PENN Slammer III Review | 2022 Guide

PENN Slammer III Review

It can be difficult to find an affordable reel for saltwater fishing that performs well. Not only do you need to ensure you have a reel built to withstand the harsh conditions of saltwater fishing, you also need to make sure it is hardy enough to handle heavier fish. However, the PENN Slammer 3 is a surprisingly affordable reel that is perfectly suited to surfcasting and saltwater fishing. This series of superior reels not only offers an incredible build quality and premium materials, it also features some innovative technology that will take some of the strain and effort out of landing saltwater catches. Our in-depth review outlines all the key spec you can expect from this premium reel and how you can put it into practice effectively.

Durability | PENN Slammer III Review

If you are looking for a heavy-duty spinning reel that will keep bigger fish on the line, the PENN Slammer 3 is a good option. The Slammer III series includes eight distinct models, with a range of sizes available to accommodate a broad range of requirements. All size variants that fall under the Slammer III banner are built to cope well with the stresses of heavier catches. This reel boasts a full metal body, resulting in a relatively option that is both powerful and durable. The rotor, side plates and other reel housing are made from high-grade aluminium, which does make the overall design a little lighter than what you might expect from a stainless steel alternative. If you have little experience with offshore fishing in saltwater, the substantial weight of this reel will probably require some getting used to. However, the heavy-duty design and substantial weight of this reel will not impede your handling or performance.

This reel also incorporates stainless steel ball bearings. These bearings are placed in strategic positions throughout the interior, helping dissipate loads applied when tackling heavier fish. Not only does this make the reel more efficient and easier to handle, it also negates the impact of wear and tear. You can regularly put this reel to work with the aim of catching large fish species, without worrying whether or not your reel is fit for purpose.

Once properly attached to your rod of choice, this reel handles well. It also provides much needed balance that is essential when casting for larger fish. If you are worried about struggling with a heavier reel, you should think about investing in one of the lighter options available. The smallest and lightest option available is the 3500, with the heaviest model being the 10500. Experienced saltwater anglers will probably do best to invest in the heavier and larger option.

The heavy-duty build of this spinning reel ensures it will perform well for a considerable amount of time. The hard-wearing construction means you do not have to worry about damaging your reel should you drop it while attempting to reel in a catch. It will also withstand heavier impacts should you slam against the side of a vessel. Saltwater will also have little impact on the essential components of this reel. Essentially, the PENN Slammer 3 can take some real punishment before you have to worry about it suffering any significant damage.

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Waterproof Design

Although you would expect any decent reel to be waterproofed against the elements, the PENN Slammer 3 excels in this regard. This high-grade fishing reel boasts an IPX6 sealed system which effectively keeps saltwater from damaging the internal components. It is particularly important that things like the drag system and rotor are protected against corrosion. The sealed system on offer here does a very good job of locking out saltwater, offering a nearly impenetrable buffer around those sensitive elements. The IPX6 housing means the reel will cope with regular splashes from saltwater, as well as exposure to rain. It is also resilient enough that the reel can be temporarily submerged without water seeping into the interior and compromising the rotor and drag system. However, if you do drop your Slammer 3 below the waves, you should aim to retrieve it as quickly as possible to minimise the chance of potential damage.


A high-quality reel needs to have a premium drag system at the core of its design. Thankfully, the PENN Slammer 3 includes a superior Dura-Drag system that gives it a real edge over similarly priced models. You will find the Dura-Drag system in a wide selection of premium reel models from PENN, but it is good to see it included in a relatively affordable reel option like this one. Thanks to this drag system, you will never run out of drag power when it comes to reeling in larger fish. Even the smallest of the Slammer III models offers an incredible amount of drag. The smallest option in the series, the 3500, offers a maximum drag capacity of 30 pounds. Unsurprisingly, the larger models in the series have a much more impressive drag capacity, with the 10500 providing you with 60 pounds of drag. These high-end reel models are definitely the way to go if you are looking to reel in large fish and want a reel that will cope with the substantial bulk of this prey.

The Dura-Drag system also features carbon washers that make it incredibly efficient and ensure smooth operation. These carbon washers are very effective at what they do, while also ensuring your reel enjoys a long operational life. Although the Dura-Drag system is a key draw of this reel series, it is worth noting that with the smaller models in the Slammer line-up, the drag might prove a little tight. Therefore, you should go for the largest model size you are comfortable handling.

