Penn Slammer 3 Spinning Reel Review

Updated on May 19, 2022 by

The Penn Slammer 3 is one of the most popular spinning reels manufactured by Penn. It is built for heavy-duty fishing, either by boat or shore.

I personally used this reel extensively on a saltwater fishing charter. I was very impressed with its durability, which is why a lot of charter fishermen use them. I used the Penn Slammer to catch plenty of coral reef fish such as coral trout and attempted to catch a sailfish, but wasn’t successful on that occasion. In this review, I have tried to be as balanced and honest as I can, based on my own experiences.

The Penn Slammer III is a workhorse reel – its metal construction makes it almost bulletproof. It is a favorite of charter fishermen as it will just keep working, no matter what you through at it. This also prevents it from warping or getting damaged from either a big fish or getting dropped.

It also has an IP67 sealed gearing system to make sure your reel internals stay dry and will last for a lifetime. Just give it a quick rinse in fresh water at the end of the day and it will be clean and ready for tomorrow.

Update – Penn has recently released the latest model in the Slammer 4. You might be interested in our review of this improved evolution here.

Penn Slammer III Spinning Reel

Penn Slammer 3 Spinning Reel Review 1
  • Extremely Durable, Workhorse
  • Suitable for Saltwater
  • Ideal for Large Pelagic Species like Tuna
  • Up to 60lb Max Drag

Quantitative Score

Performance – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Durability – 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Value for Money – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Overall – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Have a read through some of the key features of the Penn Slammer 3:

  • Retrieve rate of 40 inches per crank
  • High-Speed Model at 48 inches per crank
  • Full metal body, side plates, and rotor
  • IP67 sealed gearing system
  • Dura drag sealed drag system
  • CNC gear technology

Dura-Drag System

The Slammer has Penn’s proprietary Dura-Drag system – this is another example of Penn developing the future of fishing reels. 

It has a very heavy-duty drag from 30 pounds up to 60 pounds depending on which model is selected.

If you need a high drag then the Slammer is a great option – it is ideal for large offshore saltwater big game fish.

Dura-Drag washers contain a Phenolic bonding agent – this provides a water barrier and prevents the premature breakdown of the material.

Dura-drag is also pre-treated with a special formula developed by Penn engineers which improves the drag performance and gives it a silky, smooth feeling for the entire drag run.

Adding fishing reel grease can even inhibit the performance of the Dura-Drag washers.

Me Holding a Penn Slammer 3 Spinning Reel
Russ testing out the oversized handle


  • It’s very high drag is ideal for large, saltwater fish species.
  • This reel is extremely durable which is why it is particularly popular with charter fishermen.
  • It has a very high line capacity which makes it suited for deep reef fishing or fast-moving pelagic species such as Tuna.


  • Now that Penn has released the Slammer IV, you might want to get the upgraded drag system.
  • It is a heavy reel at almost 14 ounces for the 3500-sized model. This can result in muscle fatigue after a long day of fishing.


There are a wide variety of models and reel sizes available, so this is the most difficult decision you will need to make. Below is a list of specifications of the Penn Slammer III from the 3500 to the 10500. The difference in line capacity (both mono and braid) is very different, as is the maximum drag they can apply.

The 3500 is perfectly suited for inshore fishing and the 8500 and above is ideal for bluewater fish species.

There are also 2 x high-speed models (HS) that I have not included in the list below for the 6500 and 8500 sizes. These are designed for anglers who need to retrieve their lures at high speeds, such as when fishing for tuna or wahoo. They have a higher 48-inch retrieve per crank.

The smaller 3500 reel is also only 13.9 oz compared with the 43.1 oz in the 10500 model.

You really need to know what your requirements are, based on the size of fish you will be targeting.

Model Mono Capacity Braid Capacity Bearings

Max Drag

Penn Slammer III 3500 480 yds of 4 lbs 310 yds of 10 lbs 8 30 lbs
Penn Slammer III 4500 325 yds of 8 lbs 390 yds of 15 lbs 8 30 lbs
Penn Slammer III 5500 320 yds of 10 lbs 500 yds of 20 lbs 8 40 lbs
Penn Slammer III 6500 390 yds of 12 lbs 485 yds of 30 lbs 8 40 lbs
Penn Slammer III 7500 490 yds of 15 lbs 530 yds of 40 lbs 8 50 lbs
Penn Slammer III 8500 455 yds of 20 lbs 730 yds of 40 lbs 8 50 lbs
Penn Slammer III 9500 350 yds of 30 lbs 730 yds of 50 lbs 8 60 lbs
Penn Slammer III 10500 435 yds of 30 lbs 845 yds of 50 lbs 8 60 lbs

Penn Slammer 3 Review Video

If you want to see this reel in use, then have a look at this video review below:

Penn Slammer III Spinning Reel

Penn Slammer 3 Spinning Reel Review 1
  • Extremely Durable, Workhorse
  • Suitable for Saltwater
  • Ideal for Large Pelagic Species like Tuna
  • Up to 60lb Max Drag

Penn Slammer 3 vs Saragosa

One of the most common comparisons when thinking about getting a Slammer 3 is the Shimano Saragosa.

The Slammer is a larger and more heavy-duty spinning reel. Yes, it is heavier, but this comes with almost double maximum drag and significantly more line capacity. The additional bearings also give it a smoother retrieve. If you are chasing larger fish, then the Slammer is the preferred option.

When you are thinking about the differences between these two reels the best way to look at it is the size. It is probably better to compare a larger model Saragosa with a smaller model Slammer.

Let’s have a look at the difference in specifications. For this comparison, I have used the Slammer 5500 model and the Saragosa 5000 size.

SpecificationSlammer 3Saragosa
Max Drag40 lb22 lb
Gear Ratio5.6:15.7:1
Mono Capacity430 yards of 10 lb240 yards of 10 lb
Weight22.4 oz 16.0 oz
Price Range$200-$300$200-$300

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the retrieve rate of a Penn Slammer 3?

The standard Penn Slammer retrieve rate is 40 inches per crank and goes up to 48 inches per crank in the High Speed (HS) models.

What is the weight of a Penn Slammer 3?

It depends on the model but goes from 13.9 oz in the Slammer 3500 to 43.1 oz in the Slammer 10500.

What is the max drag of a Penn Slammer 3?

It depends on the model but goes from 30 lbs in the Slammer 3500 to 60 lbs in the Slammer 10500.

Penn Slammer reels that I tested on a fishing charter
This is a view of some of the Penn Slammer 3’s I tested on a fishing charter


The Penn Slammer 3 is one of Penn’s premier spinning reels. It is designed to be heavy-duty and its metal construction will last a lifetime. It also has a very powerful drag that won’t fail even when being tested against big offshore game fishing.

The Slammer is a favorite of charter fishermen and experienced anglers. If you are looking for a bulletproof reel and don’t get scared away by the price tag, then definitely check this reel out. I really enjoyed testing it throughout my saltwater fishing adventures.

If you have a Slammer III of your own and have your own opinion and experiences then please share in the comments below so that all fishermen can learn from your wisdom.

Happy fishing!

Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.

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