Best Penn Spinning Reels Reviewed 2021

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Over the past 5 to 20 years, Penn, arguably the most recognizable fishing brand in the US, has undergone changes. 

Fortunately, much of the change is isolated to corporate machinations. Penn remains a very solid fishing manufacturer, true to their “let the battle begin” mantra.

Many patriots lament the outsourcing of the manufacturing of Penn products to foreign factories. This is understandable. If ever there was an all American fishing reel, it’s Penn.

Penn is fast to remind loyal customers that only a portion of manufacturing is outsourced and that much of the product line remains American made.

In my opinion, it’s important that we understand that much of the made in China quality concern is an unfounded urban myth.

For the most part, the corporate/manufacturing changes are a PR exercise for Penn. Now, under the banner of fishing giant Pure Fishing, Penn remains ‘Penn’.

I have several Penn spinning reels in my arsenal and I love them. My go-to surf reel is an old penn slammer that I have treated abominably. Yet it still performs brilliantly, regardless of its many scars.

Let’s have a look at the best penn spinning reels and assign them roles based on my idea of their ideal application.

Spin fans can use this as a guide for adding Penn spin to their fishing reel purchase deliberations.

Best Penn Spinning Reels For The Money in 2021

Here are the top penn spinning reels on the market today

The PENN Slammer III – Best Penn Big Fish Spinning Reel

The Penn Slammer III has seen the famous series hit new heights of performance. Much of the improvement has come in the form of sealing (corrosion mitigation), CNC gear milling, and the use of alloys in construction.

There is a greater emphasis on lightweight precision. Penn has achieved this while remaining true to “it’s bulletproof” DNA.

The Penn Slammer sizes start at 3500, with the 10500 being the largest. Any size would make a great addition to your arsenal, but for me, the Slammer III comes into its own chasing big fish.

Generally speaking, we chase big fish from the rocks, blue water, and the surf. 

The Slammer has these three locations completely covered. The level of versatility you get will depend on the size you select.

The 6500 and 7500 deliver great all-round access. Decent stripy and drum of size are child’s play. 

You’ll also get standard size Tuna, and have plenty of fun with Mahi-Mahi. Should the class of fish be a little smaller, the Penn Slammer is refined enough so it won’t feel like overkill.

The 10500, has 60 pounds of dura drag. It’s similar to Penn’s HT-100 drag, however, there’s an added element of durability which is ideal for big fish hunting.

Couple the prodigious drag capacity with 780 yards of 65-pound braid, and you’ve got a shot at any monster that swims.

Sharks from the beach, sailfish from the blue water, GT’s from the rocks, and grouper from rock walls and piers. And that’s just the beginning.

The machine cut gears offer a seamless mesh and are well supported by 6 stainless bearings for a smooth crank. 

The video below provides a great example of just how smooth the drag is too.

It’s geared for hauling, so those wanting to cast big stick baits and poppers, or rip metal slugs, might find the 8500HS a little better for speed work. 

With 50 pounds of drag and spool that holds 600 yards of 50-pound braid, you’re still set for wrestling tuna and GT’s.

It’s worth noting that the Slammer III won best saltwater reel at ICAST 2016 on its release. Check out this article from the folks at wired2fish.

Based on its accessible price point, I’d argue that it was a worthy winner. 

Penn has remained true to keeping durable spinning reels accessibly priced.

This is certainly true of the Penn Slammer, and it now also adds a level of refinement to its brutish history, hardwearing componentry, and phenomenal fish fighting credentials.

My choices are the 10500 for casting big live baits from the ocean rocks, and the 8500HS for pegging big poppers at GT’s.

Penn Slammer III key features

  • Full Aluminium Body, side plate, and rotor
  • CNC Gear brass gears
  • IPX6 Seal rated body & Spool
  • IPX6 Waterproof Rating (Independently tested and approved)
  • Dura-Drag
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1 Stainless
  • Instant Anti-Reverse
  • Oversize, Aluminium Handle (EVA option also supplied)
  • Huge max drag capacities and spool capacities through the range
  • Sizes 3500 through to 10500

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

The Penn Clash II – Best Penn Inshore Spinning Reel

While I’ve placed the Clash into an inshore category, the 5000 in the series delivers serious access to some awesome sports work outside the heads.

