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Penn Pursuit 3 vs Fierce 3 – Which Reel Is Better?

Penn Pursuit 3 vs Fierce 3 – Which Reel Is Better?

I’m neither a saltwater nor a freshwater angler. I enjoy both equally, so I’m always searching for spinning reels that allow me to adjust to different conditions.

Stacking the Penn Pursuit 3 vs. Fierce 3 spinning reels against each other was a challenge because each reel performs admirably on rivers, lakes, or offshore settings.

These models bring innovation to Penn’s renowned Fierce and Pursuit series, despite sharing some core features with their predecessors, Pursuit II and Fierce II reels.

In this comparison, I’ll examine their features closely to help you decide which reel best fits your budget and fishing style.

Bottom Line Up Front

The differences between Pursuit and Fierce series spinning reels have always been evident.

Although both series are aimed at recreational anglers, Pursuit series models, including the Pursuit 3 reel, are less expensive and have fewer features than models from the Fierce 3 series.

In my experience, Penn Fierce 3 performs better than Pursuit 3. I think that spending a little extra on a model from the Fierce 3 series pays off, as you’ll probably use the reel for over a decade.

Main Differences Between Penn Fierce 3 vs. Pursuit 3

The main differences between Penn Pursuit 3 and Fierce 3 are:

  • The Penn Fierce 3 reel has an all-metal body, whereas the Pursuit 3’s body is made of graphite.
  • Pen Pursuit 3’s maximum drag capacity is 20 lbs, whereas Pen Fierce 3 offers 25 lbs of drag capacity.
  • Penn Fierce 3 has the Live Line feature, whereas this feature isn’t available on models from the Penn Pursuit series.
  • Penn Pursuit 3 models cost under $100, whereas Penn Fierce III models cost over $100.

You might also like: The Penn Slammer III Spinning Reel Review

Key Specifications

Model  Penn Pursuit 3  Penn Fierce 3 
Reel Weight 11.08oz, 12.4oz, or 19.07oz 12.05oz, 19.6oz, 21.04oz
Line Capacity 13lbs to 20lbs Up to 30lbs
Ball Bearings Five ball bearings 4+1 ball bearings
Gear Ratio 6.2:1 or 5.6:1 6.2:1 or 5.6:1
Anti-Reverse Instant Instant
Drag Type Front drag HT-100 HT-100 with live liner
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The Essential Attributes of Penn Pursuit 3 and Fierce 3 Reels

Penn Pursuit 3

I must admit that I slightly misjudged the Penn Pursuit 3 spinning reel when I first encountered it, primarily because of its affordability and entry-level label.

My opinion changed after testing the reel, as I was pleasantly surprised by how well it performed when dealing with salmon or crappies.

Moreover, the reel matches perfectly with the Penn Prevail Surf Spinning Rod, and it is an affordable option for novice surf anglers. You shouldn’t expect high-end performances from this spinning reel because it’s designed for recreational use.

I still think Penn Spinfisher V and Penn Fathom Lever Drag 2 have much more to offer than Penn Pursuit 3.

Nonetheless, all models from the Pursuit 3 series are versatile, reliable, and, most importantly, durable, so regardless of the model you choose, you won’t have to replace it after a few fishing trips.

Key Features

  • Left and right handle positions
  • The model is available in six sizes, ranging from 2500 to 8000
  • The reel utilizes HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers
  • All Penn Pursuit 3 models have line capacity rings
  • The reel’s recovery rate varies from 35 to 37 inches
  • Lightweight graphite body
  • The gear ratio depends on the model
  • A Super line gasket prevents line slippage

Build Quality

All versions of the Penn Pursuit 3 have graphite bodies. The reel doesn’t add much weight to a fishing rod since even its 8000-size version weighs under 30oz, making it ideal for holding a spinning rod like the Star Stellar Lite for hours.

On the other hand, the 3000 size weighs just 11.08oz, and it’s suitable for anglers who don’t need high drag capacity. Despite its limited drag capacity, I liked the 2500 size because it’s lightweight and perfect for catching walleye, panfish, or smallmouth bass.

