Shimano SLX Review

The Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel was released in 2018. It was intended to be marketed as a more affordable baitcaster. 

Even so, the SLX still comes with many features that you would find in higher end reels. 

When you hold the SLX in your hands one of the first things you’ll notice is how compact it is. If you love compact reels then the SLX is right up your alley. 

You’d think that such a compact reel would feel super light. But it doesn’t. The aluminum chassis is made using Shimano’s hagane construction process. This makes the reel feel solid in the hand.


The SLX comes with blue metallic accents. The spool, tension control knob, handle nut and side plate graphic are all blue. I personally like this color but it’s a matter of personal preference.

The rest of the reel has a matte black fishing that goes well with the blue accents.

Variable Braking System

The braking system on the SLX is your basic centrifugal system. The main drawback here is that you have to open the sideplate to adjust the brakes.

When you do open the sideplate, you’ll see that there are 4 brakes pads. To turn an individual brake on, just lift it towards the outside of the spool until it snaps into place. To turn the pad off, simply turn it down towards the center of the spool until it snaps.

While the brakes are easy to turn on and off, it is unfortunate that you have to open the sideplate to get to them.

Overall, the braking performance is adequate. I used 12 lb fluorocarbon and a 3/8 ounce casting plug. I put the reel on a Dobyn’s Fury Medium 7 foot baitcasting rod. With this setup, I had 2 brakes on and the backlash control was more than adequate.

I made several casts over 100 feet with the 3/8 ounce plug. I never felt like the spool was going to overspin.

I tried reducing the brakes to just 1 on. This did produce some overspin. If you’re an expert controlling spool speed with your thumb, you may be able to get away with just one brake on.

Casting Distance

Casting distance was adequate, but it did not blow me away. Compared to more expensive Shimano reels, it definitely falls short. This may be caused by more simplified braking system.

Retrieve Smoothness

One thing I really love about the SLX is the smoothness of the retrieve. When you retrieve a lure wit this reel, there is a buttery smooth yet rock solid feel. It’s as if absolutely zero force is wasted.

This is most likely due to the micro module gearing. This feature means that the gears have very small teeth for more efficient transfer of power.

Overall, the smoothness of the retrieve is one of the most impressive features of the SLX.

Reel Specs

The SLX the following Monofilament or Fluorocarbon capacities:

  • 120 yds. / 10lb.  mono
  • 110 yds. /12 lb. 
  • 90 yds. / 14 lb.

If you’re using braid:

  • 150 yds. / 20 lb.
  • 135 yds  / 30 lb.
  • 105 yds. / 40 lb.

You can get three different gear ratios. You can get a 6.3:1 that will retrieve 25 inches of line per crank. 

Next there is an HG model with a gear ratio of 7.2:1. This one will retrieve 28 inches per handle crank.

Finally, there is an XG model that has a gear ratio of 8.2:1. It will bring in 32 inches per handle crank.

As for the drag, the 6.3:1 geared model all have 12 lbs. of drag. The 7.2 and 8.2:1 models each have 11 lbs. of drag.

All of these models weigh in at 6.9 ounces.

Best Rod For The Shimano SLX Baitcaster

The Shimano SLX will hold about 110 yards of 12 pound test mono. So, you might not want to load it up with very heavy fluoro or mono. 

If you’re using braid, then it’s really not an issue. You can load it up with 135 yards of 30 pound test. 

When you take these things into consideration it makes the SLX a  great choice for a cranking rod. 

Say for example, you’re going to be using 14 pound line of less. You plan on fishing crankbaits, or jerkbaits. 

Then, pairing up the shimano SLX with a Dobyn’s Fury 105C is a great choice. The total price for this combo would be less than $225.


If you’re in the market for an affordable baitcasting reel. The Shimano SLX is a great choice. It offers good casting performance and a buttery smooth retrieve. The small size also feels really good in the hand. 

The aesthetics are also a hit with most anglers. The electric blue accents are well received.

Keep in mind that Shimano is releasing 2 new versions of this reel.

The first is the SLX DC. This reel was a big hit as iCAST 2019. It features a digitally controlled braking system just like the one on the Shimano Curado DC. What’s great about this reel is the price. It will be coming in at around $190.

Finally the SLX XT will feature an SVS infinity braking system. This braking system will allow for more fine tuning. And what’s really important is that you can tune it via an external dial. This means that you’ll no longer need top open the side plate like you do with the current SLX.

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