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Penn Clash Review

Penn Clash Review

In this review of the Penn Clash Spinning Reel, we will take a look at the reel that was first debuted at the 2015 ICAST show and what makes it another good option from Penn.

The Penn Clash is another in a long line of reels from Penn and fits in between the Penn Spinfisher V on the lower price point and the Penn Slammer III in the higher price point, with a sub $200 retail price for the mid-sized reels.

The Penn Clash comes in 7 models ranging in size from 2000 up to an 8000 and is designed for saltwater fishing with corrosion resistant anodized aluminum for the body in all models and the spool for the 6000 and 8000 models.

Additionally, Penn has used 8 sealed stainless steel bearings, an instant anti-reverse bearing, patented HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, and the CNC Dura-Gear technology for longer lasting and smoother gearing.

If you are looking to step up in the quality of your reel without breaking the bank, then the Penn Clash is one that should be considered.

However, is it really the best bang for the buck?

The Bottom Line

  • A quality saltwater reel under $200 for both inshore fishing as well as offshore.
  • Smooth reel with solid and smooth HT-100 carbon fiber drag.
  • High level of manufacturing quality, parts are easy to find and reel is easy to maintain.
  • Very durable anodized body and CNC machined gears.

The Penn Clash is a decent value in the mid-priced spinning reels and is available HERE.


Full Metal Body & Sideplates – The Penn Clash has a full metal body and sideplates in all of the models that are made of anodized aluminum to resist saltwater corrosion.

The aluminum is carried over to the 6000 and 8000 rotors where the models 2000-5000 have a rigid carbon resin rotor made of Penn’s RR30 material to reduce weight.

CNC Gear Technology – The Penn Clash series of reels uses CNC machine cut gears that provide very tight meshing of the gears and extra strength.  The gears in the 2000-5000 are made of brass for the pinion gear and aluminum for the main gears while the larger 6000-8000 series use brass for the pinion and drive gears.

Level line Oscillation System – The slow oscillation level line system (1 up and down per 5 handle cranks) is designed to provide an even lay of the line on the spool.  When you are retrieving with a regular oscillation speed the spool moves up and down quickly.

With the slow oscillation system, you can see that the spool moves much slower up and down.  From what we were able to see, the system works extremely well and provided a very tight and nearly even line lay which means that we did not experience any wind knots and were able to achieve good casting distances.

HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers – The HT-100 drag system uses keyed carbon fiber washers that are designed to have pressure applied on both sides of the washer.  In doing this, Penn has been able to increase to possible drag by a factor of about 20%.

The carbon fiber washers also provide a smooth non-jerky drag at all drag pressures.  The Penn Clash features a large seal located under the cap to prevent the intrusion of saltwater as well as using a “Wave Spring” that allows for more linear pressure to be applied over the entire range of the drag making it much more even.

8+1 Sealed stainless steel ball bearing – 8+1 sealed stainless steel bearings provide a smooth retrieving experience even under a heavy load.  Due to the fact that the bearings are sealed, they will hold up under harsh saltwater conditions.

Instant Anti-Reverse bearing – The instant anti-reverse bearing provides the angler with the ability to get a solid hook set every time with no play in the spool when setting the hook. In the Penn Clash, there is the addition of an extra seal to keep harsh saltwater out.

Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire – The bail wire is constructed of a heavy-duty aluminum wire that is not prone to getting bent easily.

Braid ready aluminum spool – The spool is made of aluminum just like the body and has been ported to reduce the overall weight.  The spool is designed to be braid ready – meaning that it has a knurled band in the center of the spool that allows you to go straight to the spool with braid versus having to back it with mono to eliminate the line from slipping around the spool.

Line Capacity Rings – The Penn Clash has three line capacity rings to let you know at all times how much line is left on the spool.  The lines indicate 1/3, 2/3 and Full.  I find this especially useful when fighting larger species like Bull Reds that love to head in the opposite direction of the boat.

Features at a Glance

  • Full Metal Body
  • CNC Gear Technology
  • Leveline Oscillation System
  • HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers
  • 8 Sealed stainless steel ball bearing
  • Instant Anti-Reverse bearing
  • Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
  • Braid ready spool
  • Line Capacity Rings

The Penn Clash is available in 7 models to provide you with a size that will work for everything from light tackle for your flats fishing for spotted trout, thru the 8000 size which is large enough for Bull Reds, Jacks, Dolphin, and Tarpon.

