Penn Spinfisher V: Service Tutorial

G'day Gents,

This new reel from Penn has been generating a lot of interest in the Spin Fishing Community as it has been specifically engineered to meet the requirements of the majority of those that target finned creatures from shore due to improved sealing to protect the reel from inevitable splashes and inadvertent dunks. As well, it is a great budget alternative for boat fishing including both inshore and offshore and I post this here to give those interested in it a look at the internals and give a few surface impressions.

This basic Service Tutorial is intended to provide a visual reference for those attempting the same as included schematics rarely provide much in the way of "assembled" views and notoriously tiny parts can suddenly spring out leading the unwary to come to grief.

This is not a review in any deeper sense as I have not used the reel at length and the true test of it's design will only come with time. Though I may opine a tad here and there this should only be construed as conjecture as only time on the water will test the parts and pieces of this brand new to the market product. I like everyone else wait for Alan Hawk's definitive review after months of use and real engineering analysis of wear over time to understand what I have in my hands.

The Parts List that we will be using for our reference can be found as a downloadable .pdf here:

Lookie Lookie! It is a surprisingly handsome devil for $139:



But this is not a beauty contest so lets get to work :).

Drag cap, nothing under the screws they simply attach the cosmetic Penn plate but on the underside we see the seal of the top of the drag stack and the Drag Knob Assembly (52):


Disassembled we find the knob clicker assembly and this spring (not shown on the schematic) which I believe is to maintain constant pressure on drag so it doesn't loosen from vibration (? maybe Penn can help us with a definitive answer?). A little grease on the seal never hurts anything and will improve water-tightness of the stack before putting it back. I used Cal's Drag grease in case any works it's way down.


Like so, to help seal at the top. This seal slides rather easily around and if it gets out of position your drag will leak. After maintenance I make sure that it is well towards the bottom of the knob then let it find the ideal position as you put the knob back as you screw on the knob on to get a good seal.


The Top Stack (below), remove the Drag Washer Retainer (51) and find one Keyed Drag Washer (57T) and Drag Friction Washer (56T). I did not photograph them as there is simply one each in the top stack with the Spool Bushing (63) below ie not super exciting. I pushed and prodded on the Spool Bushing but it did not budge. This may not be an easily removable part (nor should it necessarily need to be) I will contact Penn and see what they have to say about this. Some have reported Blue Grease in their drag but this reel was dry so the washers got a light coat of Cal's. The Blue Grease you see here was from the Factory from lubing the seal.


Below we find the much more impressive under spool drag with it's eared drag washers. Remove the Drag Cover (47C) by removing it's three screws (22A) one of which goes through the shown wire arm (Line Clip Retainer 47F) which keeps the Line Clip (47D) and it's bushing in place. One early problem that Penn had in assembly was the proper seating of the Drag Drive Plate Seal (47S). If you look at the image below you can see that the "ears" of the Seal are "flapping in the breeze" as it were and not properly doing their job.


The proper way for it to be seated looks like this:


Which is a little tricky to accomplish after you have taken the Drag Cover off. The easy way to do it (for me) is to put the Drive Plate and Clicker in the Cover and let the ears stay out, otherwise their spring action prevents the Clicker from seating properly (hard to descibe but if you do it, it will become clear) as they cause it pop out when you try and re-assemble. Once you get the Cover back on but with all 3 screws still loose you can gently push the edges of the Seal under the cover with a blunt instrument. Then tighten the screws down and the seal will be held in proper position.

If your ears are not seated properly when you purchase your reel no need to take the Drive Plate completely off. As above, just loosen the 3 screws and gently tuck the ears under then re-tighten.

This is the Drag Drive Plate disassembled, important is that the Keyed Drag Washer Lock Plate (116) holds down a eared Keyed Drag Washer (the one on the left) that keeps the Spool Clicker (48) in position.


Once the cover is off we can pull out the eared Drag Friction Washers (56) and the Keyed Washers (57). The Drag Drive Plate (117) and the Spool Clicker (48) come off leaving the Drag Cover Seal (48S) on the spool (below). All of these washers got a light coat of Cal's drag grease.


