Along with a group of editors and writers from throughout the United States, I was recently invited to spend three days field testing Penn’s new Spinfisher® V at Crocodile Bay Lodge on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast.
The first morning, after a warm welcome and orientation, Mike Rice, the Penn senior product manager, urged each of us to take out the new reels, use and abuse them against whatever the prolific waters offered. According to the reports, yellowfin tuna weighing up to 80 pounds had been showing on the surface, traveling with the spinner porpoise not too far from shore.
In 1963, when Penn introduced their first Spinfisher, my father and his buddies were excited about this strange looking reel and were eager to give it a try. Frequently fishing on the half-day boats out of San Diego, it was always a challenge for them to cast small anchovies with conventional tackle. This new spinning reel quickly gained favor with a select group of regulars on the sport boats because of its ease of casting, and soon the new reel with a loud clicker gained acceptance with most regulars while earning the not-so-amiable title of “Coffee Grinder.”
Fifty years later, the all-new Fifth Generation Penn Spinfisher V has a dizzying array of new features, including a new water-tight design which prevents damage to internal parts; plus a new, improved slammer-sealed drag system with a large diameter drag knob that easily cranks down to maximum drag that’s wrapped in a full metal body, assuring precise gear alignment under heavy loads while fighting a fish.
Other features include a rubber gasket on the spool preventing new high-tech lines from slipping; as well as capacity rings that indicate how much line remains on the reel when fighting a fish or act as a convenient guide when refilling the reel.
That first morning, under turquoise blue skies with puffy white clouds, our armada of Crocodile Bay Lodge's Boston Whalers and Strike 33s sped offshore toward a porpoise school, as we hastily checked our tackle one last time. No trolling today – just running and gunning for yellowfin tuna with both Sebile lures and live bait … the perfect technique for a shakedown test. Our Penn Spinfisher V reels would be battling some of the most stubborn fish in the ocean.
For the next three days, almost all joined in the exciting run and gun game for at least part of each day and everyone was impressed with the Penn Spinfisher V’s performance. As one angler put it, “It ain’t 1963’s spinnin’ reel anymore.” The ability to fling the Sebile lures long distances to reach the yellowfin traveling in front of the porpoise surely increased the number of hookups.
Although YFT dominated the catch, a variety of species including sailfish, roosterfish, pargo, snapper, grouper, and even a small snook caught one evening from the long pier in front of the lodge, allowed everyone to put the tackle through its paces, with fish up to 70 + pounds. Once hooked-up, anglers agreed the new drag system performed flawlessly and was as smooth as silk.
The system received high marks for the amount of pressure that could be applied during the battle and for providing plenty of fish-stopping power; and we all agreed that Penn’s Spinfisher V lived up to the claim that it was “the toughest spinning reel ever made.”
Judging from the conversations at dinner each evening, this newly-designed and reconfigured Fifth Generation spinning reel would be a welcome tool to any angler’s arsenal regardless of the size fish that was targeted – a far cry from the original model – quickly gaining favor and acceptance like its ancestor, this one definitely can no longer be called a "Coffee Grinder."
To commemorate the launch, Penn is giving away new Spinfisher V reels before they hit the market. The sweeps open June 28 and the giveaways begin on the first day of ICAST, the large tackle trade show which kicks off July 11. A reel will be given away every weekday for 50 days leading up to its release. To enter, visit www.pennreels.com/SpinfisherV
ONCE HOOKED-UP, ANGLERS agreed the new drag system performed flawlessly and was as smooth as silk. WE ALL AGREED THAT Penn’s Spinfisher V lived up to the claim that it was “the toughest spinning reel ever made.”