Penn Fathom Review – A Reel Steal!

The Penn Fathom Review

An experienced review, by Geoff Stadnyk. The Penn Fathom review with on the water feedback.

Penn Fathom Review

Penn Fathom Star Drag Conventional Baitcast Reel (30-Pound/300-Yard)

When it comes to the selection of fishing gear, nothing comes to mind faster than Penn reels. Penn has made its mark as an American household name, and is feared by fish worldwide. This Penn fathom review will include my personal use of the product.

My first experience with Penn Reels was roughly 10 years back, after I purchased the Penn International 955.

Penn Fathom ReviewPenn Gold Label 900 Series International Baitcast Reel (340-Yard, 15-Pound)

This proved to be an effective, sturdy reel for the lagoon style fishing I was using it for. Years later its durability helped sell me on the Penn fathom.


Penn Fathom ReviewPenn Fathom Lever Drag 2 Speed Reel, 30

The Penn Fathom has proven its reliability and power to me time and again. Penn offers several models of the Fathom of which I use the star drag 40 wide spool.  I would recommend every model depending on your needs.

Pros of the Penn Fathom Reel

-The lightweight aluminum frame balances well with most rods 

-The drag is smooth, with a fine tune knob, and 25 lbs of maximum resistance beats many reels in the same class

-Penn parts are easily replaceable

-Penn upgraded their bearing system when they built these reels. I stood in the store and watched it spin freely for several minutes before it slowed, rolled back and forth, and finally found its center. Amazing!

-The bearing system makes them incredible casting machines

Cons of the Penn Fathom Reel

-The metal encasement isn’t as durable as aircraft grade aluminum models, but this is reflected in a lower price.

-The Fathom comes with high gear ratio, which may be ineffective under certain fishing conditions.

-There is a part recall on certain models.

Consumer alert!

Certain models of the fathom were having an issue with an inside plate that helped secure the bail. As a result the flip bail was slowly loosening until it became disengaged. Penn fixed mine via a local reel repair shop free of charge.

Review wrap up

The Penn Fathom has been a treasured addition to my fishing arsenal. I highly recommend this reel, and haven’t heard any negative feedback about it from anglers on or off the water. The effectiveness of the Fathom matched with its price make it a top value product in the fishing industry.

I welcome and encourage all questions/comments/feedback. Have your own review of this reel? Please let me know.



      1. James Lewis

        Yes, I think Penn would deny your claim and so would I. I own 4 fathom reels all cast aluminium. If you review at least read Penn’s own description first.

    1. Hi Steve. You know I got some help pointing out the error on the Fathom. I did not remember that I referenced it in the Penn Torque Star Drag Review as well. Thanks for the heads up. Geoff.

  1. Steve Carson

    Hi Geoff,
    You mention under the “cons” the high gear ratio.
    It may have been added in at a later date, but photos of the 2-speed lever drag models are now also pictured, which offer very low gear ratios after a quick downshift.

    1. Hello again Steve. You hit the nail on the head. I added these later for the benefit of anglers, so they could see that Penn also makes the Fathom in 2 speed lever drag models. The Penn Fathom was my very first reel review. I need to go back and update the whole review. Since that time, I’ve become much more thorough in my reviews. Time for a little clean up. Thanks again for all your input. Geoff.

  2. Clark

    Hi Geoff, just found your site while researching the Fathom and I love your reviews. Would love to see a more thorough review on the Fathom like on most of your others (which you have already mentioned) and it would be great if you included the level wind version. I am looking at the Fathom level wind as an all around reel for light trolling, reef fishing, and live bait chunking to shark and tarpon here in Brunswick, GA because I can only purchase one pair of outfits at this time. I’m choosing the level winds due to my wife and several friends that are new to fishing. Again, great reviews!

    1. Hello Clark. Thanks for dropping a line and well met. You know I shy away from levelwind reels in offshore models, but I can understand your situation and why you want them.

      The biggest concerns with levelwinds are always casting and fast runs by powerful fish. That being said, it takes extreme circumstances for either to be an issue. They work great for those learning the reel. I personally love them in smaller baitcasters.

      Thanks for the reminder about the Penn Fathom. I’ll put it as a priority on my list, and I’ll add the levelwind. I absolutely love the performance of my Fathom star drag. It’s handled some nice tuna.

      Thanks again for the kind words. It’s good to hear that anglers like yourself are finding the info usefull. Till next time. Geoff.

  3. Joe

    I have “and love” a 25n 2 speed. I have only used it a couple times and it easily did the job bottom fishing to 170′ and pulling in juvenile Yellowtail outta San Diego. Now considering a 40n 2 speed for larger fishes in the 100lb range.

  4. brian

    I am trying to buy saltwater reel for under $300 for offshore fishing. I was wondering if you could help make a recommendation. I have narrowed it down to the reels below. This would be my first investment in a decent reel and a bit nervous about ordering one.

    TUH-0002-1 – Seigler Small Game Conventional Lever Drag Reels

    FIN-0299 – Fin-Nor SLD20 Sportfisher Lever Drag Trolling Reel

    DAI-1361 – Daiwa Saltist Single Hyper Speed Lever Drag Conventional Reels

    MXL-0044 – Maxel HY25-BG Hybrid Star Drag Reel – Black/Gunsmoke

    FIN-0300 – Fin-Nor SLD25 Sportfisher Lever Drag Trolling Reel

    AVE-0185-3 – Avet HX Single Speed Lever Drag Casting Reels

    FIN-0389 – Fin-Nor Lethal Lever Drag Reels

    PEN-1316 – Penn US Senator Casting Reels

    SHM-3169 – Shimano Torium Star Drag Reels

    SHM-0854 – Shimano TLD-2 Speed A Lever Drag Reels

    PEN-1193 – Penn Squall Lever Drag 2-Speed Reels

    PEN-1027 – Penn Squall Lever Drag Reels

    SHM-0668 – Shimano Torium Reels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *