Back in the game
I remember when I got my first Penn 9M reels decades ago. They
were “hand-me-downs” from an elderly friend who grew too old to
captain his own boat and became one of my regular fishing partners.
I was excited, because they were the first “real” reels on my boat.
With them, I could hook onto any fish in Lake Michigan and feel
confident the reel was up to the task.
Since then, I bought additional 9Ms at yard sales, auctions and
eBay. They aren’t as flashy as some of the Shimanos and Diawas I
have on the boat, but they never let me down… unless the level
wind mechanism conks out. The culprit is usually a part they call a
“pawl,” which engages the worm gear and moves the level wind
mechanism back and forth. Penn used to include a spare pawl with
each reel in a compartment on the side plate. My guess is, Penn
knew of the weakness, but couldn’t really fix it, and for most
users the original and the spare they included would last the life
of the reel or the life of the fisherman.
Not so for me and my addiction to fishing on Lake Michigan. After
time (as in seven or eight years) and adding several pawls to a
reel, the level wind mechanism boogered to the point a new pawl
would be a fleeting repair or wouldn’t repair the reel at all. I
ended up with a pile of benched Penn 9Ms.
Recently, I opened the drawer with the 9M discards in it and
realized how foolhardy I’d been to cast them aside, replacing them
with other reels, when a bit of an overhaul would have them back in
I counted up the 9M reels I owned, added up the number of pawls,
worm gears and miscellaneous other parts I would need to put them
back in the game and ordered the parts. For less than $7 per reel,
I now have a fleet of 9Ms.
When I hit the lake in a couple of months, I’m looking forward to
putting these reels back in the game.
They may not be flashy, but I know they’ll do the job.