Penn Clash 3000 spinning reel review (under £140)

Please believe me when I tell you that I am a fishing tackle tart of the highest order (no, really?!), and I absolutely love fishing with higher end lure rods and spinning reels especially. I lust after the more expensive Daiwa and Shimano spinning reels and the way they feel when you first pick them up and turn the handles, but of course I completely accept that many anglers can’t or simply will not spend a heap of cash on a reel - can’t for numerous reasons, and won’t perhaps because there is always going to be the argument that spending a load more cash doesn’t automatically mean that your spinning reel is going to last a commensurate amount longer. Nope, lure fishing around saltwater is incredibly tough on fishing tackle as we all know.

So as it stands at the time of this review (and of course I will report back if anything goes wrong with the reel in the future), I can’t really see how a spinning reel that comes in under the £140 mark could get much better than the Penn Clash 3000. I am quite simply loving lure fishing with it. As I said a while back here on the blog (here and here), I have zero experience of fishing with Penn spinning reels for UK and Irish saltwater fishing so I didn’t come to the Penn Clash with any previous opinions. I didn’t know what to expect and my judgement as such is of course influenced by having used Daiwa and Shimano spinning reels for a bunch of years now. Whilst I really like the look of these Penn Clash spinning reels, I have a hunch that they could be a marmite sort of thing.

If you want to spend around £140 and under on a spinning reel then of course you’re not going far wrong by looking at Daiwa and Shimano, but I would also implore you to have a look at these new Penn Clash reels. The Clash 3000 is essentially the same size as a Shimano 4000 or Daiwa 3000 reel, indeed this Clash 3000 weighs the same as a Shimano Sustain 4000FG. I have rarely felt such a sense of confidence in a spinning reel when I am out lure fishing, indeed whilst this Clash 3000 initially felt a little on the “tighter” side to start with, it’s loosened up nicely over time. I love a smooth as butter spinning reel, but how many of them stay that way for a meaningful period of time? I can’t help but think of a (not cheap) reel like the Shimano Sustain 4000FG - absolutely love it, but I have had to get a bunch of bearings in it replaced via a service, and I’m not sure how comfortable I feel about the length of time it took for the reel to get like that.

What can I tell you about these Penn Clash reels that I haven’t mentioned before in a couple of preview/update posts (here and here)? Nothing really. Go back and read them if you are interested in these reels, because quite simply I just love fishing with them. Sure, I need to be mindful that their 6.2:1 retrieve ratio is faster than what I am used to on a spinning reel, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. OK, so it bugs me that you don’t get a spare spool with the reels and I can’t find out when spare spools will actually be available here in the UK, but at the price I can’t really grumble. The handles on the reel are as close to perfect as a reel handle can be I reckon, but as with rod grips that is of course a personal thing - hell, I’d love it if all my reel handles could be exactly the same as the Clash handle. I like it that much. The drag feels great, albeit discussions about drags and the fish we are likely to hook in our waters I reckon are overdone somewhat - come on, we love our fish, but tarpon they ain’t. If a bass is ripping loads of line off your reel then either it’s on speed, or just possibly you’re drag knob need a little “assistance”. I kinda like how Penn have Less and More with helpful directional arrows on said drag knob! No excuses now……….

I do actually have the slightly smaller Penn Clash 2500 spinning reel here as well, but that has to go back to Penn UK because it’s feeling a little “rough”. I did take the reel to the iCast show in the US and asked a somewhat unfriendly, “looked down his nose at me” Pure Fishing bloke what was wrong with it - the answer was that the gears were most likely not quite meshing 100% but that the reel was actually just fine and how it felt was a matter of personal taste. Balls. Sure, the gears might not be meshing quite right, but a spinning reel should not feel like this Clash 2500 does, end of. Am I unlucky? I don’t know, but my mate Mark’s Clash 2500 is running perfectly and I wonder if the odd reel slips through the (mass?) manufacturing process without being 100%? Whatever the case, the US Pure Fishing bloke can stick his fobbing me off attempt where the sun don’t shine!

As for what size Clash I would go for, well a while back I’d have said the 3000, but over time I kinda fancy the slightly smaller 2500 on most of the lure rods I might fish with. Both are the perfect size for UK lure fishing, but that big chunky handle to me makes the smaller Clash 2500 feel just fine on shorter and longer rods. Hell, I’d be happy with either, and whilst the 2500 I have here has to go back for a checkup, I am sorely tempted to buy one anyway because I like it that much. The reel just feels “right”.

One thing to be aware of if you do buy a Penn Clash spinning reel - don’t do what both Mark and I did and get a little “greedy” with your line level (you may need to play with the spacers by the way to get a nice flat line profile, but there are instructions on how to do so in the box, and it’s very easy). The 3000 I have here has always behaved impeccably with 20lb braid and never even a sniff of a wind knot in all kinds of conditions. I had loaded it up to just on the edge of the black line inside the spool, but then independently of each other, Mark and I both went a bit over that black line on the smaller 2500 which we both have. Take it from us - save yourself the hassle and do not get greedy with line levels on these reels. Both Mark and I began to suffer a few wind knots on the 2500 reel, so I took a bunch of backing off, got back to a level which was a tiny bit under that black line and straight away everything was behaving impeccably and has done ever since. Some reels seem to take a bit of overloading and some don’t, and these Penn Clash reels categorically don’t. I know Mark was still getting a bit of wind knot hassle over in Ireland the other day on his 2500, but I have to say that roughness on my test 2500 aside, both Clash reels have been behaving impeccably for me on the casting front once I stopped being greedy with the line level. If I ever get a proper report back on the rough feeling 2500 I will report back here, but the Penn Clash 3000 is as good a spinning reel as I have ever fished with for under £200, and as ever there’s the argument about how many roughly £140 spinning reels you could get for the price of something much higher end and how long they all last.

And below is my work in the new issue of Sea Angler magazine that is just about to hit the shelves. Always over the moon to get a front cover, and always loving photographing and writing about fishing.