Rockfish, striper, linesider.
More than 300 pages dedicated to your favorite fish, the striped bass
Here for The Striper Room
1922, Otto Henze left Germany at age 25 and came to the United
States. 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.,
The Mod F and the MOD K were Mr. Henze's first reels in 1932.
The Mod F was a 12-ounce surf casting reel with genuine bakelite
side plates. The Mod K had many of the same parts as the Mod
F but with a lever type free spool and metal reinforced side
plates. Two types of MOD K's were developed - one with a star
drag, and one without.
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
The company doubled the number of reels it offered from 1933
to 1934. Mr. Henze named his reels after the seaside communities
on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This branding strategy helped
establish PENN as a tackle company focused on "saltwater
fishing." Most of PENN Reels earliest models were built
for the beach or bay fisherman.
By the end of 1934, Penn sales were almost $48,000 annually,
and the company made its first profit - $1,500. The largest customer
for Penn in 1934 was the Edw. K. Tryon Company of Philadelphia,
the same company that built the legendary PENNEL fishing tackle
brand in the late 1800's. Tryon accounted for 41% of all Penn
sales during 1934. Another large customer (6% of sales) was the
W. H. Hoegee Company of Los Angeles, which helped build Penn
sales in California.
Penn's growth in the early thirties was dramatic, especially
considering that America was at the height of the depression.
Tough times proved to be an advantage for the start-up company,
since many people fished for their food. Penn's affordable reels
were just what the beach and bay fisherman needed to put food
on the table, day after day
PENN sales grew 38% in 1935, as the company expanded distribution
up and down the east coast and west coast. The company also reduced
its dependence on Edw. K. Tryon which dropped to Penn's #2 customer
with 13% of total sales. Union Hardware & Metal Company became
Penn's #1 customer with 21% of company sales.
In 1936, PENN introduced its most famous reel, the "Senator."
was a revolutionary new reel capable of challenging the biggest,
most powerful game fish. The PENN Senator quickly became a popular
reel used for world record catches. While legendary fishermen
like Zane Grey, Ernest Hemingway and Michael Lerner were traveling
the world setting records, the "Senator" gave every
fisherman and woman a chance to set a record with its very affordable
In 1938, Otto Henze introduced the PENN Squidder, a surf reel
known for its superior casting capabilities.
The company became
the leading manufacturer of quality saltwater fishing reels.
Pictures of record size fish were sent to PENN from all over
the world. PENN Reels became the mainstay of charter boat captains
and serious anglers for their performance and reliability.
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 under her surprising management
skills. Martha was an avid angler, once catching a 613-pound
Bluefin tuna, and this first hand knowledge of fishing helped
guide her decisions at PENN.