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Reel Review


Shimano SLX Baitcasters Deliver the Features that Anglers Need, at a Price they Demand (continued)

Casting: The minute I casted the SLX baitcaster reel it reminded me of some of the older generation Curado and Chronarch reels, as it confidently delivering baits to their intended targets consistently on each and every cast with the aid of the simple but effective VBS centrifugal casting system.

Plainly put, the SLX is a good caster, one that channels reels from Shimano’s past, and reminds anglers how reliable and consistent the centrifugal cast control system is to operate. Each cast with the same bait feels identical but not as effortless, or as quiet, as some of the more recent higher-end Shimano baitcasters, which benefit from the SVS Infinity casting system, Super Free spool and X-Ship design to help reduce friction on the spool shaft during casts.

The SLX is designed to be a workhorse reel and comes in a range of retrieve ratios. Our test reels were both 8.2:1 high speed models in right and left hand retrieve

Throughout tests I found that the SLX was capable of casting the complete range of bait weights. It excels at the heavier stuff, but is able to cast 1/8oz. and even 1/16oz. baits when you use lighter lines and dial in the spool tension appropriately. While the SLX certainly would not be my first choice for baitfinesse applications it does get the job done as a multi-purpose reel.

The cast control employed within the SLX is the proven VBS centrifugal system

Retrieve: With lighter and lower water resistant baits retrieves with the SLX were surprisingly fluid in feel. Though the reel does not have the micro gearing found in higher-end Shimano baitcasters, the SLX does have a precision cut brass main gear that is smooth. I found that even with deep divers the 8.2:1 gear ratio reel didn’t exhibit any gear bind whatsoever. It was only during retrieves of larger fish that the differences in the SLX’s retrieve became clear.

When I had fish that were four pounds and up on the line the SLX was not as powerful as the more expensive Citica and Curado reels. While the aluminum frame provides plenty of gear isolating rigidity, it is during battles with these bigger fish that the absence of micro module gearing and X-Ship left the reel feeling a little less refined under load.

A look under the sideplate reveals a massive brass gear

While the SLX is not as smooth and powerful as some of Shimano’s more costly reels it is noticeably smoother and more powerful than the similar positioned Caenan, which it essentially makes obsolete. In terms of the competition the SLX is definitely among the smoothest reels at this price point.  

The SLX is surprisingly smooth and feels like a more expensive reel. It is only during retrieves where it starts to become obvious where the Citica and Curado excel over the SLX

Drag: Shimano baitcasters are known for their smooth drags versus max drag pressure, and the SLX pretty much falls right inline, making use of a simple carbon and steel drag stack that is sandwiched within the reel’s main gearing. There is not an abundance of surface area here, but also not much to fail either. In the lab the SLX delivered 11.1lbs. of drag pressure under full lock, which is almost an ounce less than what we have seen from our previous tests with the current generation of Citica and Curado Series reels.

The drag system makes use of a mix of materials including carbon and steel

Though the SLX doesn’t offer the maximum drag pressure of competing reels it proved to be both smooth and reliable in actual real world use. Where I was able to really put the drag to the test was fishing jerkbaits for suspended largemouth. I experienced a good reaction bite but was having trouble keeping fish pinned, as they were not striking the baits very aggressively. Near the upper end of the drag adjustment I dialed in a sweet spot, and was able to set hard enough to hook the fish, but still give them enough drag that when they pulled aggressively they couldn’t use the lure as leverage to shake off the trebles. The fish provided a number of extensive runs and each time the SLX’s drag felt both smooth and consistent, and paired with the medium-heavy powered SLX rod I was able to successfully land each and every fish.

The blue anodized components give the SLX more character. This is a far better looking and performing reel than the Caenan

Next Section: Excellent ergonomics in a workhorse...









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