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Reel Review


More Bang for the Buck : The Shimano SLX DC Baitcaster Series (continued)


Ergonomics: The profile of the SLX DC is also very similar to the Curado DC, and is wider at the front of the reel to accommodate the I-DC4 dial. Out of the box the dial was a little bit hard to rotate but over the season it did loosen up, making adjustments possible with just one finger. Overall the new reel feels comfortable enough in hand, and still palms well.


The SLX DC is a lot of fun to fish, and if you haven't had an opportunity to fish a DC reel the SLX DC is a great entry-point


The SLX DC gets ergonomic bonus points over the original with the externally adjustable cast control system which is much easier to adjust quickly than the old VBS system, which required anglers to flip open the sideplate for access. However this system comes at a cost, and that tradeoff is increased overall weight. The SLX reels weighed in at 7.2oz. while the SLX DC reels weigh .4oz. more at a total of 7.6 ounces. The difference is the increased weight of the I-DC4 module and magnet implementation on the S3D spool.


The SLX DC features a clean design and a no-nonsense matte finish with just a few blue highlights. This baitcaster pairs nicely with just about any rod


Price & Applications: With the introduction of the I-DC4 system in the Curado DC Shimano found a way to mass produce their electronic cast control system, and not only make it easier to use, but even more reliable with the sealed module design. This digital casting technology which was once reserved only for the company's halo products was finally made accessible to the mainstream. The SLX DC further extends the reach of this technology to an even more value-oriented segment of the market.


Retailing for $189.99 the SLX DC bears a $90 dollar price premium over the standard SLX reel, but is also the most aggressively priced DC equipped reel ever made available to US anglers.


The inclusion of I-DC4 makes the SLX DC better than the standard SLX on both sides of the casting spectrum


The biggest beneficiary of the SLX DC introduction are beginner anglers that may have been hesitant to pick up a baitcaster, and will really appreciate trouble free casting and reduced number of backlashes, but I would argue that any cost-conscious angler can benefit from the technology offered by this reel. As an example, with Mode 4 even anglers with horrendous bait skipping skills, such as myself, can manage to deliver a quality presentation underneath low hanging docks without having to pay for the attempt with a massive birdnest.


Overall while the SLX DC is significantly more expensive than the standard SLX it packs in a lot more functionality and fishes like a more expensive reel. In some aspects it can even compete with the Curado DC


Shimano markets the SLX DC as a reel for "control freaks" and while the SLX reels don't necessarily offer more range of control than some of their other reels it does make it easier than ever to harness the potential of the cast control system on the fly, and it is impressive that this feature can be had in a reel that retails under $200 dollars.  


Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Shimano SLX Baitcaster Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The SLX DC features the same quality build as the standard SLX and adds in the I-DC4 sealed cast control module. Overall the reel feels solid 8
Performance Casting performance is excellent not only in max distance but in terms of ease of control. It casts just as well as the Curado DC but is not able to match it when it comes to smoothness or power under load 8.5
Price While not as good as an overall value as the very aggressively priced standard SLX reel this is the most affordable DC reel in the US and it is worth it to pay the premium to upgrade to this feature, especially if you haven't tried the I-DC4 or DC system before 8.3
Features Simply put... everything anglers love about the workhorse oriented SLX reel plus I-DC4 cast control 8.0
Design (Ergonomics) The SLX DC doesn't palm quite as nice as the original DC with the larger non-handle side sideplate but the external cast control adjustment is a nice upgrade. Unfortunately the reel does weigh slightly more 8.5
Application The SLX DC is a nice upgrade over the original SLX and the addition of the I-DC4 cast control system expands the range of capabilities on both ends of the spectrum, making this both a better power fishing reel as well as an improved finesse reel. DC technology has never been more accessible 8.5

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                   Plus                                            Minus

+ DC cast control technology has never been more accessible - Not as refined as other Shimano reels, including the Curado DC. The big difference is the MicroModule gears and X-Ship
+ I-DC4 cast control is now proven and is a reliable and easy to use system - Drag is reliable but not an upgrade from the original SLX
+ Same solid feel as the original SLX  
+ Casts extremely well, and just as good as the Curado DC  
+ Still lighter than the Curado DC  
+ Though a significant jump over the standard SLX Series in price this new SLX DC lineup is still a great value when you consider the additional features and performance  

Conclusion: I think the biggest question is not whether the SLX DC is a good reel, which it certainly is, especially when you consider the reasonable price point. There are two big questions you should ask yourself when considering the SLX DC. First, whether the I-DC4 feature is worth the $90 dollar premium over the standard SLX reel? If you haven't owned a DC reel prior to this I think this is an easy yes. The novelty of that digital cast and the real noticeable control benefits it brings with it is worth the price of admission in itself. Just the ability to better control my pitches and make me an acceptable dock skipper is incentive enough for me to pull the trigger.

The second, and bigger question in my mind, is whether or not it is worth investing $60 more dollars to get into the Curado 150 DC? If casting is the most important feature to you then the answer is no. In our tests the SLX DC proved to cast just as well, and features the very same easy to dial in settings as the more expensive Curado DC. You will need to ask yourself whether that more fluid retrieve provided with technologies like the MicroModule gears and X-Ship, as well as improved refinement with better CI4+ and aluminum components is worth the premium.

The SLX DC continues the tradition of delivering excellent bang for the buck performance, and Shimano digital cast control has never been more accessible

For me the answer is also a yes. When I ask myself which reel I personally enjoy fishing with more I consistently find myself more often than not reaching for the Curado DC. At the same time I cannot deny that the SLX DC is the better value, a Best Value Award Winner, and a baitcaster that cost-conscious anglers looking to benefit from the easy to use I-DC4 system should not hesitate to consider. The SLX DC continues the tradition of delivering great bang for the buck, and now with Shimano DC features once reserved for significantly more expensive baitcasters. 

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