Newbie looking for first rod/reel - any Penn experts care to drop some advice?

12 posts in this topic

Never owned any fishing gear but always hear good things about Penn. Been reading a lot about how to match rods and reels and... it is quite confusing to say the least. 


Some info on my needs:


Where I'm looking to fish at: Sebastian Inlet, FL. Jetty/Pier fishing

Target Species: Redfish, Mackerel, Grouper, Snappers. 


Been advised to use Braid in this fishing location due to the strong current when the tide changes and rocky bottoms that fish cut lines with all the time when hooked. So braided line with fluoro leader. 


Initially was thinking on purchasing:



Penn Spinfisher V 6500 bail-less 


Model Gear Ratio Mono Line Capacity (yd/lb) Braid Line Capacity (yd/lb) Max Drag Inches per Turn Bearings Retrieve Weight
SSV6500BLS 5.6:1 330/12, 300/15, 210/20 430/30, 340/40, 280/50 30 lbs. 39" 5+1 Interchangeable 23 oz.





Ugly Stik Tiger Spinning Rod 


Model Rod Length Power Pieces Line Weight (lb.) Lure Weight (oz.) Guides
USTB1050S702 7'0" Medium 2 10 - 50 1/2 - 6 6+Tip

I admit I do not understand what or how the reel's max drag stat should be matched to the rod's line weight/power. This is most confusing. I thought this rod and reel combination would allow the widest range of flexibility.


Then I went to the Penn website and browsed around for a day...


After looking at the Penn Spinfisher VI video, visiting the Penn website and looking at the rod/reel combos I am leaning towards getting the new Spinfisher VI .. because, why not get the latest tech? Should help the clueless somewhat no?


Anyways...I don't understand what the heck 'liveliner' does (website doesn't really explain and the video obviously assumes the audience knows all the terms used). Could I have a layman's terms explanation of its features/functions please?


Following that, I looked at the Spinfisher VI rod/reel combos .. both for liveliner and standard (could not find bail-less in either format) at the 6500 size. A short 6ft rod or a 10ft rod option for the standards and 7ft only option for the liveliner. 


Very confused now. 


Since you are the experts... which would be the best fit for my fishing location / needs / target species? 


Thank you!

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You say you've never owned fishing gear, but have you ever fished at all on a regular basis?  Or are you completely new?

If the latter, my first and foremost advice would be to not use braid until you get comfortable with mono.  Braid is a beast to work with if you're not experienced.  For one, due to it's very limp nature, tying knots can sometimes be a challenge, esp when time is of the essence.  Also, you have to be VERY careful when you are casting or retrieving, to keep your fingers away from the line.  It has the ability to  give you a pretty deep gash if it rubs along your finger while casting out.  

Live-liner reels are spinning reels with a switch to engage the free-spool on and off to allow live bait to swim freely until something bites.  

Also, any reason you're looking for a bailless reel?  Again I would imagine a certain skillset would be need to master its use, perhaps other SOL'ers could chime in on that.

Finally, IMO, Ugly Sticks are junk.  
If you want an affordable 7ft rod with some power, look at the Penn Allegience II's.  I have two of them and love them.   The only drawback is that they are one piece.  

Hope that helps.

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Agree with what Jay said and I will add that personally I think the 6500 is a little big for a 7ft. rod. I would go with the 5500 if you are mainly fishing the inlets and rocks. If you need more line for like casting off the beach then 5500 to 6500.

Also agree with the bailless comment especially if you are going to be casting lures and don't have experience the bailed reel will be a lot easier. I have both bail and bailless and they both have their purpose.  Use a finger guard or tape your finger if you are using braid. JMO



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- Right! Sorry I should have been more clear ... I am not new to fishing , I have fished before but not regularly.. up to now I've only been able to go fishing like once every 4 months or so....this is the first time I will own fishing gear. Well, I do own a sabiki rod but I don't think that counts... I just used it to catch live bait when fishing from boats. 


I've been using rental gear or borrowed gear when going out with family on the rare coastal outings. Now I live close to the coast and I expect to be able to go fishing more often and spend many of my days off throwing bait in the water. :) ... so its time to buy some gear. 


- I choose bail-less because I abhor bails and how they screw up my casting. I have tried one before and within the hour got used to it and it works wonderful for me. 


- I do have a very thin glove I use when fishing to protect my fingers. 


- I'm choosing the 6500 because it would allow me to eventually use it from a boat or surf (switching rods of course) and the new PennVI has brass pieces starting from 6500 onwards...which I like. Overall I think this one is the most versatile of the bunch. 


Thanks for the LiveLiner description.. I do like that and I do use live bait when possible so I will be getting that one then. 




The main part of my post was to ask what rod to match to this reel for pier fishing. I see a comment that a 7ft rod would be too small for the 6500 reel yet Penn matches the liveliner 6500 to a 7ft rod. 


