The news that Penn had produced a series of top end beach rods made me excited. Previous Premium Penn rods like the Neil McKellow range had been rated highly for their casting prowess, so the news of the Mag4 rods gave me the push I needed to get back on the beach. There are 3 rods in the range, 2 mixed ground models, a 5 & a 6oz casting model, & the Surf & Rock rod, capable of casting 8oz with bait. All 3 rods are 14ft, 3 piece construction, with alloy bounded spigots, quality Fuji Zircon KWag style guides, allowing use with braid or super lines and the patented Abu Grip lok moveable reel seat, not to mention the attractive cosmetic finish that glosses each section. Having put them together instore I knew I had to get on the beach and give them a try. So I filled 3 reels that I’d been desperate to try with the new Berkley Pro Spec mono : The new Penn Surfblaster III 8000 fixed spool the new Penn Mag4 525 and the Penn Fathom 15 multiplier reel. With the lighter nights and calm weather I decided to give Monknash a try. So, once we had shut the shop we headed to the farm carpark at Monknash and descended the coastal path to the beach at Nash Point. Once we climbed that final style we paused a second to admire the fantastic view of the Bristol Channel. Then it was a quick walk to the front, over the pebbles and onto the sand. The tide was already making ground , giving us approximately 2 hours to give the rods a try. I set up the tripod, and got all 3 rods out of their prospective bags. Each rod was easy to assemble, the sections fitting snugly together. I put a Surfblaster 8000 on the Surf & Rock, the new Penn Mag4 multiplier on the Mixed ground 6oz and a Fathom 15 Star Drag on the 5oz version. Each rod looks very similar, until they get a lead attached. Then the difference in each blank becomes apparent. As I’m not a big multiplier reel user I gave the surf & rock with the Surfblaster 8000 a cast first. The moveable reel seat allows you to position the reel exactly where you want on the butt to give you maximum leverage in the cast, a big plus point for me. After setting the reel on the butt, i attached a rig with a crab and 6oz Breakaway big butt grip lead and gave the rod a swing. The stiffness of the blank became instantly apparent. The silky smooth Pro Spec line n 0.30mm that I had filled the Surfblaster with flew from the reel I would suggest it’s not ideal for off the ground, as the stiff blank may need more loading. There wasn’t much swell , but the tip didn’t move a bit regardless. I left the rig for 10 minutes before reeling in. After a gentle lift the lead pulled from the seabed and I began to reel in, the tip showing little signs of loading. The cast drew a blank, but i was more interested in seeing how the rod performed. A fish would have been a bonus. After attaching a fresh rig I again cast out, this time with a little more gusto. The rod didnt really react, leading me to assume it was just too stiff for me.
After putting the Surf and rock in the stand and setting the tip it was time to have a cast with one of the lighter models. Next up was the 6oz version with the Penn 525 Mag4. As I’ve already mentioned I’m not a big multiplier reel user, but found the new 525 Mag4 with its magnetic cast control easy to use. You still need to be in control with your thumb, but the cast control can set the speed of the spool, reducing the chance of overruns. First off I tried the rod with 5 ounce grip weight, but couldn’t really feel the weight coming round in the cast, so a 6 ounce weight was attached on the next cast and this produced much better results, with the bright yellow Pro Spec monofilament flying from the 525 spool. After a few casts I really started to get a feel for the rod & my confidence with the reel grew with each attempt. Last but not least was the 5 ounce version. To this I attached the Fathom 15 Star drag, loaded again with the Pro Spec line. Instantly you could see the difference between this rod & the other two. The blank was visibly thinner, with a smaller Grip Lok reel seat. The reel sat lovely on the rod, a good combination, however I soon discovered the Fathom, without the Magnetic cast control was far to fast for me to use. After the 3rd birds nest I swapped the reel with the Surfblaster fixed spool, a reel I knew I was much more comfortable using. The Combination of the lighter rod & a fixed spool reel really suited my casting style and I found that the 5 ounce version of the Mag4 range of rods was the one that best suited my style of fishing. With a half pendulum style of casting it was really possible to get a bend in the blank, and I achieved my best distances with the lightest rod. The tide was still dropping, and the rod tip sat lovely in the “rip” with enough give to show the bites, whilst not too stiff to bounce out the grip weight.
In conclusion, I would say that Penn are onto a real winner here. With the new Penn Mag4 rods they have a range that will suit most styles of anglers & conditions. The Surf & Rock will be ideal for fishing the heaviest of rough ground marks with heavy leads, the 6 ounce version would make a great allrounder, whilst the 5 ounce version great for fishing with leads around 5 ounces at clean venues such as the storm beaches of South Wales. Each rod has premium quality fittings & a blank that will give the angler years of fishing pleasure.