The Best Penn Spinning Reels for 2024

Long-time readers of USAngler will know that we’re big fans of Penn’s spinning reels, and from the affordable Battle III to no-holds-barred Authority, exceptional performance is the norm.

If you’re a saltwater angler looking for the best spinning reels to wrangle specks, redfish, stripers, snook, and even large, pelagic species like tarpon, sailfish, and shark, Penn has you covered.

Below, you’ll find reviews of our favorite Penn spinning reels, as well as a complete buying guide to explain how we made our choices.

Quick glance at the best Penn spinning reels:

Related:

Best Penn Spinning Reels Reviewed

Penn Slammer IV - Best High-End Penn Spinning Reel

Penn Slammer IV spinning reel review

Bass Pro

Sizes: 2500, 3500, 4500, 5500, 6500, 7500, 8500, 10500

Maximum drag: 20 lbs. (2500), 30 lbs. (3500 and 4500), 40 lbs. (5500 and 6500), 50 lbs. (7500 and 8500), and 60 lbs (10500)

Line capacity: (2500) 255/6, 175/8, 140/10

 (3500) 360/6, 285/8, 220/10

 (4500) 425/8, 320/10, 235/12

(5500) 430/10, 330/12, 230/15

 (6500) 390/12, 345/15, 205/20

 (7500) 490/15, 330/20, 220/30

 (8500) 455/20, 310/30, 260/40

 (10500) 435/30, 360/40, 255/50

Bearings: 9

Gear ratio: (2500) 6.2:1 33 IPT

(2500 HS) 7.0:1 39 IPT

(3500) 6.2:1 37 IPT

(4500) 6.2:1 40 IPT

(4500 HS) 7.0:1 48 IPT

(5500) 5.6:1 39 IPT

(6500) 5.6:1 42 IPT

(6500 HS) 6.2:1 48 IPT

(7500) 4.7:1 38 IPT

(8500) 4.7:1 42 IPT

(8500 HS) 5.3:1 50 IPT

(10500) 4.2:1 43 IPT

Weight: (2500) 11 oz.

(3500) 13.9 oz.

(4500) 15 oz.

(5500) 22.2 oz.

(6500) 24.2 oz.

(7500) 28.7 oz.

(8500) 30.7 oz.

(10500) 42.9 oz.

If you’re regularly fishing in the salt, Penn’s Slammer IV is a fantastic option. Durable, smooth, strong, and exceedingly capable, the Slammer IV lineup has you covered from speckled trout up through the toughest game fish.

Read our full review: Penn Slammer IV Review

Penn equips the Slammer IV with an all-metal body and side plate, providing unyielding rigidity and strength. You can really feel the difference in a hard fight, and everything stays solid and stable no matter what you throw at the Slammer IV.

Now, clearly, Penn has prioritized performance over weight, and for long, demanding fights, that’s a good thing.

Weight climbs as you increase reel size, with the biggest offerings tipping the scales at over 30 and 40 ounces, respectively. That’s heavy, but keep in mind that the 8500 and 10500 are designed for fish like tuna and tarpon, packing the durability you need for hours of fighting.

The bodies of these reels are sealed against saltwater intrusion, earning an IPX6 rating. Anything short of sinking out of sight should keep the guts of these reels dry and clean. 

The 2500 series runs the tried-and-true HP-100 carbon fiber drag system, among the very best to be had at any price. All of its larger kin use the even better Dura Drag system that provides heavy maximums and world-class performance in a fight.

Professional anglers will recognize the awesome performance offered by the Dura Drag, helping to explain its enduring popularity among fishermen who can choose any reel they want. Essentially a sealed, lubricated, carbon-fiber disc system, the Dura Drag is smooth, offering continuous release across its settings as well as resisting the intense heat of a hard fight. 

There may be no better drag for game fish available, and that’s really saying something!

Expect drag maximums designed around the use of heavy braid.

