Pros: Good, durable reel, priced right
Cons: Reel wobble, tendency for bail to shut down unexpectedly rob it of perfection
The Penn 7500SS SpinFisher is an all around good reel for either surffishers to cast lures or bait. Although we find it isnt as smooth as the smaller 5500SS, it has the guts to get your bait out there.
The 7500SS Spinfisher uses an aluminum body. This is a tough reel that is also a bit weighty (25.5 oz). It carries 250 yards of 20 # test (we usually use 17 to 25# on them), which we find is perfect for many of our outings. The reel has a 4.6:1 gear ratio, which is just fine for throwing plugs and lures.
Between us, my wife and I have 5 of the Penn Spinfisher SS reels: 2 @ 5500s, 2 @ 7500s, and an 8500. We have been surf fishing for about 4 years now, so we are not in the pantheon of great surfisherpeople. We do, however, chat with other folks, and have a couple experts we talk to regularly, so we do have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. We find that the Penn Reel website (www.pennreels.com) is less than very helpful, so we thought this review might be of use if youre trying to get an idea of what you really need to get out there.
We got these durable reels at the advice of our local fish and tackle store, and the advice we got is pretty much on the money. These are durable reels, well made and priced competitively. What you get is a good piece of equipment at a reasonable price. You can find better equipment out there, some higher priced, but if you want a sure bet, the SS series is for you. Keep in mind that surf fishing is pretty tough on equipment: the salt water is corrosive, and sand has an uncanny ability to get into everything, and jamming up the works. On top of this, our quarry (usually bluefish and striped bass, with occasional fluke and weakfish thrown in) can put a strain on anyone's gear.
We have these attached to 9' Medium Heavy Action Shakespeare Ugly Sticks, so they provide a medium weight rig, so you can get a good cast from it. You can read my reviews of our other Penn SS reels, and see most of the comments apply to the other reels. I use the 7500SS mostly for throwing bait; my wife uses this rig occasionally, but finds it sort of hard to handle.
The 7500SS has a selectable anti-reverse. Our experience is that when you get a strike in the normal position the anti-reverse kicks right in, and so you are set to go. You can select anti-reverse off by a small switch on the bottom of the reel if you need to backwind and let a little tension out. On the 7500SS you have the option of selecting clicker action on the anti-reverse. This is a great feature when you have the rod in a sand spike, since it signals a bite.
On all of the Spinfisher SS series the bail can be tripped either automatically, by turning the handle, or by manually tripping the bail. This is the first gripe I have with the 7500: rotating the handle to trip the bail doesn't always flip the bail shut: we find it is better to manually trip the bail. In all cases the bails, rollers, and springs are corrosion resistant stainless steel. In the same vein, I have noticed that every once in a while on a cast the bail unexpectedly snaps shut. I recently had a conversation with a Penn rep who told me that the best thing to do is to be sure that the handle is all the way down, and the bail problem can be eliminated. In practice, I find it hard to remember all the time.
The main rotor is stainless steel, giving it strength and durability. I have written reviews of the 7500SS and 8500SS, and you note that the 5500SS has a very smooth rotor. Not so the 7500, which has a pronounced wobble. The magic that Penn got right in the 5500 didn't carry over to the 7500.
As with the rest of the Spinfisher SS series, the handles can be reversed, for either right or left handed use. We like the material the knob is made from: it is a soft rubber-like material that is easily gripped when wet.
The Spinfisher SS reels require very little maintenance, basically just washing them thoroughly with fresh water after every trip, and a drop of oil in critical places. Penn suggests that you use a gentle stream of water and that "power washing" the reel will just force the salt into the reel. Penn's suggestion is that you don't over-lubricate the reels. Usually twice a year I grease the main rotor a bit. I thought after a couple seasons we should have our reels thoroughly cleaned, and so I sent them back to Penn. We have sent the reels back to Penn service after two years, and they sent them back in beautiful shape. It seemed to us that the reels were better than the day we got them. Penn charged us $25.00 per reel, which we thought was reasonable. A note here: we've been told that there are changes in Penn's management, and that the fee for overhauling the reels is going up. Also, I've found that getting the exploded diagrams are not always on Penn's web site, so plan accordingly. I hear Penn is upgrading their Web site, so stay tuned on this one.
Almost every fishing store around has Penn parts. This is important. We have seen other reels that are less expensive and that compare favorably to the Penns. We have found, however, that they don't always have stock of parts the competing brands. We were very happy when we were able to replace a drag know that fell off in the surf, and we were miles from home.
Altogether the Penn 7500SS SpinFisher is a great, reel at a good price, made for durability and years of hard use. The only negatives we find are the reel wobble and that maddening, but once in a while, tendency for the bail to shut down on its own.