Monday, July 1, 2013

Penn Battle Spinning Reel Review

The whole purpose for the review of the Penn Battle series of spinning reels is to give the reader an actual "review" and not an advertisement or a specifications chart that you could get from the manufacture itself. I have fished these reels for almost 2 years with countless hours on each reel. With that being said, let's get started...


The Penn Battle lineup is very popular among inshore anglers. Penn has designed these reels from everything from trout, snook, redfish all the way up to cobia, tarpon, and tuna. The Battle sizes range from a small 1000 all the way up to a bigger 8000. I only have experience on the 3000 and 4000 sizes and cannot speak for the others. I will go over the pros and cons of the Penn Battle and figure out if the reel is worth its price point. I will rate it on a 5 star scale like most other reviews.

Penn Battle: From $99.99 - $119.99


  • price
  • sturdy feel out of the box
  • braid ready
  • smooth drag
  • anti-reverse


  • wind knots
  • loud
  • loose feel after some use
  • rough retrieve

The first thing that jumps out about the Penn Battle is the price is soft on the eyes. It seems like a lot of anglers look around the $100 range for a good spinning reel. Even though $100 is not something everybody can just throw around, it's not a bad price tag for a "high quality" saltwater spinning reel. When you grab a Battle for the first time, you will notice that it feels sturdy and tough out of the box. The soft knob feels really nice along with a smooth retrieve. The spool comes with a rubber inlay which enables the angler to tie braid or any line of choice directly to the spool without backing the reel with mono. Myself, I back all of my reels with mono just for added insurance. It's a personal thing I guess. First impressions are lasting and my overall first impression of the Battle was a good one. The next test was how this reel would hold up to the salt water environment for the dedicated kayak angler.

On the 3000, I first started catching speckled trout and schoolie sized stripers (under 30"). The HT-100 drag system felt really smooth and didn't stick at all. Penn upgraded the Battle with carbon fiber drag washers compared to the lower grade felt drag washers. The 4000's drag was put to the test with numerous Florida bull reds. The drag didn't stick at all and felt pretty smooth. I was fairly happy with the way it handled. Along with that, the infinite anti-reverse was solid throughout the entire retrieve without any play.

On the flip side, the reel is heavier than I would like. The 3000 is over 11 ounces which may not sound like much, but when you compare it to the similar Shimano line that weighs 9.5 ounces and under, it makes difference. Many anglers like myself like a lighter reel to balance out medium light to medium setups for most inshore needs. You could attribute the Battle's weight to a full metal body and stainless steel components throughout the reel. My first time out with both reels was not what I expected. I like fishing high quality braid which is not cheap. Within the first few casts, I experienced horrible wind knots! Hoping it was only the "wind", I didn't think much of it. It kept happening during trips when the wind was not a factor. These wind knots would get so tight that it sometimes made sense to just cut the line and re-tie my leader. Remember from earlier, high quality braid is NOT CHEAP! These reels do not like a full spool of line. That's just my opinion on that.

As time went on with many hours and many fish landed between the two reels, I started noticing a downward spiral in both reels. The 3000 showed the greatest signs of a degraded reel. It didn't take long for the reel to start sounding like a meat grinder with a stiffer retrieve. As kayak anglers, we are lower to water and exposed to the elements more than the powerboat fisherman. I make sure I fresh water rinse all of my rods and reels after every use. After 6 months of use, the reel needed to go into the repair shop. At the same time, my buddy's 4000 needed to go into the shop as well. The cause was the same bearing in each reel was bad and needed to get replaced. Not something that I expected from a $100 saltwater reel. Fast forward a few months out of the shop, it's started to stiffen up again just as before. Another buddie's reel even had the internal gearing strip out during a battle with a good sized striper. After the reel was broke down, the main gear was found to be completely gone! These are just a couple of the many stories I have heard. The reel is loud, rough, and is not enjoyable to fish with.

The 4000 does not see as much use as the 3000, but I still noticed a change. I could feel that the reel became sloppier in the retrieve. The spool has more play when there is a load put on it and the overall feel of it is not as tight. I have used it to catch a lot of fish, but it feels more "broken in" than what I would like.

After weighing out all the pros and cons, I give the Penn Battle...

2.5 out of 5 stars

Overall, I expected a lot more from the Penn Battle.  The $100 price tag in my opinion is a little high for the reel you are truly getting. I would like to see the reel $10 to $15 cheaper. I suggest checking out the Shimano lineup of spinning reels. They make a reel that is suitable to any angler out there. If possible, save up an extra $20 to $30 and take a look at the Shimano Saros. You will immediately feel a difference in quality that lasts!

Like I said earlier, I'm speaking from my personal experience and other fishing partners that have directly used Penn Battles in my presence. I'm sure many fishermen will completely disagree with me on this review which is fine. For the review readers out there, remember that A LOT of reviews are written after owning the reel for a few weeks with only a handful of times actually being used. Most reels will feel nice out of the box but the true test of quality can only be measured with time and use.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read my review of the Penn Battle series of spinning reels. I hoped you found it useful and will consider it the next time you're out reel shopping. I will continue to review products only after I feel the review is credible and will be useful. Until next time, good luck and safe fishing!

