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Penn Atlantis Reel Tested on Big GT's and Amberjack!

 Penn Atlantis Reel Test

Going out to the mark – Jig ready for action

My recent trip to fish in Kenya seemed an ideal opportunity to test the new Penn Atlantis reel to the max.

Fishing out of both Watamu and Malindi the intention was to break up the days trolling with time spent vertical jigging and this is where we could see if the Atlantis would perform as good as it looked.

The jigging marks that we fish range from around 150’ to over 600’ and are frequented by some of the hardest fighting species in the Indian Ocean! Fish such as Giant Trevally, Amberjack and Grouper are all resident. Running in size to well over 30kg you can start to envisage the sort of pressure and test we were hoping to give these reels!


The Reel

The Atlantis is built around a solid diecast aluminium frame, rear cover and rotor and from the first time you pick it up it gives you the feeling that it will perform no matter what you throw at it (the intention was to see if it would). You first notice the quality appearance and striking graphics then when you turn the handle it is silky smooth due to the 10+1 stainless steel bearings inside. The new powerful HT100 sealed drag system would most certainly be tested to the full by hard running GT’s and Amberjack.


Reel ready to go


An innovative feature that I also liked is the EAS (Easy Access System) maintenance system. By simply backing out one screw on the stem of the reel, the rear hatch opens to give you full access to the gearbox. You are now able to grease gears and oil bearings in a matter of seconds. The Atlantis has an Eternal Alloy spool lip that resists damage and ensures that both mono or braid line comes off very smoothly at all times. Vertical jigging demands the use of braid and the Atlantis comes complete with two spools, one of which has an added rubber gasket to prevent the braid slipping around the arbor.


The spool also houses a totally NEW HT-100 drag system. This is a fully sealed unit to keep out the water, salt and anything else that could damage its performance. It is very easy to adjust and seemed very smooth and responsive when line was pulled from it. Low inertia starting drags are a must if you are to avoid break offs and pulled hooks on fish such as Amberjack and Giant Trevally. This is particularly important when also using braid which has no stretch or cushion. Penn say that the drag is suitable to catch a variety of fish in the most extreme conditions! We would be hopefully putting those words to the test.


In view of the type of fishing we would be doing the 7000 and 8000 sized reels were the most suitable. I loaded the 7000 size with around 450m of the new Berkley Jigging braid in 30lb breaking strain and the 8000 reel with the same in 50lb breaking strain. The Berkley braid has been specifically designed for vertical jigging and the Dyneema micro fibre changes colour every 10mtr. There are five colours in the sequence so it is easy to judge when you have dropped 50mtr (or 150’), etc. Each section is also marked in the middle (5mtr) and at every 1mtr so you can be very precise when needed. With very low stretch and high abrasion resistance it is a great line to use.


The reels were then matched to two Penn European TRQ Jigging rods. One at 5’6” and rated for jigs to 250grms and the other at 5’8” and rated for jigs up to 400grms. With these two outfits we could cover almost every situation we were likely to meet.


Den hooked up!


So how did they perform?


We completed two sessions of jigging and covered depths from 150’ to nearly 700’. The 150’ mark produced a good sized Almaco Jack and a couple of snapper. The 200’ mark was very productive and we caught five GT’s to over 30kg. These really put the drags and reels to the test. My fishing partner Denis was fishing the lighter outfit and had a good run around from one 30kg fish. Throughout the fight the reel did everything that was asked of it. The drag although set on the ‘heavy’ side gave line very smoothly and stopped the fish reaching the safety of the bottom on numerous occasions.


 Top: Den with a big black GT, Middle: Crewman Sunday with one of my fish, Above: Captain Steve just about to release another GT.


When we moved out to the 450’ mark we changed up jig size to 350 and 400grm models Dropping down quickly I was hit almost immediately by a large fish that really did run! Again I could not fault the drag or reel. The large ergonomic handle felt comfortable in the hand and certainly gave you a feeling of control. After some ten minutes or so we landed a good sized Amberjack. After removing the hook it went safely back to the depths. We caught another two good amberjack from here along with a number of Ruby Snapper to around 12kg.


 GT running and reel spool spinning!


 Amberjack in deep water


Our final mark was over 600’ deep and with our largest knife jigs (420gm/500gm) we could find bottom fairly quickly. Steve George owner and captain of Tega is a UK charter skipper and an expert in positioning the boat for maximum drift and in keeping your drop vertical.


There were plenty of fish showing on the screen and it did not take long before we hooked up. We caught Ruby Snapper and Grouper. This was great fun for us and another stern test for the reels. One of my snapper was taken by a shark and I ‘played’ this for five minutes or so before it bit through the snapper just missing my bottom assist which was rigged on wire!


 This is an Almaco Jack for Den


Shark just missed my assist hook when it bit through the Ruby Snapper!

 Small Grouper taken in 620′ of water!

All in all we had some great fun fishing and the Atlantis reels performed superbly. Take it from me if they can survive this kind of abuse then they will take anything we can challenge them with in our waters without any problems. With sizes ranging from a 4000 up to the 8000 there is a reel to suit all styles of fishing. I will certainly be getting a 5000 to use over here. Just need to purchase another 8000 for tropical climes and I am fully set!


Tech Spec:


·         Forged aluminium

·         EAS – Easy Access System – innovative rear service hatch

·         Eternal Alloy – indestructible spool lip

·         HT-100 PENN Front power drag system, with permanent anti reverse

·         10+1 stainless steel bearing system

·         Spare standard spool included

·         Sizes: 8000, 7000,5000,4000

·         Oil & grease included


Tega with eight flags plus tag flag flying – each white flag denotes the

capture of a fish over 20kgs. The tag flag denotes that the fish were


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