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Penn Fathom 15 LD2SP

The Penn Fishing Tackle Company was founded in the USA by Otto Heinze in 1932. They made an instant impact being innovative, tough, precisely engineered and quickly gained a major share of the US and world markets. Nearly 90-years on Penn reels are said to have more world and national records to their name than all other reel makes put together. Without doubt, current Penn reels are backed by a lifetime of experience, and this build know-how comes through in the Penn Fathom 15 LD2SP reel.

About the Penn Fathom 15 LD2SP

This is a compact, relatively lightweight reel, but it packs a huge number of features in to its build specification.

It features a full metal frame and side-plate. The advantage of this is that there is no chance of distortion when the reel is under massive pressure, either from a fast running fish, or more so when an angler puts full rod pressure on a fish that is hugging the bottom in deep water and refusing to budge.

The machined spool is from forged aluminium, again designed to give maximum strength, but also lightness. The spool features line capacity rings marked at 1/3rd, 2/3rds and full capacity. Many anglers think these are only for loading the spool with line, but this is incorrect. The capacity lines are incrementally designed so that at a glance, an angler fighting a big, fast running fish can tell exactly how much line he has left on the spool.

Penn Fathom 15

Maintaining the “built for strength” theme of the Penn Fathom 15, both the pinion and main gear are made from ultra-tough marine grade stainless steel. The gears are designed to withstand that huge direct pressure associated with fighting big fish that doggedly sit vertically below the rod tip requiring the angler to gain inches of line at a time by using short upward lifts of the rod and thus gaining line as the tip drops back. The retrieve ratio is a fast 6.1:1 recovering approximately 31-inches of line for every full turn of the reel handle.

The big advantage with this reel is that it offers a 2-speed gearing option. Conveniently positioned where the reel handle base enters the side-plate, is a push-in button. This instantly changes the gearing from the high 6.1:1 to a lower 2.8:1. This option means that for normal fishing the higher gear ratio is engaged meaning smaller fish and tackle can be retrieved at speed. However, if a big fish is hooked that wants to stay deep or refuses to budge from a snag, then the lower gear is engaged allowing maximum pressure to be exerted by the angler and again to retrieve small amounts of line at a time to gradually move the fish out in to safer open water. This is a major selling point to have on a reel of this price point and offers the angler the best of fishing options.

The Penn Fathom 15 features a lever drag system. Lever drags are the ultimate when it comes to being able to “fine-tune” a drag by small increments to suit lighter lines, or when you need to set a drag to give precise maximum pressure to fully utilise the combined breaking strain of the line and line class power of the rod. The drag features Dura-Drag washers. These are specially treated with a special phenolic bonding agent that prevents premature breakdown of the carbon fibre material but also inhibits any ingress of water. The washers are then further treated with a compound developed by Penn that gives the drag a super smooth feel and also eliminates drag release hesitation, in other words, the release of the line as the drag kicks in, even under very heavy drag pressures when a fish runs and demands instant line. The drag lever itself is also wide with a ribbed grip for the thumb or finger to find in the middle of a fight without the need to look down should you need to adjust the drag at any time. Direct adjustment of drag pressure is via a turn button housed on the base of the drag lever. Always adjust the drag pressure with this with the reel in free spool and the drag disengaged.

Penn Fathom 15

Other features include the addition of no less than five stainless steel ball-bearings, each strategically placed to give a smooth retrieve and performance under heavy retrieve pressure. Also, a tough double-dog ratchet anti-reverse system, plus a comfy and slightly oversized reel handle grip for maximum grip when retrieving heavy fish or retrieving line at speed.

When engineering the reel, Penn were also conscious of reducing weight wherever possible. Certain components have been strategically drilled and lightened to reduce overall weight without compromising any strength. This makes the Penn Fathom 15 a comfy balance on even the lightest of 12lb class rods.

Line capacity is quoted as 305-yards of 15lb monofilament, or 550-yards of 20lb braid or 415-yards of 30lb braid. Typically, the reel is used with braid lines, so the line capacity is more than generous for typical UK fishing with a reel in this 20 to 30lb class, especially with its overall compact size.

Penn Fathom 15

The reel is finished in a semi matt black finish with gold graphics and lettering. The reel looks slightly understated, but classy.


The Penn Fathom 15LD2SP has to be one of the most versatile reels the angler can own. Given its high line capacity in both lighter mono, and 20lb and 30lb braid, this one reel can cover a multitude of tasks. It is ideal for fishing with mono up to 20lbs for general downtide boat fishing, but also for working lures over reefs and wrecks. The majority of anglers though would load this reel with braid and then it really comes into its own. It’s perfect for all shallow and deep-water lure work, for downtide ledger fishing, light to medium wreck fishing with baits and lures, and this reel with its ultra-tough build quality and gear power is often chosen as a full-on wrecking reel when after big cod, ling and conger eels. It’s also one of the top choices by anglers regularly fishing in Norway for big halibut, cod and coalfish.

This reel is no slouch when it comes to casting, either, and some anglers choose the 15LD for uptide casting from boats, and others for close to medium range rough ground fishing off the shore, though the reel was not actually designed for this. Is this one of the most versatile reels available…we think so!

Vital Statistics

  • Full metal body and side-plates
  • Forged and machined aluminium spool
  • Line capacity rings
  • Stainless steel pinion gear and main gear
  • 2-speed gear option, 6.1:1 and 2.8:1
  • Ultra-smooth and powerful lever drag system
  • 5 shielded stainless-steel ball-bearings
  • Double-dog ratchet anti-reverse
  • Line capacity – 305yds 15lb mono, 550yds 20lb braid, 415yds 30lb braid

Final Thoughts

The Penn Fathom 15LD2SP packs in a massive number of features into its compact frame and it’s very hard to pick fault with. The option of the 2-speed gearing in the reels intended RRP price banding is a big plus, as are the stainless-steel gears and the super smooth incremental drag system. As for overall build quality and corrosion resistance, few reels come level with the Fathom in and for some way above its recommended retail price. Its plain to see why so many of these reels are bought by charter skippers for public tackle hire, and why so many anglers have bought and are fishing with these reels for much of their charter boat fishing.