~See ya on the water!



  1. I dont agree with this review at all. I have the Battle in 2000-6000 and all work excellent. I mainly use the 2/3/4. They are a year and a half old. Never brought into the shop and quick rinse with fresh water. They are still a workhorse and show no signs of slowing down. The 3000 is the one oldest and almost 2 years old. Chipped paint, nicks on the bail and just looks used and that is my go to reel. Never lets me down.

    1. I value all comments and opinions but if you read the review, I stated that this is from my own experience and nothing else. With that being said, YES, this is 100% true because I experienced it first hand. You can't disagree with somebody's experience, only their viewpoint. So you should disagree with my overall opinion on the reel and not the entire review. MANY people I know, along with myself, feel the opposite way. Most of whom are veteran fishermen with a strong knowledge base. I'm happy that you have had good luck with all of your Battles. Like I wrote in the post, this was a legitimate review and not an advertisement or spec listing. Thanks for reading!

    2. I apologize if you took offense, I should have stated that I dont agree with your opinion. I just find the Battles to be the best bang for your buck.

      Tight Lines

    3. I don't take offense at all. I can understand where you're coming from. Hopefully your Battles work out for you in the long run. Thanks again for the response and reading the review.

  2. Nice insight on a 2 year product, I get tired of reading reviews on blogs, sites, and forums on items either brand new from the store or used once or twice.

    Ive had mine for only 6 months and I would rate it a 3 out of 5 for the 6 months ive used it. I bought a Fierce at the exact same time, and fished about the same hours on both reels and id say the Fierce feels the same as the Battle with less cost. Penn is a big name company your gonna get a big price. Although with my personal experience Shimano makes good rods but not so good reels, but as you said thats my person experience. For the fishing I do I feel the Battle is a good platform for an all around kayak spinning reel. My go-to setup is always a baitcaster though so I may be a little biased.

    1. Thanks man! I agree, I have used the Penn Fierces and have actually had better luck with them. I use both spinning and bait casters. Both have a very important part in my arsenal! Certain styles of fishing though I will only use spinning setups. Thanks for the reply!

  3. It is a great write-up! It is well written and knowing you so well, I know you did your homework. Creating conversation in a society were people choose to electronically get their answers, is a huge deal. I loved it. Keep writing.

  4. I bought the Battle 4000 when they first came out. Within 2 months of mostly
    fresh water but some saltwater use, I sent it back for repair. The reel sounded
    and felt like something was up with the gearing. NOT GOOD for basically a brand
    new reel. Got it back from warranty service and they replaced the drag washers(??)
    and lubed the Hell out of it. The entire reel felt overly tightened and USED!
    Not a happy camper at this point. I still use it, seems to be OK, just a little
    funky. So I figured on my other pole I'd buy a Fierce 3000. Couldn't happen to
    me again could it? Less than a week of mainly fresh water use you could feel and hear
    the bearings clicking when retrieving line. I haven't done anything with this reel
    and figure I'll use it till it explodes. I own a couple oldschool Penn reels I would
    never give up and these new ones aren't even in the same league. Would I buy ANY new
    Penn reel? Nope.

    1. Thanks for the comment Bill! The new ones are not the same, that's for sure. Hopefully they get some problems solved.

  5. Ive had nothing but great luck with my Penn reels. 1 sargus 3000, a battle 3000 and 4000, and a fierce. All have done me extremely well on the flats of the chesapeake bay. I will admit my buddy came down a couple weeks back, bought one and it started making noise and reel stiffened up. Took it back and got a freshy and its been great since.caught probably 100 spades in the last three days and hasnt failed me yet. All mine are at least a year old if not 2 and work wonders for trout, spadefish, triggers, pups, and schoolies. Just adding my 2 cents for those reading the review.

    1. You know what, I have had better luck with the Penn Fierce over the Battle. I have put my Fierces to work and they have not failed on me. Not as smooth as they were new, but they're also $30 cheaper than the Battle. Thanks for the input and reading the review!

  6. just realized you were in va too. Sweet!

    1. Yeah man, up in Newports News near York County.

  7. Thanks for the write up. I have several Penns - Battle 2000/4000 and 2 Fierce 3000. I replaced the felt washers with HT-100 drag washers on both of the Fierce. It was a $5 upgrade for both. Unfortunately haven't had many opportunities to test the drag on them too often. I love the 2000 for specs and puppies. Several slot pups definitely worked the drag on the 2000. My 4000 is about 2 years with no issues (knock on wood)and is my schoolie setup. The 2000 is new since early Spring. The Fierce are my back ups so they don't get as much on water action anymore but did see alot of action last year. I do a rinse after each use and maintain them regularly.
    The new Conflict is coming out this fall. It is designed to lay the line better, lighter and stronger drag but is moving up to the mid 100 range.

  8. Hi Richie,
    Thank you for the review.

    Your experience is similar to mine. The past year I made the move to Penn Battles in order to have some consistency in my rigs I have the reels on Temple Fork Out Fitters 7' rods.