When looking at the reel you will notice that Penn has ported the spool, rotor, body and handle to reduce the weight.

Penn has a reputation of traditionally building heavier reels, the Penn Clash is the lightest reel that Penn has produced to date. The smallest of the reels, the CLA 2000 weighs in at 8.2 oz and the largest, the CLA 8000 weighs 27.2 oz.

This makes them approximately 30% lighter than their counterparts the Penn Spinfisher V and the Penn Slammer III.

The five smaller models have a solid aluminum body and sideplates and utilize an extremely rigid carbon resin for the rotor to reduce weight.  They also use brass for the pinion gear and aluminum for the main gear. They would be the:

CLA 2000, CLA 2500, CLA 3000, CLA 4000 & CLA 5000

The two larger models carry the aluminum construction over to the rotor as well and use a brass versus aluminum main gear for added strength for your larger species.  They would be the:

CLA 6000 & CLA 8000

One of the other major improvements that Penn has made on the Class is the number of places that it is sealed to prevent the intrusion of saltwater.  While this is not a “Sealed” reel, it does have a number of gaskets to minimize the possibility of water getting into the reel.

Field Test

For the field test, I paired a Penn Clash CLA 2500 with a 7′ Medium St. Croix Mojo Inshore rod and loaded it with 20lb test spider wire.

I took the combination out into the flats of the Matlacha pass here in SWFL and went looking for some reds and snook.  The first thing I noticed was how well the reel cast.  I can attribute this to the even line lay from the slow oscillation line management system.

This Penn Clash by far has the evenest line lay of any Penn reel I have ever used.  My reel was very even, however, I have read some reviews that said the line lay was off a bit and needed to be adjusted with shims, which is not to difficult a task.

After a few hours, I had been able to latch onto a few slot-sized reds around 24″ and put the reel to a good test.  I was impressed with how well the drag worked as it was smooth from just a few pounds up to over 10 lbs.

Several days later I went out with a buddy of mine to take a shot at some night fishing for snook.  We were fishing near dock structure as usual so I had the drag cranked down to about 75% or 12 lbs.

I was able to get 2 decent sized snooks both over 26″ and again the drag performed very well.  The smoothness of the drag can be attributed to the wave spring design.  When retrieving the fishes everything felt solid with no slop in the handle and no flex in the body.


  • Strong CNC machine cut gears
  • Very smooth HT-100 drag system
  • Lightest reel from Penn
  • Saltwater ready with sealed bearings and gaskets.


  • Slightly higher price than comparable reels from other manufacturers.
  • Line roller not always aligned properly out of the box


Staying with the Penn brand – we have the Penn Spinfisher VI which is a great reel and comes in at a slightly lower price point, however, it is about 30% heavier and the smallest model is a 2500.  Read the full Penn Spinfisher VI review HERE.

If you want a fully sealed reel then from Penn we have the Penn Slammer III which will run you about 40% more, weighs in at 30% more and the smallest model is a 3500.  Read the full Penn Slammer III review HERE.

From Shimano – take a look at the Shimano Spheros SW, a fully sealed reel that I really like even though the body is not fully metal.  The weight is about the same but the smallest model is a 5000.  Read the full Shimano Spheros SW review HERE.

From Quantum is the Quantum Cabo PTSE – a fully sealed reel that offers more drag and is slightly lighter.  Again this reel is only available in slightly larger models with the smallest being a 5000.  Read the full Quantum Cabo PTSE review HERE.

If you want a good quality smaller sized reel in the 2500 – 4000 size, then I would suggest taking a look at the Quantum Smoke Inshore.  Read the full Quantum Smoke Inshore review HERE.

In Conclusion

Overall this is a good quality reel for the most part from Penn but I am only giving it 3 stars as I think that there are better offerings from the above-mentioned manufacturers at this price point.

The reel is lightweight, has good protection from saltwater, although it is not a sealed reel, has a solid drag which is smooth and strong gearing.

If you are a Penn fan then this would be a great choice for you.  If you are brand agnostic, then I would suggest you take a look at one of the other reels I mention in the alternatives section of this review.

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