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FLOAT TUBE FISHING FORUM » Fishing Tactics, Tackle, and reviews » Fishing Tackle And Gear Related Discussions » Waterproof Reels - Penn Spinfisher and KastKing Sharky II

Waterproof Reels - Penn Spinfisher and KastKing Sharky II

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Ornery Bob

I'm a major league klutz. In fact, after a year of fairly serious tubing, every change or modification I make these days in my setup or routine is trying to idiot proof something I've managed to mess up.

Hence the need for a waterproof reel. I'm always dunking them in the water or dropping them in the sand and even though I wash them off after each session, it doesn't take too long before the aluminum main gear inside gets corroded and they have to be taken apart and cleaned up and reassembled. I can do it, but I don't find it fun.

So I started looking for waterproof reels and discovered the Penn Spinfisher. Here's the blurb - "The PENN Spinfisher V features our Water Tight Design so whether you dunk the reel in the surf, or let it ride in the spray all the way home, you don’t have to worry about saltwater getting into the gearbox or drag system." Works for me!

I'm running light tackle - 30 lb. braid with 10 lb. fluorocarbon leader and baits typically 1/2 oz. and under on Phenix Maxim rods, so I went for the smallest model in the lineup, the V3500. I found one on eBay for about $100 all in and I've been using it for a while now.

The Penn offers no real surprises - it looks and acts like a quality reel. The drag is silky smooth and after many dunks in the water and drops in the sand and quick rinses with fresh water, it looks and performs just as it did out of the box. I did recently take the side plate off and have a peek inside and everything was perfectly dry and untouched by corrosion. In my limited testing, the reel delivers everything it promises.

There are two things about the Penn, that I don't like. The first is there is no release for the anti-reverse. It's always on. That doesn't seem to be true from what I've read about the larger models, but this one has no release. It's not a deal breaker for me, but it is a feature I normally use fairly regularly on my other reels.

The other thing I don't like is that it's heavy. At almost a pound (14.4 oz.) it feels heavy on the rod. It's not a fault with the design of the reel, it's just more reel than I actually need. The weight is due to the all metal construction, which most people consider a positive feature and if I was using a big surf fishing rod (their target market I think) the weight would be a good balance. I'm just saying that for me, it's too much. It's not "light tackle" and doesn't pretend to be. Like I said, not a problem with the reel, it's just not the right choice for me.

As fate would have it, the day after I ordered the Penn, I discovered the KastKing Sharky II, also a waterproof reel. Since I normally run two rigs on the tube, and since it was basically a third of the cost of the Penn, I ordered the smallest model in the lineup, the 1500.

The main difference is the body of the Penn is cast metal and the body of the KastKing is graphite fiber. I've heard some reviewers call it a "plastic reel" as if that makes it automatically inferior, but I think that is a uneducated point of view. Graphite fiber easily competes with steel in strength. In terms of fit, finish and performance, it's a quality reel. The handle grip looks large for the reel, but it feels good in the hand.

At seven ounces in weight, it's half the weight of the Penn and more correctly balances with my rod and is less fatiguing to hold. The drag is smooth and reliable. And after repeated dunking and drops in the sand, the drag is still smooth and it's just as tight and dry inside as the Penn. Both reels use similar o-ring designs to seal the drag, bearings, and body. If you look closely at the groove where the o-ring sits, both the KastKing and the Penn look to be made with robotic precision.

I have to say, over all, I prefer the KastKing for my personal situation. At less than $40 all in on eBay, I think it's a great value as a spinning reel and for a waterproof reel, it's an awesome value. If you don't want a "plastic" reel, you can always go with the Van Staal all stainless steel VR125 for $500. Shocked

Obviously I'm not a professional bass fisherman who spends 5 days a week on the water and punishes his gear to the max. I don't have tons of experience and I'm not catching the size of fish that are pushing either of these reels to anything like their limits. I'm just out there goofing around, having fun, and sharing my experiences. This isn't meant to be a serious technical review, it's just my impressions after using both for a while. As always, your mileage may vary.

Happy fishing!


Great write up Bob.
It has been my experience with Penn Spinfishers as well, bulletproof, tank like durability, and a bit heavy. I look forward to see how the KastKing holds up, 1500 series seems like a lightweight for a saltwater division bass reel. However, the reel that feels good in your hand will get more usage.

Thanks for sharing.

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SP Dan

Excellent write up Bob,

I am also looking forward to seeing how well the KastKing reel holds up.

I've have personally used (2) Van Staal's (VS-100G) for the past 8 years and they are truly the one-and-only 100% sand proof, SW/ FW proof, bail-less (option) reels on the market.
The down side to Van Staal: is that they are too heavy for me while FT fishing and their crank is not free spinning enough for me.
Costs: $600 - $1,100 depending on model and seller.
Also ... Zebco had purchased Van Staal a few years back and has outsourced this made-in-America reel. Learn all that you can about the serial number system if you are in the market for an American made Van Staal reel before purchasing one.

Like you Bob .... I also prefer light weight gear that is free spinning with a good balanced feeling.

So I presently use Shimano Stradic 2500 - 3500 reels for all of my applications these days.
They are light weight, the spools hold plenty of line, the drags are plenty strong but are not designed to be SW / FW or sand resistant.
I've landed 20 lb Stripped Bass from the surf and 10 lb Halibut from the FT with these reels but I just can't dunk them ... or it's back to Shimano for servicing.

My fix: I use a shorter rod: 6' to 6'-8" in length, so I can reach the tip when it gets line-wrapped or to re-thread the eyes; after a line break-off, without having to loose control of the other end of my stix and dunk my reels. URRRGHH!  Rolling Eyes

Note: All reels should be serviced annually no matter the manufacturer.

Thanx for all your well spent time researching the reels ... and for sharing your experiences and information on these reels with all of us Bob,  Thumbs Up

SP Dan     <"))><

Last edited by SP Dan on Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:15 am; edited 3 times in total

Four out of the five voices that I hear in my head tell me to .... "go for it"!!!  [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

"Obsessive Compulsive Fishing Disorder"!


Bob that was great i will looking these up great report.

Matthew 4:19 Fisher of Men
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Junior FTFF Member
Junior FTFF Member
I am huge fan of Penn's. I really like my Penn fierce2. Not water proof. But very easy to work on and re grease when needed. And the price is unbeatable in my opinion.

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