* UPDATE: Following the review Penn got in touch to inform me that they redesigned the reel and addressed the issues I highlighted. They sent me the new rotor arms, bail arm, and main shaft with washer design to test, and they worked fine. I posted details of this upgrade in 2011, and including a screenshot of that post for convenience CLICK. If you have one of the early reels Penn will either send you the parts or upgrade your reel for free.
Penn Torque I : The Review
I need to apologise for the delay in posting this. I made a poll about it in November 2010, but it took me several months before I could post because I needed to be satisfied that I have used it enough and under as many fishing conditions as I could to know what it is and what it's not. A majority in that poll wanted a review of the VS VM150, but then on my second outing with the VS someone who wasn't paying attention caused an incident that left the reel needing a repair. I knew that even after I fix it it won't be fit for a review, so I turned my attention to the Torque and put the VS on the back burner until I get a new one, maybe even in a bigger size when they release it.
Before we get to the reel I'd like to say something to those who are reading me for the first time. My reviews are different to those magazine and website "reviews" written by sponsored people who would take off the spool and recite the features handed to them by the makers then post an image of an impressive fish to get the reader pumped up. My reviews are real and my approach is different: I can't review every reel out there, so as I am reviewing one I share with you the little I know about why things work and why they don't, so you'd have a better idea about what to look for in a reel and maybe even you'll be able to vaguely envision how a reel would perform before you spend your hard earned cash. So forgive the length and detail because this is the only way I know to review a reel. Now let's move on to the Torque, a reel that has kept me excited for a very long time, mainly because of this...
Whenever I examine a reel I try to find the design theory behind it. Theories vary and could be anything such as "Absolute refinement for a price", "No frills reliability", "Low cost alternative to super spinners", "Weight first", etc. To my eyes the theory behind the Torque would be "Most features with fewest parts". As I examine the reel I will have the theory on my mind and will see if it conforms or not.
A few photos of the reel when I first received it. Size 9 is $699.99, but as you know only suckers pay retail, so I searched until I found one at a discount and got it for $699.55! They probably didn't know that reducing those lousy 44 cents will land them a stingy customer, but it did
"Sealed for your protection"
The reel's looks has proven to be quite subjective. I have not seen anyone who thinks it looks good, and this includes Americans, mainland Europeans, Western Africans, and even some very forgiving Brits thought it was a hideous looking machine. Nevertheless, I personally do find it to be a very beautiful reel that doesn't look like anything else. Novelty is a part of what makes reels look attractive to me, and the Torque sure has a lot of that.
The reel's seat is of an unusual shape
But it's strong and fits nicely in my Fuji Gold Label seat which is of pretty standard dimensions.
What comes with it
A manual, parts diagram, registration card, small containers of Penn's oil and grease, and a Torx key that fits the reel's screws. Practical useful stuff. A round piece of paper printed "Fully Sealed System" is attached to the rear of the body.
The bottom of the box
They obviously used their existing packaging supplier in China to make the box. This is money saved wisely where harmless cuts could be made. I like it and it's fitting for this particular reel.
Manufacturers usually misrepresent reels' weight, and Penn honoured that tradition. The weight printed on the reel's box is 28.5 (808 grams), but actual weight is
This is 870 grams. It's funny though because Penn's website states the correct weight of the reel, but the reel's box and sites such as Tackledirect and Cabela's and most online sellers display the wrong 28.5 OZ. I'll let it slide though, after all Zeebaas are notorious for shaving 2-3 OZ off the real weight of their reels in published specifications, and Daiwa and Shimano do that too but rather rather more conservatively.
The unusually large diameter spool took 426 yards (390 metres) of colour coded PE 8 (0.47mm). To make your lives easier, I measured spools and calculated the volume of the line's space on both the Torque and Stella 20K, and the Torque's is 19% more than the Stella's. So whatever your Stella took of your favourite line, the Torque can take 19% more.
In the above photo you can see the seal mounted on the handle to seal the opening where the handle screws into the drive gear.
