Shimano Baitcasting Reels: The 8 Best Models For 2020

Want success finesse fishing or inshore saltwater? To be successful, you will need one of the best baitcasting reels. For top reels, most anglers know that Shimano baitcasting reels are industry leaders.

Newcomers to the brand can feel confused about which model to choose, as there are many. To lower you confusion, in this article I will rate and review eight Shimano casting reels. Every baitcasting reel reviewed today will provide excellent performance for price in 2020. You will find top models for freshwater, inshore saltwater and some that can handle both environments.

A quick tip before we get started. Make sure the reel you choose has the specifications to match the following:

  • The location you are fishing.
  • How are you fishing.
  • What species of fish you are targeting.

Also consider the quality of brake system, bearings and the frame. Doing this establishes that the reel delivers a strong performance on the water. Moreover you get a dependable reel that will serve you for years to come. Finally, if you’re on a budget I have got you covered. This article has two great affordable baitcaster options that deliver amazing performance for cost.

Alright, let’s get started.

We updated this article in March 2020 to meet this years standard for the best Baitcasting reels from Shimano. For this year three new models made the list! Now there are even more models to help you conquer any form of fishing you desire. Including freshwater, inshore saltwater and even a “bait finesse” model. Read on to learn which of the Shimano baitcasting reels are best for 2020. 

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Table of Contents

Comparison Chart:

Preview
Editor's Choice
Shimano METANIUM DC 100XG 8.5:1 Right Handed Digital Control BAITCASTING Reel
SHIMANO Tranx 200A HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Reel
Budget Friendly
SHIMANO SLX DC
Product Name
Shimano Metanium DC
Shimano Tranx 200
Shimano SLX DC
Verdict
The Ultimate Technology Packed Baitcaster
Best Inexpensive Saltwater Baitcasting Reel
Least Expensive “DC” Equipped Baitcaster
Key Feature
I-DC5
Core Protect
I-DC4
Use
Freshwater & Saltwater
Saltwater
Freshwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
6.7 – 6.9
8.5
7.6
Bearings
9 + 1
3 + 1
4 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
31 – 36
26 – 36
26 – 35
Gear Ratio(s)
7.4:1 or 8.5:1
6.2:1, 7.2:1 or 8.5:1
6.3:1, 7.2:1 or 8.2:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
11
12 – 13
11 – 12
Line Capacity
Metanium DC Table
Tranx 200 Table
SLX DC Table
Models Offered
4
4
6
Editor's Choice
Preview
Shimano METANIUM DC 100XG 8.5:1 Right Handed Digital Control BAITCASTING Reel
Product Name
Shimano Metanium DC
Verdict
The Ultimate Technology Packed Baitcaster
Key Feature
I-DC5
Use
Freshwater & Saltwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
6.7 – 6.9
Bearings
9 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
31 – 36
Gear Ratio(s)
7.4:1 or 8.5:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
11
Line Capacity
Metanium DC Table
Models Offered
4
Preview
SHIMANO Tranx 200A HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Reel
Product Name
Shimano Tranx 200
Verdict
Best Inexpensive Saltwater Baitcasting Reel
Key Feature
Core Protect
Use
Saltwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
8.5
Bearings
3 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
26 – 36
Gear Ratio(s)
6.2:1, 7.2:1 or 8.5:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
12 – 13
Line Capacity
Tranx 200 Table
Models Offered
4
Budget Friendly
Preview
SHIMANO SLX DC
Product Name
Shimano SLX DC
Verdict
Least Expensive “DC” Equipped Baitcaster
Key Feature
I-DC4
Use
Freshwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
7.6
Bearings
4 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
26 – 35
Gear Ratio(s)
6.3:1, 7.2:1 or 8.2:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
11 – 12
Line Capacity
SLX DC Table
Models Offered
6

Preview
Top Marks
SHIMANO Curado DC 150; Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Fishing Reel
Shimano Chronarch G SW Baitcasting Fishing Reel, 7.1:1, Right-Handed,Black,CH150HGG
Top Marks
Shimano ALDEBARAN MGL 50 6.5:1 RIGHT HANDED CASTING REEL
Product Name
Shimano Curado DC
Shimano Chronarch G
Shimano Aldebaran MGL
Verdict
Best Mid-Range DC Baitcasting Reel
Top Inshore Salt Baitcasting Reel
Best “Bait Finesse” Reel
Key Feature
I-DC4
MicroModule
MGL Spool
Use
Freshwater
Inshore Saltwater
Freshwater & Saltwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
7.8 – 7.9
6.5 – 6.7
4.8
Bearings
6 + 1
8 + 1
9 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
26 – 36
30 – 34
26 – 29
Gear Ratio(s)
6.2:1, 7.4:1 or 8.5:1
7.1:1 or 8.1:1
6.5:1 or 7.4:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
11
10-11
10
Line Capacity
Curado DC Table
Chronarch G Table
Aldebaran MGL Table
Models Offered
6
3
4
Top Marks
Preview
SHIMANO Curado DC 150; Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Fishing Reel
Product Name
Shimano Curado DC
Verdict
Best Mid-Range DC Baitcasting Reel
Key Feature
I-DC4
Use
Freshwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
7.8 – 7.9
Bearings
6 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
26 – 36
Gear Ratio(s)
6.2:1, 7.4:1 or 8.5:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
11
Line Capacity
Curado DC Table
Models Offered
6
Preview
Shimano Chronarch G SW Baitcasting Fishing Reel, 7.1:1, Right-Handed,Black,CH150HGG
Product Name
Shimano Chronarch G
Verdict
Top Inshore Salt Baitcasting Reel
Key Feature
MicroModule
Use
Inshore Saltwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
6.5 – 6.7
Bearings
8 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
30 – 34
Gear Ratio(s)
7.1:1 or 8.1:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
10-11
Line Capacity
Chronarch G Table
Models Offered
3
Top Marks
Preview
Shimano ALDEBARAN MGL 50 6.5:1 RIGHT HANDED CASTING REEL
Product Name
Shimano Aldebaran MGL
Verdict
Best “Bait Finesse” Reel
Key Feature
MGL Spool
Use
Freshwater & Saltwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
4.8
Bearings
9 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
26 – 29
Gear Ratio(s)
6.5:1 or 7.4:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
10
Line Capacity
Aldebaran MGL Table
Models Offered
4

