Penn Slammer 3 Reel Review

Let’s Get Reel: Penn Slammer III Reel Review

Ever wanted a fishing reel that would last you a lifetime but won’t cost you an arm and a leg to buy? Today we are doing a review of our workhorse reels that we use when you book a fishing Vanuatu adventure with us here at Ocean Blue Fishing Adventures, the bulletproof Penn Slammer III.

Fishing reels get used and abused every week at home but here in Vanuatu, we push our reels to the limit almost every day of the week– as we pretty much have the whole year available to fish. Experienced fishermen know how important it is to have a reliable reel that has a drag system that is smooth and won’t cause line bust offs as well as a durable construction that will allow us to fish without fear of our reel disintegrating in our hands while battling our fish of a lifetime. With our daily fishing activities, we have seen and experienced plenty of tackle failures along with witnessing reels that take daily fishing abuse in stride and in grace. Today we will be looking at our tried and trusted Penn Slammer III, which we use for our popping and jigging, specifically the 6500 and 8500HS sizes.

Body and Construction

The Penn Slammer III is an all metal reel, from body, rotor and spool. It is designed to be as durable as a fishing reel should be and more. It is important for us as a charter operator to have a reel that can hold its own under daily use and perform well when under pressure of a big fish. We’ve had our reels dropped, smashed against gunnels, dunked underwater and all the other bad stuff but the Slammers have held up well. The full metal construction of the frame which always prevents the body from warping thus allowing the gears to be aligned at all times, providing us with the torque and cranking power we require when battling a GT or dogtooth tuna. We can see and feel the tight tolerances the manufacturers have built the reel with, giving us the confidence whenever our guests are handed an outfit. The Slammers are also IPX6 sealed and they are sealed well, and add on the 8 stainless steel sealed ball bearings and you’ve got one well-built fishing machine. Most of our reels get the daily saltwater spray along with the common wave baths while on the boats. They also have been dunked underwater when guests go for some beach fishing from Trees and Fishes. No water intrusion whatsoever and a quick rinse and dry is all they need after a tough day of work. Pretty easy on the maintenance side of things. The gears are CNC cut and have tight tolerances. The main gear is brass which provides us with a smooth retrieving reel making it feel extremely sophisticated to the touch.


A smooth drag is essential when battling big game species. This is to prevent the sudden jerking caused by sticky drags that cause bust offs. The Slammer III has the Dura drag system design that keeps the drag silky smooth no matter how long you’ve used the reels. The 6500 size gives out 40lbs of drag pressure while the 8500HS gives out 50lbs of drag pressure when locked up! Crazy amount of drag which is used to its fullest whenever we chase Geets and doggies. The drag washers are Penn’s HT-100 drag washers and have lasted seasons without needing replacement. A big check for us as this keeps us fishing rather than fixing.

Best bang for your buck. Reel for saltwater use and abuse!

Line Capacity

Line capacity for jigging is important. We jig from 80m to 150m depending on our targeted species but we sometimes jig down to 200m if we mark bait close to the base of the seamounts. The 6500 which we use for jigging can take 320m of 50lb braid, giving us an extra 120m of line for the fish to take when hooked up. That is still a lot of line and unless we hook a grander marlin, we will be alright.

The 8500HS can take close to 700m of 65lb braid. This doesn’t mean we need the crazy line capacity to let Geets run wide, but the line capacity is extremely convenient as we have to tie and re-tie leaders the whole day, allowing us to re-spool the reels with fresh braid only once per season. Again, more fishing less fixing.


At Ocean Blue, we maintain our gear to regularly to avoid costly tackle failures and these reels are very easy to maintain. The screws have regular Philips heads which makes even a novice tinker’s toolbox worthy. Due to the well-sealed construction, saltwater intrusion is almost non-existent but an annual de-grease, wash and re-grease can be done with aplomb.


These reels are just great especially for the amount of abuse it takes from us here in Vanuatu. Lots of charter companies around the world use them for their durability and strength and we hands down agree that they are worthy of the job at hand. A durable and smooth reel great for general saltwater fishing. They come in different sizes down from the smallest 3500 sizes for light in-shore casting work to the big guys like the 8500 for blue water applications. If you do get yourself one for Christmas, prepare for reel-less gifts for the next few years as they won’t need replacing soon.

If you are looking for a true sport fishing company that offers you more than just a Vanuatu fishing adventure, look no further than Ocean Blue Fishing. Call us now at (AU) 1300 564 616 or at (INTL) +61 436 020322 or you may also contact us through our website at

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Let’s Get Reel: Penn Slammer III Reel Review

John is originally from the Philippines. John has extensive guiding experience throughout Asia and...Learn more

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