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Tackle & Gear Reviews


A diverse and powerful spinning reel family for both inshore and offshore fishing.
By Staff
From inshore to offshore, the PENN Slammer III family of reels covers it all!

Sponsored - Anglers in the Northeast are truly blessed with a wide range of saltwater fishing opportunities thanks to the diverse nature of the region’s shorelines and proximity to productive offshore waters. Numerous bays, sounds, harbors, inlets, breachways and estuaries provide sheltered playgrounds for light-tackle anglers to test their skills on species like striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, false albacore and bonito. On the bottom, fluke, flounder, blackfish, sea bass and porgies provide a nice option to the more challenging gamefish that is sure to put some good eating fish on the table.

These same inshore waters and endless miles of ocean beaches account for some of the best surf fishing opportunities in the entire country. From the Jersey Shore to Cape Cod, armies of surfcasters ply the shorelines for stripers, blues and albies. More recently, sharks upwards of 200 pounds have provided a new challenge to casters during the summer months.

Near-shore ocean waters are rich with many of the same species and offer added opportunities when sea and weather conditions allow anglers to probe outside inlets and breachways. The ocean bottom off the Northeast Coast is paved with wrecks, artificial reefs and natural structure that draw fish from every level of the food chain, creating excellent angling opportunities for many species ranging from bottom species like black sea bass, blackfish, cod and pollock to pelagics like bluefin tuna and sharks.

The offshore canyons are fed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, drawing white and blue marlin, true albacore, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi and swordfish within range of many ports. Numerous spinoffs of these rich waters frequently shorten the ride for bluewater anglers seeking these much sought-after species.

All of this diversity requires a wide range of fishing tackle to effectively cover all the possible scenarios that Northeast anglers are likely to encounter. Over the course of a season, many of these anglers will take advantage of several of these opportunities, rather than limiting themselves to one type of fishing. PENN’s new Slammer III series of spinning reels feature ten models to cover the full range of Northeast fishing opportunities, from light tackle in the bays to heavy duty offshore work. Included in the lineup are eight sizes ranging from the SLAIII3500 to the SLAIII10500, plus high-speed versions of the 6500 and 8500 models.

When it comes to light-tackle fishing, it’s hard to beat the 3500 for schoolie stripers, weakfish, fluke, black sea bass, bonito and small to medium blues and albies. Match it to a 6 to 6-1/2 foot rod and spool it up with 10-pound Berkley Fireline or Spiderwire Stealth and you can deliver the lightest lures to 1-1/2 ounce plugs and bucktails. If that outfit is too light for your comfort zone, you want to deliver larger payloads, or there’s the chance of tangling with bigger fish than you planned, step it up to the 4500 matched to a medium action 7-footer with 15-pound braid.

When it comes to snag and dropping bunker for cow stripers, casting or drifting live eels, or tossing larger plugs into rocky shorelines or the white water on inlet bars, the 5500 is the ideal choice. You’ll want a little more power on a 7 to 7-1/2 foot rod, and 20-pound braid is more than enough to get the job done, yet allow for maximum casting distance to keep you a safe distance from breaking waves or rocky shallows.

Surf fishermen can choose from a wide range of Slammer III models. For summertime fluke fishing, the 3500 is ideal for delivering a 1/2 to 1-ounce Berkley Fusion 19 Bucktail tipped with your favorite Berkley Gulp. The Striper Coast is overrun with small stripers thanks to several good recent year classes in Chesapeake Bay and the Hudson River. Those fish should provide lots of action over the next couple of seasons for casters stepping down their tackle to 7- and 8-foot rods matched to 4500 and 5500 Slammer IIIs. For more standard surf gear, the SLAIII6500 is a good match for most 10-foot rods, while the 7500 is better suited to most of the medium action 11-footers on the market. These outfits will handle most of your surf fishing chores in the Northeast surf in traditional surf hot spots like Cape Cod, Montauk and Island Beach State Park. For heavy duty work like heaving large chunks of bunker or mackerel for cow stripers, teen-size blues or sharks, the 8500 model with its extra-large line capacity and 50 pounds of drag is the way to go.

Spinning reels have come a long way in the last decade or two and PENN’s Slammer III series is a classic example of that. The have become standard equipment on many offshore junkets, especially when jigging or casting for bluefin and yellowfin tuna. The three largest models in the Slammer III lineup, the 8500. 9500 and 10500 are all well-suited to tangling with ocean roaming pelagics like tuna, billfish and sharks.

PENN has taken an already great reel, the Slammer II, and made it even better. Among its outstanding features are the new IPX6 Sealed System to keep water out of the gear box and drag system in heavy spray and sea conditions. The Slammer III also incorporates the PENN proprietary sealed Dura-Drag system with washers that eliminate hesitation even under extreme drag settings. With the computer-controlled CNC gear technology system, the precision brass main, pinion and oscillation gears are individually machined for exact tolerances to provide the smoothest operation. The full metal body, sideplate and rotor house seven stainless steel bearings for a lifetime of fishing in saltwater conditions. Gear ratios range from 6.2:1 with 37 inches of line retrieve on the smaller reels to 4.2:1 with 43 inches of line retrieve on the largest. Maximum drags start at 30 pounds in the smaller models to 60 pounds on the largest. The oversized reel handle grip gives the angler added control during the fight. The 3500 Slammer III is the smallest of the family weighing 13.9 ounces while the 10500 weighs 43.1 ounces. Slammer III prices range from $249.95 to $349.95 MSRP. For more info on the entire lineup of PENN products, go to PENNfishing.com.