Penn Jigmaster History - Saltwater Fishing Discussion Board Including Inshore Fishing, Offshore Fishing, Saltwater Fly Fishing and Kayak Fishing
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Old 06-23-2008, 09:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Penn Jigmaster History

Jigmaster History: The Jigmaster was introduced in 1959. It had red side plates until about 1990 when they were changed to black. The Jigmaster Junior ? model 501 (a narrow version of the regular Jigmaster) ? was introduced in 1965. The short-lived 500S was introduced in 1975 and lasted until 1984. The 500S was a completely different design in which the left side plate was the side that had the take-apart feature. The 500S accepted standard Jigmaster spools. In 1986 Penn introduced the 505 (full size) and 506 (junior). These featured high speed gears (5:1) and ball bearings. These reels required special spools. The original Jigmaster was available with plastic and metal (chrome plated brass) spools. In 1974 Penn introduced aluminum spools for these reels and soon after discontinued both the plastic and brass spools. Jigmasters are still available today, however in 2006 Penn moved production of all plastic sided reels, including the Jigmaster, to China. Reels made in China, have black side plates and do not say "Made in USA" anywhere on them. The black sided Jigmasters that were made in USA, say "Made in USA" on either left or right side plates. DR

This post edited by DockRat 06/29/2008
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Old 06-23-2008, 10:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think a few of the years were slightly different, but your progression is right on.
The sideplates were originally red except for a very short run of black ones in 1974 [along with some black squidders and 113H's].
They remained red until the mid-90's.
The 500S "experiment" was even shorter-lived, and ran only from 1981-82, and allowed the reel to be assembled by machine instead of by hand, and eliminated the traditional bakelite sideplates in favor of modern plastic.
Nobody liked it, and the "left side" take-apart feature meant that a tiny bit of corrosion froze the sideplate in place.
The aluminum spools as an "aftermarket" product for Jigmasters were introduced in 1974, but they were made by Newell [not Penn].
Penn did not make their own until 1979, with the plastic spools hanging around until about 1983 and the metal spools until about 1991.
the change to HT100 drag washers in 1995 effectively doubled the life expectancy of the drags.
The "Super Jigmasters" 505 and 506 lasted until the current "GS" series pushed them off the roster in 1996, with one or two additional short runs assembled using spare parts.
The final 5 years of US production had Jigmasters being sold for well under what they actually cost, it couldn't last.
If production had not been switched offshore, the Jigmasters would have been discontinued, because they simply would not have carried a $130 or higher retail price point.
BTW, I bought my first one for $11.99 at The Tradin' Post in Huntington Park.
The number of medium to large saltwater fish caught with Jigmasters is mind-boggling, and probably exceeds all other models combined in the SoCal area.
Many younger anglers "diss" them in favor of higher-tech numbers.
If you use between 20 and 30 pound mono, and you can master the extremely simple drag washer replacement work, and change them a couple of times a season, they are still very durable and dependable reels.
If you're stuck on a desert island with no tools, no oil and no spare parts, it will still be the last reel to die.
Another highly knowledgeable historian on this subject is TJS44, hopefully he may add a few things I missed.
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Old 06-23-2008, 11:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default re: Penn Jigmaster History

Great read, thanks!

Has to be the most versatile fishing reel out there. It amazes me how they hold their value and you can really find one just about anywhere. I wonder if it could be considered the most common reel ever made (by numbers produced)? Or what reel would take that title?

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Old 06-23-2008, 12:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It is only the most common reel in SoCal and a few other markets.
By far, Penn's number one reel of all time is the 209, and for the past 10 years or so it has been the 320.
Most of the world just wants a basic and rugged "straight up and down" reel, and many are puzzled as to why any company even makes a reel without a level-wind.
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Old 06-23-2008, 12:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you for the facts--this is the type of info a lot of us have been curious n about.
Paul
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Old 06-23-2008, 01:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default re: Penn Jigmaster History

any idea how many total have been made and sold???
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default re: Penn Jigmaster History

How about the Penn 99 which was a slightly narrower version of the 500. If I remember correctly Newell came out with a conversion kit including a spool, reel foot and bars. That was a great little reel for albacore.
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default re: Penn Jigmaster History

The original Penn 99, (I have one.), was not part of the Jigmaster series of reels at all and had a smaller main gear and a lower gear ratio. The conversion kits that Newell, Tiburon, and Accurate made were to covert a Jigmaster to a "99 sized" reel.


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Old 06-23-2008, 04:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I bought my 500 in the mid 70s and it had black side plates. I always enjoyed using it and still do. I just rinse it down, take it apart and give it a little Penn lube and it still works like new without a Break down . I can cast a small anchovy as far as i could possibly need. If Penn and Just put ball bearings on both sides and a little stronger gears it would be an awesome reel. I have caught more fish from Catalina, piers, party boats and the entire Baja than any other reel i have, all Penns except a Diawa. The only problem is ya have to keep and change the drag washers or they get sticky after a few big fish. If mine took a crap i'd look for a deal and buy another because it always has and always will be the best deal in the fishing world. I've caught up to 45 pound Dorado's and YTs and many Albacore with it. Name another reel for the price that is as versatile for $40 because i can't. I bought a 320 GTi for the bigger drag washers and gears but i'm not sure if it's going to measure up because of the level wind that I've never had. If it doesn't do the job I'll sell it and buy the 525 Mag. **Penns forever**. F the Japanese crap. I buy everything i possibly can made in the USA, cars electronics ec. I love my Squidder too. I have the same love for my original Sabres too. Thanks for the report and history.

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Old 06-23-2008, 05:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default re: Penn Jigmaster History

The original "99" was called the "Silver Beach", similar to a Surfmaster, and Jerry Morris and the boys at Hermosa Tackle Box [including this board's BobO]discovered that the "conversion" could be done with all Penn stock parts, circa 1967-68.
The Newell kits showed up in 1974, but with the solid bars and base that upped the performance level.
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