Penn Pursuit III Spinning Reel Review 2021

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The Penn Pursuit III hit the shelves with a speed lift and a drag upgrade. 

While the jump to the HT 100 carbon washers is a worthy upgrade, I’m not sure anglers in the Pursuit market will even realize it’s now faster.

In my opinion, nor will they care. 

However, as a spinning reel fan and Penn fan, I’ll often look at Penn’s affordable reels and ask why? 

What’s driving the decision to create models so close to each other in terms of features and performance?

Especially considering the targeted angler is far less discerning about features such as a gear speed change.

Ultimately, this is a discussion for another article. You came here for a review of the new Pursuit III, not an analysis of Penn’s product division and their decision processes.

And that’s what I’ll do. I’ll review the Pursuit III on its own merits as opposed to a comparison to the broad arsenal of reels against which the Pursuit competes.

Let’s get into it.

Penn Pursuit III Review – What are The Benefits?

I like the Pursuit III now that it has the HT100 drag system. The felt drag in its predecessor was due for relegation. 

Whether a new series was warranted for a drag change is debatable, but it is a pretty significant change. It’s a cool upgrade, making the new Pen Pursuit a good option relative to its competitors.

For the average angler, the Pursuit III offers reliability, durability, and access to a broad range of fishing applications for a modest cash outlay.

I like the Pursuit III because it’s a purchase where you can’t really go wrong. 

This reel will serve the majority of weekend anglers particularly well, and it will do it reliably for quite a few seasons.

The graphite body keeps things light. It also adds a modicum of corrosion protection, at least externally.

While I prefer metal, the graphite body delivers more than acceptable strength and is a big driver in keeping price tags accessible.

Moreover, the anglers who are likely to purchase the Pursuit III are unlikely to put such strain on the graphite that twist and distortion can cause gear issues.

Another positive feature is the understated aesthetics of this product. It’s a slick-looking black reel with chrome/silver highlights that looks great on your rod.

The 4 bearings deliver a pretty smooth crank, comparable to other reels at this price point. While unsealed, the shielded stainless bearings will endure if the reel is cared for appropriately.

The size range begins with a 2500, making all stops to the big 8000. There’s no 7000. 

Pursuit finesse anglers can cast spinners at trout in babbling brooks with the 2500, where the offshore anglers can cast poppers at GT’s with the 8000.

Surf and rock anglers will do well in a battle with the 4000 through 6000, and the 3000 will be an excellent inshore allrounder.

In keeping with the Penn tradition, drag and spool capacities are generous. There’s plenty of fish fighting power. HT100 is a very smooth drag system that delivers under load.

I like the 5000 for general surf fishing. If you hook up larger than you expected, there’s plenty of drag and spool to turn the fish to the beach.

The Pursuit III doesn’t sport anything particularly fancy to write home about it. It’s not an inspirational fishing reel, but it’s a capable reel at an affordable price.

Budget driven Penn fans will appreciate it. Those anglers weighing up the Penn against other manufacturers will have some serious deliberation.


  • Affordable, reliable spinning reels for the average angler on a budget
  • HT 100 drag system is a good upgrade
  • Decent model range covering plenty of fishing applications from land-based to sea
  • Spool and drag capacities


  • Only one notable upgrade from the previous model
  • Plenty of other manufacturers to consider in the price range
  • Lack-lustre in terms of features

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Features at a Glance

  • Lightweight and corrosion-resistant graphite body
  • HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers
  • 4+1 stainless steel bearing system
  • Machined and anodized aluminum spool
  • Superline Spool
  • Line Capacity Rings
  • Check here for full specs on each model

Top Features of the Penn Pursuit III

The Pursuit III isn’t exactly jam-packed with all the bells and whistles. However, it has a solid build, with strong basics. The HT100 drag system feature gets top billing.

HT100 Drag

The HT100 drag is impressively smooth. Even under heavy load coupled with violent head shakes it still maintains its poise.

