Taking It to the Field

On The Fly Gear

PENN Introduces the Battle Fly Combo

By Polly Dean

Featured photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

If anyone fishes in saltwater, especially those using conventional spinning or baitcasting reels, they are familiar with the PENN name and why those are the brand for saltwater. This is why I was excited to see that Penn recently introduced their PENN Battle Fly Combo for fly casters who fish saltwater.

The first aspect I noticed was the price point. Retailing for $249.95, my initial reaction was that it was a good price. Not too cheap and certainly affordable when one realizes that this includes a 4-piece rod, reel, fly line and leader. It is available in 8- and 10-weight models, which covers just about any and all species one would fish for in the salt. Having experience with or getting feedback on lower priced and cheaply made combos, I am wary of products that do not hold up. Frankly, those may do more in discouraging fly casters that are new to the sport, when they use a less than optimal product. This fly combo by Penn will not disappoint those new to the sport or those more experienced fly fishers that enjoy targeting species in saltwater. It is a quality product at an affordable cost.

For most inshore species, such as redfish, trout and even bonefish, I use a minimum of an 8-weight rod. Wind is a common occurrence when fishing saltwater and a rod that can punch through it, especially when throwing a weighted fly is essential. I tested Penn’s 8-weight Battle Fly Combo in various situations and found it more than satisfactory in all. I initially tested it, and the 10-weight, while fishing for juvenile tarpon within several narrow canals in Florida. I found them easy to cast at any distance within the tighter spaces. Both the 8- and 10-weight rods were favorable in these conditions. The grips were comfortable and the rod was as tight and fast as the more expensive model I am used. Jimmy Jacobs, editor of On the Fly South adds, “The Battle 10-weight handled surprisingly well in the confines of the canals, where a bit of finesse was needed for shorter casts.”

The author casting the PENN 10-weight for tarpon in the tight conditions of a Central Florida canal. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

On the same trip, we were able to cast the 8-weight Penn Battle while fishing for pompano in open water while wading on sand bars. Here we faced moderate to strong winds. Again, we found the rod was up for the task and able to handle this situation equally well.

Punching a cast into the wind on the open pompano waters. Photo by Polly Dean.

Finally, we were fortunate to be able to test the rods on the flats of the Bahamas for bonefish. Jimmy found the 8-weight more than capable of casting long distances to wary bonefish and during this outing was able to give the drag the ultimate trial with the searing runs of bonefish. “On the open, breezy flats, the 8-weight provided plenty of backbone for punching the line into the wind. Once a bonefish made a run, the drag on the reel was really put to the test. It definitely passed with flying colors,” he said.

Photo by Polly Dean.

At the price point of just under $250, this is a bargain for a saltwater-worthy rig, that includes rod, reel, backing and line, leader and a hard travel case. It is compact and handsomely packaged for retailers to have available for customers that may want to give fly casting in saltwater a try, but don’t want to spend over a “grand” to do so. After using these rods in several scenarios, I wouldn’t hesitate to make them my go-to travel rod for any saltwater destination. Features include a quality 4-section graphite rod with a medium/fast action, an anodized aluminum reel seat with carbon spacer; and a die-cast aluminum anodized reel with fully adjustable disc drag. It comes pre-spooled with braided backing, pre-looped quality fly line and a tapered leader, and combination rod and reel travel case. I recommend the PENN Battle Combo for any fly caster, whether new or experienced for fly fishing in saltwater. Check them out on the PENN Fishing website.

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