Penn Fierce III Spinning Reel Review 2021

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The Penn Fierce III does have some worthy upgrades, from the felt drag to the carbon washer HT1000 drag system. 

But in my opinion, the new series needed more to justify the price increase and provide enough separation from its similarly priced stablemates.

It feels that Penn missed an opportunity here. The addition of an all-alloy spool, sealed bearings, or an additional couple of bearings may have allowed the Fierce to stand out from its brothers. 

Ultimately, it is probably aesthetics that will sway choice. Let’s have a closer look at the Fierce III. 

Was a new series justified? 

Is this a customer-focused, fishing focused release? Or is it a marketing, unit-mover decision? I’m a big Penn fan, but I don’t believe the Fierce III is a customer-focused reel series release.

Is The Penn Fierce A Good Quality Reel?

One can’t argue that the Penn Fierce III delivers on its promise as an excellent spinning reel. 

I would even argue that the more dedicated, regular session angler, will be well served with the Fierce III.

The Fierce targets the budget-conscious recreational angler who desires a quality, reliable fishing experience, as well as reasonable longevity in their fishing gear.

The problem with the Fierce is the congestion at this particular price point, give or take 10 to 30 bucks. Nonetheless, the Fierce III is a decent entry-level spin reel. 

The size range provides access to a wide range of fishing applications, covering everything from trout in the mountains to larger pelagic species offshore.

The Fierce III is pretty honest at advertising the benefits of its reels. I don’t think performance will blow your socks off, but nor will you be disappointed.


  • HT100 carbon washer drag system is smooth, durable, predictable, and reliable
  • Excellent drag capacities
  • Great spool capacities, particular for braid
  • Excellent size range
  • The live Liner option will please quite a few Penn fans


  • Disappointing upgrade effort. The one significant change that didn’t warrant a new series
  • Too close to other Penn models in terms of features and inclusions for the price
  • Only one of the bearings is sealed. Sealing all would have delivered a much higher standard of durability

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Key Features

  • Full metal body and sideplate keep precise gear alignment under heavy loads
  • Techno-Balanced™ rotor gives smooth retrieves
  • 4 stainless steel ball bearings
  • Instant anti-reverse bearing
  • HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers
  • Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
  • Superline spool
  • Line capacity rings
  • Follow this link to reel specifications

The Live Liner Option

The Live Liner mechanism allows you to set the reel to free spool at a chosen tension. 

When the bait is taken, you flick a switch that engages the pre-set drag.

The system is designed for those anglers that set flesh and natural baits. That is, they leave the rod in a rod holder without working the bait.

The fish can take the bait feeling no resistance, as the reel is in free spool. The angler can flick a switch, set the hooks, and begin the battle. 

Anglers go from free spool to fight setting with a simple flick of a switch – no drag adjustments required.

This feature offers some depth to the Fierce series. In my opinion, the Live Liner sits nicely at the entry-level price point. 

In my experience, it is the average weekend angler, who casts natural baits, and sets the rod waiting for the fish to take baits more than any other angler.

Penn Fierce III – Features Reviewed For 2021

The Fierce is not exactly feature-laden. However, at an entry-level price-point, anglers are better served with solid basics than compromised bells and whistles.

The Size Range

The size range ensures a vast number of fishing applications are covered. The series starts at 1000, then it all stops at 8000, with the exception of a 7000.

The Live Liner is available in 2500, 4000, 6000, and 8000. The size range is a strength of the series. There’s something in there for all but hunters of the ocean’s biggest fish.

HT100 Drag

The HT100 was a good upgrade. The carbon washers provide a much higher level of durability. 

You can work the drag system pretty hard for countless sessions before any significant maintenance or washer change-outs are required.

Last update on 2021-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

HT100 is pretty darn smooth under hefty loads. This is a great feature. 

The Fierce also offers plenty of max drag. The 1000, (the smallest) provides a substantial 9 pounds of drag. 

The 8000, which is the largest in the series, delivers an impressive 30 pounds. With 30 pounds of drag, with a decent spool capacity, you have genuine access to a larger class of fish.


There’s a modest count of 4 + 1. They’re stainless, and all but 1 are shielded, not sealed. The crank is surprisingly smooth but nothing to write home about.

I would argue that a couple of extra sealed bearings was all that was required to make the Fierce III stand out from its competitors. 

