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Penn Fathom Lever Drag & Lever Drag 2 Speed Review

Recently I did a review of the Penn Squall Lever Drag and Lever Drag 2-Speed so I wanted to follow up with a Penn Fathom Lever Drag review and Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed review.  The Penn Fathom series of lever drag reels is the next step up from the Squall in that the Fathom has a full metal body and sideplates as compared to the Squalls graphite body and sideplates. The Penn Fathom single speed reels are available in 5 models starting out with the Model FTH15LD which weighs in at only 15.1 oz.  Next are the models FTH25NLD, FTH30LD, FTH40NLD and finally, the high-speed FTH40NLDHS which boasts a 7.1:1 gear ratio with a whopping 60″ retrieve rate of its maximum capacity 785 yards of 50 lb test braid while still weighing in at only 24.7 oz.

The Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2-Speed reels come in 5 models as well, starting with the Model FTH15LD2, FTH25NLD2, FTH30LD2, FTH40NLD2 and finishing up with the FTH60LD2 which can pack a whopping 995 yards of 65 lb braid onto the tall spools that is perfect for your larger pelagics like kingfish and sailfish that just love to run as soon as you have them hooked.

Both the lever drag and 2-speed lever drag offer full stainless steel gear trains and a stainless steel pinion gear along with Penns Dura-Drag system that until now has only been available in the high-end Penn International reels.  The lever drag gives you the ability to see just how much drag you have applied as compared to having to guess with a typical star drag system.

Penn is been able to offer high-speed reels that perform very well for an incredible price point that at the time of this writing (6/17) was a retail of $199-$249 for the lever drag and $249-$299 for the 2-speed lever drag.  Street prices are currently running about 20% less check the Amazon links below for the best pricing.

Features

Full Metal Body and sideplates – The Fathom Lever Drag frames and sideplates are made from die-cast aluminum that is both lightweight and durable when it comes to resisting corrosion from saltwater.  The full metal body is one of the primary differences between the Squall and the Fathom series of reels.  The use of the aluminum body not only makes this reel sturdier by not flexing but it is also substantially lighter.

Stainless steel main and pinion gear – Penn has been able to deliver a tremendous amount of power in the Fathom reels thanks to an oversized stainless steel main gear.  If you look at the main gear, you will also see that it has been drilled out to reduce weight.  The oversized main gear when combined with the stainless steel pinion, makes for a very solid feel and a quick retrieve rate with gear ratios as high as 7.1:1 on the single speed FTH40NLDHS model.

Dura-Drag™ washers – The Penn Fathom reels both us Dura-Drag washers which deliver a very smooth and strong drag.  The Dura-Drag was developed by Penn in conjunction with a large US auto manufacturer and is the same type of material that is found in the transmissions of racing cars.  The benefit of this material is that it can withstand frequent and heavy use under heat and delivers that silky smooth feel we want from initial start-up through the entire drag run.

5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings –  5 Shielded stainless steel ball bearings make for a smooth spinning spool that has great castability.  The fact that the ball bearings are shielded will provide good durability over the life of the reel.

Double- dog ratchet anti-reverse – Both the single and 2-speed Fathom reels use a double dog ratchet anti-reverse system.  This is going to provide you with a backup and basically distribute the pressure on the anti-reverse across 2 paws so that there is less wear and tear on the reel.

Line Capacity Rings – All of the spools feature line capacity rings so that you are always aware of how much line you still have to work with.  While some people think that this is just a sales gimmick, I can tell you from personal experience that the ability to glance down at the reel and have a good idea of how much line you are working with both on and off the spool is comforting, especially when fighting a large fish.

Quick-Shift 2-Speed System (2-Speed Only) – The quick shift 2-speed system allows you to very simply push a button on the side of the handle to switch from low speed to high speed and then back again.  The easy of switching between the 2-speeds without having to take your hand off the handle is awesome especially when you are fighting a fish.