With a good coat of grease on the bottom for lube and for additional water protection (per Penn). This grease will come in contact with water and sand. If you need less sealing, you can go without, if you need as much water resistance as you can get this should be an area you regularly wipe down and reapply fresh grease:


The Line Roller is simple as can be. I like Corrosion-X in here though I greased the screw when I put it back to get some in it's threads:



Once it's back together you can see the threads on the opposite side of the arm from the Bail Arm Screw (31) and Line Roller Screw (36). In these I put a drop of Corrosion-X and wiped off the excess as they will trap salt and water in those little nooks. You may be tempted to use grease, but it will attract sand.


I did take the Rotor Cover (27A) off to see what Penn was up to with their Bail Spring (32), Pivot Arm (34C) and Bail Trip Lever (28) and found a pretty standard plan. The Bail Spring is surprisingly robust and long so count on it jumping out of it's slot as soon as the cover is loosened. When putting it back together if there is any loose play in the bail it has jumped out of it's slot and you'll have to try again. One hand really has to keep the Spring pressed flat while you squeeze the Cover on with the other or it will squirt out. It's a bit fiddly but it does give the bail a nice firm return.


If your reel has been getting dunked this is an area you need to monitor. The underside of the rotor shows that the Bail Trip Lever comes through this opening to interact with the trip on the Body. That opening will allow water and sand into the housing of the Bail Spring et al so you need to stay on top of this.


Ok, now the real meat and potatoes :). The rotor comes off easily after removing the Main Shaft Washer (39B) and any Spool Adjust Washers (39A) that you may have added. The Rotor Nut (38) comes off after removing the Rotor Nut Locking Plate (95B) by removing it's screw (38A). The nut itself is righty tight, lefty loose. I left the rotor washer (38D) in place.


Then the Pinion Bearing Retainer and it's 3 screws (21A) come off. Careful with these as they were surprisingly tight so don't strip them.


I did not remove the Rotor Brake (28D) as there was no need but it would come off simply with it's 2 screws (28S). The Trip of the Bail is done by this bit of beef on the body itself:


Ok, with the Pinion Bearing Retainer out of the way with some wiggles and shakes out drops the heart of the beast: The pinion Ball Bearings (20A), Pinion Ball Bearing Collar (21B), the Clutch/Sleeve Assembly (98, and nice a nice stainless AR Bearing it appears too), a second pinion Ball Bearing (20A), a mere slip of a Pinion Gear Washer (19A) and the Pinion Gear (19) all in one piece, sliding off of the Main Shaft (39):


And in their proper order:


For all of this below the Bearing Retainer I found all the parts feeling lightly oiled. Typically this type of "barrel" AR Clutch works fine with some light oil in it. Cleaning as needed should be with Carb Cleaner and Compressed Air. The shields on the bearings did have retaining clips and so could be removed to check for adequacy of the factory grease but the clips were very fine and to be honest I didn't have a hook with a small enough tip to get a grip on them. Penn has been doing a really good job getting grease in there recently but the truly dedicated would pull the shields to check.

The reel is partly sealed but you may note that there is none in this area and is the main reason Penn does not rate it for cranking underwater. As the shaft moves up and down it could potentially introduce Salt and Water down into the Bearings and Clutch. Additionally, one may be tempted to use marine grease in this area to protect a bit more but we need to keep marine grease away from the shaft where it might eventually migrate to the Clutch and cause it to fail. I found it all *lightly* oiled from the factory and would recommend leaving it that way. The Pinion is below and grease should be fine there of course, and there is a washer and bearing between it and the Clutch but we will have to be mindful of these issues over time.

I put corrosion-x under the Bearing Retainer and greased it's screws.

The Body Cover comes off easy peasy:


And we get our first look inside (drum roll please :)) to find it all held in in the Body Assembly (1) protected by the Body Seal (2L). Note that this seal per Penn is safe for contact with grease so a thin film on the rim to complete the job should be fine:


The Drive Gear. Aluminum/Zinc Alloy per Penn:


And then the deeper guts with the Drive Gear out of the way with the Oscillation Gear (231) which is driven off of the Main and powers the Oscillation Slider (43) via the Oscillation Slider Guide (43A) which attaches to the Main Shaft to manage line lay:


This is all proven Penn Tech and I did not disassemble them for this basic tutorial. Standard Service should not need their removal nor should you find it challenging to strip them out and clean them if they need it. All that you see here is grease from the factory, even cleaned up a bit for photos, and will be good to go out of the box to fish :).

