Henry Gilbey
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Penn Spinfisher VI 2500, 3500, 4500 reviews and reports so far - £119.99 to £129.98 UK prices

Rather than me spend more time linking to my reviews of the various items of fishing tackle mentioned in this blog post, you can find them all here, linked to within the various tackle categories.

I guess that over time I have erred towards various Shimano spinning reels as my weapons of choice, indeed I have the brand new and rather gorgeous little Stradic FK in the 2500HG size here to start fishing with and evaluate as best I can over time (yes, it’s as nice to fish with as you’d expect) - but over the last few years and starting with the Clash 3000, Penn spinning reels have been creeping up on me as a seriously viable choice for the sort of lure fishing so many of us are doing here in the UK and Ireland……………


I bang on about the incredible Penn Slammer III 3500 and 4500 spinning reels on here because I think they are awesome with what they put up with on the saltwater protection side of things especially - and I am still hoping (jn vain?!) that we might one day get the gift of a 2500 size Slammer. There is another family of Penn spinning reels called the Spinfisher VI which are slightly cheaper again, and whilst they don’t offer quite the same level of protection against saltwater as the Slammer - the Spinfisher VI is quoted at “features IPX5 sealing so whether it gets hit with a wave, or you let it ride in the spray all the way home, you don't have to worry about saltwater getting into the gearbox or drag system” whereas the Slammer has “our new IPX6 Sealed System which keeps water out of the gear box and drag system” - in my mind these Spinfisher VI reels are some serious reels for some very sensible prices.

Okay, so neither the Slammer or Spinfisher reels are as light or quite as refined as a number of Shimano or Daiwa spinning reels (I haven’t used a Daiwa reel for a while though and I am not really up on their new stuff), but with what my spinning reels often go through - surf fishing anybody? - I am increasingly happy to fish with a bit of a heavier and less refined spinning reel if it keeps on going. I do err towards the Penn Slammer III 3500 as my go-to heavier duty spinning reel because it inspires so much confidence in me, but I have now fished with the Penn Spinfisher VI 2500, 3500 and 4500 reels enough to have formed enough opinions on them.


I am going to take the 3500 size Spinfisher VI as the “standard”, stick on virtually any lure rod I have and fish quite happily with it reel here. It weighs 359g loaded up with braid and it’s about the same size as a Shimano 4000 spinning reel. The Slammer III 3500 weighs 403g loaded with line, and as a comparison, my older Shimano Sustain 4000FG weighs 300g loaded with line, so yes the Penn is a bit heavier, but it’s as smooth as you like, stunning to fish with, you can load it right up with braid and get no issues with wind-knots, and that extra say 59g doesn’t feel like anything after five minutes of fishing with it. I do love my deft little Shimanos, but these Penn reels do give me this machine like confidence that they are going to keep on going and going. If I was to buy one Penn Spinfisher VI reel I reckon I’d go for this 3500 version because I like how it sits so nicely on a longer, more powerful lure rod I might use in the surf, but then drop down to the incredible HTO Nebula 9’ 7-35g rod and with this Spinfisher it’s a great combination.


The 4500 size Spinfisher VI has the same size body as the 3500 but with a slightly larger capacity spool and therefor bale arm assembly to allow for this. Have a look on YouTube and you will find plenty of videos of anglers in the US especially doing some serious fishing with these Spinfisher VI reels, and it’s not as if we need the extra line capacity of the 4500 version for any lure fishing we might be doing - but the 380g loaded with braid weight of this 4500 reel does sit very nicely on say a 10’ rod you might use in the surf (the Slammer III 4500 weighs 429g loaded with line). I have had zero issues with wind-knots when loading this 4500 right up. I do like the handles on the Spinfisher VI reels and they feel very natural in my hands after a while fishing with them, but because I am an angler and we always want stuff we can’t have, ideally I’d love the option to put the black, hard foam type handle from the Slammer III on a Spinfisher VI (the handles on these Slammers and Spinfishers are actually interchangeable, but is anybody going to track down spare handles and change them over?).

