Craig Raleigh

PENN Battle Saltwater Fly Combo: We Review the New Saltwater Starter Pack

The PENN Battle Saltwater Fly Combo is another in a long line of great gear from PENN. Here's what it's all about.

Since PENN Fishing has been making freshwater and saltwater fishing gear for almost 90 years, it's obvious they know a thing or two.

Along comes the PENN Battle Saltwater Fly Combo, and with it they've again shown an understanding of how to make a fly fishing system that's easy to use for anyone.

This may seem like it isn't inclusive to the freshwater fishing crowd, but we would say right off the top that there is no reason why this combo cannot be used by any fisherman for any normal type of fly fishing application.

First, a word from PENN upon the Battle Combo's release: "The PENN Battle Fly Combo is a sure thing. As new anglers entered the sport (especially fly) they had no idea what to purchase, so a complete saltwater combo that even includes the leader and tippet was the ticket."

And once I realized it was set at a $250 price point, I had to admit it was pretty impressive for a saltwater set up. If you're a consistent traveler who likes to wet a line on vacation or business trips, this would be the saltwater fly combo to choose.

Battle Saltwater Fly Combo

PENN Battle Saltwater Fly Combo

PENN Fishing

I got to review the PENN Battle Fly Combo in an eight-weight style with a nine-foot graphite PENN Battle II fly rod. This combo has a place in the arsenal for the majority of the fly fishing crowd, as it comes completely prepped with a pre-spooled reel (with backing), a high quality pre-looped fly line, and a tapered saltwater leader.

This combo also includes a PENN die cast aluminum fly reel with a fully adjustable disc drag so you can really crank it down on those aggressive species. To me, it wouldn't matter if I was bonefishing the Florida flats or laying a big streamer onto the edge of a weed line for upstate New York muskie. This combo would handle it all.

It's a high quality, four-section packable fly rod and reel combo with a medium-fast rod blank, and it all comes in an attractive (and protective) rod and reel travel case.

There are two weights available: there's the 8-weight which is perfect for bonefish, and the 10-weight rod for those who want to target bigger fish like tarpon or permit.

As stated, these separate combos can and will hold up for fishing either freshwater or saltwater applications and for species that are comparable to both types of fishing. On top of that, it's well suited for anglers new to fly fishing.

PENN Battle Saltwater Fly Combo

PENN Fishing

Using the PENN Battle Fly Combo

I've reviewed fly fishing gear in the past, and though I'm good with a fly rod, I'm not great. I haven't put forth the effort to become an expert fly fisherman, but I love to do it when the urge hits me. Knowing I have enough skill and knowhow to catch fish is good enough for me.

I almost think that was an advantage as I gave the PENN Battle Fly Combo a spin.

One of the best things about this combo is the fact that it is made with a novice like me in mind. Anyone can start right off with it without intimidation. The adjustable disc drag works like a charm, and the fact that it was pre-spooled with braided backing, pre-looped saltwater fly line, and tapered leader 

This system is a great way to get better at fly fishing, especially when saltwater is a new undertaking. It is very light and easy to carry, a feature I immediately appreciated. Even so, it's sturdy and strong, with no fragile feel alongside that light weight.

One great thing about having a pack rod, even for the times when we're not going into the backcountry, is the fact that it is super easy to put inside of the car or truck, it doesn't take up much room, and it's relatively safe from getting crushed.

The only issues that I could see was taking it out of and returning it to the pack could be a little bit of a task because of the tight fit. I know it's meant for the safety and security of the rod, but I almost felt like it was a little extreme. I also had to double check that the reel was tightened into the reel seat. This one was a little easy to leave it too loose, and it was enough to make me pause and adjust a few too many times. That shouldn't necessarily be written off to a design error, but instead user apprehension. The rod's anodized aluminum reel seat with carbon spacer is meant to lock the reel in place, and I think I tightened it a little too gingerly the first few times.

Finishing Thoughts

PENN Battle

Craig Raleigh

It's clear that the PENN Battle Combo is a great deal for those who want to dip their toe into saltwater fly fishing, for those who only fish saltwater a couple of times a year, and for those on a budget. A lot of folks believe fly fishing an exclusive or overly expensive pastime, but PENN has successfully "battled" that sentiment. With this combo anyone can at least get started, and that's good for the entire industry.

PENN is well known in the saltwater space, where anglers need a tool that is as big and bad as the fish they are targeting. PENN's reputation among the world of saltwater fishing reels is unprecedented, with over 1,000 IGFA world records being set using them. It only makes sense that a saltwater fly rod and reel combo would eventually be offered by the famed brand.

As far as fly fishing combos go, and with such a modest price point, we feel that this system will have the durability to go the distance for many years.

By then, the fly fishing experience can only see improvement, as the casts, strips, and hook sets pile up. Getting to that point with the PENN Battle Fly Combo is a great method.

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