The handle's knob is big and comfortable, but I like the Torque 5 flat handle style more. In the above photo the red arrow points to the glue they used to secure the cap. In the high end Japanese reels screws and washers are used for this job, but the glued cap of the Torque is perfectly fitting for the "Fewest parts" bit of its design theory. We all have glue to stick it back after oiling.
This handle is a one piece design, and if I may say, it's actually more one piece than other one piece handles
The spindle of the knob (red arrow) is actually an integral part of the handle. I have not seen that before on any reel. There will always be a separate pin screwed or riveted at the end of the handle to act as a knob spindle. This genuinely one-piece handle of the Torque feels solid and truly puts your mind at ease as you crank. I tried applying excessive forces on it in all directions, but short of stomping on it I can't see anyway this handle can bend or break. So far the theory of "Most feature with fewest parts" is followed to surprising perfection using some ingenious engineering.
There are no ball bearings inside the handle's knob, which -again- conforms to the design theory. Tiny ball bearings inside the handle knobs are to me more of an aesthetic touch than it is a practical one. The Japanese high end reels have them only because they are built to be super refined products with bearings at all friction points, but a reel will function perfectly fine without them. Same goes for the two bearings inside the spool. They are definitely a beautiful refining touch, but they serve no practical purpose, especially in a part of the reel that purposely generates friction. The torque does away with those bearings too.
The reel is ambidextrous
In order to change the winding side you need to unscrew the cap with the hole (#1), unscrew the solid cap sealing the other side (#2), then re-screw each cap to the opposite side.
The old US made Spinfisher SS had the exact same arrangement for changing the winding side.
Moving inside the gearbox:
A very good feature in the Torque is that the side cover can be removed just by unscrewing 4 screws. In most other spinning reels there is a hidden screw or two that can't be reached unless you take off the rotor. The reel comes with the correct size key in the box (shown earlier) in an invitation for the users to service the reel themselves. Removing the side cover and cleaning/greasing the drive train should not take more than 10 minutes, and it is indeed very easy to fully strip the reel to the last part for a full service. There is no reason to ever send it in for service. Just like the old Z series, it's quite simple for the user to tear down and find the faulty part then order it for a quick home fix. I did a quick parts count and on average the bailed Torque has 94 parts and the bailless Torque has 76, compared to 71 for the bailless Van Staal, 106 for the 2010 Saltiga, and 204 parts in the Stella SW.
The red arrow points to where the shaft extends all the way through the body then goes into a bushing embedded in the rear extension of the body. This -too- is something that could be found on the old US made Spinfisher SS (the yellow rear support of the old Spinfisher is visible two photos up). Back to this photo, #1 is the drive gear, and #2 is a sealed ball bearing. These are ball bearings which have protective seals with rubber rims that snap between the races fully sealing the bearing. All the ball bearings in the reel are sealed, which is totally redundant. As brilliant as sealed bearings are, the rubber gaskets in them create fiction and drag making the bearing heavier to spin. If water gets inside the reel, bearings will be the least of my concerns. So the sealed bearings do nothing here except reducing the free-spinning (commonly known as "smoothness") of the reel. The Torque is lighter to spin than the Van Staal and Zeebass, but heavier to spin than the new Saltiga and the Stella. I'd say that the Torque is as free spinning as the old Saltiga.
I had to do it! I removed the seals from all the bearings except the two tiny bearings in the line roller, and when I have time I'll order replacement bearings of the regular shielded type. Guess what? The reel's free spinning did improve after I removed the seals. The improvement is not that much, but I can definitely feel it
The side cover and the blue gearbox seal going around it. The screws' holes (red arrow) are inside the seal perimeter, which looks faulty on paper. But for the screw holes to be outside of the perimeter, the body's wall would have needed to be made thicker (= higher weight), or screw posts would have needed to be machined bulging from the body which would have been cosmetically disastrous. Things on paper are one thing, and real life is another thing: The reel was subjected to lengthy submersions, reeled underwater, left to slowly bury itself in the beach's sand as waves came and went, and not a drop of water found its way inside the gearbox at any point during months of testing. Sand was no challenge for the reel too. A quick rinse in the wash always left it running perfectly smooth.
