Shark Fishing with Penn Reels → Buyers Guide + Top 3 Picks

One of the most exhilarating angling sports is shark fishing. There is nothing more exciting than the feeling you get when you have one on the line. Shark fishing is a sport that is not for the faint of heart. It takes some serious muscle and gear to bring in one of nature’s top apex predators! Only the best fishing gear will do. The right gear can make all the difference in the world. One of the most important tools you can have is a good reel.

When it comes to shark reels, the Penn brand is one of the most trusted around the world! Penn has spent years developing amazing reel technology that gets the job done. The reels they produce can handle the demands of shark fishing and stand up abuse. Harsh conditions are no match to the durability of these reels. Today, we are going to take a deeper look at three of the best Penn reels for shark fishing.


What Makes A Penn Reel Great for Shark Fishing?


Line Weight and Capacity

The first thing you should take into consideration when shopping for a shark reel is line weight and capacity. Shark fishing requires a line weight of at least 40 to 50 pounds. This will ensure your line is strong enough to handle reeling in such a large fish. Also, you want to have plenty of line capacity. Sharks can run for hundreds of feet before they are finally brought in, and trust me, they put up a fight!


The Drag System

In any fishing reel, you need to have a good drag system. When you are fishing for sharks, it is a must! Drag is what helps give you the advantage over the fish. It will helps prevent a shark from pulling too much line off of your reel. A good drag system can help prevent line breakage and make it easier to bring in a large shark with a little less effort. Most people who fish for shark like to have a drag system with at least 50 pounds of drag.



It goes without saying that a shark reel needs to be highly durable. Sharks pull hard and they can really put your reel under stress. So when shopping for a reel, make sure you find one that has been known to stand up to the test of time. Salt water and other harsh conditions that come with shark fishing can also put a strain on your reel. This is why it is so important that the one you choose is durable if you want it to last.


Gear Ratio

Now let’s talk about gear ratio. For smaller fish like Tarpon and Grouper, a high gear ratio is great! However, if you are fishing for sharks, you will want a lower gear ratio. A lower gear ratio will allow you to fight back against their strength and protect your drag system.


The Ultimate Top Three Penn Reels for Shark Fishing

Here’s our guide for the best Penn reels for shark fishing.  If you are looking for saltwater reels in general, check out our guide to the best saltwater spinning reels under $100.

Penn Fathom

PENN® Fathom® Lever Drag
208 Reviews
PENN® Fathom® Lever Drag
  • Box Black/Red 5 5.3:1
  • Box Black/Red 5 5.3:1
  • Box Black/Red 5 5.3:1
  • Box Black/Red 5 5.3:1
  • Box Black/Red 5 5.3:1

If you are looking for the best Penn reel for shark fishing, the Fathom model just might be right for you! It is a very popular model and gets the job done. This feels great in your hands and is perfect for bringing smaller sharks. This makes it one of the best for those just starting out in this sport.


What I Like About It

  • The Penn Fathom is very lightweight coming in at under 20 ounces.
  • This model has a gear ratio of 5.3:1. It has five ball bearings which makes cranking more fluid. The Fathom will allow you to retrieve up to 36 inches of line with each turn of the handle.
  • When it comes to durability, the Fathom can take a licking and keep on ticking! It has a full metal body and a set of metal side plates.
  • It is designed to be salt water resistant which will help prevent rusting.
  • Line capacity is not a problem when it comes to the Fathom. When using regular monofilament, it can hold a 245 yards of 30 pound of line. However, for those that use braided line, it can hold up to 680 yards of 30 pound line.
  • It has a fast retrieval rate for pulling in smaller sharks.


What I Dislike About It

  • This model is not the best for bringing in larger shark due to its higher gear ratio.
  • The drag system is not strong enough for bigger fish.
  • Has a limited line capacity.