The graphite body ensures the reel cannot rust quickly and enables you to use it for saltwater fishing. Still, all Pursuit 3 models utilize a five-ball bearing system, so regular maintenance is required to stave off part deterioration due to salt exposure.

The reel also has a metal side plate that protects the gears and an aluminum spool.

See also: ThePenn Spinfisher VI review

Drag Technology and Line Capacities

The introduction of the HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers is probably the most notable difference between the Penn Pursuit 2 and 3 series.

For those unfamiliar with this component, drag washers are tasked with applying the drag pressure on the line and gradually restricting the fish’s movement.

The reel’s maximum drag depends on the size, so a 3000-size model delivers 12 lbs of drag, while the 8000-size model has 25 lbs of drag capacity. Consequently, which size you choose depends on the type of fish you want to catch.

I’d also like to add that the Penn Pursuit 3 supports a variety of fishing lines, including 8lbs, 12lbs, or 20lbs lines. The reel’s braid line capacity ranges from 15 lbs to 40 lbs.

Anti-Reverse and Gear Ratio

Like the maximum drag, line capacity, and weight, the gear ratio depends on the reel’s size.

The new 2500 reel size and the 3000 and 4000 sizes come with a 6.2:1 gear ratio, while the 5000 and 6000 sizes have a 5.6:1 gear ratio. The reel’s 8000 variant is equipped with a 5.3:1 gear ratio.

All variants of the Penn Pursuit 3 feature instant anti-reverse technology, a feature most spinning reels in the same price range don’t have. As a result, the hookset feels secure as the technology minimizes the rotor’s backward movement.

Durability and Price

It’s only been a few months since I first used Penn Pursuit 3, so it’s still too early for me to speak about its durability. However, during that time, I used it to reel in large fish on several occasions, which had zero effect on the reel’s condition.

I’m confident that the Penn Pursuit 3 can last at least five years, possibly much longer. The reel’s price depends on the size and ranges from $40 for the 2500 version to approximately $90 for the 8000 model.

Penn Fierce 3

I was underwhelmed by the upgrades introduced by Penn’s Fierce 3 series. All models resemble reels from the Fierce II series, so you shouldn’t expect significant improvements to the rotor or ball-bearing components.

The mid-range models from the Fierce 3 series outperform their Pursuit 3 counterparts. Even though the Penn Fierce 3 and Pursuit 3 have the same anti-reverse and drag systems, the Fierce 3 models have better rotors and sturdier bodies.

These differences are not surprising considering how much reels from this series cost. You must spend nearly twice as much on a Penn Fierce 3 spinning reel as on a model from Penn’s Pursuit 3 series.

Key Features

  • The reel has a live liner feature
  • All Penn Fierce 3 use Techno-Balanced rotors
  • Size options range from 1000 to 8000
  • Aluminum bail wire
  • HT-100 fiber drag washers
  • Five ball bearing system
  • All models support braided fishing lines
  • Aluminum spool

Build Quality

The Penn Fierce 3 series features a broader range of reel sizes than the Pursuit 3 series. Hence, it’s a better option if you need a small reel you can use for ultralight fishing techniques.

Body material is another notable difference between these spinning reels since all Fierce 3 series models have metal bodies and side plates. As a result, reels from this series are heavier than the Pursuit 3 models, although their weight depends on the size.

The Penn Fierce 3 spinning reels are generally sturdier than the Pursuit 3 reels but more prone to corrosion due to all metal bodies.

Drag Technology and Line Capacities

The addition of HT-100 fiber drag washers to the Penn Fierce 3 reels is the most significant upgrade from the Fierce 2 series. The drag capacity of the Fierce 3 8000 model is 30 lbs, five pounds higher than the drag capacity of the Pursuit 3 8000 reel.

Line capacities of Penn Fierce 3 reels also depend on their sizes, so opting for a 5000 model will enable you to use 12 lbs, 15 lbs, and 20 lbs lines, and you’ll have to get the Fierce 3 6000 if you want to use a 25 lbs line.

