I am not here to tell you that the Penn spinning reels I have fished with over the last few years are the last word in lightweight refinement or “buttery smoothness” when compared to many of the Shimano and Daiwa reels I have used, but modern Penn spinning reels are becoming increasingly interesting to me the more I fish with them. When I try to weigh up the pros and cons of how long a spinning reel should really be lasting and whether it being almost ridiculously lightweight and smooth really are the factors that should mean the most, well I can’t help but be more and more interested in some of these modern Penn reels and how with some of them we seem to be getting a lot of bang for our bucks………….
For me this interest started with the Penn Clash spinning reels (review here) which I thought from the off were plenty light and smooth enough albeit you need to be very careful with the amount of braid you put on them. Fill a Clash to the brim and you are asking for a lot of wind knot related trouble, but get that line level right and to me they are seriously nice reels. To be honest I don’t get hung up on having to fill a reel right up because it might give me a yard extra on my cast, but yes, it does niggle me that on a modern spinning reel such as the Penn Clash you can’t go filling it right up when I look at a Shimano or Daiwa spinning reel I have here at home and they are all properly full of braid and I don’t get any wind knot issues at all.
As much as I have enjoyed fishing with the Penn Clash spinning reels though, unless I am missing something they are not offering any more resistance as such to the saltwater environment than say the outstanding and similarly priced Shimano Stradic 3000FK (review here). For a long time it seemed to me that you spend what you can or want to on a spinning reel - whether it be Penn, Shimano, Daiwa, Okuma etc. - but whatever you do actually spend isn’t buying you a whole lot more longevity in a harsh saltwater environment.
You look after your reel as best you can but for the most part they don’t like a serious dunking for starters, and yes, this whole issue of how well or not a reel lasts has become far more important to me the more I am starting to spend time chucking lures in surf conditions especially. I accept that it may not be a concern with your own fishing, but I have seen and heard about far too many often not cheap spinning reels suffering what I think are very premature deaths in these kinds of situations. Admittedly we might well be expecting too much of our gear, but to me it’s a problem and because of that I then start looking for potential solutions.
It wasn’t until I began fishing with the admittedly slightly heavier but incredibly confidence-inspiring Penn Slammer III spinning reels (review here) this year that I finally realised that there was a viable option to a completely sealed spinning reel such as the various Van Staal models. The Penn Slammer III is not completely sealed against saltwater and sand getting inside, but with its “IPX6 Sealed body and spool design” and how much time mine has been hammered in the surf this year and also deliberately drowned and dunked, I know that if I had treated any other spinning reel I own like that I’d have killed it. For sure these Penn Slammer III reels might not be the lightest reels in the world, but so far I can’t fault them and I wonder how many UK lure anglers are aware of these reels and how much toughness you are getting for your money.
And then along come these new and lighter Penn Spinfisher VI spinning reels - I have the 3500 and 4500 versions here and I am waiting for the smallest 2500 to turn up. If it helps, the Spinfisher VI 3500 is essentially the same size as a Shimano 4000, and the 4500 is a little bit bigger and sits really nicely on a more powerful 9’6’’ or 10’ lure rod (note that because Daiwa have decided to change their spinning reel sizes again with their new LT reels I simply can’t be bothered trying to make sense of their stuff). I reckon the Spinfisher VI 2500 is around the same size as a Shimano 3000. If it helps, I have weighed the similar sized reels below when they are loaded up with line, because surely that’s the weight that means the most because surely you’re going to take a reel out fishing with line on it!:
Penn Slammer III 3500 - 403g
Penn Spinfisher VI 3500 - 359g
Shimano Sustain 4000FG (discontinued) - 300g
Penn Clash 3000 - 300g
Now if the long and incredibly detailed video above is to be believed, then at time 13:40 the guy claims that on the regular Penn Spinfisher VI reels I have here (i.e not the Live Liner or the Long Cast versions) the waterproof rating is actually the same IPX6 as the Slammer III. The video says that to make things more easily understandable, Penn have claimed an IPX5 rating for these new Spinfisher VI reels, but all is explained at that 13:40 time and onwards in the video. You can find plenty of IPX waterproof info online, but as far as I can tell an IPX6 rating is giving us as much resistance to water ingress as possible on a reel that is not actually 100% sealed.
And this is one of the reasons why I think these new Penn Spinfisher VI reels have the potential to be so interesting for our lure fishing. The awesome Slammer III reels have a “7+1 stainless steel bearing system” and these new Spinfisher VI reels have a “5+1 sealed stainless steel ball bearing system”, and I don’t pretend to know if that will make any meaningful difference over time - but I do know that these Spinfisher VI reels are that bit lighter, they are wonderfully smooth so far (although they are a little “tighter” than a new Shimano reel when you wind a lure in), and I have filled both of them up to the brim with braid and have had no issues so far which I would never be able to do on the Clash. Out of the box I got a perfect line lay on the 4500 size Spinfisher VI, but I had to fiddle around with the washers to get a comparable line lay on the 3500 one - is this because they aren’t being set up in the same way when they leave the factory.
Please take note the word “if” in the title of this blog post. This is not a review because I simply haven’t had enough meaningful fishing time yet with these Spinfisher VI reels, but my initial impressions are that I think they are every bit as nice to fish with in a real fishing environment as a similar priced Shimano (and not turning handles in a shop with all the oohing and ahhing). Put them on a rod and go out fishing and the slight weight increase over a similar sized Shimano to me is now meaningless. The equivalent Slammer III feels like a machine and I love it, but I wonder with the weight savings whether this new Penn Spinfisher VI 3500 for example is a more than viable alternative to a 4000 size Shimano spinning reel for a lot of lure anglers. I very much like the price of course, and if all that resistance to saltwater getting inside and killing it does actually happen and the reel stays nice and smooth for a decent length of time - whatever that actually is - then wow are these reels going to make a lot of sense to me……………..
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