Each model’s aluminum spool is capacious, and the listed yards and weights reflect monofilament. Spooled with braid, those capacities become legendary, especially on the larger reels. For instance, the 8500 can accommodate 555 yards of 65-pound braid, and the massive 10500 holds nothing less than 540 yards of 80-pound braid.

Yes, you read that correctly!

Penn uses CNC-machined brass gearing in the Slammer IV, which translates into smooth cranking and ridiculous torque and strength. Expect fast reels across the board, with the HS versions of the 2500, 4500, 6500, and 8500 delivering lightning-fast retrieves for strong-swimming species or deep jigging.

Overall, the Slammer IV isn’t just one of Penn’s bests: it’s among the best spinning reels for saltwater game fish at any price and any manufacturer.

Often chosen by charter captains to keep customers happy, the Slammer IV is an undeniably awesome reel for all your saltwater adventures.

Pros:

  • All-metal body and side plate delivers uncompromising strength and rigidity
  • CNC-machined gears are smooth, powerful, and fast
  • Big aluminum spools offer unbeatable capacity
  • HT-100 and Dura Drag drag systems are the stuff of legends

Cons:

  • Heavy

Penn Spinfisher VI - Best Mid-Range Penn Spinning Reel

PENN Spinfisher VI Spinning Reel review

Bass Pro

Sizes: 3500, 4500, 5500, 6500, 7500, 9500, 10500

Maximum drag: 15 lbs. (3500), 20 lbs. (4500), 25 lbs. (5500), 30lbs. (6500), 35 lbs. (7500), 45 lbs. (9500), 50 lbs. (10500)

Line capacity: 3500 8/285)

4500 10/320 

5500 12/330 

 6500 15/345 

 7500 20/330 

 9500 30/350 

 10500 50/255

Bearings:

Gear ratio: 6.2:1 (3500 and 4500), 5.6:1 (5500 and 6500), 4.7:1 (7500 and 9500), 4.2:1 (10500)

Weight: 12.1oz.(3500), 12.5 oz. (4500), 18.5 oz. (5500), 22.3 oz. (6500), 26.5 oz. (7500), 37.1 oz. (9500), 38.6 oz. (10500)

Penn’s Spinfisher VI is a great saltwater all-arounder that’s affordably priced. And while it doesn’t offer some of the tech that makes the Slammer IV among the very best spinning reels in the world, the 6th iteration of the Spinfisher is more than capable of matching any fish you hook inshore or offshore.

Read our full review: Spinfisher IV Review

Penn builds the Spinfisher plenty tough, using an all-aluminum body and side plate that’s sealed to IPX5 standards. Spray, waves, and even a brief dunking aren’t going to defeat these seals, and you can be confident that your gears will stay dry and clean as you fish, whatever the conditions.

On the smaller reels - the 2500, 3500, 4500, and 5500 - Penn has chosen an aluminum main gear and a brass pinion gear. This combination saves weight, resists corrosion, and allows for precision machining of the gear teeth, especially on the pinion gear.

For the 6500, 7500, 9500, and 10500, the main and pinion gears are brass. Easier to machine than aluminum, the teeth on these models are very fine, meshing together with incredible precision. The result is a very smooth, very connected feel that’s sure to impress.

In a fight, both systems are more than a match for the size fish they’re designed for.

Both types of gears are smooth, but you can really feel the difference brass makes for the larger sizes.

Geared for hard fights, the Spinfisher is blazing fast.

The smallest two reels run a 6.2:1 ratio, producing retrieval rates of 37 and 40 inches per turn, respectively. Those are identical numbers - and as far as I can tell, identical spools - to the Slammer IV.

The next two larger reels run a 5.6:1 ratio. Matched to their larger spools, that’s good for 39 and 42 inches per turn, again matching the Slammer III pace for pace.

The 7500 and 9500 offer a gear ratio of 4.7:1, pulling in 38 and 40 inches of line per turn. There’s no competition for the Slammer III’s 8500HS with its blazing gearing, but again, these reels are producing more than respectable numbers.

