Penn Squall Review: Lever and Star Drag Reels Reliability and Strength

First of all, any angler needs a good reel and that’s why many fishermen express concern over their gear. Obviously, there is not good or bad gear, as it depends on the fish you are after. If you are fishing for fish that live in deep waters, you probably know that they are more active and bigger so you need powerful and heavy duty tackle specialized for big game fishing!

Penn is one of the greatest fishing gear companies and it was founded in 1932. All we avid anglers know that you buy Penn once as you will not have to replace it. Throughout the years, Penn managed to design and construct a large selection of big game reels.

Undoubtedly, they are ready for battle with tuna, marlin, amberjack or swordfish! One of their best reels are the legendary Penn Squall Lever Drag and the Penn Squall Star Drag reels, engineered and designed by Penn! They offer exceptional strength and durability and many people admit that they are the most reliable reels on the market.

Lever Drag or Star Drag Reel: Which is the Best Choice for me?

So, you are searching the net for a durable reel and you came across the Penn Squall models and you realized that there are two models, the Lever and the Star Drag. Which is the best reel for you?

In such situation, you will have to choose between two drag systems. If you are new to fishing it might be quite tricky so we decided to explain some basic things before you get your Penn Squall reel.

The first and major difference is that if you get a reel with a star drag, you will be not able to know how much drag you have applied. The lever drag system has a “lever” so you can loosen or tighten the pressure.

Another factor that you will have to take into consideration is that you will have to choose the lever drag system if you are targeting big predator fish. On the other hand, a star drag system will give you the smoothest fishing experience and great casting distance.

Penn Squall Lever Drag and Penn Squall Star Drag Reels Models

Just to start out with, the Penn Squall Lever comes in 6 models and sizes 30, 40, 50 and 60. On the other hand, the Penn Squall Star Drag comes in 5 models and has total of 5 sizes, 12, 15, 25N, 30 and 40. As you can see, the Star Drag models are smaller than the Lever Drag.

Consequently, we can assume that the lever drag, especially the Penn Squall 50 and Penn Squall 60 lever drag refers to big-size fish.

You can take a look at the specifications below. The size indicates that you will have to choose according to the fish size you are after. As far as Max Drag is concerned, it grows from 13lbs. up to 33lbs. for the Lever model and 15 up to 20lbs for the Star Drag model.

We would like to highlight the fact that the Penn Squall Star Drag reel has a better frame design as the spool moves and spins freely. If you are casting lightweight lures, this is exactly what you need.

The higher the size gets, the more suitable they are for bigger lures and baits. Both reel are built to withstand the power of bloodthirsty predators and they will never let you down. Since you are interested in getting a conventional reel, you should know that the Penn Squall reels are definitely worth the money.

Have you ever been in a position where you are ready to hit the water expecting to catch some really big trophy fish only to be let down by your bad reel? There is nothing worse than having a bad reel!

That’s why you should invest in a good reel and we can ensure you that Penn is a brand that you can put faith in.

Key Features shared by the Penn Lever Drag and Penn Star Drag

The reels are geared towards the serious angler who wants a reel that will pass the test of time. Let’s analyze some specs one-by-one.

6 Stainless Steel Ball Bearings
Both reels have high-quality ball bearings to deliver superior and smooth casting performance. As you already know, the amount of ball bearings does not play an important role. Quality is the only thing that will make your life easier.

Overall, you will have a smooth fishing experience thanks to the innovative shielded ball bearings. The only downfall here is that you will have to clean it thoroughly after each fishing trip.

The bearings are made of stainless steel which means that they are saltwater safe! Penn always uses stainless steel ball bearings like here in the Penn Battle II.

Graphite Frame and Sideplates
Additionally, standard reel have an aluminum frame. Sure, aluminum is lighter than graphite, it is considered to be more durable. Penn knows that you are going to fight big fish, so they equipped the Penn Squall reels with a strong graphite frame.

More Key Features

Superior Dura Drag and HT 100 Drag System
The special Dura-Drag System developed by Penn, is the best drag system ever made. This system is based on some racing car technologies and promises to withstand high pressure applied on the reel.

On the other hand, the Penn Squall Star Drag model utilizes the HT 100 Drag system. This system offers superior strength and smoothness thanks to the washers. Generally speaking, Dura-Drag is slightly better than HT 100, but if you are looking for a smooth fishing experience, you should definitely go for the star drag.

Overall, Dura-Drag washers are coated with a special liquid to reduce friction and temperature.

Click down the lugs if you are not going to use them (Penn Squall Lever Drag Reel)
The Penn Squall 50 and Squall 60 give you the option to fish freely, as you can click down the lugs and easily pop them up again. When you are cranking you should definitely click the down.

Revolutionary Live Spindle Design (Penn Squall Star Drag Reel)
A feature which you can see both in the Penn Fathom model and the Squall Star Drag model is the great spindle design! It allows the spool to move independently and will give you a great casting distance. If you are targeting fish smaller than 50lbs., the Star Drag will not let you down.

We tested this reel for many hours and we would like to add another great benefit. We were trolling some medium size lures and realized that the Squall Star drag gave a better floatation and action to the lure!

Penn Squall Lever Drag


  • Suitable for big size fish like tuna or marlin
  • Great Drag System
  • Many sizes available
  • Adjustable lugs
  • Exceptional Performance


  • Slightly Heavy
  • Not Suitable for lightweight lures

Penn Squall Star Drag


  • Excellent Spindle Design
  • Great Castability
  • Suitable for medium size fish
  • Provides Great Lure Action


  • Not really good frame material (aluminum is considered to be better than graphite)

Final Verdict

To sum up, when comparing the Penn Squall Lever Drag and Penn Squall Star Drag reels, it seems that both reels are made to withstand heavy abuse. These two reels have some features which you will only find in expensive reels. Each reel serves a different purpose and the selection depends on the target fish.

Consequently, if you are fishing for big fish, you should select the lever model. Otherwise, the star drag model is suitable for medium size fish. Penn is one of the best fishing gear companies and they test their products before launching them into the market.

Hopefully, our Penn Squall review was able to help you and you will not look any further. Thank you for reading and stay tuned on!

Categories Fishing