The world of an angler is filled with disputes from reels to rods, and the controversy about whether the fishing giants Penn or Shimano makes better fishing reels has raged on for years. Truth be told, they both make reels that are top-of-the-line and built to last.
You can get some serious fishing in with reels from either brand, but at the end of the day, they both have their advantages and disadvantages, and that's what we are here to dive into today. So, let's get to it then: Penn vs. Shimano, the debate we've all been waiting for.
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Penn Fishing Reels (Overview + Pros & Cons)
The Penn Fishing and Tackle Company was first established in 1932 by Otto Henze. Henze moved to the United States from Germany at the age of 25, and after a number of years working with the Ocean City Reels Company in Philadelphia, he decided to own his own company. The main goal was to build fishing reels that would set world records.
Since 1932, Penn has provided some of the best fishing reels on the market. These reels are durable and meant to work well in saltwater and freshwater environments. With many great varieties available for customers, there is a reel that will work for every type of angler - novice and veterans alike.
For some of the benefits and drawbacks of Penn reels, you can have a look below at the following table:
Shimano Fishing Reels (Overview + Pros & Cons)
Shimano fishing reels are a great option if you are looking for high-quality and long-lasting. The Shimano company was created in 1921 by Shoxaburo Shimano. Shimano had the goal of making the best fishing products in Kansai, then in Japan, and then in the world. This has been their guiding mission throughout the years, and customers get to enjoy some great products in the process.
For more than 80 years, the Shimano company has concentrated on precision engineering, doing it one step at a time. The Shimano fishing reels are some of the most innovative products in the world, providing a smooth cast, high-quality products, and a fishing reel that is going to last a long time.
They consist of the following benefits and drawbacks:
Penn Vs Shimano Fishing Reels (Differences + Which Is Best)
1. For Freshwater Fishing
Both the Penn reels and the Shimano fishing reels can do well in freshwater if you choose to spend a day at the lake or a river. However, they are both better designed to go in saltwater in less than perfect fishing environments due to their aluminum components and anti-corrosive materials.
If you do plan to get one of these fishing reels and you want to spend most of your time at the lake, then it is better to go with the Penn fishing reel. These are more affordable for most people to use and will do a decent job of any type of fishing that you want. There is no use spending all the extra money on the Shimano fishing reel when you plan to stay in the relatively calm water of a lake.
"The Penn Clash holds around 70 more yards of braid compared to the Shimano. The Penn has two more bearings than the Shimano. The Penn is 40 dollars cheaper than the Shimano, and you get two more bearings, that means a smoother reel for cheaper!"
So, as you can see, when it comes to freshwater fishing, you can get a lot more bang for your buck if you go with the cheaper Penn reels compared to Shimano ones.
2. For Saltwater Fishing
The Penn fishing reel and the Shimano fishing reels are suited to work in saltwater, so you can't go wrong with either of them. If you want an affordable fishing reel to take to the ocean or other saltwater locations, then the Penn fishing reel is a good option. It has most of the features that you need when out at the ocean, with a budget-friendly price tag on it too.
It will depend on the type of saltwater fishing you want to do. If you want to go deep-sea fishing or want to get some of the biggest fish out there, then the Shimano fishing reel is going to be the best choice to go with. The extra cost is worth it to make fishing more exciting and fun.
3. Quality & Durability
The quality and durability of both the Penn and the Shimano fishing reel are amazing. The angler is getting a good value for their money when it comes to both of these fishing reels. However, if the angler is looking for the better of the two in terms of durability and quality, then the Shimano fishing reel is the best option.
The Shimano fishing reel is made out of the best materials on the market. Every angle and component of this fishing reel is meant to impress and last a long time, making this a high-quality fishing reel for all to enjoy.
4. Ease of Use
The Penn fishing reel is going to be easier for a beginner to use. It does not come with as many special features on it, and it is a basic type of fishing reel, though it is high-quality and meant to last. This can make it a good option for someone looking to spend more time fishing but who needs some time to get used to fishing.
The Shimano is a great fishing reel, but the precision and extra features do make it a little harder to use the first time. It may take a few practice runs to get used to how this fishing reel is supposed to work.
Learn More About: How To Use A Baitcaster!
5. Gear Ratio
While some Penn fishing reels work well for large fish, when you want to catch the monster in the sea, you should rely on the Shimano fishing reels instead. They have a lot of accuracy and durability that you will not find in the Penn and can handle the larger fish.
