Penn Spinfisher Review

This is a review of the Penn Spinfisher, one of the reels we give to clients when guiding on the Cornish coast. This reel is the most popular high end lure fishing reel in the UK, because it combines toughness with smoothness and durability. In terms of price, we think it’s situated at the low end of the high end. To me, it’s the bare minimum in terms of specs for if you fish very often in rugged conditions. It also has some limitations that are significant for some anglers.

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lure fishing rod and reel

Penn Spinfisher Size Guide

We’ve used the 3500 size reel with a variety of rods while guiding, including the Nebular <35g and a lighter Tail Walk <21g. The reel is noticeably heavier than most other spinning reels. On my 8ft 4″ Tailwalk, the 3500 size made the set up bottom heavy and felt a bit off-balance to me. I like the extra little bit of weight, as it’s testament to the build quality of the reel. However, it balanced much better with the Nebular casting up to 35g.

For rods between 8-9.5ft, I recommend the 3500 size.

For rods under 8ft that cast under 35g, I’d reach for the 2500 size.

If you’re using a more traditional spinning rod that’s much thicker than the rods on this page, and that rod is over 9ft in length, the 4500 size would balance better with your rod. Sizes above 4500 would be considered too large for UK lure fishing by most anglers.

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penn spinfisher review

The line lay is not great with adjustment

This may come as a surprise for a relatively high end reel, but it’s actually not got amazing line lay if you fill the reel right up. We had braid knots multiple times with £50 braid. Occasionally the line would even wrap around the outer part of the spool. These things are unexpected and annoying in a reel of this price.

The solution is to underspool the reel slightly (see photo above). If you fill it up too close to the rim, you’re likely to encounter issues. If fishing with lighter braids is something you’ll be doing, I would look towards Daiwa and Shimano reels around the same price point, where we have not experienced these issues.

I think J-Braid 4 strand in 20lb+ would work best with this reel, for avoiding issues caused by lighter more supple lines. In other words, if you’re not using high end braid and if you slightly understood the reel, I doubt you will run into any issues.

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penn spinfisher

IPX5 Sealing provides peace of mind for surf and boat anglers

An IPX5 rating ensures that the reel can withstand water jets from any direction. They literally shoot the reel with a power hose in testing and then rate how much water gets into the reel. This kind of protection is crucial when you’re facing waves or spray, which is common for some of our saltwater angling here in Cornwall. IPX5 sealing prevents saltwater from infiltrating vital parts like the gearbox or drag system, extending the lifespan of the reel. Saltwater getting inside reels is usually a right off. I wouldn’t dunk this reel, but equally you don’t have to worry about it getting splashed like you do with most other reels.

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penn spin fisher review
The reel seems to pair well with most lure rods. It’s heavy enough to balance on a more traditional, girthier rod. It’s sleek enough to just about work with a modern Japanese lure rod too.

The reel has a full metal body, and feels cold and solid

The metal construction means that the reel is more robust and capable of withstanding the mechanical stresses of getting mistreated out on the coast. This is essential for us when guiding, as kids will often drop reels down onto the rocks. It’s nice touching metal rather than plastic, and a solid reel inspires confidence. This all metal body is partly when the reel has so little flex, which further contributes to that solid feel.

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penn spin fisher review

It has a deep spool, so fish can take a lot of line and if you get in a wind knot, you have plenty of line to fish with

Check out the depth in this spool. You will be needing backing line unless you’re buying more than 150m of braid at a time. It’s good to have this when you’re boat fishing in case you hook a monster that takes a lot of line.

penn spin fisher spool

The drag is sexy as hell and provides up to 6.8kg of resistance

The drag is satisfying to adjust and sounds great when fish are taking line. It provides more drag resistance than we will need for UK fishing.

Final thoughts

The Penn Spinfisher is the most popular high end reel in the UK for a reason. I think this reel is for the angler that likes to go lure fishing from their boat a few times a year, and wants something that isn’t going to pack it in when it gets splashed or dropped on the rocks by their kid.

If you’re into using super light braided lines and casting light weedless soft plastics from sheltered shore fishing marks, I think you should check out reels from Daiwa and Shimano instead for the superior line lay out the box.

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