Custom Penn Narrow 4/0


Fit and finish are getting better and better.  Component are getting stronger and more corrosion resistant.  Handle is from Motive Fabrication Knob options:

Large Round knob from Pro Challenger and the large knob on the right is 6/0 knob.  He has several sizes.  Both are bullet proof and fit comfortably in my hand.


Pro Challenger stainless steel bridge with two dogs, 4:1 gear,pinion, 10 tooth gear sleeve.  Most notable is the new carbon Hex Drag system.

Stainless steel star is from Motive Fabrications

Narrow,  aluminum frame, head and end plates, offset two position handle with large 6/0 knob, all stainless internals, upgraded drags, fully adjustable spool bearing caps, (2) SS spool bearings,  aluminum spool, bring em on.


Newell NL 540 5.5 Fishing Reel

This reel was found on Ebay this month for $64.99 delivered.  Appears to be in new condition on the inside and 80% of the outside.  Knob, Eccentric Lever Knob and Side Plate shows signs of BBQ gone bad.

So from this day on it will be called the Smore!  First,  tear every thing down and clean, lubricate and inspect.  Knob would not rotate on handle without extra force.  Remove knob and insert rat tail file, a few strokes and knob spins freely on handle.  Knob shows signs of being near the fire too long with bubbling and on one edge.  400 grit sand paper back to smooth no edges to catch line of clothing.  Drags were smooth but replaced them with Carbon from  Bearings were in perfect condition.  Lubed them TSI-321 spool spins forever!

Handle side plate is toasty.  But, after inspection I could not find anything that was being affected by the toasty plate!  The metal side rings kept everything aligned and the bridge sits squarely on the plates.  Gears are perfectly aligned and crank smoothly. Drag is perfect.

I don’t mind looking at the bubbling surface scar to the plate!  Gives it some character!  Maybe down the road I invest in a SS Eccentric knob and even some of Bryan Young’s Aluminum side plates when they come out.  But for now she is ready to to fish and onto my surfcasting rod she goes!  All in all, I would say this one of my best eBay finds to date!

New Aluminum Side Plates for Newell 300 Series Fishing Reels

I had the pleasure of building a Newell reel for a customer today that included the new Cortez Conversions aluminum side plates offered by Bryan Young.  They are everything that we have come to expect from Cortez Conversions.  Fit was perfect, craftsmanship outstanding and finish is superb.

This reel started life as a Newell 338 J.  We installed the new 5+1 drags from Bryan and his plates on a new Tiburon frame.  We also upgraded the handle and knob.  This off set handle and knob came from Ulua Junkies and is a retrofitted Shimano.  This all black beauty is going to scream!  If you want to add strength without a lot more weight this upgrade is the ticket!


Newell Aluminum Side Plates (Cortez Conversions)

Newell Drags

Newell made two drag options.  The first and arguably the best is the original 4 stack drag system:


Original 4 stack Newell drag system

The original P models had them.  Notice the washer mounted on the drag sleeve.  It provides the additional drag surface for the system.  Most of the Newell reels were made without that little valuable addition.  Thus the 3 stack standard drag stack.  Now you can still upgrade the 3 stack with one of the Bryan Young’s 5+1 drag upgrades:


The upgraded drag system above and the stock drag system below.   Both the original 4 stack with new Carbon Fiber drags are strong and smooth through the whole range as is the Bryan Young 5+1 system.  A quote from a contributor on

“The 3 stack works quite well with CF and Cal’s. Newell 4 stacks are a little stronger and  the 5 stack is the strongest. Installing a 5 stack on a Newell  is the slickest of all. I fish my 338 around 18 lbs which is high for a 300 and it is smooth with 40 mono. I think for most people the drag on a 300 at 12 to 15 is great and still depends on what kind of fish you are messing with. I have picked up a 20 lb dumbbell with a fresh installed 3 stack on a 338 and I have pushed one to 32 on a scale in my 338. Can’t fish there but it will hold. Pushing tools to the limit is not wise for fishing but you know what it can take”

All my 200 series Newell’s have the 4 stack with new CF and Cal’s.  Strong and smooth.  My 300 series reels have Bryan Young’s 5+1 stack.  SS washers, CF drags, and Cal’s this set-up is more than capable.