So.. for pier fishing (primarily) would the 6500 live liner mated to the 10ft, 15-30 line rated, moderate-fast action, heavy rod power rod would be good? (the rod is from the penn website, standard spinfisher VI combo 6500.... id just be changing the reel to live liner)


Or should I stick to the 7ft live liner rod that comes with the penn combo? (7ft, 15-30 line rating, fast action, medium heavy power) ?


Too bad Penn doesn't state what rod type model they are matching to the reel..that would be super helpful. 

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I do not consider myself an expert but I do fish on piers quite a bit.  I find a rod longer than 8’ and a reel bigger than a 5000/5500 to be oversized for typical pier fishing.  However, if you are going to spend your time exclusively on the far end of the pier King Mackerel fishing you may want the bigger gear.  I usually take a 6’-6” rod with a 4000 size reel for my workhorse pier rig and a 8’ rod with a Slammer III 5500 for my big pier rod.  OH

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^^^^ good advice you dont need anything bigger than a 5500 size and 8’ rod max i would go with the slammer reels over the ssv imo! I would go braided line with a mono leader mabe longer seeing you will be fishing a pier leader . And if you are fishing a pier i would not use a bailess reel nor on a boat ! 

Good luck  have fun ! 

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How are the bailed reels giving you trouble? Most any modern spinning reel has a bail that will never close on you, just make sure you are closing the bail manually (most bigger spinning reels close manually any way) and keep the line roller at the 12 o'clock position when preparing to cast and you will never have an issue with the bail.


Me personally, I would get a Slammer 6500 (not that much more expensive then the new Spinfisher and well worth the extra coin over the older Spinfisher); I like the 6500 size as it is an excellent all around size that can handle some very large fish, but it isn't so over sized that it would become ungainly to use when switching between lures and baits. Spool it up with 300yds of 50lb braid and you have enough line capacity, when combined with the drag power and line breaking strength to land most fish you might encounter and flip them over the side of the pier.


The Ugly Stik Tigers are ok, but you get a lot of flex in those rods which could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. To answer your question though, the 7ft rod you are looking at is an appropriate size for a 6500 sized reel, but the Ugly Stik Tiger wouldn't be my first choice to use off a pier due to the amount of flex in the blank; you will have a hard time steering fish away from the pier pylons. Instead, look up the 7ft9in Okuma Cruz medium heavy spinning rod, makes a dynamite pier rod with the power to handle most things without being too heavy or ungainly to use, it balances just fine with 6500 sized reels. 


Regarding matching a rod to any reel, it isn't the length of the rod that matters, it is the power of the rod, what the rod is designed for, and purpose of the outfit that matters. I could match a Penn Slammer 10500 to a 7ft rod if I wanted and if that rod is designed for fishing big game, the match would be appropriate.


Also, don't use any rod longer then 9ft off a Florida pier, it is too easy to snag a person in the face with overly long rods.

Edited by Beastly Backlash

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Find out what the locals are using at the inlet and find something similar to them. Typically when fishing Sebastian, the longer the rod the better. The length helps in both casting distance and keeping the line off the concrete when pulling fish in. Also most of the local tackle shops will carry everything you’ll need to fish Sebastian. Just stop by Black Dog, Whiteys, or any other shop on a1a and ask for help to find the right gear for you. 

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Just a heads have the bail less model listed as the penn 6500.


no bail means you have to put the line by hand on the line roller to start the retrieve.


Bailed reels you just have to close the bail.


Both fine.  Just don't want you to be surprised when you get the reel and it's missing a bail :)

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It's been a while so I wanted to update all of you fine folks:


I did get the 6500 bail LiveLiner. It is an excellent reel. Mated it with a nice 10ft fast/med heavy rod and been catching mackerel with it. The retrieve rate on it is so good I don't have to to rabidly turn the handle like in other reels I've used. It gets the right speed for terminal bite fish with little effort. 


Took it offshore fishing on my 6ft uglystik heavy jigging spinning rod and got me some nice grouper and snappers. The drag power on it is impressive... when previous reels, even casting/trolling reels I've used before, when a grouper bit it took some effort to pull it up from the bottom to avoid them getting into rock... with this reel this is achieved with satisfyingly low effort... you crank that B*** a few times and the fish ain't getting to any rocks. :) 


The reel has a feature that surprised me and it fixed my previous issues with bail reel... it doesn't automatically snap close. Dont know if its a 'defect' of a feature actually but I love it. I manually have to close the bail after casting. +1 wins.


Only 'bad' thing is that it is slightly heavier than other reels...but with the rods I put it on it balances out nicely. The 10ft rod you barely feel it even when mackerel fishing and with the 6ft rod for offshore you ain't really swinging the thing anyway and the center of mass being closer to your wrist is quite useful for jigging. 


Overall very happy with it. :)

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If you got the SSVI6500LL, the bail is manual and what you are describing is normal.  You should get in the habit of closing all your bail's manually to prevent line twist, and it also put unnecessary pressure on the gears (especially from reels with a tight friction ring/rotor brake).



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