Upgraded Penn 9500SS Spinning Reel

There are many high end, large capacity spinning reels on the market today.  They all come with a big price tag.  Some require expensive maintenance to maintain their performance.  Add into the purchase equation planned obsolescence in manufacturing and parts availability you get a very expensive reel with a short life.  However, they are technologic wonders!  Smooth as warm butter.   I chose to go another direction.  I’m going retro and upgrading the Penn 9500SS.

With help from a friend I secured a NIB 9500SS off eBay.  Warranty card read 1998 as the manufacture date.  After nearly 20 years there are many upgrades available for this model and series.  Over the years, handles and knobs, drags, even ratchets and dogs enhanced the performance of these reels.  I won’t be doing all of the available upgrades, but a few are down below.  Once completed this reel will be an excellent surf casting reel for larger game fish, floating a crab for pier tarpon or jigging up a creature from the deep.    It is capable of delivering 20lbs of drag straight stock.  Replace the delrin top washer with an equivalent Carbontex drag washer. Install new upgraded drag kit.  You will have a very capable reel large capacity reel.  The specs on the reel are: 4.2:1 gear ratio, weight 32 oz, line capacity 300 yrds 30lb mono, 500 yrds 80 lb braid.

Drag Upgrade Package


  • 6-950MSP Rear Drag Conversion Kit
  • 52N-650N Knob, Drag Knob with Seal, SS insert

Stock drag components

Upgrade replaces the original drag washer glued to the drag plate.  Upgrade comes with new SS drag plate, Carbon Drag eared, and the gold plate in the second picture.  The drag surface is huge!

Upgraded Drag Knob
Original Drag Plate
Drag Upgrade


Stainless Steel 16 tooth Titanium Ratchet and Dogs Kit

To minimize back play in the handle and strengthen a vital area of the reel we will install a new ratchet with more teeth than the original.  We are going with a stronger metal in titanium and more resistant to salt water corrosion.


Several true craftsman on Alantani.com have produced custom titanium ratchets and dogs.  Check them out!

Handle & Knob

Reel Power Handes


Naval Brass Main Gear 


This is the tough part of the upgrades.  The 9500SS came with two versions of gears.  The first is the preferred naval brass gear set.  The one on the right is combination of several alloy’s.  So when purchasing a 9500SS its a crap shoot!  Either you get one in brass or you don’t.  They have long been discontinued and are expensive when they show up on Ebay.

Manual Bail Conversion Kit

One of the possible upgrades is to remove the bail assembly and replace with a bail-less kit.  I have both at the original kit and this aftermarket kit to test.  Bails can become bent on the boat and they can magically close at the wrong time sending your lure or metal to Davey’s locker.

Aftermarket Kit
Penn Original Kit


Went with the Penn mod as it the rotor seemed better balanced when rotated.  Plus I like the design better, less things hanging around to get caught on stuff.


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About steelheadkiller

Just a fisherman who loves a great reel...

3 Responses

  1. Gloria

    Hello I was taking the spool off of my vintage penn 9500 as reel and I dropped it and the parts fell on the floor in the kitchen I recovered a spring about 1/2” big but I don’t know where it belongs can you help me

  2. Mitchell

    I have the same reel, but in the 8500ss. Do you happen to know how I can upgrade the drag, because the 8500 does not have the 3 screw underneath the spool. Also, does the dog and ratchet replacement fully remove the back play in the handle? I am having trouble finding the upgrade for it on the forum you provided.

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