Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Reel Review 2021

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The Penn Spinfisher VI hit the shelves with the addition of a couple of impressive features. 

CNC gearing and IPX5 sealing head the upgrade list, bringing the unit closer to its more expensive stablemate, the venerable Penn Slammer.

While the new Spinfisher is not without its issues, it has now hit a point where you’re getting plenty of reel for a modest outlay. 

It’s good to go, very smooth, has a lot of spool and drag capacity, and will last plenty of seasons if properly cared for.

Clearly, Penn believes their fans, and the market generally, will respond positively to the new Spinfisher, as they have gone all-out on options with the new Spinfisher.

Along with the standard model, there’s a live liner, a long cast, and bailess models available in specific sizes. 

Penn has also added a 2500 size to the range, making it the smallest Spinfisher available.

It would appear Penn has made quite the investment in the Spinfisher VI. Let’s have a closer look and review the latest incarnation of a Penn stalwart.

Penn Spinfisher VI Review

Let’s have a brief but concise look at the performance aspects we all weigh up when deciding on our next reel purchase. 

I will refer to certain specifications generally, but there is a link in the features list below if you want actual specifications.

Generally speaking, the Penn Spinfisher VI offers value for money fishing. You can expect the new Spinfisher will be a popular model. 

Its great strengths are the series versatility, overall fishing experience, strength, and durability.

Importantly, with a Spinfisher strapped to your rod, you can consider yourself very well armed for any fishy battle.

A solid, smooth crank will not let you down in times of stress and will inspire confidence for a potential David and Goliath encounter.

Thanks to great drag and spool capacities, few fish are out of reach, relative to reel size, of course.

Sturdy construction and (mostly) durable materials ensure that the Spinfisher is more an investment in your fishing than a mere reel purchase.

Well maintained, you will get plenty of seasons from your Spinfisher. And that’s plenty of seasons of hard work, deployed as your go-to workhorse.

For Penn fans purchasing in this price range, the new Spinfisher is a no-brainer.

Now that the Spinfisher is more competitive with new gears and sealing, expect plenty of interest from anglers who shop for quality and application coverage over brand loyalty.

Let’s have a concise look at the pros and cons of a Spinfisher VI purchase. Following this, we’ll look at the Spinfisher’s key features.


  • Outstanding versatility in each individual reel and across the range
  • Robust build. It Will last plenty of seasons if cared for appropriately 
  • Plenty of reel for your money. Competitive, and value for money
  • A solid list of features for this price point
  • Spool and drag capacities are excellent
  • Great list of series spinoffs. Live liner, long cast, and bailess
  • Excellent fishing experience all-round
  • Access to the bulk of fishing applications within the one reel series


  • Some will find the weight a little too much. Particularly the live liner
  • Anti-reverse mechanism and auto bail trip might be a little vulnerable
  • Penn has a problem with grease at manufacture. Overspill and quality issues
  • Spare spool not supplied. Would be a great feature. Spare spools are VERY handy

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Penn Spinfisher VI Key Features at a Glance

  • IPX5 Sealed body and spool design
  • CNC Gear™ technology
  • HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers
  • 5+1 sealed stainless steel ball-bearing system
  • Full Metal Body
  • Superline Spool
  • Line Capacity Rings
  • Sizes 2500-5500 have automatic bail trip
  • Sizes 6500-10500 have manual bail trip
  • Check here for standard Spinfisher VI specifications (includes link to Bailess)
  • Check here for the Spinfisher VI Live Liner specs
  • Check here for the Spinfisher VI Long Cast specs

See below to check out a great Penn Video

Sizes and Models

The size range begins at 2500, then has all sizes through to 10500. Long cast models are available in 5500, 6500, and 7500. Perfect for rock and surf anglers.

There are 4 Live Liner options in the 2500, 4500, 6500, and 8500. This is a well-considered size distribution for the live liner.

Surf anglers addicted to bailess can choose from a 4500, and a 6500. Again, these are great size selections for the subseries.


I guess it’s a credit to Penn branding that the Spinfisher VI Aesthetic is unmistakably Penn. 

It’s remained more or less the same as the original – with a few fashion-related tweaks, of course.

The lines are great, and there’s nothing garish or flashy, even though the gold kind of screams; look at me, especially in the larger models. 

It’s classic Penn styling that will look great on your favorite rod.


In keeping with, it’s definitely a Penn theme, you will also notice on first handling that the Spinfisher VI feels substantial. OK, a little heavy.

I’m reluctant to say “heavy” as, by and large, modern anglers take heavy as a potential deal-breaking negative. 

But one must remember that it’s an all-metal reel, with the larger models sporting brass gears.

The Spinfisher VI is considered heavy relative to many of its Japanese competitors. 

But super-lightweight space-age alloys come at a huge price. Add aircraft alloys to the Spinfisher, and you no longer have an affordable reel.