Back to the gearbox
The traverse cam (oscillation block) is attached to the shaft via a single screw. When I first got it I opened the side cover and made this scratch (red arrow) parallel to the screw's slot so that I could tell if the screw starts loosening up during use, but thanks to the tight machining tolerance and proper tightening at the factory, the screw stayed securely still the whole time.
The drive gear
It's a machined marine grade bronze, which is a wrought alloy more accurately known as aluminium bronze. It differs to the traditional bronze in that aluminium replaces tin in the alloy, and it usually has other agents such as nickel and iron added to improve its properties. This is just a general description of course as aluminium bronze alloys and their compositions are endless. But ultimately this marine bronze is lighter, more durable, more shock resistant, and has superior resistance to corrosion in saltwater environment than traditional bronze. Daiwa uses this marine bronze to make its proven first tier Digigear found on both old and new Saltigas. The red arrow in the above photo points to the stainless steel gear axle.
A closeup showing the precise machining of the heavy gauge teeth, and the secure fitting of the axle to the gear without the need for screws. "Most features with fewest parts".
#1 is the fore ball bearing the pinion runs on, #2 is the one way anti-reverse clutch, and #3 is the main pinion/rotor ball bearing.
A better look at the clutch (#1), and the pinion (#2). The red arrow points to the integral clutch sleeve that is machined directly onto the pinion. This sleeve is what the one way anti-reverse clutch holds on to stop the rotor. Penn says in ads that this is done to "eliminate back-play", but this is pure and utter rubbish. In other reels that have independent clutch sleeves, the sleeve slips a little around the pinion until it reaches its final locked position before the rotor is assembled and the nut is tightened, and there is absolutely no chance for back-play. Saltiga, Stella, and Zeebaas (the rotor's clutch) all have one from or another of independent sleeve and these reels do not have that imaginary back-play. That integral sleeve on the Torque is only there for the sake of simplicity and nothing else.
A closeup on the clutch and the pinion.
The clutch definitely has a smaller circumference than the clutches of the Stella and Saltiga, but the performance of a clutch is not merely dependent on circumference: the Torque's clutch height is several times the height of the clutches of the Stella and Saltiga, and the steel braking pins (red arrow) are nearly three times the length of the ones in the two Japanese reels. This translates into more contact area between the clutch and the sleeve, which is what braking power and reliability of a clutch mainly depend on. The clutch of the Torque never slipped once on me, be it in freezing January mornings north of England or June's heat on the Mediterranean.
Still in the above photo, do you notice the darkish brown colour of the pinion? That is because it's hardened. Careful examination shows that it was hardened first, then machined afterwards. But isn't it easier to machine it first then harden the machined pinion? Who wants to go through the trouble of machining an already hardened part? Well, they chose to do it the tough way for a good reason: The process of hardening metals causes micro distortions in the hardened parts, hence they hardened first then machined the pinion to guarantee smooth and uniform meshing surfaces on the teeth with no distortions. This is quite simply the most durable pinion found on any spinning reel made today, and for that it is my favourite engineering feature in the entire reel.
The oscillation mechanism
The oscillation gear (#1) is a machined piece of marine bronze too, and this makes me smile big. In almost every other reel that has a locomotive oscillation system this gear is made from some kind of grey alloy that is slightly or vastly inferior in strength to the drive gear. But Penn made it here from the same material they used for the drive gear, and it's machined too! In the new $1100 Saltiga this gear is cast aluminium. Another reel that has a machined bronze gear is the DAM Quick super from the 1960s, one of which has been in my family for three generations and is still running tight after 50 years of use.
The oscillation gear of the Torque does not run on a ball bearing. You might remember that last year when I reviewed the 2010 Saltiga I said that a ball bearing in this gear does more harm than good because you can't fully support a gear on a single bearing due to the internal play in the bearing. Go to the Saltiga's review for more details on that issue and photos of the wear on the body because of it. Penn safely avoided that issue and instead of a ball bearing they used a washer made of Polyphthalamide (red arrow in the photo above) to mount the gear. This material has a low friction coefficient and is extremely wear resistant. Daiwa uses it for the shaft support on the new Saltiga as could be seen in its own review here (part #3 in the 25th photo from the bottom). I keep referencing the 2010 Saltiga because it's the world's most advanced and expensive reel with a locomotive type oscillation, and the Torque keeps getting higher marks.
