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Penn Squall Lever Drag and Lever Drag 2 Speed Review

In this review of the Penn Squall Lever Drag and Squall 2 Speed Lever Drag reels we will take a look at why these reels are so popular reel for offshore fishing.  Penn is one of the best-known brands in the industry and that is for a very good reason, they make an excellent product and they stand behind it.  If you are looking for a quality conventional reel that is not going to set you back too much then either of these reels might be just the choice.

The Penn Squall Lever Drag is designed to tackle most offshore species of fish and it does a great job.  The Squall Lever Drag reel is part of the Squall Family of reels that also include the Penn Squall Lever Drag 2 Speed, Penn Squall Star Drag, and the Penn Squall LevelWind.  I will cover the Squall Lever Drag 2 Speed below and you can read more about the Penn Squall Star Drag HERE.  Additionally, I have put together a quick side by side comparison of the Penn Squall Lever Drag vs.Penn Squall Star Drag HERE

These reels are is geared towards someone that is a bit more budget conscious and might not use the reel on a daily or weekly basis or someone that needs to say get 6 of these for setting up for Tarpon fishing.  Overall this is a good reel and will stand up to punishment, but it is not the same quality as you will find on the Penn Fathom or Penn International that features a full metal body.

Features

Lightweight graphite frame and sideplates – The Squall Lever Drag frames and sideplates are made from a graphite material that is both lightweight and durable when it comes to resisting corrosion from saltwater.  While graphite is strong and durable it is not as stiff as aluminum and will allow for a bit of flex which means that the gears have a chance of wearing slightly easier.
Forged and machined aluminum spool – The forged aluminum spools feature line capacity rings so that you know how much line you have left on the spool.  This is very important when fishing for larger species so you don’t run out of line.  With line capacities that start at 550 yards of 50 lb braid on the model 30 and go up to 1050 yards of 65 lb braid on the model 60, your chances are pretty good that you will have enough line.
Stainless steel main and pinion gears – Both the Lever Drag and the Lever Drag 2 Speed use all stainless steel gears which are stronger than bronze but are also more susceptible to corrosion.  The Squall Star Drag offers a marine-grade bronze main gear.
Dura-Drag system – Penn’s famous Dura-Drag system comes on both the lever drag and the lever drag 2 speed.  If you are not familiar with the Dura-Drag it is a material that is proprietary to Penn and that is even stronger that the HT-100 drag.  Dura-Drag gets its extra durability from a special coating on the carbon washers that reduce friction and increase smoothness.
Stainless steel bearings – The Squall Lever Drag comes with 6 stainless steel bearings and the Lever Drag 2 Speed comes with 4 stainless steel bearings.  Note that these are not sealed bearings.
Silent double-dog anti-reverse – Both the single and the 2-speed Squall reels have a silent double dog for the anti-reverse system. This is going to provide you with a backup and basically distributed the pressure on the anti-reverse across 2 paws so that there is less wear and tear on the reel.
Lugs – On the single speed lever drag the modes 50 and 60 have lugs as do all three of the 2-speed models.  The lugs on the single speed reels give you the option of clicking them down and out of the way if you are not going to be using them.
Versa-Handle system – The versa-handle design allows you to place the handle in 2 different positions for retrieving and thus gives you 2 different speeds when you retrieve.
Frame-flush ratcheting lever drag – The ratcheted drag lever is a very nice feature as it will keep the drag from sliding around during the day or on rough seas.  The last thing you want is to go to set the hook and have more or less drag than you had anticipated because the drag has moved on its own.

 Features at a Glance

  • Versa-Handle system
  • Frame-flush ratcheting lever drag
  • Line capacity rings
  • DuraDrag® washers
  • Forged and machined aluminum spool
  • High-strength bronze main/pinion gears
  • Five shielded stainless bearings plus roller bearing

A small but very thoughtful feature that has been incorporated into the Squall lever drag is the flush lever.  The top of the lever handle is flush with the outside of the reel so that slack line will not get caught in between the lever and the spool.  Another simple but thoughtful design element is the popup lug holders so that you can use them or not and you won’t catch line on them if they are snapped out of the way.

Squall Lever Drag 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.)
SQL30LD6.1:16390/20
350/25
260/30
1025/20
775/30
550/50
133718.2
SQL40LD5.1:16490/25
360/30
300/40
1075/30
750/50
625/65
203720.9
SQL40LDLH5.1:16490/25
360/30
300/40
1075/30
750/50
625/65
203720.9
SQL50LD4.3:16500/30
420/40
310/50
1050/50
875/65
750/80
273527.4
SQL60LD4.3:16500/40
370/50
330/60
1050/65
900/80
775/100
333528.1
SQL60LDLH4.3:16500/40
370/50
330/60
1050/65
900/80
775/100
333528.1

The Squall 2 Speed Lever Drag reels are the big brothers to the single speed reels and are available in the three most common big game reel sizes.  These reels are designed for your large offshore fishing expeditions while still keeping a budget in mind.  The reels come in a 16, 30 wide and 60 wide with line capacities respectively of 1,000 yards, meaning that the 16 holds 1,000 yards of 16 lb. mono etc.  This is very similar to Penn’s International series of reels.

On the side of the handle is the quick shift to allow you to switch between a slow and fast retrieve with the push of the button.  Push the button in and you switch to a low speed and then turn the knob to move back into a high speed. This means that when you are fighting a fish you do not have to remove your hand from the handle knob to switch speeds.

 2 Speed Variances

  • Fixed Handle system
  • 4 vs 6 bearings
  • Permanent lugs
  • Quick Shift for 2 retrieval speeds

Squall 2 Speed Lever Drag Specs

Here are the details for the 2 Speed Lever Drag.

ModelGear Ratio HighGear Ratio LowBearingsMono Capacity (yd./lb.)Braid Capacity (yd./lb.)Max Drag (lb.)Line Retrieve (in.)Weight (oz.)
SQL16VS4.5:12.1:141090/15
725/20
540/30
1490/30
1040/50
865/65
2639/1838.5
SQL30VSW4.2:11.8:141395/20
1035/30
595/50
1995/50
1660/65
1435/80
3241/1847
SQL50VSW2.9:11.5:141550/30
890/50
565/80
2485/65
2145/80
1835/100
4033/1755.6

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Solid graphite construction
  • Single or 2 Speed option

Cons

  • Bulky

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 step up in quality check out the Penn Fathom 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.

If you want to try and stay within the same price point then I would take a look at the Daiwa Saltist Black and Gold which is even a few dollars less but not a lever drag.

In Conclusion

If you are looking for an offshore reel that is not going to break the bank and is going to stand up to some serious fishing then the Squall Lever Drag and 2 Speed Lever Drag are great reels to consider.  While the frames are graphite and some experts will tell you they flex and are not as strong as a full metal body, we have not experienced any issues under our normal recreation fishing conditions.  If I were a Captain and going out with clients every day or if budget was not a consideration then I would opt to go with the Penn International series for a little more than twice the price.  At the end of the day, the Penn Squall Lever Drags reels both have the same guts as the International but at a much lower price point.

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