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Slammer III Capacity

The PENN Slammer III offers an incredible capacity that definitely sets it apart from many other reels on the market. To get an idea of the capacity on offer here, we should probably look at the largest model size to weigh up the specs. The 10500 Slammer 3 reel provides you with capacity for approximately 430 yards of line when using 30 pound monoline. If you are using braided line, you can expect much more significant capacity of around 780 yards. This capacity spec if exceptional and will go down well with saltwater anglers.

This quality reel also features a line capacity ring that will prove indispensable when tackling more resistant fish. Should you find a heavy fish is giving you a hard time and running away with your line, you can instantly check on how much line you have left to ensure you are not facing a losing battle. This reel also features a line-ready spool. These instantly eliminates many of the issues usually experienced with spooling. That being said, spooling does require minimal input from the user. You will definitely need to think about carrying out some manual alignment. All in all, the line capacity on offer here is first-rate and makes jigging as effortless as possible.

Gearing System

The PENN Slammer III has a quality gearing system with full brass construction. The gearing system on offer here has incorporates innovative CNC technology, making it one of the most effective on the market. Unfamiliar with CNC technology? Short for Computer Numerical Control Machining, CNC refers to the process where components are shaped from a single piece of material. A computerised process and advanced machinery carries out precise cutting to produce superior components that offer incredible durability and integrity. CNC technology means that elements such as the drive, oscillation gears and pinion are cut to very fine tolerances. The result is a set of components that are incredibly robust, facilitating far smoother operation.

It is good to see brass used in the construction of the gearbox here. Brass is not only an incredibly strong and durable material, it will also tolerate friction and abrasion. This makes it a good fit for a reel that will be regularly put through its paces out on the water. It also has incredible corrosion-resistant properties, making it the perfect partner to saltwater fishing. All of the individual brass components found within the gear system have been precision milled to provide a smooth drive and operation. The advanced gear technology also provides you with substantial cranking power. Combined with the Dura-Drag system, the CNC gears of the PENN Slammer III will leave every angler confident that they can tackle even the most stubborn of big fish.

Handle & Jig Knobs

With the PENN Slammer 3, you have the choice of a conventional handle and jig knob. If you opt to use the jig knob, you can choose to place it on the left side or the right side to accommodate your individual preference. While ambidextrous design is not necessarily unheard of with reels, it is good to see this user-friendly feature included in the design of the Slammer 3.

The jig knob of the Slammer 3 is made from the same high-grade aluminium found elsewhere in the build of this superior reel. Unlike conventional knobs, the one found here included additional weighting elements that make it noticeably heavy. Although this jig knob will take some getting used to, it can be a good aid for anglers who spend a lot of time jigging. Properly utilised, this jig knob takes much of the strain and effort out of contending with bites on the line. Thanks to this knob, you and keep a catch on the line for longer, minimising the chance of it pulling free from the bait hook and leaving you disappointed.

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Model Differences

Although the vast majority of features and technical specs are duplicated across all models in the Slammer 3 series, there are some differences to bear in mind. Larger models in the line-up include manual bail systems, while the smallest of Slammer III models feature automatic systems.


Although you should always put a higher value on functionality and performance rather than aesthetics, it is good to see that PENN has put a great deal of thought into the visual appeal of the Slammer III series. The reel makes a great impression with its black aluminium housing and gold trims. The gentle curves and contours of this reel also give it a streamlined aesthetic, even with the larger models from the series. This is a great looking reel that will make a stunning addition to your fishing gear.


– IPX6 sealed system ensures freshwater and saltwater is kept out and essential components are protected against the effects of corrosion
– Requires minimal maintenance to ensure smooth performance and consistent operation
– Very well balanced
– Great feedback so the user is confident of proper spool alignment
– User is constantly informed of how much line is remaining
– Allows for exceptionally smooth and precise casting and retrieving of the line
– Robust enough to handle heavier catches and big fish
– Stainless steel ball bearings and brass gears
– Anti-reverse construction
– Premium CNC gear technology
– High-speed gear ratio
– Max drag of 60 pounds
– Ergonomic handle design results in superior handling comfort
– Offers excellent line capacity for such an affordable fishing reel
– Fairly affordable option for all anglers


– Some users may find the dray system on offer here a little tight and too restrictive
– Proper line alignment will requite manual adjustment
– Awkward handle components let down the rest of the high-quality design
– Full metal construction makes this a relatively heavy option
– Will require regular maintenance to keep it working correctly
– Smaller reel sizes are less durable than the larger models

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Alternatives to the PENN Slammer III

The PENN Slammer 3 may be a first-rate spinning reel, but it might not be for everyone. If for any reason the Slammer 3 is not for you, there are a good deal of alternatives available that retail within a similar price range.