And finally, the big 10500 runs a 4.2:1 for 43 inches per turn, duplicating the largest Slammer IV inch for inch.

Rather than the more expensive and robust Dura Drag, Penn has elected to equip the Spinfisher series with its HT-100 system.

Capable in its own right, the HT-100 uses carbon-fiber discs to generate friction, producing reliably smooth performance and sensible maximums for each size of reel. Some anglers choose to lube these discs, others just leave them as is. 

Either way, you can expect excellent performance from this sealed drag system, though the Slammer IV’s Dura Drag is the better of the two for large fish.

The performance difference is noticeable, with the Spinfisher trailing the Slammer in maximum drag weights size for size. Now that said, I wouldn’t feel undergunned with the Spinfisher in a hard fight, and the HT-100 is a great drag system.

So why has Penn skipped some of the high-end options available in the Slammer IV?

Cost.

The Spinfisher is an excellent reel, purpose-built for weekend anglers. Powerful, capacious, lightning-fast, and affordably priced, it’s the reel for the rest of us, not the choice of people who earn their money on the water.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea: Penn designed the Spinfisher for serious fishermen, and it’s more than capable of handling hard fights and long days on the water. Yes, ounce for ounce, the Slammer IV is the better reel, but unless you have money to burn, you’ll be delighted with the performance that every dollar buys with the Spinfisher VI.

Pros:

  • All-metal body and side plate delivers uncompromising strength and rigidity
  • CNC-machined gears are smooth, powerful, and fast
  • Big aluminum spools offer unbeatable capacity
  • Its HT-100 drag system is excellent

Cons:

  • Heavy

Penn Battle III - Best Budget Penn Spinning Reel

PENN Battle III Spinning Reel review

Bass Pro

Sizes: 1000, 2000, 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 8000, 10000

Maximum drag: (1000) 9 lbs.

(2000) 10 lbs.

(2500) 12 lbs.

(3000) 15 lbs.

(4000) 15 lbs.

(5000) 25 lbs.

(6000) 25 lbs.

(8000) 25 lbs.

(10000) 30 lbs.

Line capacity: (1000) 275/2, 135/4, 105/6

(2000) 240/4, 180/6, 125/8

(2500) 255/6, 175/8, 140/10

(3000) 200/8, 165/10, 120/12

(4000) 270/8, 220/10, 165/12

(4000 HS) 305/8, 250/10, 185/12

(5000) 225/12, 200/15, 135/20

(6000) 335/15, 230/20, 210/25

(6000 HS) 365/15, 250/20, 230/25

(8000) 340/20, 310/25, 230/30

(8000 HS) 370/20, 335/25, 250/30

(10000) 395/30, 330/40, 230/50

Bearings:

Gear ratio: (1000) 5.2:1 22 IPT

(2000) 6.2:1 30 IPT

(2500) 6.2:1 33 IPT

(3000) 6.2:1 35 IPT

(4000) 6.2:1 37 IPT

(4000 HS) 7.0:1 43 IPT

(5000) 5.6:1 36 IPT

(6000) 5.6:1 41 IPT

(6000 HS) 6.2:1 47 IPT

(8000) 4.7:1 38 IPT

(8000 HS) 5.3:1 44 IPT

(10000) 4.2:1 43 IPT

Weight: (1000) 7.8 oz.

(2000) 9.4 oz.

(2500) 9.7 oz.

(3000) 11.6 oz.

(4000) 12.2 oz.

(4000 HS) 12.8 oz.

(5000) 18.8 oz.

(6000) 20.8 oz.

(6000 HS) 20.8 oz.

(8000) 27.7 oz.

(8000 HS) 27.7 oz.

(10000) 38.8 oz.

Penn’s Battle III is one of our favorite reels for the salt, and it’s just perfect for surfcasting, sight fishing reds in a shallow marsh, or chasing mackerel in deep water. Priced right and packed with performance, the Battle III may be one of Penn’s least expensive reels, but it doesn’t compromise excellent casting, enormous capacity, and fight-winning gearing and drag.

