The Best Penn Spinning Reel in 2024 – Our Top Picks

Kenneth Reaves

Kenneth Reeves

Executive Director

Daniel ONeil

Daniel O'Neill

Head of Product Testing


Last updated:

As a passionate angler and dedicated Penn enthusiast, I consider it a privilege to have personally tested the entire spectrum of Penn spinning reels. This hands-on experience enables me to present to you the definitive guide, meticulously crafted to highlight the premier models suitable for every budget and fishing style. Following exhaustive testing sessions at sea and a meticulous dissection of each reel’s intricacies, I have distilled the list to feature only the crème de la crème of Penn spinning reels currently available.

From engaging in intense battles with bull reds in the surf to wrangling yellowfin tuna offshore, I deliberately pushed these reels to their limits in authentic, real-world conditions, all with the goal of aiding you in making the optimal choice for your angling pursuits. Join me as I unravel the nuances of each reel, from the velvety-smooth Battle III, ideal for freshwater finesse tactics, to the storied and sealed Slammer III, designed to thrive in the most arduous bluewater battles imaginable. Let’s embark on this insightful journey into the world of Penn spinning reels!

Best Spinning Reel – Our Top Picks

What We Look For: Essential Factors To Consider

  • Intended use: Freshwater vs saltwater, inshore vs offshore, finesse tactics vs fighting big fish. Match the reel’s sealing and drag to your needs.
  • Body material: Graphite bodies are lighter while aluminum/metal bodies are more durable. Consider your environment.
  • Drag system: Penn’s HT100 carbon fiber drag, Dura Drag and Slammer Drag differ in max drag pressure. Consider the size fish you’ll battle.
  • Sealing rating: IPX4, IPX5 and IPX6 mean varying degrees of water intrusion resistance. Again, consider environmental exposure.
  • Bearings: More stainless steel bearings generally mean a smoother reel, but consider overall performance.

Our Recommendations In 2024


Editor’s Choice: PENN Spinfisher VI

PENN Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel

The Penn Spinfisher VI combines robust construction with silky smooth performance to deliver an exceptionally durable and reliable saltwater workhorse. This refined powerhouse has the backbone and finesse to confidently tackle everything from heavyweight bottom dwellers to fast-running gamefish while shrugging off the elements – a versatility that cemented its place as our Best Overall pick.

“With its resilient all-metal build and watertight IPX5 sealing, the Penn Spinfisher VI sets the bar for strength, corrosion resistance, and reliability in a saltwater spinning reel. After extensive testing across various conditions, our team agreed this rugged yet refined reel is simply the most capable and confidence-inspiring option for the money.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

Penn’s Spinfisher VI stands out as the most well-rounded and versatile spinning reel on the market. Built with resilience and power in mind, it’s a rugged performer ready to handle anything you throw at it – whether battling big bottom fish, wrestling large gamefish boat-side, or soaking baits hour after hour.

The Spinfisher redefines all-metal durability, from the sideplates and body to the thick aluminum bail wire and machined aluminum spool. Combined with the IPX5 protective seals, corrosion simply isn’t a concern. These reels shrug off salt, sand, and water as you’d expect from the Spinfisher name.

Where the metal shell provides backbone, the guts bring finesse. The carbon fiber HT-100 drag generates 20 pounds of silky-smooth stopping power. It has yet to fade or chatter even when taxed by big fish. Inside, 5 stainless bearings and precision CNC brass gearing deliver a strong, smooth 6.2:1 retrieve.

While heavier reels can cause fatigue, they also provide leverage when boat-side. The Spinfisher VI balances these factors beautifully – it fights hard when you need it, yet retrieves comfortably all day. Given its construction, robustness, and precision, there may not be a more versatile and durable spinning reel on the market pound-for-pound.

I’ve put my Spinfisher VI through the saltwater wringer time and time again. The IPX5 sealing does its job flawlessly, keeping the interior working as smooth as silk. No matter what I hook into – jacks, snappers, groupers – this reel has the power and finesse to subdue them. For the price, it simply can’t be beaten in terms of power, durability and reliability. If you want an ultra-tough saltwater workhorse, the Spinfisher VI is hands-down the go-to pick.

Blending lightweight corrosion-resistant construction with Penn’s renowned smooth gear and drag performance at a budget price point, the Pursuit IV delivers excellent value for casual anglers seeking reliable, affordable performance for inshore light tackle fishing. Though it lacks the sheer power of pricier metal-body reels, the Pursuit IV has all the smooth winding strength needed for targeting common species without breaking the bank.