The series starts at 2500, and goes up to 5000 The Penn Clash II has just about every inshore application covered. The 4000 and 3000 have high-speed models.

From fresh to salt, river to the beach, the Clash is a classy offering from Penn that covers plenty of grunt, endurance, longevity, and a refined feel for the finesse anglers demanding touch, feel, and responsiveness.

Chase trout in the fresh with your 2500, then motor out from the heads and hook into mahi-mahi with your 5000.

Of all the Penn spinning reels listed here, I’d probably take the Clash II 3000HS over everything else.

While I miss out on the big fish stakes, the number of applications covered, fresh and salt, is astonishing.

The two new features on the clash II include the clutch armor system and the hydrophobic line roller system. 

The latter is all about enhancing the performance of the HT 100 drag system. Dispersion of heat allows washers to maintain their integrity and seriously reduces wear. 

The clutch armor system delivers a new level of corrosion resistance, ensuring the Cash II is further protected from reel killing corrosion.

Critical moving parts such as pinion assembly and clutch will now, according to promise, last longer.

The reel is much lighter than its predecessor. Penn is famous for being robust, but this has come with extra weight. 

Penn has put the Clash II on a diet but still managed to maintain its famous bulletproof credentials. Nothing like a charter captain to back this up.

The crank is silky smooth thanks to 8 stainless bearings working in concert and CMC gears. The gears are lightweight alloy, yet super strong. 

The full metal body ensures your Clash is up for the rough stuff.

Casting manners are impeccable. Of course, this will be determined by the balance of your outfit and rig. 

However, the Leveline Oscillation System does a brilliant job of packing the spool with a uniform line lay, consistently.

The Clash II is a pretty pricey reel, and it has a lot of local and Japanese competition at this price point. 

I suspect that this competition is what has driven Penn to achieve such heights with the clash.

The 3000 will be a bass master, floating standing or paddling. Near shore anglers and reef hunters will love the sports work on moderate size pelagic fish. 

The 4000 is ideal for chasing a modest class of fish from the surf.

The 2500 has all the touch and feel of a top-shelf finesse master reel. It will hold 220 yards of 15-pound line and has 12 pounds of max drag. 

Fish as light as you dare and your well-equipped should something a little larger than expected monster your soft plastic.

 Penn Clash II key features

  • Full metal body
  • CNC GEAR construction
  • HT-100 drag washers
  • Ball Bearings: 8 + 1. Stainless
  • Heavy-duty construction bail arm wire
  • A rubber gasket for braid backing
  • Line capacity rings
  • Leveline Oscillation System
  • Hydrophobic water-repelling line roller system
  • Clutch Armor System

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Penn Pursuit III – Best Penn Budget Spinning Reel

From flounder, trout, and pompano, to drum, grouper, and trevally. From the river to the sea, standing on a bank or in your boat. The Pursuit III delivers high performance for the angler on the tightest of budgets.

The Pursuit is not the cheapest spinning reel in the range, but it is certainly priced accessibly and honestly.

Spending just that little bit extra on the Pursuit will provide an outstanding fishing experience while delivering the sort of staying power a budget-conscious angler demands.

Quality that lasts meets performance, versatility, and range. The pursuit starts at size 2500, stopping at every obvious waypoint up to the 8000, skipping only the 7000 sizes.

The 6000 and 8000 are beach, rock, and ocean boat reels. The 8000 has 25 pounds of max drag and will stack on 345 yards of 80-pound braid. 

At just over a hundred bucks, this is access to some seriously big fish. The 5000 will cover heavy inshore work, as well as delivering lightweight thrills offshore for the sports angler.

I like the 4000 for lighter surf work for panfish. However, it will still handle a sizable hook-up of stripy and drum should they hit your lure.

The 3000 is a classic inshore allrounder. There’s little it can’t handle and will sit nicely on your favorite bass rod. It’s 6.2 ratio is great for flipping and pitching.

The 2500 will suit those sports anglers rapped in the arts of finesse. While it doesn’t have the feel of the top-shelf brands and models, it certainly can catch bigger with lighter – the goal of most finesse hunters.

While I’m not a fan of graphite bodies, one accepts the compromise for price control, weight reduction, and corrosion resistance. 