 Features at a Glance

  • Full Metal Body and sideplates
  • Stainless steel main and pinion gear
  • Dura-Drag™ washers
  • 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
  • Double- dog ratchet anti-reverse
  • Line Capacity Rings 

When deciding between a single speed and a 2-speed reel, you have to take a close look at the style of fishing that you are going to be doing and you need to take into account that a 2-speed reel is going to cost you more than a single speed. With that said I think that the advantages of a 2-speed far outweigh the additional cost in most cases.  If you are going to be doing inshore fishing for species under 50 lbs then a single speed will probably get the job done for most fishermen.  If I am headed out to the Atlantic or Pacific chasing larger pelagics over 50 lbs with a variety of different lures then I personally like to have the 2-speed advantage.   At the end of the day, it is like anything else, it comes down to the fisherman, not the gear.

Having a low gear is very handy and sometimes almost mandatory to get the bigger fish either up from the bottom or back to the boat when they are putting the pressure on. When the fish decides that they are going to swim at a high speed right back at the boat it is nice to be able to just push the button and kick it into the high gear.  The other advantage of having a high gear is when it comes to clearing the boat of additional rods when you are hooked up.  The high speed allows you to get the additional lines in quickly without having to frantically crank the reel like a mad man.

Penn Fathom Single Speed Specs

For those of you who want all the details, I have provided the chart below.

ModelGear RatioBearingsMono Capacity (yd./lb.)Braid Capacity (yd./lb.)Max Drag (lb.)Line Retrieve (in.)Weight (oz.)
FTH15LD5.3:15325/12
305/15
200/20
550/20
415/30
290/50
202715.1
FTH25NLD5.3:15325/20
295/25
240/30
680/30
475/50
395/65
333619.4
FTH30LD5.3:15435/20
325/30
250/40
635/50
525/65
455/80
333619.8
FTH40NLD4.8:15410/30
315/40
235/50
785/50
665/65
565/80
404024.7
FTH40NLDHS7.1:15410/30
315/40
235/50
785/50
665/65
565/80
406024.7

Penn Fathom 2-Speed Specs

For those of you who want all the details, I have provided the chart below.

ModelGear Ratio HighGear Ratio LowBearingsMono Capacity (yd./lb.)Braid Capacity (yd./lb.)Max Drag (lb.)Line Retrieve (in.)Weight (oz.)
FTH15LD26.1:12.8:15355/12
305/15
200/20
550/20
425/30
290/50
2031/1415.6
FTH25NLD25.5:12.7:15330/20
305/25
245/30
680/30
475/50
395/65
3338/1919.6
FTH30LD25.5:12.7:15440/20
330/30
255/40
635/50
525/65
455/80
3338/1920.0
FTH40NLD25.0:12.5:15410/30
315/40
235/50
785/50
665/65
565/80
403525.7
FTH60LD25.0:12.5:15480/40
355/50
315/60
995/65
860/80
735/100
4042/2127.3

Pros

  • Price
  • Full metal body
  • Dura-Drag
  • Durability

Cons

  • Not fully sealed

Alternatives

If you are a fan of Penn reels especially when it comes to the conventional reel then you have a couple of choices.  For a reel that is a bit more budget friendly but still a quality reel, check out the Penn Squall Lever Drag Reels, Read the Full review HERE.  If you have a bigger budget then I would recommend that you take a look at the Penn International V and Penn International VS 2 Speed reels.

At the same price point from Daiwa is the Daiwa SaltistBlack Gold, while not a lever drag it is a great quality reel that you should take a look at.  Read the full Daiwa Saltist Black Gold Star Drag Review HERE.

In Conclusion

Overall this is a good reel for the money that is built very well and should last for a long time if properly maintained.  I would place these reels in the “value” category.  The Penn Fathom is a definite step up from the Penn Squall Lever Drags as they have full metal bodies vs a graphite frame and sideplate.  If you find yourself fishing for very large species down in the deep then you might need the monster line capacity of the Squall spools.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Penn Fathom Lever Drag & Lever Drag 2 Speed Review
Author Rating
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