Saltwater Fishing Rig Review - Penn Reel and Fenwick Rod

 It's getting close to spring, and I, for one, can't wait to get out on the open water and do some fishing. When you're from the midwest, you have to get out of the snow and into the sunshine; that's precisely what happened for me. Some siblings moved to Florida a while back and have to make a yearly trip to the Sunshine state for some good weather, good food, and some good open water fishing. 

Jacksonville is top ten in the largest city square mileage-wise, and woven into that landscape is the St. John's river delta. Plenty of fast-moving tributaries spilling into the ocean and multiple fishing piers and parks to choose from. I spent most of my trip traveling between piers, testing out my new setup, and trying numerous tactics to drum up some action. I even managed to sneak a journey into the gulf to jig the open ocean for some fish not available on the Mississippi.

I've only devoted the past two years diving into fishing and the different skills involved in catching multiple species. So an opportunity to test some new gear in a relatively pristine environment was right in my wheelhouse. I couldn't wait to get my hands on my new rig and feel the tug of a lunker on the other end. Before this test, I had purchased a Fenwick HMG rod for walleye fishing. I love it and couldn't have been happier when the inshore HMG rod showed up.

Fenwick HMG Inshore Spinning Rod - MSRP $139.99

7 ft - Medium Fast Action - 2 pc spinning rod

I went fishing with a retired guide, and he busted out the Fenwick HMG rod when we were jigging for walleyes, and I knew right then I had to have one. The one I owned previous to this test was not inshore, so I was excited to try this one for size.

The Fuji Alconite guides make for such a smooth cast that an effortless flick of the wrist allows for an astonishingly long cast and an excellent feel for the bait settling on the bottom. I'm a big fan of the seven ft rod sizing. You have a big enough pole to handle some big fish, but you get so much feedback with the fast action that you can feel even the slightest nibble. And bottom jigging is a lot of fun. Anything that doesn't feel like the bottom gets a big ol hook set, and hope it's not a snag.

I know Fenwick, and I know they are quality rods and obtainable prices. If the inshore model holds up as well as my freshwater HMG, I know I'll be using this for years to come. 

Penn Battle III 4000 HS Series Spinning Reel - MSRP $139.95

When I first opened the box for my Penn reel, I knew I had my hands on something special. The first impressions were exceptional. Nice big handle and 15lbs of drag meant this thing is built to take on something big. 

To be honest, I never had really figured out the gear ratios. Don't get me wrong, I understand the concept and mechanics behind it but have never really used that to determine yes or no on the reel, and this model runs a 7.0:1 ratio. Plenty of line recovery with every turn of the handle. 6 ball bearings, an entire metal body, and plenty of spool make this pretty universal when it comes to line weight and fishing tactics.

I spent most of my time with this reel running a 3/4 oz jig with saltwater plastic bringing it in nice and slow off the bottom on the St. John's river. 
The drag is easy to adjust, the handle switches side in a breeze, and the line spools of so beautifully I spent more time watching the line circle out the end of the rod vs. where I was throwing it. 

This time around, I didn't catch a lunker, but you can be sure that this summer, I'm pairing this reel with an 8ft rod I have to try and catch some big channel cats out of the Mississippi River.

As for my quick day trip to the gulf, I did hook up to a stingray and had quite the fight with that prehistoric creature. Some serious rod-bending going on that day. I didn't have the opportunity to put the new reel through its paces, but I have no doubt that it would have handled it with no problem with the correct line.

A quick recap of my experience with this new setup was fantastic. I'm thrilled with the two new pieces to add to my arsenal and can't wait to get some more lunkers in the boat.

Post a Comment