Still in the above photo, #2 is a PTFE washer underneath the gear for smoother running, and #3 is the machined frame of the reel. Needless to say that a body machined from an aluminium billet creates a high strength part that is lighter than an equally strong part made by moulding.
The traverse cam is mounted on a ball bearing. I'll explain this quickly for those unfamiliar with this feature. When the reel operates under load, the spool falls under a twisting force that is passed on to the shaft which in turn twists clockwise, only to be stopped by the traverse cam. In regular systems, under load, the traverse cam rubs hard against the reel's body creating friction/resistance and energy loss, but in a ball bearing system the cam rolls on the bearing virtually friction free. The bearing on the Torque's cam is the biggest I've seen on any similar design. It's nearly twice as big as those of the Saltiga and the TwinSpin. Bigger bearing means fewer revolutions per cycle which equals longer service life. Durability that compliments the super durable pinion and oscillation gear.
0.25 inch (6.3 mm) thick! This impressive chunkiness coupled with the support at the end of the reel's body make bending or dislodging the shaft a mission impossible.
Removing the rotor
The arrow points to the extremely effective main shaft seal. Actually this seal is so tight that when the lubes on the shaft are gone, the seal tightly grabbing the shaft going up and down makes loud squeaks. A touch of grease should be put on the shaft where it disappears inside the seal as a part of the external maintenance you do every several trips.
The red arrow points the rotor's main seal that stops water from getting to the pinion assembly.
The red arrow points to the pinion/bearing/clutch retaining clip. This is a vital highly stressed area that connects the rotor with all the loads on it to the reel's body. This stainless steel clip snaps into a circular recess creating a full contact lock that will not pop out or fail. Still in the above photo, the blue arrow points to the mechanism of the selective bail trip switch. This is the switch you can see behind the rotor that selects auto or manual bail trip.
For reasons beyond my comprehension this switch has been a target of hate and some truly weird speculations. The most common of those theories was that it's going to be a "sand trap". Well, I have been fishing beaches since I was 7, yet I failed to imagine a scenario where anyone would need to use the switch while the reel is stuffed with sand! You've just unhooked a fish and the reel was left on the sand, and now you are ready to fish again. Why would you need to switch the bail mode at this particular point in time? Aren't you supposed to keep fishing the same way you did just before that last fish? Even if you had an urge to switch the bail mode at this particular moment, is it really that hard to rinse the reel in the wash before you switch? It's normal to assume that bail trip mode is something that you would need to change every few weeks or months when your fishing style changes, not something that you'd mess with between casts!! If you hate it that intensely then for God's sake just push it to the left at manual bail position then forget that it exists.
If after doing that you still lose sleep and see dead people in the shower because of it, then pop the little retainer clip out and remove the entire bloody thing.....
You don't even need to take the reel apart to do it. In size 7 and 9 you can do it with a fine screwdriver through the big openings in the rotor just beneath the spool. No matter what you think of the switch, I find it to be an extraordinarily brilliant addition that is simple and reliable and gives the reel a great deal of versatility especially on charter boats where different people with different preferences and needs come and go. The switch is my second favourite feature of this reel, closely behind the "immortal" pinion.
The rotor's flange off
There is no need to take this flange off in order to fully disassemble or service the reel, but I'm just showing you. The blue arrow points to the good amount of loctite on the flange's screws, and the red arrow points to the friction disc. This disc is what the rotor brake engages in order to keep the rotor from spinning when the bail is opened for a cast. In almost every other reel that has a rotor cast brake, a rubber ring is used. We all know what happens to those rings and how they dry out or swell and need change. Expensive reels have rings that last longer, but ultimately they are going to need changing. This friction disc in the Torque is a solid polymer that has just enough elasticity to effectively brake the rotor, yet it's nowhere near being soft or rubbery. This disc will not need change and will easily keep serving you for the duration of the reel's life. This is unmatched and is my third favourite engineering feature in the Torque.