There is a change from Penn's older SS design in that the Handle Assembly (15) simply unscrews from the Drive Gear but if you choose to remove the Bearing Retainer (232) there is a potential Pitfall. This is of the "*Sproing!....tinkle, tinkle* O geez, what was that...." variety: The Handle Cap Lock Pin (15N) and Spring (15M). Ask me how I know this :(. I did remove it to get good grease on the bearing below.


They are shown with the Handle Cap (233A) etc. above. Apparently the function of this is to pop up into a little recess under the cap but Penn has found some leakage here and is now recommending that you hand tighten the cap all the way down to get better sealing of the body. I added some grease as well to form one more barrier. This photo does not do justice as to their size. If you are going to take this off be prepared with a good "landing" area that can be easily searched and your best magnifying glass....:)

Lastly we have the Handle Assembly (15) that does have a nice seal at it's base. We'll add some marine grease to the threads:


And the handle seems to be permanently attached so no bearings or bushings to fuss with, just little oil and you are off fishing:


Ok, the way these things usually work with me is I slap this together and then spend some time thinking about how it lays out and if there is anything else I need to show or if people have questions etc so I will add as requested. So please post if you need a clarification or a photo of something so that I might help. Personally, I was very curious about this new offering like a number of anglers who surf fish and this look inside was a treat to see what over time should be a very successful addition to the Spinfisher Line with simple robust design at it's heart.

The only "Review" I would add are a few surface impressions. The Body and Rotor are nice and beefy and remind me of my old 650SS. Definitely of the variety that would give you piece of mind if you stumble on some rocks and the reel or rotor takes a knock. The penalty that you pay for this is in "startup" inertia that makes the handle feel a little stiff. Once the rotor gets moving though you can feel that the handle moves well and is only marginally stiffer than other offerings that do not have handle seals and have graphite rotors rather than metal in the Spinfisher V. After that it is all tried and true Penn Design and after a few months we should see if anything crops up. I for one am looking forward immensely to Alan Hawk's review as he really puts a reel through it's paces.

Thanks to TimS for sending his own reel to me so that I could play with it! :)

best regards


  • triumphricktriumphrick Posts: 534 Officer
    Awesome job........lots of details in your pics!
    KeyWest 268 BF 150's
    "Lisa Anne"


  • johnDjohnD Posts: 6,366 Admiral
    Nice work , thanks :)
  • reel stamasreel stamas Posts: 6,151 Admiral
    There should be NO Commercial Fishing for any fish species considered 'Over-fished' / 'Undergoing Overfishing' or Subject to Recreational Seasons or Limits :banghead
  • JJHACKJJHACK Posts: 36 Deckhand
    I've worked on my fair share of spinning reel repairs, most recently 8 Ahab 12A reels from 10-15 years ago.

    This design internal is so wonderfully simple. I think that is the one thing that jumps out and makes me like this reel so much. The seals are the only additional bit of minor complication. Other then that this is very well done. I understand the gears are alloy, and if that's a problem Penn will certainly have to address it. However as stated they make split the difference between the Spinfisher V and the Torque by adding some stainless or bronze gearing?

    In any case, they seem to be well laid out and with decent quality parts. I know that the Ahab spinners of old cost a bloody fortune still fetching 100-150 bucks for a 20 year old used reel. They were insanely heavy and used Stainless steel drive gears. 21oz for a 12lb class reel! the 4500 spinfisher V is only 14oz about 30% lighter and the Penn is sealed!

    I'm anxious for the Hawk review. I suspect that it will come back great. Just by seeing whats inside this reel and how it's put together. No little pins snaps or plastic. Just a nice solid drive train. Like the basic 1975 F-150 bullet proof transmission!
  • pinoyboykevpinoyboykev Posts: 35 Deckhand
    Hawk review is out. Check it out on his website.

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