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Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel Review – No More Birdnest Air Knots

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The Shimano SLX Baitcaster has changed the game. Its revolutionary braking system has eliminated the need to slow down your spool during casting to avoid backlashing air knots. Or as Shimano says ‘no thumbs here.’

The SLX is compact, lightweight, high performing baitcasting reel. It is one of the premium bass reels and is now easier to cast than a spinning reel.

Available in several different gear ratios and retrieval speeds, you can certainly find an SLX that meets your personal requirements.

I have put together this review of the Shimano SLX, so let’s dive in.

Bestseller No. 1
SHIMANO SLX XT 151 HG SLX151 XT HG Low Profile LH Baitcast Reel Box, 5, Multi, One Size
  • Hagane body is a metal reel body with high rigidity, impact resistance and eliminates body flexing
  • S3D spool technology significantly reduces spool vibration and creates smooth casting
  • SVS infinity provides east to manage, consistent spool controo and brake force

DC Braking Technology

Everyone who has cast a baitcaster has experienced the air knot when the line stops flowing out but the spool keeps turning. This creates an almighty mess of knots that can take a long time to sort out. This is the main disadvantage of the baitcaster design and a key reason that many people pick a spinning reel design.

Not any more!

The Shimano SLX comes with an incredible braking system that eliminates air knots during casting. The baitcasting reel is now just as easy to use as a spinning reel and becomes the number 1 type of fishing reel available.

How does it do it?

This is done using the VBS or variable braking system. I can’t explain his as well as Shimano does, so I’ll let them handle it.

VBS uses centrifugal force rather than magnets to aid in controlling the cast. When turn on, the individual brake weights are forced outward at the beginning of the cast when backlashes most often occur, causing friction that reduces the speed of the spool. Once the spool speed begins to slow the pressure with which the brake weights contact the raceway lessens, allowing the spool to continue spinning.

Shimano Fish

What does this mean? No more thumb on the spool to avoid backlashes:

Shimano SLX Baitcaster Review - No More Thumb

The I-DC4 intelligent digital control braking system is also easy to use and gives you 4 settings with an externally adjustable brake dial – this lets you tell the reel what type and sized lure you will be casting so it can use the correct braking settings for each situation.

Lightweight – 6.9 Ounces

The improvement in technology of fishing reels keeps coming fast – the performance of these reels even with incredibly low weights is amazing. This reel comes with plenty of drag power, sufficient line capacity, multiple gear ratios, and its amazing brake system. All for only 6.9 ounces in weight.

If you intend to spend all day casting from your fishing kayak, float tube, or from the bank you will be able to do it with this reel and won’t even get a sore wrist.

High Line Capacity for this Sized Reel

The SLX is a tiny reel at less than 7 ounces, but it doesn’t give up any performance or power. It still comes with 150 yards of 20 lb braid capacity, so you can still battle some serious trophy fish.

It also has an 11 lb maximum drag which will help you fight the largest bass.

There are high speed models available with an 8.2:1 gear ratio which increases the retrieval rate up to 32 inches per crank.

Large Handle Design

The handle comes with a more modern design that is both comfortable and non-slip during wet conditions. This is different to the more old fashioned paddle design and is becoming more present on all new models that are being released.

The blue on the handle and spool really pops from the matt black stainless steel body and looks great.

Corrosion Resistant Stainless Hagane Body

Shimano’s brilliant technology of the Hagane body is also present in the SLX. The stainless steel material is corrosion resistant and will keep your reel working reliably for years to come.

The body is very rigid and stiff which has eliminated body flexing of older designs. This removes some loss of efficiency that is present when casting with other materials and designs.

Features

  • Hagane Body
  • Super Free Spool
  • Stable Spool Design (S3D)
  • VBS Braking

Shimano SLX Video Review

This video by Shimano show the SLX baitcaster in action with some surface lure action:

Bestseller No. 1
SHIMANO SLX XT 151 HG SLX151 XT HG Low Profile LH Baitcast Reel Box, 5, Multi, One Size
  • Hagane body is a metal reel body with high rigidity, impact resistance and eliminates body flexing
  • S3D spool technology significantly reduces spool vibration and creates smooth casting
  • SVS infinity provides east to manage, consistent spool controo and brake force

Specifications

ITEM CODEMONO LINE CAPACITY (#TEST/YD)WEIGHT (OZ)BEARINGSGEAR RATIORETRIEVE PER CRANK (IN)POWERPRO BRAID (LB/YDS)MAX DRAG (LB)
SLX15010/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+16.3:12520/150, 30/135, 40/10512
SLX150C10/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+16.3:12520/150, 30/135, 40/10511
SLX150HG10/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+17.2:12820/150, 30/135, 40/10511
SLX150HGC10/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+17.2:12820/150, 30/135, 40/10511
SLX150XG10/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+18.2:13220/150, 30/135, 40/10511
SLX150XGC10/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+18.2:13220/150, 30/135, 40/10511
SLX15110/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+16.3:12520/150, 30/135, 40/10512
SLX151HG10/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+17.2:12820/150, 30/135, 40/10511
SLX151HGC10/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+17.2:12820/150, 30/135, 40/10511
SLX151XG10/120, 12/110, 14/906.93+18.2:13220/150, 30/135, 40/10511

Conclusion

That brings me to the end of this review of the Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel. For anyone who has used a baitcaster for any length of time I’m sure you have experienced a few air knots. The elimination of this alone through its brilliant braking system is worth trying out the SLX.

One of the key reasons most people pick a spinning reel is because it is easy to use – with the SLX this is no longer true, the baitcaster is now just as easy to use.

If you have any questions please leave a comment below.

Happy fishing!

Russ Egan
 

Russ is an avid angler. He has fished all over the world, primarily for Saltwater game fish but also for local prize fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Tyrnos for an overhead reel or a Shimano Curado for a baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.

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