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Tackle & Gear Reviews


New this fall at your favorite offshore outlet is the sixth generation PENN International reel. Designed and manufactured in the United States, the PENN International VI series is precision machined from high-strength, lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminum at their Philadelphia machining center, the place where it all began 50 years ago.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
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“We’ve made a lot of upgrades to the reel starting with the handle knobs,” said Mike Rice, product specialist at PENN in describing the ergonomic design. “Basically a power knob, it lets you really flatten out your wrist and lets you put a lot of cranking power on the reel.”
Rice said what’s nice about the handle design is that the gears can be switched easily from the handle without taking your hand off the knob. “Nobody wants to be fumbling around when you’re trying to go into low gear on a tough fish,” Rice said, adding “it needs to be intuitive and that’s what this system is.”

All models are available in gold and silver, and in addition to the big game reel sizes 30, 50, 70, 80 and 130, the PENN International VI series is also available in 12, 16 and 20 sizes. The VIS denotes two-speed, while there are also the VISX open-top models which boast a more aggressive drag curve for using heavier braided lines.

“One feature that’s getting a lot attention is our new versa strike position,” Rice noted, explaining how the strike button can be adjusted with a small flathead screwdriver in order to provide personal adjustment between strike and full. “Depending on what kind of line class you’re fishing, and what you’re fishing for, that’s a very customizable setting that’s never been done on a lever drag reel,” Rice added.

The fully machined stainless steel gear train in the PENN International VI series is the biggest in the business, with their Dura-Drag system resulting in smooth starts followed by sure and steady cranking under even the most extreme drag settings.