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The Penn Conflict II series presents a marked change from its predecessor.
Firstly, the all-metal body of the original has been replaced with Penn’s Rigid Resin RR30 technology.
Secondly, the new model receives Penn’s Leveline, slow oscillation system.
Granted, on paper, these changes may not sound like much. However, the new Conflict is now significantly lighter and sports far better casting manners than its older brother.
A gear upgrade to Penns CNC gears, promises greater longevity. A change to aluminum gears also helps reduce the weight.
Designed to dominate inshore applications, the new Conflict series also provides some access to nearshore, surf, and rock applications.
Aimed at the lightweight, light line sports angler, Penn may well steal a few customers from the Japanese manufacturers, making the Conflict II even more popular than its predecessor.
Let’s have a closer review of the Penn Conflict II and see if competitors, such as the Stradic, have anything to fear.
Penn Conflict II Review 2021
Overall, I like the Conflict II. It has a smooth crank, smooth powerful drag, holds plenty of braid, and delivers a pretty cool inshore fishing experience.
The slow oscillation delivers on the promise of consistent, uniform line lay, which is a boon for the Conflict’s casting manners, and those who fish light braids. However, the Conflict is proving true to its name for all the wrong reasons.
In an attempt to compete with the Japanese manufacturers dominating lightweight inshore reels, Penn has had a go at lightweight precision.
Unfortunately, it would appear they have compromised instead of improved or upgraded.
The best features of the reel appear to be in ‘conflict’ with the body that houses them. Let’s unpack that a bit.
Tank-like strength is synonymous with the Penn brand.
In my opinion, the Conflict II is an example of what can happen if you stray from your bread and butter core business, seemingly without thinking things through.
The new Conflict is Penn’s lightest spinning reel yet.
However, relative to its competitors, such as the Shimano’s Stradic for example, it still misses the boat on lightweight status while retaining a pretty hefty price tag.
To add insult to injury, saving on weight has come at the cost of strength.
While the Rigid Resin RR30 body and rotor sounds impressive and is lighter, it doesn’t have the strength or rigidity of full metal.
The majority of anglers won’t have an issue with this.
But for those anglers hooking into a larger class of fish, gear lock-up due to flex in the new synthetic body might present a few challenges mid-fight with a big fish.
Here’s the ‘conflict’. The new gears and the substantial drag capacity ensure your Conflict can punch well above its weight.
However, large hook-ups can cause the body to flex enough to compromise the gears. Backing off the drag is the only way to resolve the situation. Not ideal when fishing heavy structure.
There’s a disconnect between the power of the reel and its housing. This disconnect suggests a poorly-thought-out compromise instead of producing a genuine lightweight competitor designed from the ground up.
This might sound like harsh criticism, but I’m just saying how I see it, and in Penn’s defense, it’s not a flaw that will impact many anglers.
The bearings and drag are sealed. This makes it well suited for kayak anglers. The size range covers pretty well all inshore kayak applications.
The 4000 and the 5000 will work nicely for a range of surf and rock applications for moderate fish sizes. The 3000 is a very useful allrounder.
Great for bass, and for chasing fish for the dinner table from the estuaries and surf gutters. Finesse and light tackle sports anglers will appreciate the 1000, 2000, and the 2500.
The 2500 has plenty of drag capacity for its size, but peaking the drag specs in a fight, might see you hit the body flex issues mentioned above.
The Penn Conflict II is a pretty good spinning reel, generally speaking, but it’s a poorly thought-out compromise that may have missed the competitive mark based on price point.
However, due to the massive rise in lure fishing over the last 20 years, I think Penn fans will welcome a lighter reel that mitigates the fatigue of relentless casting.
Cared for appropriately, the Conflict II should see out several seasons of frequent deployment.
So, while reasonably pricey relative to features inclusions, the Conflict II still represents value for money.
Let’s have a concise look at the pros and cons of a Conflict II purchase. Following this, we’ll look at the Conflicts key features.
- Excellent casting manners. The Leveline system appears to work very well
- Lightweight for a Penn spin reel
- The series range covers the majority of inshore applications
- Despite the limited size range, the series still provides some access to the surf, rocks, and nearshore with the 4000 and 5000
- Spool and drag capacities are excellent
- Provides an excellent general fishing experience
- Ideal for the sports lure angler chasing fish with lighter rigs
- Smooth and powerful crank and drag
- Sealed bearings and drag
- Strength loss due to change to the synthetic body. Possible flex and twist under heavy loads
- Internal damage possible through impact
- Better lubricants would improve the crank
- A spare spool should be supplied at this price point
- A little pricey relative to the feature list
Penn Conflict II Key Features at a Glance
- Rigid Resin RR30 body and rotor
- CNC Gear™ technology
- 7+1 sealed stainless steel ball-bearing system
- HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers
- Superline Spool
- Line Capacity Rings
- Detailed specs available here
Top Features of the Penn 2
Let’s have a look at the key specs and features in a little more detail.
Cosmetics and Looks
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. But there’s little to criticize about the new Conflict.