Fortunately, the spool is machined alloy, making up for the graphite used in the body.

In the past, I have been unfair with my critique of the HT-100 drag system. Mine have degraded quickly, but it’s 100% my fault as I’m terrible with reel care and maintenance. 

While I wanted more durability, reflection suggests that what I do with reels should not count as reasonable.

The reason I mention this is because I have recently tested the Van Staal VR series. 

While the drag is definitely rugged and powerful on the VR, it is very jerky. The HT 100 system is actually very smooth, not just compared to the VR, but plain, outright smooth as velvet under loads. 

It actually inspires confidence, and it’s an excellent inclusion in the Pursuit III series.

By modern standards, 4 bearings aren’t a huge count. It should be noted, however, that once you lift the bearing count, you’ll also lift the price tag – and often, significantly.

There are a number of manufacturers producing reels with ridiculous bearing counts for mere pocket change. In these cases, I have to question the quality of the bearings.

I can’t personally attest to the bearing quality/endurance in the pursuit. But I have it on good authority from colleagues, that the crank remains smooth after a couple of seasons of hardcore fishing.

The Penn pursuit III series is a good honest reel at a fair price. I know it sounds a little clichéd and boring, but it’s meant in every way to be a compliment.

In many respects, this is how I have always seen Penn. Good honest hardworking reels for a fair price. I expect this is how Penn has earned its stripes as a patriotic all-American reel manufacturer.

The Pursuit III gets my highly recommended rating for those on a budget. The Pursuit III is a wise investment for those who enjoy performance, yet do it with a keen eye on their fishing expenditure. 

Outstanding value!

Penn Pursuit III key features

  • Full metal body
  • CNC GEAR construction
  • HT-100 drag washers
  • Ball Bearings: 8 + 1. Stainless
  • Heavy-duty construction bail arm wire
  • A rubber gasket for braid backing
  • Line capacity rings
  • Leveline Oscillation System
  • Hydrophobic water-repelling line roller system
  • Clutch Armor System

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Penn Wrath – Best Penn Saltwater & Freshwater Spinning Reel

The Penn Wrath is often found sold in a combo. It’s Penn’s entry-level spin reel, and while priced very affordably, it ain’t no toy.

The Wrath is a reel for the average family recreational angler. It’s a quality reel offering a fine spinning reel fishing experience.

Yes, there’s a distinct absence of bells and whistles, but that’s not what the Wrath is about.

The Wrath is about delivering weekend danglers with sturdy fishing equipment, built with legitimate fish fighting credentials. It has Penn’s famed robustness in its DNA.

The Wrath has only two bearings, Penns entry-level oil felt drag system and a graphite body. This is where Penn ensures affordability.

It’s nice to have a full metal body, HT-100 drag, and a full metal body, and a fist load of bearings. However, add the tech and you add the dollars. 

The Wrath is all about getting the basic right and therefore ensuring reliability.

The proof is in the casting and fishing. I defy anybody to say that the Wrath doesn’t perform admirably relative to its price point. 

I think it’s awesome that Penn has made such a comprehensive size range with the Wrath series, ensuring the lion’s share of fishing applications are covered.

There’s a 2500 through to 8000, with the only increment missed being a 7000. This range covers panfish from the mountain streams to blue water pelagic targets. 

The larger models, the 6000 and 8000, make great surf, blue water, and rock fishing reels. Surf and rock fishing generally present the toughest of conditions for reel endurance. 

Without the modern sealing and corrosion protection of more expensive reels, the Wrath is vulnerable, despite its alloy spool and graphite body.

It should be noted that the bearings are shielded stainless. This is great for longevity due to corrosion resistance.

A half respectable cleaning and care routine will see the Wrath catch countless fish season after season. 

Big fish anglers who put plenty of pressure on the drag system may find washer replacements necessary.

The point is this. For very limited outlay, you get access to game fish with a reel that has all the punch and staying power it needs to wrestle sailfish to the boat.

From another perspective, mum and dad can fit out the whole family for their occasional fishing trips and holiday adventures, without hurting the bank balance. 

Importantly, they’ll have the reels for plenty of family fishing adventures to come.

