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For trolling and big time fishing you want a decent heavy duty saltwater reel. You want something with a high drag level, a decent retrieval rate, lots of line capacity, a high level of durability and more.
If you are on the hunt for a new heavy duty reel then it’s likely you will come across the Penn 50 LW but how good is it really? What are it’s flaws and good points? Let’s find out, this is our in-depth Penn Squall 50 LW review (you can check the current price and more info on Amazon here).
The Penn Squall 50 LW is a heavy duty reel made with superior components. It is designed for long distance and deep sea fishing, specifically for saltwater trolling. It’s tough, it’s fairly smooth, and it has great braided and mono line capacity as well.
Let’s look at the key features;
When it comes to big time saltwater fishing, you need a reel that is durable, which the Penn Squall 50 LW definitely is. Just to list some components here, the body is made out of graphite, the ball bearings are made of stainless steel, the main gear is made of high strength machined marine grade bronze, and the spool is made of anodized aluminum.
All of these components are high quality and designed to last for a long time to come. Something worth noting here is that all of the components have been chosen for their ability to effectively deal with saltwater and corrosion.
What we do like here is the graphite body. Now, graphite may not be quite as durable as a full metal alloy or carbon body, but still more than durable enough. The bonus you get thanks to the graphite body is that the reel itself is relatively lightweight, comparatively anyway.
Yes, the weight of this thing is close to 2 pounds, which most would not consider to be lightweight. However, for such a durable and high quality trolling reel, the weight is actually not too bad. Put it this way, there are much heavier options out there.
Gear Ratio & Retrieval Rate
This reel has a pretty decent gear ratio and retrieval rate for a trolling reel. The gear ratio on this thing comes in at 4:1, which is not bad. This allows you to retrieve roughly 32 inches of line per handle revolution.
The retrieval rate here is actually quite quick, especially for a trolling reel. It allows you to haul in your catch at a pretty decent speed so it does not get away. This also allows for fairly fast hook setting, and even for some fast action fishing techniques too.
It’s not the fastest retrieval rate in the world, but for a trolling reel, it is not at all bad. It might not be great for really big fish that require a slower approach, but other than that, it works just fine.
The Squall 50 LW does come with a fairly nice drag system, which is pretty important for this kind of thing. We do like the fact that the drag washers here are HT-100 drag washers, because they have superior durability when compared to many other types of drag washers.
They also have the ability to stay cool and quickly dissipate heat, which is important because high temperatures can cause drag systems to become ineffective and even to break down.
In case you were wondering, the maximum drag on this particular trolling reel is 20 pounds. Now, this is ok in terms of trolling, but not awesome. It has the ability to keep fish from pulling your line out as long as they do not apply more than 20 pounds of force, but any more than that, and this drag system will let line out, which is good because it stops line from snapping.
With that being said, for ocean trolling applications, 20 pounds of drag really is not that much. Put it this way, it is enough drag for smaller fish and even for some medium size fish, but not for anything too big.
Bearings & Smoothness
Now, the Penn Squall 50 LW has 2 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing. Although it is quite smooth, it’s not the smoothest out of all trolling reels out there, or out of any reels for that matter.
Yes, it is smooth enough and it works just fine for long distance casting and really smooth retrieval, but it could be a bit smoother none the less.
Heck, some fishing reels come with 12 ball bearings, whereas this one only has 2. Don’t get us wrong, because they are very high quality stainless steel ball bearings, and they do work well enough, but we would like to see at least a couple more of them.
In terms of the roller bearing in the handle, it is also made of stainless steel, it is corrosion resistant, and it does allow for smooth cranking.
The Spool – Capacity & Level Wind
The final thing that we want to mention about the Penn Squall is that it does have a good spool. For one, it comes with a great level wind feature. This means that the spool automatically winds the line in such a way that it is even.
It stops knotting from occurring and it stops one side of the spool from having more line than the other. It’s pretty convenient. On that note, this spool also informs you about line capacity, so you always know exactly how much line is out and how much is still on the spool.
Speaking of line capacity, the Squall 50 LW has truly insane line capacity, which is necessary seeing as it is a trolling reel. If we are talking about mono line, it can hold 535 yards of 40 pound line, or 320 yards of 50 pound line.
If we are talking about braided line, it can hold 900 yards of 65 pound line or 775 yards of 80 pound line. This is very impressive. This is great for long distances, deep sea fishing, and yes for trolling too.
Not only can this thing hold an incredible amount of line, but very heavy line intended for big fish too.
- Decent retrieval rate.
- All high quality components.
- Fairly lightweight (all things considered).
- High quality drag system.
- Insane line capacity.
- Good level wind system.
- Ideal for saltwater fish.
- Maximum drag is not very high, especially for trolling.
- It is a bit heavy, especially for beginners.
- Graphite body is not as durable as it could be.
let’s also take a quick look at an alternative option. A good possible alternative in our opinion is the Lever Drag 2-Speed. There are a couple of main differences between the two.
For one, the alternative here has double the drag, 40 pounds of it, which beats the Squall 50 every time. Furthermore, its line capacity is also much higher, like 2 to 3 times as much.
Just as a reference, the Penn 2-speed can hold close to 2,500 yards of 65 pound braided line, whereas the Squall 50 could only hold a little under 1,000 yards of the same line.
Also, the 2-speed is a lot heavier than the Penn Squall 50, but it is also made with heavier and more durable materials.
Finally, of course, as you could probably tell from the name, it is a dual speed gear ratio trolling reel, with the low ratio being 1.5:1, and the high ratio being 2.9:1.
At the end of it all, we do think that the Penn Squall 50 LW is a really nice reel. Sure, it does have a couple of drawbacks and things that could be improved upon. However, in the grand scheme of things it is a good trolling reel. It is durable, has great line capacity, a good retrieval rate, and an alright drag system too.