You don't need the special tool to remove the retaining clip. Just put a piece of mono through the eyelet and pull downwards and it will pop out cleanly. Still in the above photo, the red arrow points to the Polyphthalamide washer inserted inside the pinion. This is Penn's version of the "floating shaft" feature. In regular reels, when the reel is under load the shaft rubs against the pinion creating a braking effect and reducing efficiency. Shimano invented a genius feature called "floating shaft" for their 1998 Stella that uses a ball bearing to separate the shaft from the pinion, and it has been copied since by everyone including Daiwa's Saltiga. That system requires several parts and retainers and weights about half an ounce. For the "Most features with fewest parts" Torque they installed this washer to create a mock version of the original complex system. It does not produce the full smoothness and virtual friction free operation of the ball bearing system, but it works great to isolate the shaft from the pinion to the point that I'd say that it achieves 70% of the efficiency of the ball bearing system with just a single washer. Not bad at all.
I once said that a modern reel is basically three things that would make or break the reel with everything else taking a back seat: Gears, anti-reverse, and drag. We've examined gears and anti-reverse, and now to the most important of the trio: The drag
On the top of the spool there is a single tiny drag washer made from woven carbon (red X) that is more of a separator between the spool's body and the drag knob than it is an actual drag washer.
The real drag
#1 are the massive woven carbon keyed drag washers, #2 are the metal drag discs, #3 is the outer seal of the drag compartment, and #4 is the inner seal. The red arrow points to the drag clicker.
A drag on the bottom of the spool is a trademark of the Stella, but historically there was this
USA made Penn Spinfisher SS reels had main drags underneath the spool since long before the first Stella was designed. In the Torque though they use a dual disc design instead of the single disc of the old SS reels. The Torque's dual disc arrangement is inspired by the Stella SW and incorporating the keyed drag washers. I'm going to explain this quickly, so skip to the next paragraph if you already know - In regular drag systems an ordinary drag washer (non-keyed) is sandwiched between two metal washers, therefore when the drag is operational the drag washer adheres to one of the metal washers and rubs against the other thus only one of its two sides is used for braking. When you key the drag washer though it remains static as the two sandwiching metal washers rotate against it, therefore both sides of the drag washer will be utilised for braking, producing the work of two washers using only one. This means fewer parts and less weight.
In real life use the Torque's drag does not show the slightest hint of jerkiness or any conceivable starting inertia. They advertise a maximum drag of 50 lbs (22KG) for size 9. Actually the massive discs produce way more than that. I would say closer to 70 lbs of drag pressure. But here is the thing, real maximum drag pressure is not what the discs are able to produce. In order for the reel to utilise a specific drag pressure, the reel as a whole should be able to withstand it, otherwise the maximum pressure figures are as useless as man-boobs. In April and May we were catching great AJ and the drag pressure I fish started going up. Then something weird happened as I was fighting a large Grouper. The spool started spinning normally as the fish ran against the drag, but there was a metallic screeching sound and a weird feel in the reel. I thought that the drag knob was touching the spool and continued fighting as the screech continued, but then the fish spat the hook and I reeled my line getting ready to inspect.
It wasn't the drag knob as I thought. Rather it was the bail arm and the rotor arm bending too much the arm actually touched the spool. The scratch marks on the spool said it all
Nope, I wasn't fishing higher than the designated maximum 50 lbs. I tested and it was at 13.5 kilos (29.5 lbs) of drag pressure that it happened. Later I tested the reel with scales on dry land and found that at about 13kg (28.6 lbs) of drag pressure the rotor's arm touched the spool, and when the reel was at its most vulnerable position with the bail arm furthest from the rod and the spool fully extended, only 12.5 Kilos (26.9 lbs) were enough to make the arm touch the spool, making roughly 26.5 lbs the real maximum pressure the reel could be fished at without the arm touching the spool and interfering with the drag operation. Pretty frustrating indeed and it made me realise that in order for me to keep testing the reel I must use it only to target medium sized fish, and that brought the occasional small fish of the kind that you needed to photograph really close up in order to hide the embarrassing size!