You might also like: The Penn Conflict Reel Review

Anti-Reverse and Gear Ratio

Spinning reels from this series have 4+1 stainless steel ball bearings identical to those on Pursuit 3 models. Ball bearings aren’t sealed, but they’re shielded, meaning they have basic protection against corrosion.

The anti-reverse bearing stops the backward motion in its tracks, but frequent heavy-duty usage might damage it.

You can choose between 6.2:1 or 5.6:1 gear ratio options, but remember that the 5000 and 6000 versions of the reel are only available with a 5.6:1 gear ratio.

The Penn Fierce 3 has a live liner feature that allows you to set the line’s tension and free the spool. When the fish bites, you can flip the switch to hookset it without changing the drag and slowly reel it in.

The alloy superline spool is another noteworthy feature because it lets you spool braided lines without using the mono backing.

Durability and Price

The Penn Fierce 3 is undoubtedly a less budget-friendly option than the Pursuit 3, but the additional features it offers more than make up for the higher price.

All models in this series have robust bodies that won’t give in under high pressure. Still, frequent maintenance is necessary to prevent corrosion because the reel has no sealed ball bearings.

The reel’s least expensive version costs around $100, while you’ll have to spend over $170 to get the most expensive model from this series.

Penn Pursuit 3 vs Fierce 3 – Pros and Cons

Penn Fierce 3


  • The reel is available in multiple sizes
  • A smooth retrieving action due to the Techno-Balanced rotor
  • The Fierce 3 reel is excellent for seawater and freshwater conditions
  • Some Fierce 3 models offer up to 30lbs of drag


  • The anti-reverse ball bearing cannot withstand frequent heavy-duty action
  • The all-metal body is prone to corrosion

Penn Pursuit 3


  • All models in the Pursuit 3 series are lightweight
  • The superline spool feature eliminates the need for mono backing when spooling braided lines
  • Some models can hold over 200 yards of fishing line
  • Pursuit 3 is one of the best spinning reels in its price range


  • The reel’s drag capacity is limited
  • Anglers who use live bait will find the reel underwhelming

The Best Alternatives to Penn Pursuit 3 and Fierce 3 Reels

I’ve been a fan of Penn’s fishing gear for a long time, but I still like to explore reels, rods, and combos other brands offer.

The Penn Pursuit 3 and Fierce 3 are among the best spinning reels you can get, but this doesn’t mean you should neglect all other options. I’ve listed a few alternatives to these spinning reels with comparable features and prices, so let’s take a quick look at them.

  • Shimano Stradic FL – You should consider the Shimano Stradic FL if the reel’s versatility is high on your priority list. The only caveat is that Shimano’s model is more expensive than the Penn Pursuit 3 or Fierce 3 models.
  • Penn Clash – Opting for one of the reels from the Penn’s Clash series might be an excellent alternative to the brand’s Pursuit 3 and Fierce 3 reels.
  • Daiwa BG SW – Anglers searching for a budget-friendly spinning reel shouldn’t miss out on the Daiwa BG SW. Aside from an attractive price, the model offers a 6+1 bearing system and the waterproof Carbon ATD drag.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Yards of Mono Line Can I Fit on a Pursuit 3 Reel?

The maximum length of the line you can spool on a Pursuit 3 reel depends on the reel’s size, but most models from this series can hold at least 200 yards of a monoline.

Can I Use a Fierce 3 Reel with Ugly Stick Tiger Rod?

All Penn’s Fierce 3 series models are compatible with spinning rods such as the Ugly Stick Tiger rod.

What is the Maximum Drag Capacity of the Pursuit 3 4000 model?

The Pursuit 3’s 4000 version has a 15 lbs drag capacity.

The Verdict

The overall quality of the reel’s body, the live line feature, and impressive drag capacities are the reasons I think the Penn Fierce 3 is a better spinning reel than the Pursuit 3.

Which reel is better for you will depend on the angling method you’re using, the fishing locations, and the size of the fish you want to catch.

I recommend getting the 3000 or 4000 size version of the Pursuit 3 reel if you’re a recreational angler who needs an affordable but durable spinning reel suitable for small and mid-sized fish.

On the other hand, investing in one of the models from the Fierce 3 series will get you a more versatile reel with a broader range of features.