Penn Authority Reel Review

Ethan Neville reviews the Penn Authority 2500 reel...

It’s not often that something completely new comes across my desk in this industry. When a reel turns up at the NZ Fishing News office, we usually have a rough idea already about how it will perform – we know the brand well, we know the price point, and we’ve probably fished the previous iterations of the reel at length. So, when Mark Stephenson from PENN gave me a call and told me that he had some exciting news, I was all ears. In a month or so, he said, PENN will be launching a brand new range of reels, and they’ll be like nothing else PENN has done before. “Yes,” was my very quick answer when he asked me to review them, and a few weeks later, two brand new PENN Authority reels were in my car, waiting to be spooled and tested.

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The first thing you should know about the Authority family is that it is now PENN’s premier spinning reel range. They enter the market at $749.99 and, in terms of specs, will give any other reel, at any price point, a healthy dose of competition. For starters, the unboxing process certainly won’t let you down – the gold/black finish will catch the attention of even your most aesthetically-illiterate fishing buddies. The second thing you may notice, however, is the extra weight – but this is more complicated than it first seems. PENN reels are American-made and their sizing doesn’t quite match up with the other mainstream Japanese brands we have in NZ. The Authority 2500 reel, for example, will look closer in size to a 3000-4000 reel produced by other brands. The key thing to look for is spool capacity, which is the most accurate gauge of reel size. When this is taken into account, then the Authority reel weights are actually very similar to the other mainstream brands.

We can talk about the reel’s performance shortly, but what has set PENN apart in recent years is durability. The Authority range all have full metal bodies, side plates, and rotors, except for the 2500, which has a graphite rotor to reduce weight. They also utilise stainless steel in their gears (main and pinion), alongside their ‘Sealed Slammer’ drag system. The result is a relentless, hardy reel that should be able to tough out NZ’s typically unpredictable conditions and wide range of species. The other result of this construction is an ‘IPX8’ rating. IP stands for ‘Ingress Protection’ and the higher the rating, the more waterproof the product is. An IPX8 rating is achieved when a product remains waterproof while being submerged for 30 minutes at 1m deep during the independent test. This doesn’t mean you can forget about rinsing off the salt at the end of a day’s fishing, but you can definitely relax a bit when you see the Authority getting hammered by saltwater in the gunnel rod holder.

The Authority range all achieve an IPX8 rating, which means they are virtually waterproof.

The Authority range all achieve an IPX8 rating, which means they are virtually waterproof.

The next important question was whether PENN’s focus on durability impacted overall performance – and to find the answer, of course, I had to get out on the water. I planned on fishing the 2500 and 7500 models but due to the consistently bad weather that 2022 is becoming famous for, I only managed to get out to the snapper grounds. My first trip was a much-anticipated long weekend in the Far North, where we’d be fishing Doubtless Bay and beyond. But, as mentioned, the lingering swells and persistent easterlies foiled our plan to head around the corner to the islands – we had to be content fishing the bay for almost the entire trip. While I didn’t get onto anything bigger than 50cm, the fishing was typically consistent, and this was still more than enough testing for me to know I was fishing a premier reel. Before I even cast, I took the reel for a tour around the other guys on board one by one and asked them to pull out line. The smoothness of the drag got the nod of approval from everyone, but I forgave them for not being as excited as I was. When I hooked into my first snapper that was big enough to go for a couple of runs, the ‘Dura-Drag’ system performed perfectly. Line exited the reel with effortless fluidity, time and time again. Everyone agrees that PENN reels last, but smooth drags aren’t something the brand is well-known for. The Authority, in this regard, does more than enough to silence this critique. I fished the reel for the next two days, catching more snapper than I can count, and never once did I experience anything but a flawless drag system.

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Ethan hooked up out of Mangawhai.

Ethan hooked up out of Mangawhai.

The next tackle-testing trip was done out of Mangawhai with NZ Fishing News’ own Grant Dixon. We had no trouble with the conditions on this trip, but the snapper didn’t make things easy on us. The winter bite was slow all day, with only sporadic action. Again, we managed to get a feed of healthy pannies, but nothing bigger than 50-odd-cms was caught, despite schools of kahawai and trevally literally swimming under our boat. It was again more than enough, however, to confirm my first impressions. The reel didn’t stutter once, casting, retrieving and pulling in snapper with ease.

If you’re a sports car kind of person, then this might not be the reel for you. It’s not as expensive as its other top-of-the-line counterparts, it’s a touch less flashy, and it’s more than okay going offroad. The PENN Authority range, in this regard, is more like the latest Ford Ranger – it still has all the performance (and more) that you need for NZ conditions, and it certainly can be relied on when the going gets tough. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Authority range becomes a Kiwi favourite; they’re perfectly suited for the wide range of inshore fish species that call NZ home, as well as the long, wet days NZ anglers don’t shy away from.

The PENN Authority 2500 effortlessly dealt with snapper throughout the day.

The PENN Authority 2500 effortlessly dealt with snapper throughout the day.


PENN Authority 2500

Braid Capacity:

220YD/15lb line


12+1 stainless steel

Max Drag:


Gear Ratio:





• IPX8 sealed body and spool design

• Leveline slow oscillation system

• Full metal body, side plate and rotor

• CNC gear technology with stainless steel main and pinion

• Sealed Slammer drag system with Dura-Drag

August 2022 - Ethan Neville
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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