“Delivering reliable performance with Penn’s signature smoothness at a budget price point, the Pursuit IV offers tremendous value for anglers seeking an affordable, capable inshore fishing reel that can handle common light tackle species without letting you down. While it lacks the brute strength of Penn’s heaviest metal frames, the Pursuit IV’s lightweight build and corrosion-fighting graphite construction provide the ideal balance of price, weight and durability for casual inshore fishing on a budget.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

While it lacks some of the bulletproof construction of Penn’s higher-end reels, the Pursuit IV delivers reliable performance at a budget-friendly price point. Its lightweight graphite frame and side plates shed weight for all-day casting comfort, while the 4 shielded stainless steel bearings provide smooth winding power.

The Pursuit IV handles typical inshore species well, bringing in fish after fish without issue during our tests. The HT-100 drag stays smooth under pressure, providing enough stopping power for its size. Just don’t expect the raw power of heavier metal alternatives. For anglers seeking an affordable, nimble reel for chasing mid-sized gamefish, it’s a great value purchase.

The Pursuit IV strikes an excellent balance of price and performance. While it won’t withstand the abuse that pricier metal-bodied reels can handle, it provides reliable service for typical inshore fishing at a very wallet-friendly cost. If you want an inexpensive reel for targeting common light tackle species without breaking the bank, it fits the bill nicely.

While serious saltwater anglers will want something more heavy-duty, the Pursuit IV gives budget-minded fishermen a quality Penn spinning reel option at an accessible price. Its smooth performance and corrosion-fighting graphite build add up to a stellar value for targeting mid-sized inshore species on light tackle.



PENN Fierce III Spinning Inshore Fishing Reel, Size 2000, Right/Left Handle Position, 5 Bearings for Smooth Operation

Punching above its affordable price tag, the Fierce III offers tremendous value by blending Penn’s signature smoothness and torque-resistant aluminium build with a palatable cost for budget-conscious anglers. Though it may lack the max drag and heavy-duty sealing of the brand’s higher-end reels, the Fierce III delivers refined performance and versatility well beyond expectations for a reel of its low-price point, bridging the gap nicely between fresh and saltwater applications.

“Delivering exceptionally smooth winding power and reliability in a rugged yet affordable package, the Penn Fierce III brings tremendous value to anglers seeking a balanced reel ready for everything from freshwater finesse tactics to hard fighting back bay species without breaking the bank. While it lacks the sealing and max drag of Penn’s heaviest saltwater models, the Penn Fierce III’s refined performance bridges the gap at a budget price point.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

Bridging the gap between Penn’s entry-level and pro-grade reels, the Fierce III combines the smoothness and reliability expected from the brand with a wallet-friendly price tag. The rugged aluminum frame provides backbone, while the carbon fiber HT-100 drag supplies silky 12 pound maximum pressure.

During testing, the Fierce III handled light tackle saltwater species as well as bass and trout with ease. The gear system delivers strength and stability at an affordable cost. For anglers seeking quality without breaking the bank, it outperforms reels twice its price.

The Fierce III brings tremendous value, blending Penn’s signature durability with buttery smoothness – all for under $100. While it lacks the sealed body and brute power of the Battle, it’s a hard bargain to beat for budget-minded anglers.

With the smooth winding power and sturdy build that Penn is known for, the Fierce III punches far above its lightweight price point. For anglers seeking an inexpensive workhorse capable of targeting both fresh and saltwater species, it offers top-notch performance and reliability at a steal of a value.



PENN Battle III Spinning Fishing Reel

Blending rugged metal construction and silky smooth carbon fiber drag performance with an affordable price point, the Battle III is a versatile workhorse reel bringing tremendous value to anglers seeking reliable versatility for tackling both fresh and saltwater species without breaking the bank. Though it lacks some refinement and sealing of pricier reels, the Battle III’s well-rounded performance capabilities punch far above its budget-friendly cost.

“With its resilient all-metal build, smooth carbon fiber drag, and refined performance punching well above its price range, the Battle III brings tremendous value and versatility to anglers seeking a heavy-duty yet affordable reel ready for anything from hard fighting bass to saltwater brawlers. Though it lacks some of the sealing and max drag of Penn’s premium saltwater models, the Battle III’s well-rounded capabilities and budget price made it a standout pick for our Best Freshwater Reel.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

Bridging Penn’s entry-level and heavy-duty saltwater reels, the Battle III offers the smoothness and reliability expected from the brand along with an affordable price tag. The all-metal frame and sideplates provide a rock solid foundation, while the carbon fiber HT-100 drag generates 9 pounds of silky tension.

During testing, the Battle III handled everything from hard fighting bass to saltwater species like redfish and speckled trout with ease. The gear ratio strikes a nice balance of winding power and speed. For anglers seeking a versatile workhorse reel on a budget, the Battle III delivers tremendous value.

The Battle III offers the brute strength and silky smoothness synonymous with Penn quality at a palatable price. While it lacks the sealing and refinement found in higher-end models, it outperforms reels twice its cost. For a heavy-duty workhorse on a budget, the Battle III can’t be beat.