See our full review: Penn Battle III Reel Review

The Penn Battle III is available in sizes that span the entire range of applications. From the diminutive 1000 all the way up to the massive 10000, there’s a Battle III perfect for your needs.

Penn delivers this reel with an all-metal body, providing stiffness that alternatives just can’t match. Size for size, this makes the Battle III a harder-fighting, more durable reel than many of its competitors, and when paired with precision-machined gears, you can really feel the torque.

The Battle III runs a brass pinion gear and an aluminum main gear, resulting in weight savings and lowered costs. Penn’s CNC machining all but guarantees perfection in the gear design, and the Battle III is absolutely fight ready.

Retrieval rates are pretty fast, in no small part because Penn runs big spools on the Battle III. And when you consider the availability of HS options in the 4000, 6000, and 8000, you’ve got more than enough speed to contend with the fastest fish.

And speaking of spools, Penn equips the Battle III with plenty of capacity, especially as you step up into the big reels. The 8000 HS holds no less than 370 yards of 20-pound test mono, and quite a lot more braid, making it an inshore monster. And even the smaller sizes hold more than enough line.

Penn uses the effective HT-100 drag system in the Battle III series, and you’ll be impressed by its performance, especially for the price.

As far as I know, the Battle III isn’t sealed against saltwater intrusion, so a good rinse in fresh water at the end of the day is essential.

If you need to maximize performance and minimize price, the Battle III might be the best of Penn's reels for you.

Pros:

  • Outstanding bang for your buck
  • Sizes to cover every application
  • All-metal body and side plate delivers uncompromising strength and rigidity
  • CNC-machined gears are smooth, powerful, and fast
  • Big aluminum spools offer excellent capacity
  • Its HT-100 drag system is excellent

Cons:

  • Heavy as you get big
  • Not sealed against saltwater intrusion

Penn Authority - Best Professional Penn Spinning Reel

Penn Authority Spinning Reel review

Bass Pro

Sizes: 2500, 3500, 4500, 5500, 6500, 7500, 8500, and 10500

Maximum drag: (2500) 20 lbs.

(3500) 30 lbs.

(4500) 30 lbs.

(5500) 40 lbs.

(6500) 40 lbs.

(7500) 50 lbs.

(8500) 50 lbs.

(10500) 60 lbs.

Line capacity: (2500) 255/6, 175/8, 140/10

(2500 HS) 255/6, 175/8, 140/10

(3500) 360/6, 285/8, 220/10

(4500) 425/8, 320/10, 235/12

(4500 HS) 425/8, 320/10, 235/12

(5500) 430/10, 330/12, 230/15

(6500) 390/12, 345/15, 205/20

(6500 HS) 390/12, 345/15, 205/20

(7500) 490/15, 330/20, 220/30

(8500) 455/20, 310/30, 260/40

(8500 HS) 455/20, 310/30, 260/40

(10500) 435/30, 360/40, 255/50

Bearings: 13

Gear ratio: (2500) 5.7:1 30 IPT

(2500 HS) 7.0:1 37 IPT

(3500) 5.7:1 34 IPT

(4500) 5.7:1 37 IPT

(4500 HS) 7.0:1 45 IPT

(5500) 5.2:1 36 IPT

(6500) 5.2:1 39 IPT

(6500 HS) 6.2:1 48 IPT

(7500) 4.7:1 38 IPT

(8500) 4.7:1 42 IPT

(8500 HS) 5.3:1 50 IPT

(10500) 4.2:1 43 IPT

Weight: (2500) 11.9 oz.

(2500 HS) 11.9 oz.

(3500) 14.3 oz.

(4500) 15 oz.

(4500 HS) 15 oz.

(5500) 23.6 oz.

(6500) 25.4 oz.

(6500 HS) 25.4 oz.

(7500) 29.7 oz.

(8500) 31.1 oz.

(8500 HS) 31.1 oz.

(10500) 37.3 oz.