One potential option is the Shimano Stradic C14+. This quality spinning reel boasts many of the same great features of the Slammer III, with the same smooth operation and impressive drag pressure performance. It is arguably more robust than the smaller Slammer III models, meaning it will cope well with harsh conditions and heavier fish. If the Slammer III spinning reel is too heavy for your liking, the Stradic C14+ is a good alternative. More lightweight than the Slammer 3, this reel will take the strain out of casting off and reeling in. Another big benefit of this reel is that it features a range of unique technology you will not find with many PENN reels.

Another option to think about is the Okuma Cedros CJ-80-S. Just like the Slammer 3, this reel will come well with saltwater, with little need to worry about corrosion. It also boasts a substantial design and impressive cranking power, with the robust build granting a larger line capacity. This makes it ideal for saltwater fishing where you are more likely to encounter bigger fish with more fight. Although a solid performer when it comes to surfcasting and reeling in bigger catches, this Okuma reel does not feature a sealed design. This means regular exposure to saltwater is likely to lead to corrosion if you do not keep on top of maintenance. Therefore, you need to consider whether the additional power provided by this reel is worth the risk of it wearing out ahead of time.

Daiwa Saltist reels are another worthwhile option to think about if you are looking into alternatives. You have a range of models to consider here, with all options providing suitable for saltwater fishing. However, unlike the Slammer 3 and other PENN reel models, there are no brass gears here. These reels also offer diminished drag when compared to Slammer 3 models.

If you have purchased reels from PENN before and would prefer to stick with a manufacturer you know and trust, you should also consider looking into the Spinfisher V. You only need to take a quick glance a the specs of both this and the Slammer 3 to realise both reels share many of the same key characteristics and features. Both of them feature sealed systems to provide a watertight solution, while you can also expect incredible levels of reliability. The Spinfisher V is a reel designed to cope with saltwater and the most challenging of angling conditions, although it will also perform well enough inshore. If you are looking for a reel for surf fishing however, the Spinfisher V is without doubt your best bet.


If you are looking for a reel for inshore fishing, the PENN Slammer 3 is probably not going to appeal to you. However, for saltwater fishing and surfcasting, the Slammer 3 is hard to beat. Despite the relatively low price point, the Slammer 3 series offers up a selection of high-quality reels that are built to last.

The build quality of this reel series will impress every angler, even those with high expectations. The premium aluminium construction gives you a good degree of durability, while the internal components have been manufactured from hard-wearing brass to withstand corrosion. Despite being made from aluminium, this reel satisfies with its noticeable weight. This will provide you with essential balance when attached to your preferred rod, allowing for easier handling and effortless jigging. The internal gears have also been produced with CNC technology, resulting in components that are precisely manufactured for maximum performance and robustness.

Waterproof housing is another standard expected from any saltwater reel, although it can be tricky to find a suitable reel model that offers complete waterproof performance. The Slammer 3 is one of the best options in this regard, offering an IPX6 waterproof housing that will keep everyday splashes and water exposure out, maintaining the integrity of essential gears and internal components. It will also cope with short-term submersion. You will of course need to carry out basic maintenance to ensure your reel is kept in optimum condition, but you can cast off and reel in with confidence with this angling essential.

The Dura-Drag system of this reel series will also make life easier when fishing. Although there is some variance between models in the series, you can expect superior drag performance across the board. The system included with these models also includes carbon washers that make drag performance even more efficient, while also ensuring your reel enjoys a lengthy operational life.

The PENN Slammer 3 is a good option for all anglers looking to enjoy saltwater fishing, although it can also be used for freshwater angling as well. The relatively low price point, combined with the robust build and superior gear and drag technology, means you have a heavy-duty reel designed to contend with big fish with fierce temperaments. We couldn’t recommend it more, so grab your polarized sunglasses and your Penn slammer reel and catch some big ones.

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