Best Penn Reel For Shark Fishing: Reviews

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If you plan on going shark fishing, you definitely need to have the right gear in your arsenal. The right rod, line, bait, and yes, the right reel are all things you need. Having the right shark fishing gear will make the difference between a catch and failure.

In terms of fishing reels for sharks, the Penn brand name is a popular choice but what is the best Penn reel for shark fishing? Well actually it depends but we have put together a list of our top 3 (the Squall reel is our top pick) that we believe cater well for most shark fishing adventures.


What Makes A Good Shark Fishing Reel

Before you go out and buy any fishing reel for shark fishing, there are some important things that you should look out for and pay attention to first, so let’s look at the 4 essentials that make a good sharking fishing reel;

1. The Line & Capacity

First off, for shark fishing, you need a reel that is rated for heavy line, about 40 to 50 pounds at least. You might get away with 30 pound line for mini sharks, but other than that, you need one with that can hold lots of strong line. For one, sharks are big and powerful, so having strong line is a must. Also, when it comes to shark fishing, they might pull out quite a bit of line as you fight, so a large line capacity is also fairly important.

2. The Gear Ratio

As opposed to what some might think, a higher gear ratio is not always better. Sure, a high gear ratio is good for smaller fish that won’t fight too much, or ones that need to be retrieved quickly.

However, sharks are big and they are strong. If the gear ratio is too high, you will mess with the drag system, you won’t tire out the sharks enough, and your line might snap. For shark fishing, you want a relatively low gear ratio so you can really muscle them back to the boat.

3. Durability

Ok, so this might seem a little obvious, but worth mentioning none the less. Sharks are going to put up a fight and they can put a whole lot of stress on any reel. You need to find a reel that is made of top quality materials and can handle a lot of pressure for hours on end. Sharks will eat through a bad reel so fast it will make your head spin, pun definitely intended.

At any rate, on that same note, a rod that is saltwater resistant or saltwater proof is a big must too. Unless you are looking for freshwater sharks, which barely exist at all, you will be fishing in saltwater, something that will wreak havoc on a reel designed for freshwater.

4. The Drag System

When fishing for sharks, the drag system is pretty important too. Now, this does depend on the strength of line you are using. Some people like a 30 pound drag system because it will stop the line from breaking if the shark puts up a big fight, but this also means that the shark will pull out a lot of line. It’s good for smaller sharks if you have a drag system with a lower drag level.

However, some people like a higher drag, such as 50 or 60 pounds, because even if the shark puts up a big fight, it should not be able to pull out too much line. Yes, this also means that you need really strong line, as a high drag ratio will stop the line from being pulled out, but if the shark is strong, it could snap the line.

The 3 Best Penn Reels For Shark Fishing

When it comes to shark fishing, you do need to have a lot of power in your reel, it needs to be tough, and it needs to be able to withstand both saltwater and some big predators too.

Here we have what we think are the top 3 Penn fishing reels for sharks. Let’s take a detailed look into each;

1. Penn Squall

The first reel on our list here today is the Penn Squall, the reel we personally think is the best one for shark fishing. Let’s talk about the stats first.

Line Capacity

So, first off, this particular fishing reel has a line capacity, for monofilament line, which is usually the best to use for sharks, of 1550 yards for 30 pound line, 890 yards for 50 pound line, and 565 yards for 80 pound line.

In terms of braided line, this reel can hold 2485 yards of 65 pound line, 2145 yards of 80 pound line, and 1835 yards of 100 pound line. Keep in mind that you do need a lot of line when shark fishing, so this is important. There is an indicator included so you can always see how much line is left on the reel.

The Drag

In terms of the drag system, the Penn Squall has a pretty good one, more than enough for your average shark fishing needs. Right at the strike, this thing has a 30 pound drag, and a 40 pound full drag.

This does help to ensure that the shark doesn’t pull out too much line and create a lot of slack, while also helping to preserve the integrity of your line. It’s a good option for sharks because they definitely like to fight.

Bearings & Ratio

When it comes to the ball bearings, this reel has 4 of them, which is generally quite ideal for shark fishing. There are 4 stainless steel ball bearings that create for a really smooth casting experience, as well as for a fairly fast, strong, and smooth retrieval. Now, what is really cool about this reel is that it has a dual gear ratio. In other words, with the switch of a lever, you can switch from a low to a high gear ratio.

The low gear ratio is 1.5:1, which is low enough so you can really muscle sharks back to the boat. For the smaller sharks, and after they get tired, you can switch to the higher gear ratio of 2.9:1, for a bit of a quicker retrieval.

Just so you know, the low gear ratio allows for 17 inches of line retrieval per lever crank, and the higher ratio allows for 33 inches of line retrieval per lever crank. Speaking of the crank, it features a double dog ratchet system, which just means that the handle won’t reverse on you when things get tough.

Weight & Durability

In terms of its weight, the Penn Squall is pretty lightweight, coming in at 55.6 ounces. It’s not super lightweight, which is good for shark fishing because you do want something with a bit of heft. This thing is made out of machined aluminum and lightweight graphite for ultimate durability.

It is definitely one of the stronger shark fishing reels out there right now. The whole thing from top to bottom has also been specially treated in order to resist the corrosive effects of saltwater, which is definitely important for shark fishing.

Overall, we think that this is one of the better shark fishing reels out there and it really does not have many negative aspects, if any at all.


  • Anti-reverse system.
  • Good drag for shark fishing.
  • Dual gear ratio system for versatility.
  • Lots of line capacity & line indicator.
  • Superior durability and corrosion resistance.


