The History of PENN

A Rich Past, Present and Future

Since Otto Henze founded the PENN Fishing Tackle Company in 1932, we've been at the forefront of modern reel design and production. We pride ourselves on the fact that millions of experienced anglers around the world put their faith in PENN products every day. That's what inspires us to continue our founder's dream of manufacturing the world's highest quality fishing tackle.


  • In 1922, Otto Henze left Germany at age 25 and came to the United States.
  • He began working as a machinist for the Ocean City Reels Company of Philadelphia.
  • But Mr. Henze had greater aspirations. Mr. Henze dreamed of one day owning his own company, and building fishing reels that would set world records.


  • Otto Henze left Ocean City Reels and started his own fishing reel company in 1932, called Penn Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Company.
  • He established his new company in a 3rd. floor loft at 492 North Third Street in Philadelphia, renting space from William Schmitz & Co., General Machinists.
  • In 1933, Otto Henze began selling his reels to the general public. The Mod F was renamed Sea Hawk; the Mod K without a star drag was renamed Bayside; the MOD K with a star drag was renamed Long Beach.
  • The company's first recorded sale occurred in February 1933 to the Miller Auto Supply Company of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Miller purchased one of each Penn reel - a Sea Hawk for $1.21, a Bayside for $1.93 and a Long Beach for $2.48. Otto Henze was in business.
  • In 1936, PENN introduced its most famous reel, the "Senator." It was a revolutionary new reel capable of challenging the biggest, most powerful game fish.


  • In 1948, Otto Henze suddenly died. His wife, Martha, did something few women of the time would even consider. At age 39, she took responsibility for running the company as its President, and PENN Reels continued to prosper
  • In 1942, Penn moved to this new facility on West Hunting park Avenue.


  • 1953 The Penn Peerless No. 9 is introduced for light-tackle and all-around freshwater fishing.
  • 1955 All five of the new IGFA records (Black Drum, Amberjack, Yellowtail, Wahoo, White Pointer Shark) set in 1955 were made with Penn reels.
  • In 1959, Penn now manufactures 77 different models for all kinds of fishing.


  • 1961 Penn Introduces its first spinning reel; the Spinfisher 700.
  • 1966 Penn introduces the International series, specifically built for big-game tournament fishermen
  • In 1959, Penn now manufactures 77 different models for all kinds of fishing.


  • 1972 Penn introduces the Levelmatic Bait-Casting Reels and the International No. 130.
  • 1978 Penn has over 150 reels in production.
  • 1979 Frank Mundus, the inspiration for Robert Shaws character in the film Jaws, catches the largest Mako shark ever on rod and reel, weighing in at 1,080lbs.


  • 1982 Penn Celebrates it's fifty-year anniversary
  • 1985 The International II Two-Speed 80SW and 80S are introduced.
  • 1986 The 250GR, the only graphite spinning reel built exclusively for saltwater, hits the fishing market. Penn also introduces the legendary HT100, the smoothest and most durable drag material offered in the world.


  • 1990 Over 700 IGFA records have been set using Penn Reel.
  • 1997 Penn reels set another 100 world records, pushing their total to over 800 IGFA records.


  • 2002 The International V, a premier International Lever Drag reel, is introduced.
  • 2004 Penn models now hold over 1,400 IGFA world records.
  • 2006 The revolutionary International Torque is named the America Sportfishing Associations Saltwater Reel of the Year!
  • 2007 Penn celebrates 75 years of fishing tackle superiority!
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