Penn Fishing Reels

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I was introduced to Penn Fishing Reels by my Father-in-Law Henry Adcock (deceased) of Wadesboro, NC. back in the late 1960s to early 1970s while cat fishing with him on Blewett Falls Lake, Pee Dee River Anson County NC.  It didn't take me long to realize that cranking a catfish off the bottom of swift moving water required something with a little more muscle than a Johnson spinning reel of which it can be done with extra effort exerted.    The Penn reels fitted up with a good 6 feet plus stiff rod featuring a long handle made it a pleasure to crank those blue, speckled, etc. catfish off the bottom of the river.

I fished with Henry for several decades and kept a john boat on the river pretty regular until the mid 1980s when I got back into some serious archery tournaments and deer and turkey hunting.  Henry continued to fish regularly until his health finally prevented him  from going fishing about a year prior to his death.  Henry is featured several places throughout this website and have a couple pixs of him fishing on my Camping page.   Pix below of some of those antiquated rods and reels which have collected a ton of dust since their storage of which I believe a couple of them belonged to Henry:


Pix below after I did a shake n bake clean job removing the heaviest portion of dirt and grime from one of the Penn # 9 level wind reels that was really stuck to the reel:

I was surprised that the reels were functioning as well as they were after sitting idle for decades.  The Penn reels have a couple places where you can easily lubricate the parts that catch the most usage such as the pawl and worm gear and bearing surfaces.  I regularly oiled them when they were in use and lubrication is the main ingredients to increase the longevity of most any type of machine that has moving parts that will eventually wear out.  I haven't worn out one of those # 9 or 109 Penn reels yet and I have checked five (5) of them already and they are not in need of any part replacements.  Each Penn reel came with its own spare pawl in a small compartment in the side of the frame and that is the part that will normally wear out first due to it attached to the base of the line guide traveling back and forth driven by the worm gear upon each cast and retrieve of the line which gets a tremendous amount of usage.  Pix below of the worm gear (longer item) and the pawl which the tip portion rides back and forth in the grooves of the worm gear.  Both items in the pix above are covered by the worm shield:

Back in the 1970s,  I purchased most of my fishing gear from Hoot's Fishing in Albemarle, NC and he also had a store in Charlotte, NC of which you could really get some super deals there.  I just found my catfish tackle box that I had misplaced and a box of 100  size 2 bronze hooks style 84 cost $ 1.70 back then per their sticker price still on the box.  I believe those Penn # 9 reels cost around 8 or 12 dollars but not sure.  They were certainly a bargain at Hoot's Fishing.

I still have a couple of Zebco reels,  the # 808 and 888 but those reels have plastic gears in them and a heavy catfish or carp will strip the gears out of them if you have heavy line and your drag set heavy and try to horse the fish in instead of letting it wear itself down.  Other reels in the rat nest are Quick, Daiwa Millionaire and one large open face salt water rig.

In summation, the Penn reels are very durable and with proper maintenance and lubrication will last a lifetime since the wearable parts are easily replaced.   As a youth, the Johnson line of reels, the Century and Citation, etc. which had all metal gears was about the best spin casting reel at the time and the reel of choice.  I have only positive things to say about the Penn Reels and some of them can get very pricy in the larger Salt Water Reels which is understandable!

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 06-02-13.


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