Check out Zeno Hromin's reviews of the Penn Torque, he is a Bass Barn Memeber as well. Not sure if mentioning his blog Surfcasters Journal is a no no or not but there you go. He even had some video as well. Heck of a nice guy and always a wealth of information. If I was goign to buy a high prioced/end Surf Reel that would be the one I would buy for my style of fishing.
Love my torque 5 bail-less. Great line lay and casting. Best part of is the customer service from penn. I fished mine really hard for 3 years without any issues. It fishes much better than my van staal 150 vs. highly recommend it.
Alan Hawk is the guy I trust the most when it comes to this stuff, and he gave the Torque a very good review. It's a premium reel that can match up against just about any reel in the world, and it is absolutely surf-worthy. I don't have one either, but if I decided to shell out $700 for a super-spinner, the Torque would be it.
I've only fished a Torque once and I like it a lot... and I am a die-hard VS guy. I still think I'd lean towards the VS, and please note I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the Penn, just trying to point out what I observe as different as a product user. If you want a good objective look inside the body, check out the Alan Hawk review as I have never pulled one apart. My understanding is that most of the issues he had with the reel when it was originally released have been corrected in the version available today.
The VS is considerably lighter in the hand. The TRQ5 vs the VS150 shows almost an 8 oz difference. The Penn has a higher gear ratio so if I want to retrieve faster, i'd lean that way.... for more cranking power, the VS is better. Both have super smooth drags. They have comparable line capacity. beautiful finish, are are totally sealed.
One of the odd observations you will hear when someone picks up a VS for the first time is that it feels "tight" to reel, which is something you quickly get used to as a VS characteristic. The Torque does not feel anything like that. A very "normal" feel when cranking.
These reels are about $40 apart in price. You can't go wrong with either one of them. My personal opinion is that I'd buy another VS first but would never regret owning a Torque.
Only for the bailless version. The TRQ-5 bailles is $660, and the closest comparable bailless VS is (I can't remember) either the 150 or the 200, which retail for $699 and $739, respectively.
If you want a bail, though, the price difference becomes a chasm. The TRQ-5 bailed version is the same $660, whereas the bailed VS 150 and 200 are $820 and $860. As you say, they're all good reels, but VS makes you grab your ankles on price if you want a bailed model.
Thanks for all the info. I checked out a bail less 7 today at my local B & T. It is definitely a quality reel and very comparable to a VS, but it was a lot heavier than I had expected. I'm not sure if it would make my rod feel to unbalanced.