Encase it in graphite, and sure, you lose weight. But you also don’t have the same level of quality, twist resistance, and endurance.

Modern technology has allowed us to fish two reel sizes smaller anyway. 

And if a quarter to half an ounce is a big deal for you, maybe Penn is not your reel brand. In my opinion, the weight thing is a non-issue.


Spool capacities are substantial. With the larger models, you have light to medium game capacity for serious bluewater action. Surf anglers will love the spool capacities for chasing sharks.

Fish braid, and you’ll never get spooled, such are the capacities right through the sizes. 

Having said that, I’ve not been close to getting spooled in 45 years of fishing. 

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

Nonetheless, It fills me with confidence knowing I have oceans of line to play with the long runners.

My first impression was that the spool thickness (the metal) was thinner than usual. 

I couldn’t confirm this, but it didn’t seem to make a difference, and maybe it was a weight-saving measure.

The line seemed to peel off nicely, it usually does with a new reel. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but you can certainly get some distance with a correctly balanced rig. 

For those wanting prodigious distance, try the long cast option.


More than enough is all I need to say. The one thing I really like about Penn is their propensity to overdo the drag thing. 

Just like a huge spool capacity, it inspires confidence to know you have oceans of fish stopping and head-turning power.

The 2500 has 15 pounds of max drag, the 6500 has a big fish stopping 30 pounds, and the 10500 deals out a whopping 50 pounds.

It’s smooth, predictable, and reliable. Importantly, thanks to the IPX5 sealing, it’s now more durable than the previous series. 

 Expect plenty of seasons of hard use before new washers are required.


5 sealed bearings support the newly added CNC gears. The gears are constructed from aluminum and brass. 5500 and down have the aluminum main gear, while 6500 and up have CMC brass.

The crank is smooth and precise. Every crank feels light yet powerful. The greatest value of the machined gears is that the reel will crank a peak for longer.

Sealed bearings should be the standard these days, and it’s a great inclusion for durability. 

I question the grease they use at manufacture. There’s always overspill, and it seems of poor quality.

For those interested, stripping down and re-greasing with a top-quality grease will certainly cause a marked improvement.

IPX5 sealing does a good job of keeping the gearbox and drag free of water. The seals on the bearings provide an internal layer of backup.

For my money, the value of the IPX5 sealing is in the cleaning. 

You can spray your reels down after a big day on the salt without fear of ingress or jamming impurities further into working parts with the pressure of your hose.

Don’t for a moment get complacent and think it’ll handle submersion. It won’t. 

If your reel falls onto the sure break by chance, it won’t protect your reel from a heavy dose of sandy slurry.

A break-down and clean-out will be likely.

A good rule of thumb is to treat your Spinfisher as though it’s not sealed, and it will last for a long time.

The Anti Reverse feels really solid out of the box. In my experience, the anti-reverse is vulnerable on the Spinfisher.

I’ve had two Spinfisher and broken the anti-reverse on both. 

One went completely; the other, my current surf reel, has lost its instant anti-reverse and now has quite a bit of play.

The mechanism has plastic springs; this may be creating a weakness that I have somehow managed to find via impact injury.

I can’t attest to the durability of the current anti-reverse from a couple of brief uses.


Casting manners are good. A smooth oscillation delivers a pretty uniform line lay. The well-laid line promotes long repeatable accurate casting.

The 2500 to 5500 has an auto bail trip. 6500 up is manual. My preference is for the manual trip. Auto trip mechanisms are vulnerable. 

Without one, your reel is more robust.

The bail arm is much lighter/narrower than I expected it would be. Something chunkier seems more fitting for the Spinfisher. 

Nonetheless, it’s strong enough to deal with continual manual tripping.


The new Spinfisher series covers an enormous range of fishing applications. From the smallest of brook trout in an isolated stream to GT’s and marlin, and everything in between.

The base series provides excellent options for inshore, nearshore, and off. Kayak anglers will appreciate the choice of the new 2500 size and the IPX5 sealing.

Rock and surf anglers will get excellent results from the long cast models. There’s quite a number of surf anglers who will have pre-ordered the bailess model. 

And probably both sizes.

Live bait anglers will naturally gravitate toward the live liner options. It will also appeal to natural bait anglers.

Expect extra weight in the live liner; the extra mechanism is weightier than I expected. In the 2500, the LL adds a touch over 3 ounces.

Strength and Durability

The Spinfisher VI is in keeping with the Penn tradition. Strength and durability are a core feature, and the Spinfisher is marketed as such.

As mentioned earlier, the Spinfisher feels like a substantial reel. My personal belief is that this is no accident.

While other manufacturers are stripping off every bit of weight possible and employing super-lightweight metals, Penn opts for the robust tank-like feel and performance.

The result is not only a more affordable spinning reel, but a reel an angler feels will reliably take some punishment in tough conditions over several seasons while maintaining peak operation.

For the most part, the Spinfisher VI Spinning reel, with the addition of the sealing and CNC gears, is true to the marketing hype. 