In my opinion, a missed opportunity that would have justified the new series.

All-Metal Body

The all-metal body comes in handy when you’re asking the reel to punch above its weight. 

A metal body prevents twist and flex, allowing gears to remain in alignment and mesh.

The absence of twist and flex extends the life of the gears and more of the power to the business end of the fight.

I prefer metal over graphite, but graphite may have been a better choice for the Fierce. 

It would have made it lighter, delivered better corrosion resistance, and freed up some cash for a couple of extra bearings or features.

I do not see body flex and distortion from big fish battles being an issue at this price point, so a carbon body would have sufficed and perhaps improved the overall package had the production savings gone to more beneficial features.

Alloy Superline Spool

Even at this price point, the alloy spool is essential. They’re far superior to graphite spools. 

The superline feature allows anglers to spool braid directly to the arbor without the need for a mono backing.

The line capacity rings are a moderately useful feature for some. To be honest, it’s always obvious to me when I need to add line to the spool without having to view capacity rings.

Anti-Reverse Bearing

For my money, any reel without an anti-reverse bearing isn’t worth buying. It’s pretty well an essential component of any modern spinning reel.

Selling it up as a unique feature or inclusion is like promoting the wheels on a new car as a special feature.

The bearing on the Penn Fierce feel pretty solid. There’s no back play. How that performs over time, however, I cannot attest to. 

In my experience, The Penn anti-reverse bearing is susceptible to damage. I have broken them on three Spin Fisher reels.

I will add in Penn’s defense. I’m ridiculously tough on my fishing reels, and all three times, the anti-reverse damage seems to have come from impact injury. I.e., my own silly fault.

Spool Capacities

Thumbs up for spool capacities. The 5000 will hold 225/12 200/15 135/20 of mono, and 420/20 300/30 240/40 of braid. 

Coupled with pretty serious max drag, a Fierce III has pretty substantial fighting credentials, comparable to reels in a higher price category.

Last update on 2021-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Penn Fierce 2 and Fierce 3?

The only significant upgrade to the Penn Fierce 3 is the jump to HT 100 drag system with carbon washers.

The carbon washers are far more durable than the old felt washers, and anglers will also enjoy smoother, more predictable drag, especially under load.

For my money, however, a change in drag washers doesn’t justify a new series.With some pocket-change and minimal skills, the average angler can do the washer change themselves. 

Such a minimalist, rudimentary upgrade leaves me feeling a little cynical about Penn’s motivation.

Is the Penn Fierce III Worth the Money?

At this price point, value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I find it a tough question to answer. And, of course, it is the most frequently asked question.

Value is relative to your fishing budget and each person’s concept of money well spent. It is also relative to competing reels of a similar price.

The 70 to 120 dollar price point is pretty hotly contested. And my advice is to research thoroughly. 

The Fierce III is undoubtedly a contender in this category, but ultimately it will come down to personal preference in terms of features.

It should be noted that manufacturers such as KastKing and Piscifun are offering feature-filled reels for significantly less than this. 

There may be a question mark over durability or longevity, but at 60 odd dollars over a couple of seasons, who really cares.

The bottom line is that the Fierce III is worthy of your consideration, particularly if you’d like your reel to last a few seasons of moderate, too busy workloads.

Final Verdict

It feels to me that Penn wasn’t sure what to do with the Fierce. The result was a half-hearted attempt resulting in a ho-hum new series.

I feel they lost an opportunity here. A couple of extra sealed bearings or a gear upgrade may have made the Fierce III stand out in a crowd.

I expect Fierce fans will have anticipated more and are no doubt quietly disappointed at the lack of new series bang.

For the canny bargain reel hunter, now is the time to hit your favorite haunts to find remaining stocks of the Fierce II.

There’s a good chance you’ll pick up a great price. For around 10 bucks, you’ll be able to add the carbon washers and achieve your own series III.

All in all, the Fierce III offers a quality fishing experience. In that regard, the Fierce does represent value for money.

The drag is strong, hard-wearing, and smooth. There’s plenty of room on a spool. It’s nice to crank and has pretty reasonable casting manners.

Moreover, there’s a huge range from which to choose, and there are four Live Liner models. Given due care, the Fierce may well last you many seasons. For this price point, that’s a fair list of positives.

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