Penn Levelwind Series Conventional Reels

Saltwater Fishing - Helping you catch that fish of a lifetime

Penn Levelwind Series Conventional Reels

by Capt. Terry Rand

How do you improve upon a trusted, tried and true conventional reel? Add a levelwind.....

Penn Levelwind Series

The Penn Levelwind series is another Penn work horse. These reels are built to perform like all Penn conventional reels and have been available for years with few design changes made during that time. The levelwind feature relieves the angler of the task of leveling the line across the spool with their thumb during line retrieval. These reels are available in three different sizes, the 9M, 209M and the 309M. The 209 is also available with a Line Counter or a left hand retrieve option. Known for their durability, reliability and affordable price tag, these reels are often seen used on party boats and charter boats. These reels are used not only in the salt but are also popular for salmon and trout trolling on the Great Lakes. Even big river cat fishermen have been known to use the Levelwind series to land big blue and flathead cats on the river banks.

First Impressions

This review centers on the 209M model. The Penn 209M is obviously a reel meant to take care of some saltwater business. With high standing sideplates and a deep spool, it accommodates a whole bunch of heavy duty monofilament, up to 320 yards of 20lb test. Though the sideplates are some sort of composite material, the body of the reel is incredibly rigid using screws and stainless framing to mate the sideplates to the rest of the reel. When cranking the handle you can feel the power of the bronze main gear and the stainless steel pinion as they turn the spool. When disengaged, the spool spins smoothly and well balanced for such a large spool. There is a little bit of backplay found in the handle when you stop cranking and restart but not enough to make a significant impact when setting the hook. The levelwind looks like a fantastic feature and it tracks smoothly and evenly as you crank the handle. Weighing in at 19 ounces, this reel does feel a little heavy by todays standards but it actually balances out very nicely on a number of rod types. The drag system of the 209M is Penn’s old reliable HT-100 drag washers. These drag washers have been providing smooth and reliable drag systems for Penn products for many years now and should perform as good, if not better, than on any of the other Penn reels we’ve used. The 209M has a medium speed retrieve ratio at 3.2:1 per crank of the reel handle. With those big Penn gears, that should translate into a lot of pure cranking power when tied into a big fish. One other nice feature to notice is the counter balanced paddle handle. The paddle fits nicely in the palm of your hand with a lot of surface area to grab onto which is great when you have to do some really fast cranking.

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