Not just that. I mentioned earlier how the gearbox was not penetrated by water, but that wasn't the case with the drag. I started with a simple dunking test when I first fished it that involved the reel cranked under two feet of water several times for a total of no more than 10 minutes, and although I only caught small bass that did not move the drag, upon inspection I found a minute amount of water in the drag. I'm talking about a quantity of water that won't form 3 drops, yet it was water that penetrated the drag. Afterwards, every time I tested waterproofing the gearbox passed with flying colours, even the more extreme tests, but a few droplets always found their way into the drag. I wanted to be useful and tried to locate the location of the leak using a few tricks, but the only thing I could tell was that the leak was happening on the bottom of the spool, not on the drag knob's end.
Speaking of the drag knob
The outer casing of the knob is made of metal and feels assuring to hold.
You just need to pop the retainer (#1) out to disassemble and service the drag knob. #2 is the very effective round seal of the knob. Like the shaft seal discussed earlier, this knob seal fits so tight it will start rubbing against the spool's body and squeaking when the lubes are washed away, so make sure to lube it during the regular external maintenance every few trips. #3 are the spring loaded clicking balls, and 4# is the keyed thrust tube that is in touch with the top drag washer. It's made of plastic, but the upper drag composes of that single small washer that will never heat enough to cause melting. Top marks for the entire design of the knob.
The red arrow points to the bottom seal of the spool. In the first production run of the Torque, this seal was free to move. As it double tasks as a retainer for the pin, there was a risk of the pin falling and getting lost as the spool was being removed. Also putting the spool back was slightly tricky because that seal kept getting squashed. In later reels this seal was glued to the shaft, and this totally eliminates these issues. If you have one of the first reels, clean everything off lubes then glue the seal down. Those first reels too had anti-reverse clutches that were fitted slightly different, which created a slight back play before the rotor locked. I don't think they are on sale anymore, but just needed to tell you in case you see one of them then wonder why I gave the anti-reverse a perfect score. These were early reels before the production was halted for a few months to make amends, and all the ones I personally saw that had that play were bailed 7.
Still in the above photo, the cross pin design leaves something to be desired. It makes it impossible to shim the spool to change its height. The reel spooled everything I put on it evenly from 40lb PowerPro to size 6 Sunline PE Jigger 8HG, but someone somewhere in this big world is bound to spool it with their favourite line then think that the shape needs adjustment, only to find that it can't be adjusted. On a quick side note the Sunline PE Jigger 8HG has replaced Varivas jigging Max power as the best solid braid money can buy in my book. It's more reliable than any solid I've used and it casts pretty impressively as well. But let's leave this until I decide to begin reviewing lines too
When I first took the reel out of box and began examining it, the line roller felt rough when I gave it a spin with my finger. I dismissed that as some finishing imperfection that will smooth itself out with use and spooled it with line. Just after I finished spooling it, I touched the roller and it was hot. I tried to spin it but it was stuck and needed some force to start spinning again and the roughness was still there. It heated up because it became jammed as I spooled it and the line was rubbing on it instead of rolling with it. I took a closer look to see what was up
As pointed by the red arrow, the line roller was not in the centre of the recess as it should have been. Instead it was touching one of its sides, and as it turned it came in different degrees of contact with the wall of the recess causing that roughness, until at one point it jammed and needed a nudge to move again.
#1 are the two sealed ball bearings the roller runs on, #2 is the retainer ring to keep the screw from becoming loose, #3 is the line roller itself, and #4 is the one piece bail wire that smoothly delivers the line to the roller without joints. #5 is the retaining screw, and this screw is what causes the problem with the roller. The screw is threaded to the very end, and that's a design flaw. When the screw is inserted in the bail arm it can play around in the hole a little bit, and because this screw is the only mechanism for centring the roller, it takes it around as it plays during assembly. Once the screw is fully tightened, the roller can't play around any more, but it will be at a totally random location that in my case was contacting the recess at 8 O'clock. I fixed this by keeping the roller centred with my fingers as I re-tightened the screw.