Stealthy black tones and grey highlights combine well with the classic lines, delivering a stylish-looking spin reel.
A combination of the uniquely styled handle, cut-outs, and porting deliver a high-tech flavour. The oversized knob and bail arm wire present a look of strength and power.
I have no idea how the Rigid Resin RR30 body will do over time, but straight out of the box, the Conflict II is a fine-looking spin reel.
The body change is responsible for the bulk of the weight savings. The new Conflict is a respectable 20% lighter than its predecessor.
Lure anglers, with their relentless casting, will appreciate any weight savings. But how does it compare to other brands?
The Conflict II 3000 weighs in at 9.1 ounces. Immediately, most of you will recognize that this isn’t the lightest model relative to other manufacturers.
The Shimano Stradic FL 3000, a comparably priced inshore reel, comes in at 2 ounces lighter.
The Daiwa Tierra is lighter by more than 2 ounces. It’s also cheaper with more drag capacity.
While they have one and two fewer bearings, respectively, that’s still a significant weight difference considering the Shimano, and the Daiwa have full metal bodies.
In terms of the Penn spin reel stables, sure, the Conflict II is light, indeed their lightest. Relative to other manufacturers, however, the Conflict II misses the mark.
I’m a live bait, surf, and rock specialist; weight isn’t really a thing for me.
But if you’re a relentless caster, and weight matters, you may find that you prefer other reels to the Conflict II, that offer a far lighter cast without compromising strength.
Sizes and Models
These are the sizes available for the Penn conflict 2:
- 1000: Finesse and light line sports
- 2000: Finesse and light line sports
- 2500: Finesse and light line sports with extra versatility
- 3000: Inshore allrounder with some surf applications
- 4000: Small to medium inshore, plus some surf and rock
- 5000: Medium inshore plus multiple surf and rock applications
Penn is well known for creating spin reels with capacious spools.
While the alloy Conflict II spool doesn’t hold ridiculous quantities of braid, like many of the Penn spinning reel series do, they still hold generous amounts of lighter braids.
Then 3000 holds 250 yards of 15-pound braid. I expect many will spool 10 pound, creating even more capacity – especially if you take advantage of the Superline Spool rubber backing and pack braid to the arbor.
I’m not a huge fan of the Superline Spool rubber backing. It will perish over time, and you’ll be packing mono backing anyway.
Nonetheless, it can remove the hassle of having to spool up with mono backing and tie a connection creating a weak point.
One less knot is no doubt a bonus for many knot weary anglers like me.
Penn’s line capacity rings now feature on many reel series, including the Conflict II.
Some may find the line capacity rings useful. In my opinion, they’re a little gimmicky and not a compelling feature.
The drag capacities of the Conflict II series are very generous. While they’re not the extreme capacities of many Penn spin series, there’s more than enough relative to application.
The HT100 is smooth and powerful, providing anglers plenty of confidence in tough fights. Interestingly, max drag capacity is likely more than the reel body can handle anyway.
The drag is sealed, which is a great feature. This is why I like the new Conflict for kayaks. HT100 washers are very durable anyway.
Adding the sealing ensures the drag has the potential to operate at peak spec for far longer.
CNC gears and a generous quantity (7+1) of stainless sealed bearings head a pretty impressive internals list. All bar the 5000 have alloy gears with the 5000 having brass.
There’s no question. The Conflict II is a smooth and powerful crank. The main gear, pinion, and other turning parts are well supported by a hefty complement of bearings.
Out of the box, the gears are tightly meshed with no movement or play. This ensures all the power goes to the crank, as there’s no power bleed from movement or slop.
How long this lasts will be determined in large part by the synthetic body. Flex and twist in the body caused by fighting a larger class of fish will increase wear on gears.
- Rigid Resin RR30 body and rotor
- CNC gear technology
- 7+1 sealed stainless steel ball bearing System
- Ht-100 carbon fiber drag washers
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As movement between teeth increases, so too does wear. However, unless you are pushing the reel to its limits every session, expect a suitable working life out of your Conflict that is commensurate with the price tag.
Of course, I can’t verify this, as I haven’t tested longevity.
The anti-reverse bearing is great out of the box, providing solid hook-up and uptake assistance.
In my experience, the Penn anti-reverse mechanism is subject to damage from impacts.
Granted, the impact thing is my fault. They’re not designed to hit the hard ground with force. I have dropped two Spinfisher’s onto rocks and badly damaged the anti-reverse both times.
For the serious and technically minded spin reel fan, I’d recommend applying a more high-performance grease to internals.
Penn’s choice of grease is a little substandard, in my opinion.
A high-performance grease will deliver an instant and very noticeable improvement in the crank.
The Penn Leveline system as an advertised feature of the Conflict II. It’s a genuine upgrade designed to deliver a much higher performance cast.
It’s a slow oscillation system designed to ensure lighter braids are packed on the spool with consistent uniformity.
The result is a longer, more accurate, and predictable cast more consistently. I couldn’t compare casting to its predecessor; however, the cast from the new Conflict is long, and the line lay was uniform as promised.