It’s a strong, durable, and capable spin reel.

My only question marks hang around the anti-reverse mechanism and the auto bail trip. 

I have had issues in my past and current Spinfisher models, particularly with anti-reverse.

However, it should be noted that I am extremely tough on my reels, and my Spinfisher IV 7500 is still deployed every time I hit the rocks and surf.

Regardless of its scars, my Spinfisher remains reliable and my first choice for the rough stuff.

In fact, while it’s arguably ready for retirement, I just can’t bring myself to put it on the mantle. It’s like a trusted friend.

IPX5 Sealed Body

IPX5 offers a modicum of protection from water and dirt ingress. Don’t confuse it for waterproofing, however.

It will prevent waves, splashes, dirt, and sand from blowing in general use, but it shouldn’t be dropped in the sand or submerged.

It’s a fantastic addition as it allows you to hose down your reel to remove salt without the fear of jetting water and corrosive contaminants into the internals.

CNC Gearing

A nice upgrade for the VI, CNC gears deliver a precision mesh. CNC gears provide a much tighter crank, eliminating the tiny amounts of movement that bleed power and cause wear over time. 

The benefits of CNC are a stronger, more responsive spinning reel that will last significantly longer.

HT100 Drag

HT 100 has become a big winner for Penn and has featured in their spinning reels since 1985. 

HT stands for high-tech. The 100 means the carbon washers won’t experience wear until after dragging 100 miles of line under load.

It’s a smooth, reliable, and predictable system. Importantly, the carbon washer stands up to punishment over time.

Sealed Stainless Bearings

The sealed bearings offer a pretty good second line of protection against the ingress of dirt, sand and grit, and moisture.

Hopefully, IPX5 does most of the work. 

Still, when the inevitable happens, and you drop your reel in a sandy slurry, you can be reasonably confident of carrying on with your fishing, knowing your bearings are safe.

As far as I can tell, the bearings are unique to the reel series. Aftermarket bearing upgrades will be complex as bearings will be tough to source.

The four support bearings provide great assistance for gears and pinions, allowing for a smooth, solid crank.

Full Metal Body

This is where the weight comes in, but it’s forgiven based on the increased strength and durability.

The steel body eliminates twist, ensuring your gears remain in perfect sync under load. This reduces wear and power bleed significantly.

The full metal body also looks better and provides increased protection against mishaps, such as impacts on rocks and other hard surfaces.

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Super Line Spool and Line Capacity Rings

A little gimmicky, but no load to carry. My problem with the rubber backing on the arbor is that it will perish over time. 

Eventually, you will need mono backing anyway. Handy straight out of the box. But most anglers I know will use mono backing anyway for the sake of economy.

Line capacity rings might be handy for some anglers. However, conscientious anglers, particularly those who will be casting a lot, make sure their reels are packed to spec most sessions.

I can generally tell at a glance if there’s not enough line on my spool without the need to glance at capacity rings.


Alternatives to the Spinfisher 

Although the Spinfisher is an excellent spinning reel, it is not the only reel out there.Let’s take a look at some alternatives.

Penn Spinfisher VI vs Daiwa BG

The Daiwa BG MQ certainly gives the VI a run for its money. I really like the monocoque body, larger (DigiGear) gears, and the extra bearing.

The Daiwa is significantly lighter and better balanced, but you will lose out in drag and spool capacities. 

The gear speeds on the Daiwa BG offer a little more versatility for the lure anglers. You will also pay more for the Daiwa.

Penn Spinfisher Vs Penn Slammer III

A more significant investment will get you into the Penn Slammer price point. There are a couple of extra bearings, a metal rotor, and the sealing rating is lifted to IPX6. 

The Slammer also includes the Dura-Drag washer treatment that gives the HT100 system greater longevity under harsh conditions.

Penn Spinfisher vs Penn Battle III

The Penn Battle III is very similar and very close in price. This is a curious thing from Penn I’m not sure I understand. 

The obvious feature missing in the Battle is the sealing. In which case, you’d go for the Spinfisher every time, yes?

For the surf, I would consider a Quantum Cabo 6000. This is a reel worth checking out. 

It contains more features than the Spinfisher and offers a 5-year warranty. Pretty impressive.

Check out the latest price of the Quantum Cabo 6000 below.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Final Words on the Spinfisher VI

While it’s not beyond any criticism, the Spinfisher VI is a really solid series offering respectable features and inclusions and a fantastic fishing experience. 

Forget the extra weight; this spinning reel really is a joy to fish.

The series spin-offs add depth to the series, giving Penn fans and Penn hopefuls a staggering array of options for tackling the lion’s share of their fishing applications.

The strength of the Spinfisher VI series is its durability, series variety, depth, and overall fishing experience.

There is some incredible competition out there, with a few reels appearing far better, on paper at least. But the Spinfisher holds its own, and will no doubt impress most spin anglers.

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