI uses a lot of Penn’s premium technologies and this is clearly evident when you use the reel.
It is exceptionally smooth to use, the retrieve is powerful and the HT-100 drag system does its job so well, those carbon fiber drag washers allow you to put the anchors on those big runs and you feel you have control over the big harder fighting fish.
To see the full range of specs for the Spinfishing VI click here
There is also a big ranges of sizes available for the Spinfisher VI:
Spinfisher VI Live Liner
As mentioned, there are three other variations of the Spinfisher VI reel and one of them is the Live Liner.
What I really like about the Live Liner feature on the Spinfisher VI is that it has four different drag settings. This is so you can cater to different current strengths, especially if you’re trolling your baits.
Also, the reel still carries the IPX5 rating, even with the Live Liner feature included.
The Penn Spinfisher VI Live Liner reels are available in the following sizes:
Penn Spinfisher VI Long Cast
The next variation of the Spinfisher VI reel is the Long Cast models. This reel is designed for surf fishing, and enables you to launch your casts out further beyond the breakers.
The Long Cast reel uses Penn’s longer, shallower spool and the rotor implies a slower oscillation so it lays the line on the spool in a much more consistent way.
Sizes available for the Spinfisher VI Long Cast
Spinfisher VI Bail-less
Bail-less reel concepts were sought-after mainly by surf anglers, as they didn’t want that possibility of the bail arm flicking over once they had just launched a huge cast.
So Penn added a bail-less option to the Spinfisher VI range, and it has been a very popular inclusion.
Here are the sizes available in the Spinfisher VI bail-less reel:
Penn Pursuit 3
The Pursuit 3 is the lowest priced of all of Penn’s spinning reel range, so if you were looking for a good quality budget-friendly spinning reel, then the Penn Pursuit 3 could be the ideal option for you.
The first thing to mention about the Pursuit 3 range is that it includes Penn’s excellent HT-100 drag washers, so you are getting their premium drag system, even at this low price.
The reel runs really smoothly, as we have come to expect with all Penn reels now.
Here are some of the key features of the Penn Pursuit 3 spinning reel:
- HT-100 carbon fiber drag system
- Lightweight and corrosion resistant graphite body
- 4+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
- Superline Spool
- CNC folding aluminum handle
- Infinite Anti-Reverse
For this 3rd generation of the Pursuit spinning reel, Penn added in a new size option, the 2500. Here is the full size range for the Pursuit 3:
What Penn spinning reels bring to the table
What you will notice from the range of spinning reels from Penn is the vast range of sizes they have throughout their different models.
Right from the smallest 1000 size reels, that are ideal for the lightest of spinning in rivers and streams, all the way up to the hefty 10,500 size reels, designed for big pelagic species out in the ocean.
Penn has worked very hard to produce an effective system to keep their reels as watertight as possible. The Penn range of spinning reels has varied rated levels of waterproofing, all the way up to an IPX6 rated sealed body and spool design.
The seals used on their reels not only keep the internal components and bearings dry, but also allow the reel to operate smoothly on a consistent basis.
This is not always the case when the watertight sealing is not designed correctly, but Penn has nailed it with their waterproof designs.
When you are fishing with big powerful reels and going after large fish species, then it goes without saying that you need a drag system that will cope with this demand.
That is why Penn developed their HT-100 drag system in 1986, and this has provided anglers with the smooth and powerful ability to play those hard-fighting fish once they are hooked up ever since then.
The HT-100 drag uses carbon fiber washers that are used in this drag system to provide a smooth operation, and they have eliminated any erratic movement that some other drag systems have.
This gives you a much better chance of staying hooked up on any hard-fighting fish, and allows you to take control over the fight.
To break down what “HT-100” actually stands for: The HT stands for “High Tech”, and the 100 symbolizes the testing parameter, where 100 miles of fishing line was pulled against the drag of the reel, and the washers barely had any wear to them. Pretty stringent testing and results!
More recently Penn has introduced a new drag system called Dura-Drag to some of their reels.
Penn engineers collaborated with a leading auto manufacturer in the USA to develop this system, and they used the same material as used in some transmissions of high-performance racing cars.
The testing environment for the Dura-Drag system included 30 hours of continual drag pressure on these washers, with again barely any design change noted at the end of the testing.
So whichever drag system you have on your Penn spinning reel, whether it be the HT-100 or the newer Dura-Drag system, you have got something that is going to give you optimal performance.
Variations of the reel models – glossary
As the name suggests, the bail-less Penn spinning reels come with….you guessed it, no bail! These reels have become very popular for surf fishing, as there is no risk of the bail arm flicking over when you have just launched a big cast out over the surf, and snapping your line.
The action of the reel still works in exactly the same way that a reel with a bail arm would, in that the line feeds around the stem, and to cast you simply remove the line from the stem.
It is very easy to use, extremely efficient in fact. And when you are able to remove a delicate part of a reel, in this case, the bail arm, then you have a much more durable reel to use.
The high-speed reels are ideal for both shore and boat fishing, where you are casting out big lures and you want that fast retrieval.
These reels have been designed to increase line pick-up when you are cranking in your lures, so you can get that fast action that you need for some species.
You will find the HS reels in Penn’s Slammer 3 and Battle 3 ranges. They are distinguished from the regular Slammer models by their red coloring on the black background.
Long Cast (LC)
The long cast reels from Penn are designed for surf fishing, and the main difference in these reels is the spool design.
The spool is much deeper than on regular spinning reels, and this allows for more line to be added to the reel in a way that allows it to peel off with the minimum of resistance, thus increasing your casting ability.
The Long cast feature is perfect for anyone that needs to throw their lures or bait out beyond the surf line, where a regular spinning reel may limit your casting distance.
A very simple, yet extremely effective design that does what it has been designed to do very well.
Live Liner (LL)
The live liner system that Penn uses in some of their spinning reels is designed for when you are bait fishing (either live or dead bait).
It is essentially another drag system, and it is controlled by a lever at the back of the reel, which when engaged will allow the line to move off the spool with barely any resistance when a fish picks up your bait.
Once the fish has grabbed the bait and swam off taking line from the reel, you can then disengage the live liner drag simply by flicking the lever back up (this can also be done just by regular cranking on the reel).
This will then switch the reel back into normal mode, and the regular drag will now engage.
It is an incredibly effective feature that will improve your hook-up rate, as it gives the fish plenty of time to eat the bait before you set the hook.