The Penn Pursuit 2 meets all the basic requirements an angler needs in a spinning reel for mid-size saltwater and top size freshwater fishing at the very affordable price of $40. The second generation of the product was released in the fall of 2013 and customer reviews often cite it as a bargain, a reel that can hold its own with more expensive products higher up the line.
Mono Capacity YD/LB: 285/8 230/10 170/12
Braid Capacity YD/LB: 370/15 270/20 190/30
Bearing Count: 4 + 1
Max Drag LB: 13lb | 5.8kg
Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
Retrieve Rate: 28″ | 71cm
Reel Size: 4000
Reel Handle Position: Right/Left
Drag Type: Front Drag
Drag Material: Oil Felt
Anti-Reverse Feature: Instant Anti-Reverse
This reel has a 4 + 1 bearing system, which means it has four ball bearings inside the reel and a roller bearing for the handle. The number of bearings the reel has will influence the smoothness of the retrieval of the line. Top of the line Penn reels will have eight bearings. You do not want to go under four, but four in a well-constructed reel provides sufficient smoothness.
The roller bearing in the handle provides another required minimum in a good reel: instant anti-reverse. This prevents the handle from suddenly spinning backwards just at the moment when you need control to set the hook.
This Penn reel has a graphite body and rotor, making it a light 12.9 ounces. The graphite construction also has the advantage for saltwater fishermen that it is not prone to the corrosion caused by salt, sand and debris.
The improvements made before the 2013 release were minor, but appreciated by anglers. The bail wire was made thicker and the handle was given a paddle knob so that you can’t help but find either when your eyes need to be following what is going on in the water.
Another box that this reels checks off is that it a has solid front drag system. The drag system is what keeps pressure on the hooked fish and lets out line during the fight. If you have a lame drag system it will result in broken lines and fish that get away. The Penn Pursuit 2 uses an oil felt drag system that is also a feature of many high-end reels. There is a series of metal washers inside the reel with felt washers in between them. The interplay of the different material of the washers is what gives the line the needed firmness and flexibility to keep the tension with the fish and not break.
Just remember that oiled felt drags are called that because they need to be oiled. From time to time you need to take off the spool and apply oil to the felt washers. The entire process really only takes a few minutes. Just be careful with the spring clip that keeps the washers tightly packed. If you are not careful it will shoot away from you and you will end up on your hands and knees looking for a very small object.
The Pursuit II comes in five sizes from 3000 to 8000 and a decisive factor in selecting the one that is best for you is the size of the fish you are likely to hook. The maximum weight drag varies from 10 lbs. on the low end to 25 lbs. on the high. This range will accommodate a wide range of anglers who really do not need the 50+ drag weight that some of the high-end reels can give you now. In the end the goal is to tire the fish out and if you have a good technique, the high end of this range will likely be adequate to bring in most of what you are trying to get.
Gear ratios, another important consideration in selecting a reel, measure how many times the spool will turn (say from 12 am to 12 pm) with one full rotation of the handle. This determines how quickly you are letting out line. A 4:1 ratio is on the slow side and a 6:1 ratio is fast. Although in general a higher ratio is more attractive, the low speed can give you more torque in hauling in a large fish.
Depending on the size you select, The Penn Pursuit 2 goes from 5.2:1 ratio on the smaller size down to a 4.3 ratio for the 8000 size. The bottom line here is that you are limited to the middle of the range, but for many anglers this is quite fine.
The range of Penn Pursuit 2 reel sizes also accommodates different preferences for line pound test. The 3000’s mid range line test is 8 lbs. (160 yards max) and the 8000’s mid range is 25 lbs. (360 yards max). The test of the line should be roughly equivalent to the largest of the fish you hope to bring in, so unless you are going for very large fish in the deep water this range should keep you covered.
Advantages and Limitations
This product has no bells and whistles. It will not show up on the list of longest casting reels and its specs for cranking and drag are fine, but not brilliant. If you want multiple ball bearings, the ultimate in smooth retrieval and special technology to fully enhance durability and lightness, you will need to pay more. If you want a solid workhorse of a reel that doesn’t drain your wallet, this looks like a good buy.
Although customer reviews were overwhelmingly positive (there was a common theme of “it should have cost more”), there were a few complaints that it was easily nicked and damaged.
Penn has done a good job producing a cheaper product that still has the quality that the company is known for. It is definitely worth considering if your needs or your financial resources are modest enough to preclude the flashier options.