  • Sometimes the gear ratio switches when under stress.

You can check the current price on Amazon here

2. Penn Senator Reel

When it comes to classic fishing reels, the Penn Senator is definitely a classic and up there with the best of them. Oddly enough, this thing does not have too many special features at all, but what it does have is a lot of power, strength, and long term reliability, making it quite good for shark fishing.

Salt Resistance

The first thing that we want to mention about it is that it is specially treated to resist the effects of saltwater. Shark fishing is done in saltwater, so this is always a very important thing to look out for.

Everything has been sealed and treated in order to keep saltwater out, although you will want to wash it with freshwater after use.

Weight & Durability

Second, it terms of its weight, the Senator is a little heavier than the Squall, which is fine, as it still only weighs 57 ounces. It is light enough so you won’t get too fatigued while shark fishing, but also more than heavy enough to ensure that it doesn’t come apart at the seams when there is a bit of stress involved.

Speaking of durability, the Senator is well known for its high level of ruggedness. The frame and side plates are made out of Bakelite, the spool out of anodized machined aluminum, and the gears are made of stainless steel and bronze. In other words, this thing is about as durable as can be for shark fishing.

Line Capacity

Speaking of the spool, it has a decent line capacity, with it being able to hold 1150 yards of 30 pound monofilament line, and 625 yards of 60 pound mono line. In terms of braided line, it can hold 1700 yards of 80 pound line and 1200 yards of 130 pound braided line.

As you can see, in terms of line capacity, this thing is not nearly as big as the previous model we looked at, the Squall, which might be a bit of a problem for you, especially if you have big sharks on the line in deep waters. However, generally speaking, this thing can still hold a decent amount of line.


When it comes to the drag system on the Penn Senator, it has a maximum drag of 24 pounds, which you might recognize is also lower than the Squall. Some people like having less drag, and some like more.

The amount of drag here is fine if you are using a thinner and less durable line, as the shark will be able to pull out with just 24 pounds of force. In other words, this reel is good for shark fishing, but not the biggest of sharks around. If you get a really big shark on here it is going to eat through the drag system and keep on pulling line out.

Gear Ratio

Finally, in terms of the gear ratio, this thing comes with 2 marine bronze and stainless steel ball bearings. As you might recognize, the Squall has 4 ball bearings, whereas the Senator only has 2. Now, these ball bearings are of a very high quality, and they do provide for smooth casting and retrieval, but maybe not quite like the squall.

Once again, this reel is good for smaller sharks. On that same note, the ratio here is 2.5:1, which is pretty good for sharks. Keep in mind that you do want a lower gear ratio so you can muscle sharks in. a 2.5:1 gear ratio is good for smaller sharks, but you may want an even lower gear ratio for the big boys.


  • Decent line capacity.
  • Very durable and resistant to saltwater.
  • Lightweight yet tough.
  • Good drag and gear ratio for smaller sharks.


  • Not the best choice for big sharks.

You can check the current price on Amazon here

3. Penn Fathom

As you will quickly be able to tell, we have gone in a certain order here. The first reel, the Squall, is good for big and small sharks, the second one, the Senator, is good for medium and medium-small sharks, and this one, the Fathom, is ideal for fairly small sharks.


First off, this thing weighs slightly under 20 ounces, making it by far the lightest shark fishing reel on our list today. Being lightweight is a bonus of course because it means that there is not as much for you to hold up, this cutting down on fatigue.


Although the Fathom is fairly lightweight, it is still pretty tough and durable. It features a full metal body and full metal side plates, with a forged and machined aluminum spool, a stainless steel main and pinion gear, and 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings.

As you can see, this thing is made to be tough. On that same note, the gears, ball bearings, and everything else here are specially designed to be saltwater resistant. Yeah, you still want to wash it with freshwater after use, but it should not corrode either way.

Gear Ratio

With 5 ball bearings and a high gear ratio of 5.3:1, the Penn Fathom does excel at casting and retrieval. It can retrieve a full 36 inches of line with each turn of the crank.

Now, this is good for speedy and quick retrievals and for jerking fish around, but not great for large and powerful fish like big shark. In other words, the high gear ratio here is more suited for smaller sharks, but not bigger ones.


On that same note, the dura-drag system included here has a maximum drag of 28 pounds. Once again, this is good for medium and smaller sharks, especially when using pretty strong line, but not the best for larger creatures.

Line Capacity

Speaking of the line, the Penn Fathom does have OK line capacity for short distance fishing, but not for long distance hooks. In terms of monofilament line, it can hold 330 yards of 20 pound line, 305 yards of 25 pound line, and 245 yards of 30 pound line.

In terms of braided line, it can hold 680 yards of 30 pound line, 475 yards of 50 pound line, and 395 yards of 65 pound line. As you can see, while the Fathom does excel at some things, it just cannot hold all that much line, or very strong line, especially when compared to the two other reels we looked at earlier.


  • Saltwater resistant.
  • Quite tough.
  • Fast retrieval for smaller prey.
  • Good drag system for smaller prey.
  • Good line capacity for short distances.


  • Gear ratio is too high for big shark.
  • Drag system is too weak for big sharks.
  • Can’t hold enough line for really big sharks at a distance.

You can check the current price on Amazon here


At the end of the day, just pay attention to the main considerations that we listed just up above. They are very important for shark fishing reels. If you need a reel for big sharks, we would recommend the first one we reviewed, and the second and third options are better for smaller sharks, respectively! Choose wisely because having the right reel for shark fishing will make all of the difference.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.