Penn Senator Reel

PENN Senator Star Drag Conventional Nearshore/Offshore...
  • DURABLE ALUMINUM REEL SPOOL: The PENN Senator Conventional Reel features a machined and anodized aluminum spool with Bakelite sideplates.
  • MARINE GRADE BRONZE MAIN GEAR with stainless steel pinion gear. Recovers at the rate of 28” | 71cm with every turn of the crank. Gear ratio of 2.5:1.
  • MULTI-STOP BEARING SYSTEM: Time-tested shielded 2-ball bearing system offers control in the heat of battle.
  • HT-100 STAR DRAG DRAG SYSTEM: Multi-disk star drag system with a max drag of 24lb | 10.8kg, this system is easy to adjust as the fight wears on. Right handle position with convertible power handle for challenging opponents.
  • LINE CAPACITY: Mono Capacity yd/lb: 1150/30 700/50 625/60. Braid Capacity 1700/80 1450/100 1200/130. Stainless steel reel stand with heavy-duty clicker provides feedback and confidence.

The Penn Senator is hands down the best Penn real for shark fishing if you are looking for a medium duty model. While this reel does not come with a lot of bells and whistles, but it does come with everything you need to bring in a medium sized fish. It is durable, strong, and will last you for many years. This makes it a great investment for both beginners and those who have been in the game for many years.


What I Like About It

  • The Senator is a medium sized reel that weighs right around 57 ounces. This will help you avoid fatigue when reeling in your catch.
  • While it is not an all metal reel, it features Bakelite side plates that are highly durable. The gears are made from long-lasting stainless steel and bronze which are resistant to saltwater.
  • The Senator can hold up to 625 yards of 60 pounds of monofilament and up to 1200 yards of 130 pounds of braided line. This makes it perfect for catching both small and medium sized sharks.
  • When you take a look at gear ratio, we love the fact that this model has a ratio of 2.5:1. This ratio will help protect your drag when pulling against those medium sized fish.
  • As far as drag is concerned, the Senator has a maximum drag of 24 pounds. While this is less drag than some models, it is great for medium duty use.


What I Dislike About It

  • If you are going after big sharks, this might not be the right reel for you.


Penn Squall

PENN 1292938 Squall Lever Drag 2-Speed Trolling Fishing...
  • Reel, RH, 3BB plus 1RB, 2.9:1 / 1.5:1 ratio
  • Alum spool, Braid 2485/65 2145/80 1835/100, mono 1550/30 890/50 565/80
  • Reels saltwater lever drag
  • Lightweight yet powerful lever drag fishing reel with graphite frame and sideplates ideal for big game saltwater fishing
  • Quick Shift 2-speed system easily shifts into high or low gear

If you are going after big sharks, the Penn Squall is definitely the one for you! We feel it is the best Penn reel for shark fishing if you are looking to break records. Without further suspense, let’s learn what we love about it and what we think could improve.


What I Like About It

  • Bringing in big sharks will be easier with a line capacity of 565 yards of monofilament. For those really big fish, this reel has a line capacity for braided line of 1835 yards at 100 pounds of line.
  • With a maximum of 40 pounds of drag, fighting those heavy fish will be much easier. This helps to prevent much larger and more powerful sharks for pulling out too much line.
  • This reel comes with 4 ball bearings for smooth line retrieval. It has a gear ratio of 1.5:1 which is super low and just right for controlling big sharks who like to put up a fight.
  • The weight of this Penn reel is 55.6 ounces which is not super heavy or too lightweight. This reduces stress while still being highly durable. The reel is constructed of machined aluminum and graphite which will hold up well under pressure. It also has a saltwater resistant coating.


What I Dislike About It

  • We really couldn’t find anything we dislike about this reel except the fact that it might be a little on the heavy side for smaller shark fishing.


Conclusion:  Best Penn Reel For Shark Fishing

If you have been looking for the best Penn real for shark fishing, now you know which ones to choose from. Penn makes a wide variety of reels and these three are hands down the ones you want when fighting a shark. So make sure you check them out for yourself. Who knows you just might find one that you love!


Featured Image Credit:  Carrie Kellenberger

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API