The Authority is Penn’s flagship reel. If you’re looking for the best Penn has to offer, your search is over.

Available in sizes ranging from 2500 to 10500, the Authority is a no-holds-barred inshore and offshore spinning reel that can give even the best conventional reels a run for their money, especially in windy conditions.

Read our full review: Penn Authority Review

The 2500 and 2500 HS are simply perfection for casting to reds, snook, and specks, offering everything you need to net common game species in all conditions. Stepping up to the 3500, you’ll gain the capacity and drag you want for striper and other large, aggressive fish, and as you continue on to the truly large reels, almost anything becomes possible.

Penn offers the Authority with an all-metal body and side plate that holds precision-machined gears fast no matter how hard the fight is. You can really feel that rigidity and stiffness, and of course, these reels are sealed against saltwater intrusion, earning an IPX8 rating.

In all practical conditions, this ensures that the guts of the Authority will remain dry and clean. Even cranking this reel underwater shouldn't pose a problem, not that this is recommended.

Penn equips the 2500 with the HT-100 drag system, delivering 20 pounds of reliable, consistent drag. All of the models larger than that share the amazing Dura Drag system, which uses lubricated carbon-fiber drag discs to produce exceptionally smooth resistance.

Truly fight-winning the Dura Drag is perhaps the best on the market when you’re fighting powerful species like reds, tarpon, shark, or tuna.

Penn uses CNC machining to produce solid stainless steel gears, offering greater strength than any alternative. Proper heat treating ensures that this material is able to drive the spool under tremendous strain, and the torque the Authority generates makes a HEMI envious!

Gear ratios are well matched to each size of the reel, with great retrieval rates, especially on the HS models. Inch for inch, they match the lightning speeds of the Slammer IV, offering more than enough retrieve to keep up with the fastest fish.

Capacities are excellent as well, and I suspect that the Slammer IV and Authority share spools.

In essence, then, the Authority is an upgraded Slammer IV, offering lighter weight, stronger gears, and even better waterproofing.

If you’re looking for tournament-winning performance, the Authority is Penn’s top of the line.

Pros:

  • All-metal body and side plate delivers uncompromising strength and rigidity
  • CNC-machined stainless gears are smooth, powerful, and fast
  • Big aluminum spools offer unbeatable capacity
  • HT-100 and Dura Drag drag systems are the stuff of legends
  • IPX8 waterproofing

Cons:

  • ???

Buying Guide: What Makes these Penn Reels an Excellent Choice?

All-metal bodies

While graphite is lighter than aluminum, an all-metal body provides unmatched rigidity.

During a fight, the gears and spool will be exposed to extreme forces. Those forces try to twist, turn, and pull the guts of your reel free from their intended positions.

For precision gears to function properly and have their teeth meet perfectly, they need to be stock-still and locked in place. 

Aluminum is the best possible choice to resist those forces and lock the reel’s gears in place. Graphite just can’t compete on this front and is best left to lighter-duty reels used in freshwater.

Each of the Penn reels on our shortlist sport all-metal bodies and side plates, ensuring that their precision gearing stays right where it should be.

Waterproofing

Penn manufactures its gears from brass aluminum and stainless steel, and though these materials are extremely corrosion resistant, salt, grime, and the dissolved minerals in seawater aren’t good for the guts of your reel.

Sealing the gears and drag against saltwater intrusion is a huge step toward preserving function and increasing durability, but good seals and waterproof designs are expensive.

Penn’s Authority is rated to IPX8, meaning that it can hypothetically function underwater without taking on any water! In the real world, that means that you can guarantee that the guts of your reel will stay clean and dry pretty much no matter what conditions you face, and spray, rain, and waves are just not an issue!

The Slammer IV, by contrast, is rated to IPX6. In the real world, that’s plenty, as even high-pressure spray can’t penetrate the guards placed on this reel. Similarly, the Spinfisher is rated to IPX5, and should defeat spray, waves, and rain.

