The Penn Fierce reel is a workhorse. They are designed for the “everyday fisherman” and occupy the lower price range of Penn reels and they still receive excellent customer reviews for durability and performance with fish up to 30 lbs. It is a favorite of charter captains as they perform well and they do not cause blows to the budget when you have to invest in bulk purchases.
The second generation of the reel was released in 2013 and featured improvements around the bale and spool as well as enhanced corrosion resistance. The new line also featured four live liner models. This is a feature that allows for free spooling when using live bait. I will discuss all of these upgrades in more detail below.
Penn reels consistently get good reviews for durability. They are well made. The body is a single piece of light aluminum as is the side plate. In the trade-off between lightness and strength, Penn tries to get both, but favors strength. You might find lighter reels with similar performance in the short term, but if you want a reel that will last, the Penn reels are most likely a better bet.
These reels use the 4 +1 ball bearing system. What this means is that there are four stainless steel ball bearings in the spool and one roller bearing in the handle. The roller bearing handle is what creates the “instant anti-reverse” feature. It locks in immediately when engaged to keep the rotor from moving backwards. If you go up the product line in Penn reels, you will get reels that have up to 10 ball bearings to assure smooth retrieval of big fish. High counts of bearings are one sign of a slick and smooth reel, but the overall construction and strength of the Fierce II compensates for the comparatively lower number of bearings. In customer reviews, anglers have even stated they hold their own with products higher up the price ladder.
Improvements in The Second Generation
In response to feedback from customers, Penn has really beefed up the anti-corrosive technology in all of the new generations of its reels. These reels are designed to take on all of the challenges of salt water fishing and of course a big one is the wear and tear that salt water takes on washers, gears, bearings, and the basic frame. The 2013 release of Fierce II reels reflects this new direction of the company. Enhanced anodization of the spool and handle, newly designed seals and new developments in paint adhesion all contribute to a product that is far more resistant to salt water corrosion. Customer reviews in the five years since its release indicate the Penn has succeeded in its goal.
Other innovations involve the bale and spool of the reel. Another general trend of Penn that is incorporated into the second generation of the Fierce II reels is the new thick, but light bale wire. This is a simple but very useful feature that allows your fingers to easily find and flip the bale wire easily without your eyes being diverted from where you want to cast.
The Fierce II reels also have the new “Capacity Line” on the reel. The spool has line capacity rings at 1/3, 2/3 and full capacity. This is another general Penn upgrade that allows you to know precisely when it is time to add more line on to the reel.
Another Penn feature that is being extended to new models is the “Superline Spool.” They have placed a gasket in the spool that allows you to use braid without the monofilament backing that was necessary in the past.
The Live Liner Models
An important shift that has occurred in the new generation of Penn Fierce II Reels is that there are four live liner models in sizes 2500, 4000, 6000 and 8000. These reels are a little more expensive because they are equipped with this special feature. There is a lever on the bottom of the reel that you can flip back to transfer the drag from the front washers to the washers under the spool. These you can in turn control with a dial on the bottom of the reel. This allows you to throw out a line and get free spooling action while your live bait creates the movement you want to attract fish. Once you get a strike, you flip the lever forward and it transfers the resistance to the front drags so you can commence full battle with the hooked fish. These are becoming popular and Penn is adding these options to more of its reel lines.
Below is a summary of all the Penn Fierce II models. The “FRCII” just refers to Fierce II. The four digit number that follows (1000, 2000, etc.) indicates the size and power of the reel, which as you can see, is reflected in the maximum drag. The “LL“ refers to the live liner option. The reels can take monofilament or braid line. As monofilament line has more stretch, it has a greater capacity per pound, which explains the difference in the figures between the first two columns.
When you see a figure like the “275/2’ in the first cell of the “Mono Capacity” column, the “275”refers to the number of yards you can put on the spool. The “2” refers to the weight of the line. The middle figure (e.g. the 135/4 in that first cell of the table) reflects the suggested capacity and line weight to use for the reel.
The maximum drag is the capacity of the reel to lift weight out of the water. Increasing the width of the spool (and thus the width of the washers inside the spool) is the normal way to increase drag capacity. The Penn Fierce II reels use the carbon washer system that is another Penn trademark. They perform well and require little maintenance.
The gear ratio tells you the speed at which the handle turns the spool. Think of 6:1 (the spool turns around 6 times with a full rotation of the handle) as average. As the Penn Fierce II is designed for general purposes, the gear ratio is pitched near average speed up and down the line.
|BEARINGS||MAX DRAG||GEAR RATIO||PRICE|
|FRCII1000||275/2, 135/4, 105/6||160/6, 130/8, 110/10||5||7 lb.||5.2:1||59.95|
|FRCII2000||240/4, 180/6, 125/8||210/8, 180/10, 165/15||5||7 lb.||6.2:1||59.95|
|FRCII2500||255/6, 175/8, 140/10||240/10, 220/15, 160/20||5||7 lb.||6.2:1||59.95|
|FRCII2500LL||255/6, 175/8, 140/10||240/10, 220/15, 160/20||5||7 lb.||6.2:1||79.95|
|FRCII3000||200/8, 165/10, 120/12||250/15, 180/20, 130/30||5||10 lb.||6.2:1||69.95|
|FRCII4000||270/8, 220/10, 165/12||360/15, 260/20, 185/30||5||13 lb.||6.2:1||69.95|
|FRCI4000LL||270/8, 220/10, 165/12||360/15, 260/20, 185/30||5||13 lb.||6.2:1||89.95|
|FRCII5000||225/12,200/15,135/20||420/20, 300/30, 240/40||5||20 lb.||5.6:1||79.95|
|FRCII6000||335/15, 230/20, 210/25||490/30, 390/40, 335/50||5||20 lb.||5.6:1||79.95|
|FRCII6000LL||335/15, 230/20, 210/25||490/30, 390/40, 335/50||5||20 lb.||5.6:1||99.95|
|FRCII8000||340/20, 310/25, 230/30||475/50, 390/65, 345/80||5||25 lb.||5.3:1||89.95|
|FRCII8000LL||340/20, 310/25, 230/30||475/50, 390/65, 345/80||5||25 lb.||5.3:1||109.95|
This is a strong reel for the price. The customer reviews have a recurring refrain of “as good as more highly touted and expensive products.” The anti-corrosive innovations Penn is making with this and other products are key. The machinery and design have always been good. These changes enhance what was already a strong reputation for durability.
If you are doing more specialized fishing, these reels can only go so far. They are workhorse reels for common fishing situations. If you are in that category, they are a good buy.