Penn Spinfisher V Bailess..First look

I wrote in the past that to some extent we deserve criticism when it comes to high end gear. No, not pushing you to buy it, we would never do that. But writing about it almost exclusively. Why is that? Because until recently there was just few of us doing this and I wrote most of it. And I always told you that I won’t write about stuff we don’t try.

And also because I rather write about what I own. And after fishing for twenty years or so, I accumulated some decent gear. Nothing unusual about that. I know guys who have fished for few years that have better stuff than I do. But you have to admit, if I put you on the spot, asked you to review a reel you owned for five years, or the one you have to get acquainted in few months, which one would you chose? No one wants to write stuff and look like an ass later because they did not take time to test it.

Now that I have little less on my plate, I feel like I can give certain things more of a fair shake. Although I fished with St Croix Legend, CTS Vapor Trail and Century Stealth in recent years, this spring I fished with nothing but new St Croix Avid rods. More on them in September issue of SJ.

And although I am blessed to own zb,vs and PENN Torque , they were all shelved this spring in favor of a reel with a $159 price tag on it.

I always thought that “downscaling” the reel would be impossible thing to be fair about it, but I was wrong. What I never took in the consideration was that 90% of my fishing does not require a fully sealed reel that can often be tighter to turn than most reels because of its seals. I never really gave much thought that most of my excursions onto sand end up with reels being only splashed but rarely ever submerged.

And even if I did dip it, this $159 reel is designed to take it. What am I talking about? PENN Spinfisher V.

This reel has received criticism (way too much in my opinion) on the internet know-it-all boards because of its claims to be a sealed reel. Most of the criticism has come from those who claim that its seals are not as dependable as reels that cost 6 times as much. Now read this sentence again….it’s not suppose to be a reel that cost 6 times as much, its suppose to be a awesome $159 reel. You want a solid waterproof capabilities? PENN makes Torque for that. You want a solid reel for everyday use that won’t break the bank? Then Spinfisher V might be something you should look into. I am still fishing with it till fall so I won’t say what I like or dislike about it quite yet..

What did you say? You are not fishing with a stinking’ bailed reel? Your knuckles are too big?

Have no fear. In addition of 706Z bailess reappearing in the stores in September and Penn Torque also being available in bailess version, Penn is releasing a Spinfisher V Bailess Reel in November of 2013. It just happens that the reel we are testing is a bailess version. And by the way, only the 6500 model will be made in bailess version.

We are happy to say that they designed the whole bailess thing out of one piece, no manual conversion kits, no unbalanced wobbly results.

Take a look for yourself in this short video



8 comments on “Penn Spinfisher V Bailess..First look

  1. mark d

    funny you should pick this topic. my spin v is on my workbench in pieces as I write this. overhaul needed after 100 hrs fishing. first 50 hrs I opened it up and drained about a half teaspoon of water. the other day it got real stiff so time for tear down. about 2 tablespoons of water this time. ar clutch moderately rusty (not stainless ?) pinion bearing has a rough spot etc. i’ll get it going.

    no skishing , swam twice, do not reel underwater, dunked many times

    i am not complaining. I always say buy American if possible it will be cheaper in the long run. when it came time to put my money where my mouth was I did not. wish I had . if I had it to do over again I would buy the torque and in fact I will when I can.

    one last comment, I am pro Penn, not a hater. any problems I am experiencing are my fault.

  2. mikebfishn

    Cant wait to see write up. I pm’d you on this same subject a few weeks back. I have heard mixed reviews as well some loving some hating… I personally cant wait to get my hands on a bailess i can afford. What rod or rods did you happen to fish the new bailess on ?

  3. David Strom

    Since the Spinfisher V is “pretty well” sealed, do you think it would stand up to the Zeno test?

    Would like to see that, if/when you can.

    Thanks for all you write, Z.


  4. Zeno Post author

    I don’t know..the test you are referring to has to do more with flushing sand out of the reel than being sealed..i think those two things are not even close to being the same considering all other reels have sloted spools so that sand can drain

  5. mikebfishn

    I have a green 704 that was handed down to me … absolutely love it and always did use it for bait slinging mainly and my wife and son use it alot. Had the same problem with out having slots or ports, sand simply cant escape . My machinist buddy ported the skirt and no issue what so ever. Could use a newer generation anti reverse bearing tho.

  6. Joe

    For over thirty years I used a 710Z and a 704Z (both without bails) for all of my surf fishing. I also only used monofilament line. I just cut the bail of the 710, but used the conversion kit for the 704. I drilled both rotor cups and cleaned out all of the grease, substituting nothing but WD40 for all of the lubrication and cleaning. Never had an issue, except for the wobbling from unbalanced rotor (worse on the 710, marginal on the 704).
    I sold the reels because I didn’t like the lack of an IA bearing and the lack of a BB supported line roller. The drag was not an issue because I had bought “smoothie” washers.
    With the re-introduction of the 706 & 704 (w/o any changes) and the introduction of this reel I believe we are again “close, but no cigar” !
    What I believe we need is a 16ounce reel with a ceramic IA bearing, a manual bail with a BB line roller, and a simple gearing system (bronze and SS) that will hold 300yds. of 30lb braid with a target price of about $200.00. The addition of a twenty-one ounce version that will hold 300yds of 20# mono and/or 300yds. of 50# braid would also be desirable.
    Most of us, who wanted these features, found them in the Vs150 and the Vs200, but at a much higher price.
    I was hopeful that this series of reels would fulfill my aforementioned expectations, but initial feed back is either 100% positive or 100% negative; I am not sure if the feed back isn’t a result of individual “testing” to see if the reel “can take it”.
    As usual, if I want my own answers, I will have to go “put MY money where My mouth is” and just buy one of these reels and see for myself. Could some one lend me $159.00??

  7. Joe GaNun

    Been working with the 4500 since December on a light 9′ lami surf king…a great combo.
    It has been wet a lot but not actually dunked, and the drag has done a few screamers without fail.
    I love the reel and the price is right. One thing I do see that makes me wonder. I get a lot of those “line laying over the face” potential problems at the end of more than an occasional cast. Not a problem since I always clear the line with my left hand before tightening up but a bit unusual to have it happen so often.

  8. Dr. K. S.

    I have purchased this reel after thorough research. I have never been more satisfied with a high end reel! It is about three years old and has NEVER given anything but the best performance. What is the first thing that usually malfunctions with a conventional spinning reel? The bail spring. Here, there is no bail, no problem. I am purchasing one for my grandson. Great product.


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