Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

If you could design your perfect spinning reel for our lure fishing, what would you do?

What do you want the most from your spinning reels? Do you want them to be as light as possible? Are you happy to give up a little bit of buttery smoothness in order to get a reel that’s more rugged and able to cope with the rigours of saltwater? Do you need a massive line capacity? How much do you ideally want to spend? And so on. I guess that I play with more spinning reels than many lure anglers, but if I could start from scratch, what would I do?


I’d start off with the Penn Slammer III (review here) - yes I know it’s a bit heavier than a Japanese equivalent, but because I am starting from scratch I’m going to take all that this reel can give me but I’d shave say 25% of the weight off. How though? I haven’t got a clue and in fact the bit of extra weight on the reel works really well on some lure rods, but because we seem to be almost conditioned to wanting the lightest spinning reels possible, let’s do it anyway - but I want to keep how strong it is. For sure it’s not quite as buttery smooth as when I turn my incredible Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG, but the Slammer just oozes ruggedness and I’ll take that all day long.


I can’t argue with how well the Penn Slammer III is resisting saltwater intrusion, so I want to keep all that good stuff in this new reel. I know that a Van Staal is in theory 100% sealed and I documented my experiences with their VR50 recently (check here and I didn’t have it long enough to properly long term test the 100% claim), but I haven’t personally fished with and seriously liked a spinning reel that could stand up to what I have put my Slammer through as regards drowning it and having it washed over by waves again and again for multiple surf sessions especially. I guess it has to fail on me someday, but for the price of it and with what I have done to it makes it incredible value for money in my opinion.


I really like the big gold coloured handle on the Slammer III, and although I also really liked the hard foam type Penn Clash handle which in fact is included in a Slammer box and it’s very easy to change them over, what I would really like is a hard foam handle in the roundish shape of the big gold one. I love the one on the discontinued Shimano Exsence C14+ 4000XGS (which as far as I could tell was essentially the same reel as the discontinued Sustain FG), so I am going to steal that handle for my perfect spinning reel.

I love that handle

I love that handle

Lots of anglers seem to obsess about the drags on their reels for bass fishing, but I don’t tend to. The drag on the Slammer is great - okay, the loosest setting on it is not exactly very loose which makes it a slight pain for easily pulling line off to thread braid through guides and so on, but it doesn’t really matter (open the balearm). As long as the drag on my perfect spinning reel lets line come off fine and doesn’t fall apart on me if it gets wet then that’s great.

I love that the Slammer III has no anti-reverse, so I’ll take that in my new spinning reel as well. I like a regular deep spool because I want to be able to control how much braid I put on my reel rather than a tackle company telling me what do by essentially saying here’s a shallow spool and you can’t put a load of heavier braid on for example. Use cheap mono backing and I simply don’t see what the problem is with regular spools - I want options instead of restrictions.


I haven’t had enough time yet with these very interesting new Penn Spinfisher VI reels, but without a doubt the Slammer is a little easier on the retrieve. I suspect the Spinfisher VI will loosen up a bit over time - and they are nice and smooth out of the box - but they are a little “tighter” on the retrieve and I’ll take that slightly easier turn of the handle on a Slammer for my new reel. I get that a perfect spinning reel could of course be something like a Shimano Stella, Vanquish or Exsence, or the Daiwa Exist or Certate and so on, but I want my perfect spinning reel to be retailing for under £200, and preferably around the £150 mark if at all possible. Don’t get me wrong here because I love a high-end spinning reel as much as the next tackle tart, but this amazing Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG aside, I haven’t yet come across a higher-end spinning reel that has stayed the course for as long as its price suggests it should - and bear in mind here that I am not fishing my little Twin Power in the same conditions as I have been doing so with my Slammer.


And then finally I would like my Slammer-like spinning reel to be available in a Penn 2500 size which I guess is around a Shimano 3000 size. I’ve got the Slammer III 3500 which is about the same as a Shimano 4000 spinning reel (have any of you made much sense out of the new Daiwa LT reel sizes yet?), but damn I’d love a Slammer III in a Penn 2500 size - and then I’d do everything to it that I have described above. I have no idea what Penn are working on in their R&D department, but here’s a great big pretty please for starters if you ever make a Slammer IV. And of course the Penn Spinfisher VI comes in a 2500 size that I haven’t seen yet, and when I have spent a lot more time with these reels I can report back with some further thoughts - but I haven’t yet fished with a spinning reel for bass that inspires as much confidence as a Slammer. It’s not perfect - but then is there a spinning reel out there that is? - and I do wonder what a Shimano or a Daiwa could do if they took a reel like the Slammer, “Japanesed” it, and then got it out there at the same kind of price. The line lay seems to be very good on the Slammer and all manner of lures fly out there, but I can’t fill it up quite as much as I can a Shimano or a Daiwa - which perhaps matters not, but it does imply to me that the Penn isn’t quite laying my braid down as well.

Hell, none of this blog post matters a jot at the end of the day, but it’s the end of February and a time of year when stuff like this bounces around my brain at 3.45am when I got up this morning because I couldn’t shut myself down and I’ve drunk so much coffee that I’m not quite seeing straight………..

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