Durability is also impressive. The carbon washers will last oceans longer than the old oil felt drag. It will handle plenty of battles operating at peak performance before a washer change is required.

Anodized Aluminum Spool With Line Capacity Rings

An alloy spool should really be a standard feature. The Pursuit spool is braid ready and also has line capacity rings that indicate when it’s time to add line.

Line capacity rings and the braid ready rubber grip on the arbor is a little gimmicky for my money. The rubber will perish pretty quickly and you should back up your braid with mono anyway.

Personally, I’ve never found capacity rings of value. It’s pretty easy to see when you’re low on line without the indicators. Nonetheless, some will find the rings of use.

4 Shielded Stainless Steel Ball Bearings

One assumes that it’s the four bearings that elevates the price a little. They’re not sealed, nor would I expect that at this price point.

However, they do support critical moving internals, and the shield does offer an element of protection. It’s a surprisingly smooth crank.


Anti-reverse should just be a given in any reel worth its salt these days. 

A decent anti-reverse bearing assists with line pick-up to some degree but it’s essential come the strike or working an interested fish.

For my money, a good Anti-Reverse is a must-have in a spinning reel. The Anti-reverse was fine during testing. But I can’t attest to its durability. 

I’ve busted a couple of Penn Anti-reverse bearings, but I have to give Penn the benefit of the doubt here, as I lost both anti-reverse bearings to impact.

Penn Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel, Black/Silver, 2500
  • HT 100 carbon fiber drag washers
  • Lightweight and corrosion resistant graphite body
  • Sealed drag system: Sealed drag washers, always lubricated, always smooth. Slow oscillation gearing: Improves line lay and minimize line twist

Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Difference Between Penn Pursuit ii and iii

The main difference between Penn Pursuit II and III is the move to the HT 100 drag. 

The oil felt drag used in the Pursuit II has been successful for Penn, but I believe it is well past its used-by date and should be retired.

The HT100 should be the baseline for all Penn spinning reels. 

I know this leaves them little room to wriggle up for more expensive models, but sealing the drag provides great scope for a bulletproof drag system, as they do in their top models.

HT100 fully sealed is a smooth, robust system. Perhaps we’ll see the drag sealed in the Pursuit IV.

The new series is also geared faster. I’m not quite sure why Penn has done this. I think it’s a good thing, but I expect those purchasing the Pursuit would have little idea and care even less.

Ultimately, it doesn’t add a great deal more versatility. But I do believe the current faster ratios are generally better than the old model.

The Penn Pursuit III vs the Penn Fierce III – Which is Best?

The Fierce III is almost identical to the Pursuit. The key difference is the full metal body. This adds weight, obviously, but it also adds durability as gears are better protected.

I would prefer a metal body every day. However, there’s quite a price difference between the two Penn series products. 

I’m not convinced that the average weekend angler would get the benefits from the steel body.

Perhaps the big fish angler might be better placed to spend the extra cash on the metal body, but for the majority of anglers, the money saved could be invested in other tackle.

The Pursuit is lighter than the Fierce, but it’s so marginal I don’t believe anybody would feel the difference. 

Final Notes on the Penn Pursuit 3

The Penn Pursuit III may have disappointed a few fans with a single feature update. However, the series with the new drag system is now better for the drag upgrade.

The new Pursuit delivers the key basics well, and you can expect to get plenty of fishing out of the reel over its serviceable lifetime.

As I stated in the introduction. The lower end of the Penn spinning reels range is a little congested with little separation. Comparing the Wrath, the Fierce and the Pursuit illustrates this.

Penn may do well to consolidate their entry-level spinning reels, focusing more on making one that really stands head and shoulders above the competitors.

Until such time, The Pursuit III will deliver an enjoyable fishing experience. It’s a no-nonsense reel you can rely on, and rely on for quite a few seasons of ordinary use.

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