Penn 4/0 Narrow (Black Widow) Yellowtail Special

The next project is a Penn 113HN tanked (Yellowtail Special).  Stainless steel guts, 4:1 gears and massive drag upgrades, SS power handle and knob. This one will be double dogged sitting on a SS bridge from Pro Challenger.  Color combination is black Cortez side plates with black Tiburon frame and a blood red Tiburon spool.


BP Dble Dog Bridge for Penn 113H

1280px-Latrodectus_hasseltii_closeBlack widow 4:0 Penn NArrow


Custom Penn 4/0 observations

From a purely functional perspective I have noticed the following attributes of the new reel:

  • Brick Shit house solid and strong
  • Dizzyingly  long free spool (I used spool bearings instead of brass bearings)
  • Drag strength and smoothness is unmatched
  • Comfortable ergonomic handle and knob
  • Corrosion resistance at a maximum
  • Weight is what you would expect for this much stainless steel and Aluminum

Build List:

  1. Cortez Conversions
  2. Motive Fabrications
  3. Smooth Drag
  4. Pro Challenger
  5. Alan Tani
  6. Vintage Offshore Tackle

Little by little




BP Dble Dog Bridge for Penn 113H


SS Jack Penn 113HDSCN6153

Build Notes for the 4/0 Tank

The SS Yoke was getting stuck under the bridge and was generally too difficult to engage.  I took the SS yoke and ground the edge to a slight ramp where the jack rides up the edge to engage and disengage.  I used the Dremel tool to do the fine grinding.  After  grinding the engagement and disengagement of the yoke,  I polished it to a bright mirror finish, greased it up and installed it.  Here are some photo’s of the process.

Next was the jack.  The before and after pictures below show the original Jack unpolished and the after picture of the polished jack.  Combining Jack and the Yoke and the operation is butter smooth.

Heavy marine grade grease on and in everything but spool bearings gives additional protection against salt water corrosion.  In addition, the screws will never lock in place as a result of lubing each of them thoroughly.


Newell spool is the ticket!  Perfect condition,  special thanks to Randy and Vintage Offshore Tackle.

Newell P220-5 Fishing Reel Upgraded

This is the third Newell that I have tuned recently in what has become another addiction.  Super light weight, all stainless steel, incredible free spool  and corrosion resistant.  What more can you ask for in a reel?  How about strong as an Ox?  Newell reels with upgraded drags accomplish this too!

High Speed SS bearings with TSI 321 high speed oil

Spooled with 20b mono …ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ plop!

The P220 comes with Stainless Steel guts and Stainless Steel gears at 5:1 retrieve.  .   I have not put this one on the scale but I can estimate at least a 30% increase in drag strength.  You could easily use 30lb mono on this upgraded reel.  Don’t forget to use Cal’s grease on the drag stack!  Smooth as butter baby!


I guess I lucked out because this one was one of the early P’s that had the SS gear sleeve with the additional drag washer under the main gear!  Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes!  Opened her up and she even had new open bearings on one side for easy cleaning!  Really could not be any happier with this investment!  Tight lines!




Baby Tank Penn 1/0 Fishing Reel


They all start pretty much the same, a good buy on eBay then the wait time wondering if your investment will require little to no time to turn around or if it will be a time suck.  This little beauty came in today and was in 5/10 shape.  No major issues, little corrosion and mostly just old grease and staining.  After breaking it down and soaking it in CLR and Simply Green and some scrubbing and rubbing.  I think I have a winner!  The 1/0 are hard to come by in this shape.

The list of upgrades are as follows:

  • Tiburon P21 Frame in Silver
  • Aluminum Penn 501 spool Black
  • Carbon Fiber Drags from
  • Stainless Steel Gear Sleeve from Scotts
  • Handle and knob from