But to cut costs, the Battle III is not sealed against saltwater intrusion, and as a result, requires a bit more care. I strongly recommend giving this reel a soak in freshwater after every use, and at least once or twice a season, I’d open it up and check that its lubrication is intact and in good shape.

Gearing quality

Penn uses CNC milling to produce precision gearing in brass, aluminum, and stainless steel. 

You’ll notice how smoothly these reels crank, and you’ll feel the power those gears translate to your line. In concert with their all-metal body and side plate, each of the reels on our shortlist holds those gears right where they need to be for maximum performance.

With a big fish on your line, the forces exerted on gear teeth are extreme. Precision machining and proper material selection allow for fight-winning torque without the risk of breaking teeth or catastrophic failure.

Gear ratios and speed

A reel’s gear ratio tells you how many turns of spool one revolution of the crank produces.

Thus, a 7.0:1 ratio indicates that a reel will spin the spool 7 times for each turn of the crank.

All other things being equal, high gear ratios mean faster speeds, but spool size matters, too.

Think about it: spinning a big spool 7 times picks up more line than spinning a small spool an equal amount. That’s why it’s important to consider retrieval speeds, and not just gear ratios, when judging a reel’s speed.

The Penn reels on our shortlist are very fast, especially in High-Speed (HS) versions.

That awesome retrieval speed helps you keep your line tight when you’re fighting big, fast species like tuna that can swim incredibly quickly. Remember, if the fish can get some slack, it can try to dislodge your hook, potentially costing you the catch of a lifetime!

Capacity

On smaller reels, capacity matters for cutting and retying.

For instance, if you're fishing for specks with a 2500-size reel, and casting around barnacle-encrusted pilings, you’re going to damage your line all the time. As a result, you’ll need to strip frayed line frequently, retying as needed. 

A larger spool will allow you to hold enough line to keep going all day without respooling.

But on larger reels, capacity is critical for fighting strong fish.

When you’ve got a marlin, tuna, shark, or other big-game fish on the line, you can’t just crank and drag your fish within gaffing range.

Instead, it’ll be a long battle in which the fish must be allowed to run.

If it can get to the end of your line, it’s game over for you, and watching your last few yards of line leave your reel is a terrible feeling.

Penn’s reels feature large, capacious spools that hold a lot of line.

Drag systems

The heart of any reel is the drag system, and it’s one of the most important considerations in what makes a reel “good.”

A drag does two things: it creates a cushion for your line that absorbs sudden shocks, helping to prevent catastrophic line and knot failures, and it forces the fish to win line from your reel.

To accomplish these two tasks well, a drag system needs to start smoothly and continuously release line at the set pressure with no starts and stops. Any hesitation or stuttering will risk line and knot failure.

Penn uses two drag systems.

The HT-100, so named for the 100 miles of mono run through this system in testing, uses carbon-fiber discs to produce friction, resulting in the felt pressure on the line. These discs developed no appreciable wear after this torture-test, and in the real world, the HT-100 has proven itself time and time again as an excellent drag system.

As this drag system heats up, it releases slightly easier, meaning that on long runs, the drag will automatically decrease pressure, helping to preserve your line and knots be relaxing just a touch.

Penn’s Dura Drag is its top-of-the-system, originally designed for the legendary International, but now incorporated in its high-end spinning reels as well. The Dura Drag material is essentially a proprietary lubricated carbon fiber disc system that resists wear better than any other on the market.

As a result, repeated hard fights simply don’t degrade the Dura Drag system’s ability to exert consistent, smooth pressure on your line, and quite frankly, there’s no better hard-fighting drag system in the world.

Each of the Penn reels on our shortlist uses either the HT-100 or Dura Drag system, and you can count on these excellent drags when the pressure’s on.

Final Thoughts

We can’t tell you which of the Penn reels on our shortlist is the right pick for you, but we can say that whichever you choose, you’ll be more than happy with its performance!

We hope that this article has helped you choose your next Penn reel, and we’d love to hear from you if it has.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
Pete Danylewycz