The new Conflict series covers the vast majority of inshore applications, land-based and afloat. You’d be hard-pressed or very fussy, if you couldn’t cover your inshore needs with a Conflict II.
When the reel was released, my gut feel was that the sealing and weight reduction would appeal to kayak anglers.
In my experience, and anecdotally, this has been the case.
While the Conflict II is broadly popular with inshore anglers of all types, kayaking Penn fans have shown particular interest.
With the 1000 you can spin for the tiniest trout in a remote stream somewhere in the mountains. With a 5000 in your hands, you can tackle a larger class of stripy from the beach.
Grab yourself a 3000, and you can do both of these things and more, as well as add flipping and pitching at monster bass in the Spring.
The Conflict suits braided lines and lure fishing. While there’s no problem using mono and natural baits, the Conflict is more about casting.
Strength and Durability
There’s no doubt strength has been compromised with the loss of the full metal body.
However, it’s important to add that this shouldn’t be a problem at all for most anglers most of the time.
I did experience flex and movement in the Rigid Resin RR30 body under heavy loads, and there was still plenty of drag left.
To avoid compromising the gears further, I had to let off the drag and allow the fish to run with less resistance. This is not at all ideal.
Generally speaking, we’re not chasing a 20-pound drum with a 2500 reel. So the strength thing won’t be an issue.
However, on occasion, larger fish will take a liking to your diminutive hardbody presented for a flounder.
In such cases, you will need to have your wits about you.
As mentioned earlier, the internals is subject to impact damage. This is not so much a criticism as a heads up. Don’t drop them on the rocks or concrete.
I use Daiwa, Shimano, Okuma, and Penn spin reels regularly and have done for decades. Interestingly, I’ve dropped them all, and the only ones to sustain internal damage were the Penns.
Make of that what you will. But it hasn’t at all stopped me from using Penn as a key weapon in my spin arsenal.
I like the heavy gauge bail wire. It looks great and offers a better level of durability
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to questions I frequently field regarding the new Conflict II. It’s amazing how often people ask the same things.
Does The Penn Conflict II Have a Combo Option?
Yes, there is a worthy Conflict II Combo that is available to purchase. The combo assures you get the best-balanced rig possible.
The rod, also a Penn Conflict II, features Fuji guides and cork classic handles.
The blank is 25T full graphite with an extra fast action. The 5000 has a fast action. All rods are 7 footers, so the combo might not work for you, depending on your application.
The light reels get a light power rod, the 3000 and 4000 get medium-light, and the 5000 gets medium power.
Penn Conflict vs Shimano Stradic – Which is Best?
The Conflict II is often pegged against the Stradic. However, the Penn Conflict II doesn’t come close to what the Shimano Stradic offers.
The Stradic is a more expensive reel by up to 25%, so it’s not really a fair comparison anyway. Nonetheless, people always want to know which is better.
Surprise, surprise, the Stradic is a better reel. For lightweight inshore work, the Stradic is actually a legendary performer and super popular.
It doesn’t seem fair comparing the Conflict II to the Shimano Stradic FL, which won the best saltwater reel in its class at the US 2019 ICAST.
While it has one less bearing, the Stradic is a couple of ounces lighter, has a full metal body, more drag capacity, line capacity, more advanced internals, and more features.
The Shimano Stradic is an outstanding spin reel in every way. The truth is, the Conflict II really doesn’t compete with the Stradic. However, at 25% cheaper then the Stradic, nor should it have to.
The Stradic is an awesome inshore spinning reel. If you have the cash, get one.
Is the Stradic Better than the Conflict II?
Yes. In every way, hands down, the Stradic is a better reel than the Conflict II. As stated above, however, it’s not a fair or reasonable comparison.
Can I fish Mono with the Conflict II?
The short answer is yes, of course, you can. You will lose a significant amount of spool capacity, but that shouldn’t be an issue depending on your target.
The Conflict II was designed specifically with braids in mind.
Is the Penn Conflict II a Good Spinning reel?
Yes. It’s a pretty cool reel that countless anglers will enjoy and appreciate. Relative to the price point, it’s certainly not perfect. But the Conflict II will serve the majority of inshore anglers very well.
Should I Buy the Conflict, or Spend the Extra on a Stradic, or Save and Get the Tierra?
Sorry, Penn, the Stradic is worth the extra dollars, and the Tierra, even though it is significantly cheaper, is a better reel.
Verdict and Final Notes on the Conflict II
I like the Conflict II. It’s a really cool fishing experience. And if you’re a kayak angler, it should feature on your shortlist for purchase.
However, in an attempt to mix it up with the Japanese lightweight inshore kings, Penn has created a reel that’s a bit of a misfit relative to its competitors.
Personally, I wouldn’t purchase one; there are better reels for less. Moreover, reels such as the Shimano Stradic and Daiwa Tierra do lightweight inshore so much better than Penn.
On its own, the Conflict II is a really nice reel. Relative to a highly competitive market at this price point and application, it leaves a little to be desired.
Penn fans will need little convincing. Light-spinning reel fans without brand loyalty will probably look elsewhere.