    Since making the change to these reels I have had a LOT of wind knot issues, that I did not have with my prior reels.

    I have 2, BTL 3000s and one BTL 4000. The 4000 has the most problems with line lay.

    I fish for redfish and speckled trout with primarily plastics on jigs, rigged weedless on weighted hooks, light twitch baits and topwater lures.

    I think I practice good line management. I do not overfill the spools, I do not try to cast too hard, I load up the rod to cast and use my wrists, I try to cast with the

    first wrap coming in the middle of the spool, I manually close the bail before the lure hits the water and I make sure there is tension on the first couple of wraps.

    I have tried different lines on these reels including Powerpro, Ohero and Fins Windtamer. Nothing solves the wind knot issues. The wind has nothing to do with the knot issues, it is the Battle line lay and it seems like it is quickly becoming common knowledge. Just too late for me. :-(

    I have contacted Penn with the same info I am giving you here. I don't expect a lot. However, they should try to be fair with me since I have seen one Penn rep on the Florida Sportsman Forum suggest that the new Conflict addresses "Spool height and dimensions have changed (oscillation system is basically the same), which has indeed improved the line lay. We have also increased the diameter of the spool lip which helps keep anglers from overfilling their spools which promotes wind knots."

    Read more:!-PENN-s-Conflict-Spinning-Reel/page2#ixzz2dUEn8Csa

    Thanks again for the review. I wish I had seen it about 6 months ago!

    In my opinion any angler who is thinking of purchasing a Penn Battle and if they are going to use braided line, casting light baits they should think twice. I sure wouldn't recommend the Penn Battle for that application.

    Capt. Mike

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I decided to purchase 2 Penn Battle BTL2000's and straight out of the box, one of the reels has a pulsing resistance when you turn the handle gently and slowly. The 2nd reel has a slight winding gear noise that otherwise not alarm me if not for the 1st reel having quality issues. I will return both reels and look for another brand. Overall Low Quality for a "Penn" reputation. I guess Made in China is the reel issue. No pun intended.

    1. Thanks for the comment Kenny! Seems like the reels are hit and miss for sure! I have heard things like this, and I have talked to people that are in love with them. Now, I'm a Shimano guy for spinning reels. Good luck with your reel endeavors :)

  11. I have 2 battled, the 5000 & 6000.
    No wind knot issues.
    Better than the SS series....
    My old ss the are true American made still work flawlessly, my 750 & 650 both 30+yes.
    My ss 6500 & 7500 both 15yrs old are junk.
    China made.
    Let's see how long these China made battles last.

    My biggest issue with the battles....
    Bail will close on you 50% of the time and with
    Real good wood lures at $25 each, that gets pricey.
    If you're a surf junkie like me, REMOVE AUTOMATIC TRIP LEVER.
    Plus manually closing bail I find less wind knots over auto closing.

    1. Good points John! I can imagine watching $25 head into orbit is pretty nerving! Thanks for your input.

  12. I have fished with the 2000 battle for 1 year and it has been a let down .I would agree with most that was said in the review.But at the starT i found it to be a very nice reel.I had the wind knots the bail arm would not close.

  13. Battle 2000
    Piece of junk in my opinion
    start sounding like a meat grinder with a stiffer retrieve
    Unable to fish with it - so not smooth

  14. Battle 2000
    Piece of junk in my opinion
    start sounding like a meat grinder with a stiffer retrieve
    Unable to fish with it - so not smooth

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    This Penn re-writing baitcasting reel is the foremost baitcasting reel for fishers who will be privy to your easy some sort of re-writing baitcasting reel with all the expediency of any traditional baitcasting reel for more information visit our site

  16. I bought a Battle 2 and a Fierce, both 3000 size on the same day. I've had to tear the Battle 2 down twice, clean and re-grease it due to being locked up. The Fierce is like new. I think it has to do with the holes in the spool on the Battle 2 allow salt and sand to get into the bearing under the spool and down into the reel body. That is the only difference I see between the two, other than the color. I'll never buy another Battle.

  17. Great spinning reel.I like it
    I want to have one.spinning reel

  18. It sounds so comforting. Seems like plain dough can be redone in many dishes in different countries and it is always comfort food. Thanks for another good recipe. FamilyNano

  19. Hi...I just purchased a Penn 5000 Battle reel and want to change the spool. When I unscrew the black drag knob, the housing comes off, but, the drag knob is still connected to the spool...? How do I remove the drag knob? Is there a trick? Thanks for your help. Greg

  20. Any help on the above topic is appreciated....thanks.

  21. I have been using Penn Battle Spinning Reel for many days. It's really fucking awesome. I like it.

  22. Penn Battle II is the fresh successor of the Penn Battle that has been for sale 4 years. It is always interesting to observe how the relaunch version compares to older one and what significant upgrades( if any) have been made. Judging from price, Penn Spinning Reels continues the same path which is the in-between model separating high end reels like Abu Garcia Revo and budget ones like Okuma Avenger . So let`s see how will Battle II step up to the challenge.

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