I've been fishing for about fifty years now, and I've always been a spinning reel kinda guy.
Over the years I've had a few conventional, or bait casting, or (for you guys on the other side
of my favorite fishing hole) multiplier reels, but I never really got interested in using anything but spinners. I tried
one of those magnetic magic casting reels back in the 80's but the seagulls would laugh at the birds nests I could
make with that thing, so the fascination was short lived.
Then I met a guy who likes to fish more than I do (didn't think that would ever happen) and
he was using mostly conventional stuff - Abu's and a few other brands. I casted a couple of his rods and I thought
wow, these new ones sure work about 900% better than the ones 20 years ago did.
Anyway, one thing led to another and I wound up buying an Abu Garcia 6600C5 Mag-X - nice little conventional
reel with adjustable magnets in it which is a dream to cast and which has the modern technology required to keep me
from blowing up the reel every time I cast it.
So off to Google I went, in search of the secrets I needed to toss my sinker farther than anybody
else on the beach does. Magnets. I wanted to learn everything I could about all these new magged reels and how they
worked. But I didn't start finding information about only new reels, or only reels that came from the factory with
magnets inside. I started finding information about how to add magnets to existing (and sometime pretty old) reels
to make them less prone to blowups. Two of the most commonly discussed reels were made by Penn - the "Squidder" and
the "Jigmaster". I'd never seen either one of those two reels in person, but the info peaked my curiosity.
For some odd reason, I suddenly developed this strange compassion to have an old Penn reel in my
hand. I really needed to have one, why I don't know. Where do you get old Penn reels, I asked myself. Let's see.
Yard sales? I'm not a yard sale person. I usually go to bed about the time most yard sales start on Saturday
morning, so that was out. Ebay? I didn't have an Ebay account, and I swore I'd never get one. Pawn shops? I never
needed the services of a pawn shop, but I remember seeing one around here, someplace, and then one morning when
I took the dog to vet I looked across the street and there it was. The Local Pawn Shop. In I went.
I asked the guy behind the counter where the fishing tackle department was and he pointed to a shelf in the back
of the store where low and behold he had - Penn Reels! But I was confused. All the Penn reels I had seen on the
internet were red. All three of the ones he had were green. Salt water corrosion green. Really nasty green. I picked
one up and tried to turn the handle (which was really hard to do) and then I noticed what it said on the side of
the reel - Jigmaster! I'd found one!
So I carried it up to the counter and asked him if he had any OTHER Penn reels, like this one,
maybe behind the counter or in the safe and he told me "Sorry, Captain, that's it." The price tag on the
green Jigmaster said 20 bucks, so I figured never mind, I'd have to find one someplace else and started to take it
back to it's home on the shelf in the back of the store when the store owner said "Wait a minute, Captain, how
much you give me for it?". In a moment of weakness I asked him "How about 10 bucks?". He said OK and I had scored
my first Penn reel - a nasty green Jigmaster!
That guy I told you about that likes fishing more than I do, the one who's responsible for this
I Gotta Have A Magged Out Conventional disease that I've developed also had told me that conventionals were much
easier to take apart and maintain than spinners were. I've always maintained my own reels. You'll never know how
much fun it is to strip down, clean, put a set of new bait runner drag washers in a Shimano Baitrunner and then put it
all back together again until you've done one. Or six or seven... So how much harder could this old Penn be?
As soon as I got home from the pawn shop, I got a screw driver and found out. Took me about
three minutes to have the old green Jigmaster scattered all over the desk in pieces. With the exception of A) remembering
how to put it back together and B) not losing the TEENY TINY little spring that makes the anti reverse work, it
was a piece of cake. What was left of the chrome went to the garage sink and got scrubbed down real well with hot
water and some scouring powder, the guts of the reel got dowsed in lighter fluid and got a good scrubbing with an
old tooth brush.
It took a bit longer than three minutes to put it all back together, but I could do sixteen
Jigmasters in the time it takes me to do one Shimano bait runner. I greased the guts, wiped off the drag washers,
added a few drops of oil here and there, and back together she went. When I got the reel, I could barely crank
the handle. When I first looked inside, I was amazed that the green syndrome seemed to be only an outside disease;
the grease and oil inside was pretty nasty looking but there was no evidence of and saltwater having been inside
the reel. The guts looked fine once I cleaned them up.
When I got it all back together, I was amazed again. It cranked as smooth as the new Abu I'd
bought a couple of weeks ago. Like a completely different reel for the price of some grease and a few drops of oil!
With the exception of a very bad case of the brass is showing thru the chrome Freckles, it looked a whole lot better
So I guess the next step in the natural progression of getting hold of your first old Penn reel
would be to put some line on it and see how it casts, right? I thought so, I didn't have any magnets laying around
or the parts necessary for the magic magnet conversion, but I decided that now that this thing spins so nicely I need
to put some line on it and give it a heave. Not a hundred yard heave, just one of those out in the street in front
of the house whimpy kind of heaves to see how it behaves with new grease and oil. So...
I stuck a hundred yards of old line I had taken off another reel onto the Old Freckled Jigmaster, got
a three ounce sinker from out in the garage, stuck the reel on to an eight foot spinning rod, and out into the street in
front of the house I went. There's usually a few cars parked on the street in front of my house, but like I said I wasn't
gonna lay into it and send the old three ounce pyramid sinker a couple hundred yards up the road, so I wasn't too
worried, at this point, about windshields. So...
I grabbed the spool with my thumb, flipped the lever to put Old Freckles in free spool mode, rared back, and gave it a toss. Now you
have to understand that the sequence of events which I am about to describe occurred in a matter of seconds, but what
happened in the next few seconds will remained burned into my memory forever. That three ounce pyramid sinker took off
like the proverbial Bat Out Of Hell. I thought to myself "Damn, this thing really WILL cast!". The next thing I remember
thinking to myself was "Oh chit. I don't wanna buy a windshield or a hood for any of the three cars which seem to
parked in the immediate vicinity of where I am guessing that this three ounce pyramid sinker is going to land". So...
I decided it was necessary to put on the brakes. Immediatly, if not sooner. So I did.
Put on the brakes. I don't regret the decision to put on the brakes. It was something I had to do to maintain peace
and harmony with the neighbors. Have you ever stuck your thumb in a George Foreman Grill and slammed the lid? If not,
and you want to find out how it feels to put the brakes on when you just sent three ounces of lead sailing up the
street attached to a Jigmaster, give it a try. The next thing I remember thinking didn't last for a second, it lasted
for about thirty minutes; "OUCH! THAT HURTS!!"
If you took a lump of modeling clay and laid it on the spool of a conventional reel and made an imprint of the line,
you'd see exactly what my thumb looked like that sunny afternoon after I'd tested Old Freckles for the first time. As
I walked back up the driveway to the garage, carrying the rod in my left hand and licking my right thumb in the hopes
that it would stop smoking soon, I remember thinking "Damn. I like these old Penn reels. I wonder where I can get one
that still has some chrome left on it...."