I started running Penn Slammer Live Liners in 2015 as my snapper bait outfits. I was sent one for review and liked it so much I ordered a few more and matched them with Penn Regiment rods. As someone who tests tackle for a living, reels and rods are constantly changing and each year there are different outfits I am sent to test or I buy them, try them and move on to the next new thing.
Last year was the first year I decided to move away from baitrunner or liveliner (reels with a freespool system) on my my snapper outfits. I’m still not sure if I’m happy with this, but there were too many great and affordable reels that I wanted to use. I started running Penn Battle and Clash reels, in with some other reels, and I continue to be extremely impressed with them – they’re tough, durable, reliable and are a great size with the right line capacity with great drag and cranking power. Best of all they offer exceptional value for money. I was therefore keen to try out the new Slammer IV; it’s the flagship Penn reel with a strong history and if the Clash and Battle were anything to go by, I had high expectations.
First of it looks amazing: the black and gold colour motif that the Slammer is famous for looks better than ever on this model and the reel is proportionally well balanced, both aesthetically and in the hand. In the box you get a spare EVA handle if the stylish metal handle doesn’t suit your fishing. I really enjoyed the solid round metal knob, which I thought might be slippery as I always have wet and slimy hands when bait fishing, but it wasn’t an issue. In fact, it doesn’t hold smell or stains so I prefer it.
The Slammer IV comes in sizes from 2500 sequentially through to the massive 10500 with sizes 2500, 4500, 6500 and 8500 all available in standard and high-speed gear ratios. The 2500 features carbon fibre drag washers and a graphite rotor for finesse applications, and from 3500 onwards each model has Penn’s sealed Dura-Drag system and a full metal body. We were sent the 4500HG to review and as we have been in lockdown without the ability to travel, Melbourne’s local snapper were the target species.
The Slammer IV range offers you a size that can target any fish, whether using braid or mono. It feels tough without feeling heavy, is smoother and more refined than its predecessor thanks to its nine sealed bearings and offers a heap of torque (even in high gear) thanks to its brass main and pinion gear. It’s a no-fuss, refined design that anglers will appreciate – it works and works well.
I had the Slammer paired with the new Regiment Black Ops II. I have been running Regiments as my snapper rods since 2015 and while my gear does change, the Regiments have stayed in the fleet full-time, just upgraded as each new model Regiment is released. I’m yet to find a better snapper rod for the money. They have the perfect-length butt for the snapper racks and to fight fish under your arm, a fast, crisp action for setting the hooks, a sensitive enough upper third for bite detection and long casts of unweighted baits, and a heap of power for fighting fish. The new model has improved again; I like the fact the rod splits at the butt for easy storage in the off season and they are slightly faster with better sensitivity.
My first run on the combo was from a good fish. I had my back turned to the rod while I was removing my anchor light pole as the sun had just started rising when I heard the Slammer’s drag going (a big tick for the reel’s drag sound). I turned to find the Regiment buckled over with a good fish peeling line from the Slammer. By the time I got to the rod and picked it up I had lost the fish – you need to be quick with snapper, especially early season.
I went on to deal with the undesirable bycatch of a few big banjo sharks, which showed off both the cranking power of the Slammer and the muscle of the Black Ops II, and about 15 minutes later had my first snapper of the season in the boat. The drag is smooth, as is general operation, and there is no flex or twist of any kind thanks to the tough metal body. I caught another snapper on a different rod then landed a few pinkies with the Penn combo, which highlighted the great sensitivity in the Black Ops rod. It wasn’t a bad start to the Melbourne snapper season and I caught enough to get a feel for the new combo.
It’s certainly an impressive reel that can handle a huge variety of fishing styles, and is especially suitable as a Victorian snapper reel. It has all the right attributes required in good balance including the price; with a RRP of $399 (you’ll likely get it for less) it’s extremely competitive in the market for what it offers. You may find what you think are similar reels for less, but they won’t offer the same durability, internal and external materials, and such a well-sealed reel from the spool and line roller through to the body.
Whether you’re chasing Vic snapper on bait, throwing stick baits for tuna or trolling for mackerel, this reel will do it – and do it well for years to come at an affordable price.
Words & Images: Kosta Linardos
Distributed by: Pure Fishing Australia