The brand new Shimano Stradic FL 2500FG

The brand new Shimano Stradic FL 2500FG

Because of the lure rods I so often fish with, I do have a bit of a thing for a spinning reel around the size of a Shimano 2500/3000. My utterly sublime Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG (favourite ever spinning reel?) is still as 100% smooth as it was on day one nearly two years ago now, so I am really interested to see if this new Stradic FL 2500HG might compare at a lot less money and with what I can make out, a lot of the same technology inside it. Anyway, what I was getting to was that I was most looking forward to fishing with the baby in the Spinfisher VI range, the 2500 model……………


The Penn Spinfisher VI 2500 is the same size as a Shimano 2500 or 3000 spinning reel, and it weighs 317g loaded with line - out of interest, this new Shimano Stradic FL 2500HG weighs 233g loaded with line. Now I do really like the baby Spinfisher VI 2500 reel - it’s nice and smooth and just looks right. The drags on all these Spinfisher VI reels are great, and whilst I happen to like how much tighter the lightest drag setting on the Slammer III reels is (zero to hero in far less turns!), I have heard some UK lure anglers worrying about this - to which I’d reply that if the lightest Slammer III drag setting is an issue for you then I would politely suggest you are being far too generous to the fish you are hooking. There are none of these “issues” on the Spinfisher VI reels, as in the lightest drag setting is very light, but damn you can wind them up nice and tight if needs be. Me all over!

No issues at all with the 2500 size Spinfisher VI loaded up to this level

No issues at all with the 2500 size Spinfisher VI loaded up to this level

There is one issue with the smallest Spinfisher VI 2500 though, and that’s the line level at which you can safely fish it with all manner of different hard and soft lures. Trust me that you can fill up the larger 3500 and 4500 Spinfisher VI reels to the levels you can see in the photos on here and if you can cast at least half-decent then you should have zero issues when fishing with a decent braid - but you need to drop the line level a fair bit on the 2500 size. If this bothers you then this reel is not for you, but if you can live with a lower line level then you are getting a hell of a lot of smaller reel for the money.

It does niggle me a bit though. I am not one of those anglers who is obsessed with putting as much braid as I can on a reel, indeed I would always argue that learning to cast better is going to get you more distance than a fully loaded reel, but it does niggle me how you can load up the 3500 and 4500 reels with no issues at all, yet when I received the 2500 version I loaded it up to the same level and went out fishing - and I had a few wind-knot issues when casting soft plastics especially. Over time I took the line level back to what you can see in these photos and I haven’t had a single wind-knot issue since, but why can’t this Spinfisher VI 2500 behave the same way as its larger siblings? It’s a stunning reel to fish with, but again, if you are obsessed with a full line level then I’d go for the 3500 size.


I do enjoy fully submerging my Penn Slammer III 3500 reel, and when I stop to watch just how much saltwater is continually washed over a reel when fishing in the surf I can’t help but grin at how this thing just keeps on going and going when used like this - bearing in mind that I am looking after it just the same as I would any other reel. After a serious dunking or surf session I will fill a sink up with warm water, tighten the drag down fully, submerge the reel, turn the handle for a minute or so, then take the reel out of the water, wind the drag off, and let it sit there to drip-dry. I will then put some oil and grease as required in the various parts of the reel that I can easily get to - I will blog about this at some point - and get it back out fishing. The Slammer III has impressed me that much that I have actually gone over to using only the Penn Precision Reel Oil and Penn Precision Reel Grease because my thinking is that if they are good enough for Penn to put in a reel that performs as well as this then it’s plenty good enough for me.

Sorry, what I was getting at is that I have also deliberately submerged my Spinfisher VI 2500 reel a few times and washed the thing around in saltwater. My 3500 and 4500 Spinfisher VI versions here have taken a lot of saltwater over them and are just as smooth as they were out of the box, but after deliberately submerging the baby 2500 reel and turning the reel handle under water which I know you aren’t meant to do but because these reels aren’t actually mine it doesn’t matter - and then going through my “service” routine as per the paragraph above - I would say this Spinfisher VI 2500 is say 90% as smooth as it was straight out of the box.

Does this mean a damn thing? No, of course not, and I would urge you not to treat your spinning reel like this!, but to me there does seem to be a slight difference between what the Slammer III and Spinfisher VI will take - which I guess is reflected in the prices and the IPX ratings. Out of the box these Spinfisher VI reels are a little “tighter” to wind than the equivalent Shimano which we all know tend to turn as smooth as the proverbial hot knife through soft butter, but over not much time at all the Penn reels are turning easier and easier and to be honest they are just fantastic to fish with. As I said I think I’d go for the 3500 if I was going to have the one reel because of how well that size of spinning reel I think suits so many different kinds of lure rods, but overall I reckon that with the 2500, 3500 and 4500 Penn Spinfisher VI reels we have got a serious bunch of reels that will take a hell of a lot of abuse but also be a genuine pleasure to fish with - for what I reckon are some seriously good prices.

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