Reviewed Reel: Penn Battle 2
Overall Rating: 9/10
Great selection for the angler that likes a sturdy spinning reel that handles big fish well. It's also a great choice for salt-water fishermen due to it's anti-corrosion features. In the top group of spinning reels for the combo of feature-set and construction quality at this price point
Launched in 2014, the Penn Battle II is a refresh of the original Battle line of spinning reels. With 85 years of fishing tackle manufacturing experience under their belt, Penn has a reputation of deliberate innovation - only changing a feature when it can be clearly improved upon. Let's look and see if the Penn Battle II lives up to that history.
Here's a review based on the characteristics we think set one reel apart from another. Click on a title to expand.
The original Penn Battle was a well-loved fishing reel. Of course it wasn't perfect, so Penn worked to improve a few features. One major area of improvement in the Penn Battle 2 is the ball bearings. While still stainless steel rather than an alloy or ceramic, these bearings are sealed rather than shielded. This provides the most physical protection to the bearing structure by keeping out sand and salt that can wreck havoc on a reel's insides.
If you fish in a saltwater environment, or have had trouble with sand in the past this reel has been built with you in mind. This isn't a problem that every angler deals with, but if it affects you - you'll be very happy using this reel.
Body: The body is made of all-metal, specifically aluminum. This leads to a rock-solid piece of equipment. If a reel flexes during a fight with a fish, it can lead to stress on the gears and loss of power transfer to your line. Fishing is tough enough without working against both the fish and your own reel. At the extreme, a poorly made composite can fail at the worst time leading to you losing your fish. I only have so much time available to fish, so I look to squash the chances for everything other than "user error" to ruin my day as much as possible. If you are like me, you'll appreciate a sold reel.
The all-metal construction will minimize the chances of having structural issues with your reel. The flip side is the heavier weight than other reels built with lighter materials. I personally don't find heavier weight much of an issue but if you are looking at a bigger line size reel you should be aware it can be an issue.
I've found over the years that how a reel "fits" your body and style is extremely important. If a spinning reel causes you to change your normal fishing style - or even worse, causes pain - it'll soon collect dust on the workbench.
The Penn Battle II ranks high in this regard. There's plenty of room to get your hand between the reel and the rod. It fits well in your hand when casting. Other than some smaller anglers complaining about the weight after a full day of fishing, this reel gets high marks for comfort.
I'd particularly call out the handle on this model. If you look at the picture of the reel at the top of the page, you'll see what Penn has done with the knob on the end of the handle. It's a nice addition on this reel. Sure, it's a little thing but it does make the fishing day more enjoyable - which is what you look for in a reel, isn't it?
There are a few feature upgrades Penn added to the Battle II which add to it's enjoyment:
Drag Pressure: Through some clever engineering, the designers at Penn have increased the usable area of the front-adjustable drag washers. This gives you a 20%+ increase in max drag. The top end of drag doesn't come into play often, but it's nice to have it in your back pocket if you catch a monster. It also helps add to overall reeling smoothness.
Line Capacity Rings: While not quite standard at this price point, this feature is appearing in more and more reels. In essence, they are rings on the reel that give you a visual clue how much line is left on the reel. It won't get used every day, but you'll be glad to have it when you catch a big one that's running out your line at an alarming pace.
The Penn Battle II is a solid all-around fishing reel. It comes in a wide range of sizes, from ultra-light onshore fishing up to deep-sea sail fishing.
I think the Battle 2 really shines when used in rougher environments. So if you are someone:
This spinning reel would make an excellent choice. If you are a bit smaller of stature or have had issues with the weight of all-metal reels in the past, you probably can find a reel that's a better fit for you.
The Battle II has a MRSP of between $99 and $130 (as of the time of this article). At this price it is slightly expensive versus some other reels on the market.
However, it's often available at retail for 20% less. If you can get, say the 3000 series for under $90 I'd consider it a great value. This puts it solidly in the realm of mid-priced reels, where it compares very well.
At a similar price point, the Orra SX is a solid choice for those anglers willing to sacrifice a little stability for lower weight. While you get more alloy bearings than on the Battle II, the Orra's aren't sealed. This gives the Battle II an advantage for salt-water fishing.
The Stradic FK is an example of what you can get for an extra hundred dollars over the Battle II. If you are willing and able to pay $150+ for a reel, it's a great reel. Seals are added to the all-metal body to keep out water and everything else. Forged gears add to precision and power.
If you'd rather stay around $50 and aren't worried about debris getting inside the rod, you can't go wrong with the President spinning reel. Sure the components aren't as high-tech but Pflueger is known for quality engineering. It really shows at this lower-end price point model.
The Penn Battle II is a worthy refresh of a long-loved product line. I'd recommend this reel to most everyone. It's especially well-suited for anglers that don't treat their spinning rod and reels with kid gloves. It's also a great choice for salt-water and surf fishing - if you aren't at the point where you want to spend $150 and up. This reel will hold up well in rough environments.
This reel isn't the best choice for people who have trouble with a little extra weight. If this describes you, in general you'll want to stay away from all-metal construction. The Abu Garcia Orra SX is a good choice for a solid non-metal body.