One thing to note here, though, is that the gear ratio on the Shimano reel will be lower than what you find with the Penn fishing reel. This can surprise some anglers, and when the gear ratio matters, you may be disappointed in the Shimano. Take a look at the specific Shimano reel that you want to choose to see whether it works for you.
Anglers who want a lot of accuracy in their fishing reel will need to look at the Shimano fishing reels. This does not mean that the Penn fishing reel is bad with accuracy. For most anglers, the Penn reel will be perfect for providing accuracy, especially if they use it near the shore or at a lake.
However, the Shimano reel is going to use unique technology and manufacturing techniques to make sure that accuracy is as high as possible. Anglers will be amazed at the amount of precision found in the Shimano reels, making them almost react automatically to where you want to throw it. If you must have the best accuracy, then the Shimano reel is the best choice.
7. Value For Money
If you want a good quality fishing reel that will be easier on your budget, you will want to go with the Penn fishing reel. These are excellent reels for an affordable price, helping to price out many other fishing reels on the market, including the Shimano.
Shimano reels are often going to cost a lot more money than the Penn or other brands. They use special technology and other features to help make some of the best reels on the market. And this is going to drive the cost up to more than on other reels. For those who want to go deep-sea fishing and get some of those big fish, the Shimano is the best reel to choose. Penn reels are great options for those who want a good reel that will last them a long time while maintaining their budget.
Penn Vs Shimano Popular Models: Features & Specs Compared
Braid Line Capacity
Mono Line Capacity
Reel Weight (lbs)
Maximum Drag (lbs)
Penn Conflict 2 (2500)
Medium or small fishing
Penn Battle II
5 by 4 by 3 inches
Penn Squall 50vsw
7 by 6 by 4
Penn Fathom (FTH10CNLD)
18.5 by 12.5 by 8.2
Penn Slammer III (3500)
6 by 6 by 4
Penn Torque 2 (TRQ15LD2)
Medium to Large Fishing
4.75 by 4.75 by 3.25
Penn Spinfisher (2500)
5 by 5 by 4
Braid Line Capacity
Mono Line Capacity
Reel Weight (lbs)
Maximum Drag (lbs)
4 by 3 by 2.5
5 by 5 by 4
Shimano tld 50
7 by 7 by 5
Shimano Stella ((10000PGC)
8 by 7 by 5
Shimano Saragosa (10000SWAPG)
10.1 by 7.8 by 5.6
Shimano Nasci (1000FB)
5 by 4 by 3
8 by 7 by 3
8.3 by 7.4 by 3
Common Penn & Shimano Fishing Reel Questions
Penn Conflict 2 Vs. Shimano Stradic – Which is better?
The Penn Conflict 2 is a game-changer since its all-metal body of the original has been replaced with Penn’s Rigid Resin RR30 technology. The rod is significantly lighter and receives Penn’s Leveline, a slow oscillation system. The Shimano Stradic, of course, is also an upgrade but at a much higher price. Both reels will get the job done, but if you want a brand new upgraded reel at a discount, we say take the Penn Conflict 2.
Penn Battle 2 vs. Shimano Sahara – Which is better?
Another tough one as both of these fishing reels are great options, but keep in mind that a Sahara will cost you twice as much as the Penn Battle 2. The Sahara is made out of high-quality materials that are top-of-the-line, and the spin fisher is more durable than the other option. If you got money to drop, go with the Sahara, and you won't regret it.
Penn Squall 50vsw vs. Shimano TLD 50 – Which is Better?
The Penn Squall is a good option for those who want a high-quality fishing reel without having to spend as much. It is not as good for some of the bigger fish but gets the job done, especially for those who plan to go fishing only occasionally. The Shimano TLD is a good one when you plan to fish often. It is smooth and lightweight while still having the necessary power for those big fish.
Penn Fathom vs. Shimano TLD – Which is Better?
The Penn Fathom is one of the best options on the market to help with intense fishing. It has a heavy-duty lever drag that is durable and has all of the cranking power that you need. The quick shift 2-speed system, dura-drag system, and fluid cranking will make this a great option. It is really expensive, though. If you want a good big fish reel, without the cost, the Shimano TLD will work just fine.
Penn and the Shimano both make excellent fishing reels that will get the job done when you're out on the water. Shimano still reigns king when it comes to reels, and many anglers would argue that they use the best materials. So again, if you have money to burn that Shimano isn't going to let you down in the long haul, but if you're looking to save some money and still want a quality reel, then Penn is the guy to go to.