The Wrath offers Penns famous durability and reliability for a fraction of the price of other brands and models. Entry-level fishing on a limited budget doesn’t get better than this.

Penn Wrath key features

  • 2 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
  • Instant anti-reverse bearing
  • Machined and anodized aluminum spool
  • Line capacity rings
  • Left and Right Hand
  • Graphite Body
  • Penn’s Oil Felt Drag System
  • One of the Best Affordable Penn saltwater and freshwater spinning reels

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Penn Spinfisher VI – Best Penn Saltwater Spinning Reel

The Spinfisher series has had quite the history. Now on version 6, the Spinfisher is a Penn spinning reel ambassador.

While the Slammer III and Clash II are arguably better reels, it’s only barely. And the Spinfisher comes at a much lower price point than it’s top-shelf stablemates, and the series has a massive model range.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the latest Spinfisher range, then you may just have a little sand in your eyes. Because the VI covers just about every spinning application that there is.

The sizes start at the finesse ready 2500. There is every increment in between up to the extra-large 10500. 

For even more versatility there are also Longcast (LC) versions and Live liner (LL) models. Live Liner is the equivalent of Shimano’s famous Baitrunner free-spool mechanism.

The long cast is available in the 5500, 6500 and a 7500 and the Live Liner free spool option is available in the 2500, 4500, 6500, and 8500. 

Check the Penn website for the bailess option. It will no doubt appeal to the surf anglers. 

The 7500LC is a surf and rock master and is specially designed for casting prodigious distances and taking massive fish. The ratio is a little slow for my liking, although it does pick up nearly one meter every turn.

Obviously, you want some cranking power with a 7500 because you’re targeting big fish. But I’d also like to cast big metal slugs a country mile and whip ’em back fast. You can crank it fast to reach desired lure speeds, but it’s exhausting work.

The live liner fishing reels will appeal to live bait and flesh bait anglers. It’s particularly appealing to those anglers who like to cast a bait, set it, and wait.

With the live Liner dialed in and engaged, the spool will free spool, allowing the fish to take the bait without resistance. When it’s time to strike, you flick the switch and the reel automatically reverts to your pre-set drag.

It’s a feature of the Spinfisher series that the Live liner is available in such a broad range of sizes.

Across all models, max drag and spool capacities are very generous. The HT-100 drag is sealed and the IPX5 sealing system keeps the saltwater out. 

It will handle the occasional dunk and submersion, and the regular splashes that are common on the rocks, surf, and boat.

The internals are supported by 5 stainless shielded bearings. It’s a really smooth crank that will stay smooth over countless seasons of hardcore fishing. 

The CNC gears are machined to exact tolerances achieving a perfect mesh, even under the heaviest of loads. The gears work in concert with the bearings for a light-feeling crank that is also very powerful.

Of all the Penn fishing reels, the Spinfisher VI offers the best value of money of the entire range, in my opinion. The Spinfisher pedigree underpins what Penn is all about.

Solid, reliable fishing reels, with great versatility that will deliver an excellent fishing experience season after season.

I’ve had my old Spinfisher for quite a few years. 

I’ve no idea which model it is but I’ve put the old 7500 through hell, and despite its scars, and a dodgy anti-reverse, I still use it every time I hit the surf and the rocks. What’s more, it performs.

 Penn Spinfisher VI key features

  • IPX5 Sealed body and spool
  • Penn CNC Gear technology
  • HT-100 drag
  • 5+1 sealed stainless bearings
  • Full Metal Body
  • Superline Spool
  • Line Capacity Rings
  • Sizes 2500-4500 have automatic bail trip
  • Sizes 6500-8500 have manual bail trip
  • 9 models from which to chose plus 4 Live Liner and 4 Long Cast

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

The Penn Spinning Reel Conclusion

Geven the selection of Penn spinning reels, It’s difficult to find an application that isn’t covered.

Right throughout the range and models, Penn offers versatility, performance, endurance, and a fantastic, fishing experience all-round.

Importantly, the Penn spinning reel range offers exceptional value for money. This is what Penn is all about. They’re true to their advertising and honest with their pricing.

This is no doubt why Penn remains one of the most trusted brands in fishing, right around the world. I hope this will help you decide what the best penn spinning reels on the market are.

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