Shimano SLX Baitcasters Deliver the Features that
Anglers Need, at a Price they Demand
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
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.
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
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...