Fishing Reels

PENN Slammer III Spinning Reel Review

PENN Slammer IIIPENN has had a loyal following of serious saltwater anglers in Southern California for many decades.  In the last decade PENN has stepped up to the innovation needs of our specific fishery and delivered a wide range of reels built for the Southern California market.  In 2016, PENN launched their SLAMMER III spinning reel series which not only won the reel category at ICAST that year but became a favorite amongst anglers throwing poppers and surface iron for bluefin tuna. This reel review will take you into the some of the innovative features never seen in the spinning reel market.

PENN Slammer IIIThe PENN SLAMMER III comes in eight sizes – from 3500 to 10500.    The smaller sizes including the 3500 and 4500 size have a 6.2:1 gear ratio while the larger sizes such as the 9500 and 10500 come with a 4.2:1 gear ratio.  These ranges of gear ratios are built to suit the needs of the angler – the smaller sizes and higher gear ratios for throwing jigs and baits while targeting yellowtail, school size tuna, and dorado.  The larger models, with the lower gear ratio for the torque needed while battling bigger tuna – especially the local bluefin tuna (up to 300-pounds) fishery we have experienced these past three seasons.  Personally, I like the 9500 and 10500 size for throwing poppers, where high gear ratios are not necessary, and the popper gets its action from the rod on the retrieve.

Turn the handle of a PENN SLAMMER III and you will notice a smooth and solid retrieve – from the SLAMMER III’s seven stainless steel ball bearings.  These bearings and the housing of the reel are protected by PENN’s IPX6 sealed system – which means that the gears and bearings are sealed and protected from saltwater intrusion and corrosion.

This feature is key when fishing on West Coast sport boats where the decks are constantly being hit with saltwater spray and wash down hoses. The body of the PENN SLAMMER III is built from high quality aluminum which is a suitable balance of strength and weight ratios for anglers at the rail all day.

PENN Slammer IIIPENN is known in the industry for their superior Dura Drag technology and this spinning reel is built with Dura Drags on the entire series.  The Dura Drag technology is a patented drag lubricating formula that provides an extremely smooth drag performance including a maximum drag pressure of 60-pounds in their SLAMMER III 10500 reel.  Long story short, both the 9500 and 10500 would be an ideal choice for a popper reel with 80# braid and targeting 100-200-pound class tuna.  To maximize the SLAMMER III drag system, I like to use the AFTCO spinning reel harness which attaches to the rod and acts like a conventional harness while fighting big tuna and other offshore gamefish.


  • Full Metal Body, sideplate, and rotor
  • CNC Gear™ technology
  • IPX6 Sealed body and spool design
  • Sealed Slammer® drag system with Dura-Drag™
  • 7+1 stainless steel bearing system
  • Sizes 3500-5500 have automatic bail trip
  • Sizes 6500-10500 have manual bail trip 

Southern California anglers are using braided line with short top-shots or leaders almost exclusively for all fisheries from calico bass to bluefin tuna.  On the PENN SLAMMER III, the engineers at PENN added an anti-skid gasket to attach braid to the spool when filling a reel.  This feature gives the angler the confidence of zero slippage while fighting a fish.  The PENN SLAMMER III has an automatic bail trip mechanism on sizes 3500 to 5500.  This feature is helpful when making hundreds of casts with swim baits or small hard baits when targeting calico bass, barracuda, or bonito locally.  The larger sizes from 6500 – 10500 have a manual bail trip and suited for these larger reel applications.

PENN Slammer IIIFor anyone considering buying a PENN SLAMMER III, I am confident that you will appreciate the quality in materials and advanced gear and drag systems – it won’t fail you on that trophy fish.  If you are in the market for spinning reel for throwing poppers to big tuna – consider the 9500 or 10500 sizes – it’s like going ‘beast mode’ in the spinning reel game.  Plenty of power for every West Coast gamefish – excluding swordfish!

To find out more on the PENN SLAMMER III visit your local tackle dealer or check them out at

Bob Hoose
Born and raised in Newport Beach, Bob is a passionate saltwater angler and ambassador to the sport. Early in his career, he learned the sportfishing ...