Blending rugged metal construction with Penn’s buttery smooth performance and carbon fiber drag tech, the Battle III brings tremendous versatility and value as an affordable do-it-all reel ready for fresh and saltwater battles alike. For anglers seeking quality and reliability without breaking the bank, it’s a true standout pick.


PENN Slammer III

PENN Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel

The Penn Slammer III is built like a tank to withstand the damaging effects of saltwater that ruin lesser reels. With its sealed metal body, sealed super-strong drag system, and ultra-smooth performance, it has the strength and reliability needed to confidently catch large, tough fish far offshore.

“With its bombproof sealed construction laughing off the corrosive effects of saltwater and brute power to turn the tables on the ocean’s strongest fighters, the Slammer III sets the bar for heavy-duty spinning reels ready for offshore trophy battles against the meanest bruisers the sea has to offer. Our testing team agreed this refined powerhouse has the strength, smoothness, and reliability to confidently target record-sized gamefish in the most demanding open ocean environments.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

If brute strength matters most, the aptly named Slammer III hits like a heavyweight champion. From the full metal frame to the sealed internals, this reel is built to withstand the corrosive effects of saltwater that quickly destroy lesser models.

During testing, the Slammer III laughed off dunkings in the surf and submersion in bays, emerging unscathed. The unique sealed Slammer drag produces an astounding 40 lbs of smooth tension to turn the tables on the strongest swimmers. And the line capacity to back it up for prolonged battles.

While the tank-like construction makes it overkill for ultralight finesse tactics, the Slammer III has the backbone and refinement to dispatch anything with teeth and bad intentions offshore. When battling bruisers is the name of the game, it’s a knockout.

Author’s Take: The Slammer III takes Penn’s legendary saltwater durability to another level. With the sealed body and monster-sealed drag, it has the backbone and smoothness I need for wrestling feisty tuna and amberjacks boat-side. If you want a refined heavy-hitter ready-to-go toe-to-toe with the meanest saltwater brawlers, the Slammer III should be your first pick.

From back bays to the open ocean, the Penn Slammer III has the strength, capacity, and corrosion resistance to handle the most demanding saltwater battles with power and reliability. For anglers making long runs offshore in search of their next trophy catch, it’s the clear choice for a first-class win.

Questions & Answers

  1. How should anglers adjust reel drag for different fishing conditions?

    If regularly fighting large, strong fish species, having a powerful max drag in the 20+ pound range helps subdue them. But for smaller freshwater species, less drag is needed. The Battle III and Fierce III models offer sufficient drags for typical freshwater.

  2. What ensures a fishing reel’s corrosion resistance?

    Fishing primarily in freshwater, corrosion resistance isn’t as vital, however to withstand the harsh effects of saltwater and other corrosive elements. Opt for reels constructed with corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel or alloys specifically designed to combat rust. Additionally, reels with protective coatings, such as anodization or corrosion-resistant finishes, contribute significantly to their longevity. By investing in these features, anglers can ensure that their fishing reels remain durable and perform optimally even in challenging marine environments.

  3. What features contribute to the smoothness and refinement of a fishing reel?

    The smooth operation and refinement of a fishing reel are often attributed to high-quality ball bearings, precision engineering, and advanced gear systems. Look for reels with multiple, shielded ball bearings to ensure smoothness during retrieves. Additionally, reels with precise gear alignment and advanced gear technologies, such as gear cutting techniques, contribute to an overall refined performance, making them essential considerations for anglers seeking a superior fishing experience.

  4. What separating grease should I use for maintaining Penn reels?

    Penn recommends using their own Penn Precision Reel Grease to keep parts functioning smoothly while preventing corrosion. It’s formulated specifically for their components. We suggest periodically disassembling, cleaning and regreasing spinning reels, especially after saltwater usage.

  5. How should I decide what size Penn spinning reel to get?

    Consider the species you’ll be targeting and their average size, the fishing techniques you’ll use, and your rod’s specifications. For example, if jigging offshore for large tuna, a 6000-8000 size reel with higher max drag paired with a 30+ lbs class boat rod makes sense. But a 2500-4000 size is more appropriate for panfish and trout using ultralight rods.


Having meticulously assessed a range of Penn’s premier spinning reels, considering various performance factors and price ranges, the Penn Spinfisher VI emerges as the preeminent all-around choice for the majority of anglers. Boasting a robust all-metal body, a seamlessly smooth carbon fiber drag, and fortified with sealed IPX5 protection, the Spinfisher VI seamlessly integrates strength, sophistication, and reliability—making it adept at conquering both freshwater and saltwater species.

Whether you’re jigging for bottom fish or engaging in a boat-side tussle with sizable gamefish, the Spinfisher VI offers a versatile performance that surpasses reels priced significantly higher. Our comprehensive tests reveal that this refined powerhouse not only possesses well-rounded capabilities but also provides exceptional value, making it the go-to reel with the versatility and prowess to confidently pursue any fish.