Penn Fathom 12 Star Drag
What the manufacture says.
Designed with a full diecast metal reel frame and side-plates to minimise any chance of gear torsion under pressure, machine cut, marine grade, bronze main gear meshing with a super tough stainless steel pinion gear, 5 + 1 shielded stainless steel ball-bearings for smoothness of operation, and a Versa-Drag system utilizing HT-100 drag washers for a totally smooth drag. The reels also feature a live spindle giving a fully free floating spool, plus an internally adjustable centrifugal brake for exceptional casting performance.
Vital Stats are:
Cap 260yd/12lb or 237m/0.36mm
Recovery 28”/710mm PT
Price RRP £154.99, I have seen them for as little as £109.99 online
I have been using this reel since February for almost every trip from the kayak. I resisted the usual urge to tune the reel before use as I know most people use reels out of the box. So the first 2 trips where just that, straight from the box.
The reel has a narrow seat so it would not fit on my Abu Suveran 12lb class without some noticeable rock as the rod has an Ally reel seat, a quick turn of electrical tape on each end of the reel seat sorted this problem out. This is an issue with the rod choice not the reel.
I loaded the reel with 15lb mono backing and 20lb Spiderwire Fusion white braid. Matched to the Abu Suveran 12lb class rod it is a well balanced and capable combo.
On first inspection I noticed the drag had a high minimum pull (start up), after a quick go on the scales it came out at 2lb. Max drag came in at 9lb. Not much range but I guessed it would probably settle out further after some use.
The ratchet is easy to use and plenty loud enough to be heard whilst general fishing.
The handle has 2 positions and I can comfortably adjust the drag using the same hand from either position with minimum disturbance to winding in. A very comfortable large rubberized grip is a must especially when winter fishing with cold wet hands. It casts well even without the brakes engaged, it coped using baited feathers from a seated position on a windy day with ease.
First couple sessions seen the reel take dogs, general small fish and a couple of decent Spurdogs to test the drag. Throughout the season, I have used the reel for almost all my fishing. I have landed Tope to 60lb in a 2 knt tide and fished in 200ft of water with 14oz leads for Cod & Pollack and the reel has coped admirably.
Happy that the reel would perform out of the box it was time to strip it and tune it.
The reel is very well greased throughout, I prefer minimum grease as I hose my reels down quite vigorously after each trip and often dunk them if it has been a rough day.
After degreasing, I set about the drag. It is a 6 piece set up with 3 fixed HT100 washers and 3 moving steel washers giving it 5 points of contact. They were factory greased so I gave them a good clean and regreased with Cals drag grease. The start up is now below 1lb and max is in excess of 11lb.
The drag adjustment has an internal ratchet giving positive settings throughout thus eliminating drag creep. The end float adjustment cap also has a similar internal ratchet. I like these features very much, it gives the reel a feel of precision when adjusting the reel in the field.
The brake system is a 6 point centrifugal system and all blocks are able to be turned on or of independently. I like zero brakes in Spring/Summer and 50% for Winter fishing when hands are cold and big baits are to be cast uptide.
The reel is very easy to service and would be a good starter for novice to try at home. Schematics and video tutorials are freely available online.
Verdict. I do like this reel a lot, it is my go to reel for general fishing from scratching to Tope and light wrecking/reefing.
I have always liked Penn reels but admittedly I was a little apprehensive when I seen the words Made in China written on the seat. However, after using, abusing and servicing/tuning the reel I am confident that Penn have kept a tight rein on quality control with this series of reels. I do hope the quality remains the same over the coming years.
Gareth Bowen Team OK UK