If you're using 20-40# mono, there's really no need to change out the drag washers. But, if you're gonna spool up with heavy braid, then it might not be a bad idea.
The first fishing reel I owned was a Penn 500 with a red anodized spool (I think my brother may still have it), back in 1981. Used it for everything from Pacific bonito, lingcod, calico bass, and even the occasional monster-sized batray off the local piers. I've always had at least one Penn 500 in my tackle since I was a kid. Great value for a solid reel.
oh, hell, derek really is related to me!