2014 ICAST INTRODUCTION – When I mentioned last summer that there were some excellent new reels coming our way from Penn I wasn’t kidding. Surprisingly we received the new two speed lever drag pieces first, the single speeds will follow shortly. Kind of nice to get the trickest pony in the stable first I must say. There’s only a $50 difference in price between single and two speeds, so I’m thinking the 2 geared pieces will be far stronger sellers given the aggressive pricing. All reels have five bearings, good ones, and LARGE gears for power. They have a stainless steel gear train, tough, drilled out for weight savings, and are a wonderful combination of strength and speed. The reels feature Penn’s Dura Drag material, offering a special phenolic bonding agent which prevents premature breakdown of the carbon fiber material while providing a barrier to water – less jerkiness on initial start up of the drag, smoother performance and less lost fish are the results of this Penn innovation. These are cast aluminum reels, like the other reels in the Fathom series, and they are sure bet winners. In the past couple years we’ve been seeing Penn listen, listen well, introduce gear we’d hoped to see from them – gear that anglers have desired. Penn has come a long, long way from where they were just a few years ago, and I’d suggest they’ve made good use of the time with new products like the Fathom series, Squalls, the new Torque LDII’s and there’s more coming…
Next up, the single speed versions of these reels also have an awful lot going for ’em. Like the two speeds, you get the benefits of a full metal body and sideplates, stainless steel main and pinion gears, Dura Drag washers, 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings, a double dog ratchet anti-reverse and Penn’s line capacity rings for predictable spooling capacity. The reels offer great freespool performance, and that will no doubt improve over time. Penn is pretty darn proud of their grease, and typically over does it on its use on new reels. As you do some fishing, the grease will indeedeven out and you’ll note even better freespool over time, and it’s pretty darn good to begin with. One thing that’s a pet peeve of mine is the way the reel accomplishes drainage. Penn is showing that they listen to what we say and write – they addressed the drainage wonderfully. We can assume that all reels will get saltwater intrusion, the trick is getting the salt flushed out after a days fishing. Penn accomplished that very nicely with porting both on the frame and the gearcase. AND WHAT GEARS! Note the size of ’em! BIG GEARS EQUAL CRANKING POWER, much like a lower gear ratio improves pulling power the size of the gears themselves make a huge difference.
Penn also introduced a reel specifically for the kingfish guys in the Southeast (also a dandy sailfish reel) the FTH40NLDHS. The High Speed 40N offers a blazing 7:1 retrieve ratio – that translates to 60 inches of line retrieve per crank! That’s ripping! And, that can help you get bit and help you stay on top of a speeding fish coming at you.
For what it’s worth, a guy can sure cover a lot of fishing with the 25N and 40N. With the use of braid as a backing, the 25 would do me darn well for 30 and 40 lb. lines, then the 40N for the 50 & 60. Nice casting pieces, nicely made. Having said that, I spent some time playing around with the little 15 this week, what a wonderful little reel. Small size, huge gears on the little micro beast for some excellent power. I like the gear ratio Penn picked and I really like the drainage and overall construction. The reel has a very nice feel to it. Sure, these are subjective remarks, but they are sincere. Penn took their time, listened and this time they looked at the right competitors in the marketplace (and we ain’t talking about the bike maker). They no doubt looked directly at Avet and they are offering a very nice range of reels that address some of the areas where Avet could perhaps improve. I’m not knocking Avet one bit, they make great gear and they have their share of competing features, but I think Penn found three points to go after and they did just that by addressing gears size, drainage and drag capacity. I’m not putting one manufacturer above another especially since Avet was the firm to bring castable lever drags to the market first and really set the industry on it’s ear with their quality and pricing. Avet’s line has their share of strengths too (made from machined aluminum verses cast aluminum, 7 bearings verses 5), but Penn is definitely on the right track and they’ve found some points from which to shine verses competing firms. Which way to go…sure glad I’m not making the choice, but I can say competition is a great thing from a consumer standpoint and Penn, Release, Okuma and Avet are offering reels that are so far beyond what’s been on the market previously as to be nothing less than amazing.
The PENN Fathom lever drag 2-speed series of reels are compact but loaded with big features. Featuring a Full Metal Body, stainless steel main and pinion gear, Dura-Drag washers, and a double dog ratchet anti- reverse you will find there is no stopping these reels.