The bail mechanism
Simple and reliable, and smoother to open and close than most reels.
The other side
The arrow points to the cast brake lever inside its black sleeve. Penn put a lot of grease on the lever which makes the brake feel slightly weaker than it actually is, so you might want to remove the spool and use a cotton bud to clean the grease off the tip of the lever for an even stronger brake.
The bail arm retainer
The blue arrow points the clip that retains the bail arm, and the red arrow points a washer that is a part of what makes the bail opening motion that smooth and crisp.
That's all. As real and straight forward as it gets, away from all the bashing and hype and nonsense speculations. The reel got me excited for a very long time waiting for the release, and believe it or not, I applaud the designers. If you draw an imaginary vertical line just behind the spool you will have two sections. The rear section is (start counting the superlatives) the simplest gearbox of any ambidextrous reel in existence, as well as being the most durable gearbox of any boat reel in current production: Stellas and Saltigas will serve you well for 10-15 years with proper care, but with the Torque we are talking old school longevity to be passed to your children. The Torque is the easiest modern reel to self service, and even though the ZB has a brilliant quick access gearbox, the Torque is easier to completely strip down to the last screw. Also the gearbox is as waterproof as it gets, and the handle is lighter to spin than the VS and ZB.
The issues are all in the front portion of the reel, and none of them is inherent in the design or can't be taken care of with little tweaking. Here is a list of what I would do to the reel:
1) Redesign the rotor arm and make it converge outwards like the one on the bailess models. This way it will have enough space to flex under load -like all other reels do- without touching the spool. The rotor arm is a separate part that is attached to the rotor via two screws, so the redesigned arm could be sent to retailers to update their current stocks using the key already provided in the box. The other arm might need some tweaking too to keep the rotor balanced.
2) Change the spool hub design and do away with the cross pin for a DD shaft spliced to drag washers. This way the spool could be shimmed.
3) With the new hub design, sealing the bottom of the spool will be easier so the leaking problem would go away and the reel would become as waterproof as the two leading surf reels.
4) Leave 2mm of the line roller's screw solid without threads, and make sure that this solid part has the exact same diameter as the hole so that the screw won't play around and the roller would self-centre itself as the screw gets tightened. A drop of loctite on the screw threads would be great for peace of mind too.
5) Shave off some weight to take it below the Stella and the Saltiga: More ornamental cut-outs on the spool's skirt, shaving down the thick spool flange (around the drag knob), and when the spool hub is redesigned the metal plate at the bottom of the spool which is made thick to house the current seal could be replaced by a normal thin washer at 1/3rd of its current weight.
6) A minor touch would be to replace the sealed bearings (except the ones in the roller) with regular shielded bearings for lighter spinning.
I have mentioned the old SS at least three times in this review and drew connections between it and the Torque: The drag underneath the spool, the identical arrangement to move the handle to the opposite side, and the shaft's full body support. What is the significance? Well, it's something in the back of my head that tells me that the Torque is indeed a genuine Penn. It's not one of those cases where a company changes hands and its products become completely disconnected from the original heritage except for the name stamped on it. The Torque is a true Penn that retains strong attachment to the original design and feels like a continuation of its history. Those design features were not incorporated in the Torque for sentimental reasons, but rather because they are proven and tested features and were a part of what gave the original product its legendary status. You probably remember how in the 1990s the original SS were popular in Japan where people modified them with custom made parts then went after heavy fish
One of such modified SS Penns. They looked ugly and their dodgy anti-reverse was a pain in the ass, yet they were absolute beasts that served faithfully and landed big tuna and billfish time after time.
The Torque does have issues, but that's normal. The original VS and ZB had their issues at early stages, the TwinSpin was a joke when it was first released, and even the multi billion dollars R&D of the Airbus A380 could not prevent a recall of leaking engines. Good luck to Penn and looking forward to one day buying myself an updated faultless Torque for more fishing adventures.
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July, 11th, 2011