Taking the Penn Clash Spinning Reel for a Spin

icast clash

My first introduction to the new Penn Clash spinning reel was at the 2015 ICAST tackle convention in Orlando, Florida. The crew from Penn was proud of their latest creation and the many new features and technologies that were built into the Clash. The Clash is Penn’s answer to a lighter, smoother and more durable reel that higher-end markets are seeking.

Penn has been making reels since 1932, when founder Otto Henze set out to make the world’s highest quality fishing tackle.

That same drive is what pushes a modern Penn company to innovate and evolve, often ahead of the times with their latest creations.

The Clash is a pinnacle of Penn’s spinning reel evolution and it is being launched this fall to excited anglers who can’t wait to try them out.

penn clash

I was lucky enough to do just that on a recent fishing trip out of Port Canaveral, Florida with up and coming angler Shane Harnett and Charlie Tudor, owner of the 37-foot Freeman, Sushi Wagon. We had been waiting for recent hurricane swells to die down so we could venture offshore. It was a mystery to everyone, what the water conditions would be like, but as they say; “you never know till you go!”

I had rigged the new Penn Clash 5000 series reel on the Penn Carnage II rod. This created a lightweight, but sturdy outfit that would be perfect for a variety of our local species.

We were rigged to start out trolling ballyhoo in order to cover more ground in our search for good water conditions or edges. We continued running east for 28 miles and even in the dim, early morning light we could see the dirty green cast to the water. We continued to run until we talked ourselves into the belief that the water was a little better and we kicked up some occasional schools of flying fish. Normally at this distance we would be in the blue waters of the Gulf Stream.

trolling reels

While we were trolling with conventional reels, it is essential to have spinning reels standing by and rigged for dolphin in the event you find floating debris. I had the Clash spooled up with 30-pound Spiderwire Stealth Blue Camo braided line and a forty-pound monofilament leader. To this I had tied a 5/0 Mustad 9175 live bait hook. With this set up standing by, we would be ready to pitch a chunk bait to any structure-dwelling dolphin or tripletail we might encounter. It often pays to be ready.

penn clash

We did manage to come across a bucket with some bailer dolphin, which was a welcome site on a slow day. The Clash went to work and checked off its first fish. A smooth drag was a welcome feeling and the 30 to 65-pound Carnage rod was a great balance between plenty of backbone and enough flex to keep it fun.  We went back on the troll and managed a few more dolphin to round out the day.

We did take a break during the slow morning to check some deep-water pinnacles we were trolling over. We call them the “cones” in our local lingo. They often hold a variety of grouper and snapper and the metal jig is an excellent way to fish them as they are often standing against a strong current.

jigging reels

This type of fishing puts a reel under extreme conditions, but the full metal frame of the Clash is built for this task. The time-tested HT-100 Drag System can produce smooth pressure and the new Wave Spring in the drag knob ensures the pressure is spread across the entire spectrum of the drag without any loss at the high end of the range.

I tied on a slender metal jig and fired it down. The fact that the reel is filled with narrow diameter braid ensures that the reel can offer plenty of capacity for dropping in the deep. For example, the 5000 Clash can hold 300 yards of 30-pound braid, which gives you plenty for jigging the 280-foot cone we were on. Unfortunately we did not get any bites, but I really liked the textured foregrip of the Carnage rod.  The whole outfit was very light and comfortable for the jigging workout.  I guess the previously huge swells must have reached down and stirred up this area too.

spinning reels

For the ride home, we always prepare for the chance to encounter a cobia, whether free swimming or following a manta ray or sea turtle.

penn clash

To prepare, I tie on a 2.5-ounce bucktail jig and tip it with a belly strip or squid head. On this occasion, the encounter was with a leatherback turtle, which often have cobia in tow, but they are more skittish than other turtle species. To prove that point, this big leatherback ducked beneath the green ocean when he felt our stare. I flung the cobia jig towards the boil in the water where the turtle had been and was shocked at how far the jig sailed. The combination of the braided line and the action of the Carnage rod gave me at least a third again of the casting range of my normal outfit.

spinning reels

I really look forward to our spring cobia run, when that extra distance will pay off big time and the Clash will earn its keep doing battle against the brown beast. This improved casting range is also a result of Penn’s new feature, the Leveline Oscillation System. This feature slows down the oscillation of the spool and creates the smoothest line-lay to date. This not only can increase casting distance, but reduces aggravating wind knots that are the bane of braided line users. The aluminum spool also offer line-management rings to help you gauge your capacity as well as a gripping section on the spool’s surface, which allows you to tie your braided line direct without the worry of slippage.

new technology

The Clash also features a new technology and Penn calls it CNC GEAR Technology and it translates into stronger, more precisely machined gears that make the reel smoother and longer lasting. Another important feature is the Techno-Balanced rotor that enhances the smooth retrieve, leaving your senses open to the slightest feeling from the fish. The Clash also uses eight sealed, stainless steel ball bearings. The seal prevents the damaging effects of saltwater intrusion of the bearings causing noise and roughness. The Instant Anti-Reverse bearing is also protected by seals and keeps out the corrosive elements.

best showPenn is proud to have been awarded the Best In Show for the new Clash reel at the 2015 ICAST show.

That’s two years in a row, because the Penn Battle II won in 2014.

If you are ready to see what the excitement is all about, then give the Penn Clash a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Capt. Scott Goodwin started fishing in the lakes of Kentucky where he grew up. A move to Florida, however, brought him into a whole new realm of fishing. After receiving a bachelor's degree in biology from Eckerd College, he decided that he liked catching fish more than studying them and thus began ...