Preview
Shimano Calcutta 200B Round Freshwater Fishing Reel
Budget Friendly
Shimano SLX 150, Low Profile Baitcasting Reel
Product Name
Shimano Calcutta B
Shimano SLX
Verdict
Top Round Baitcasting Reel
Best Sub $100 Starter Baitcasting Reel
Key Feature
VBS
Hagane Body
Use
Freshwater & Inshore Saltwater
Freshwater & Saltwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
9.9 – 18.2
6.9
Bearings
3 + 1
3 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
24 – 28
25 – 32
Gear Ratio(s)
4.7:1, 5.0:1 or 6.0:1
6.3:1, 7.2:1 or 8.2:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
11 – 16.5
11 – 12
Line Capacity
Calcutta B Table
SLX Table
Models Offered
5
6
Preview
Shimano Calcutta 200B Round Freshwater Fishing Reel
Product Name
Shimano Calcutta B
Verdict
Top Round Baitcasting Reel
Key Feature
VBS
Use
Freshwater & Inshore Saltwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
9.9 – 18.2
Bearings
3 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
24 – 28
Gear Ratio(s)
4.7:1, 5.0:1 or 6.0:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
11 – 16.5
Line Capacity
Calcutta B Table
Models Offered
5
Budget Friendly
Preview
Shimano SLX 150, Low Profile Baitcasting Reel
Product Name
Shimano SLX
Verdict
Best Sub $100 Starter Baitcasting Reel
Key Feature
Hagane Body
Use
Freshwater & Saltwater
Weight Range (Ounces)
6.9
Bearings
3 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
25 – 32
Gear Ratio(s)
6.3:1, 7.2:1 or 8.2:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
11 – 12
Line Capacity
SLX Table
Models Offered
6

Ultimate Shimano Flagship Baitcasting Reel

Purple label with gold anchor stating Editor's choice
Shimano Metanium DC
  • Retrieve: Model Numbers Denote - 100 (right handed), 101 (left handed)
  • Gear Ratio: 7.4:1 or 8.5:1
  • Use: Freshwater & Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 6.7 to 6.9 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 31-36 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 9 + 1
  • Product Code: HG = High Gear, XG = Extra High Gear
  • Max Drag: 11 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Magnesium Hagane Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum S3D Spool
What We Like
  • Ultimate Cast Control System
  • Newest I-DC5 Braking System
  • Microcomputer Intelligent Auto Mode
  • Magnesium Hagane Body
  • Waterproof & Grit Proof Bearings: 9 + 1!
  • Effortless Casting Without Backlashing
What We Do Not Like
  • Wish It Were Cheaper
  • No Actual Anti-Reverse Lever

Shimano Metanium DC Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

METDC100HG

6.7

10/110, 12/90, 14/75

9 + 1

7.4:1

11

20/120, 30/110, 40/85

31

METDC100XG

6.9

10/110, 12/90, 14/75

9 + 1

8.5:1

11

20/120, 30/110, 40/85

36

METDC101HG

6.7

10/110, 12/90, 14/75

9 + 1

7.4:1

11

20/120, 30/110, 40/85

31

METDC101XG

6.9

10/110, 12/90, 14/75

9 + 1

8.5:1

11

20/120, 30/110, 40/85

36

Metanium DC Reel Review:

This reel is the pinnacle of the DC versions of Shimano reels for baitcasting. Some anglers may think its expensive, but for the angler who aspires to the top levels of this sport its worth it.

Made from Shimano Magnesium hagane body with Ci4+ side plates, it’s lightweight and durable. The metallic silver reel body with gold accents evoke a modern classy appearance.

The first impression I had last year was how comfortable it felt in my palm and that hasn’t changed. It’s lightweight, around 6.7 to 6.9 ounces, although if you already own a Curado K it might feel a bit heavier. I like that the knobs on the Metanium DC are the same open-ended types as the Conquest 14 and have a similar feel.

I-DC5

While the retrieve of the Metanium DC is a bit like the older Metanium reels, where it differs is the casting. You will hear the difference on your first cast; the “DC whine.” This signature sound indicates Shimano’s DC brake system called I-DC5. By using a micro-computer with the addition of a ring magnet, the brake force is very balanced.

To use the brake system you will set two types of dial adjustments. One is an inner dial that sets line type, either (N) nylon/mono, (PE) braid or (F) fluorocarbon. While on the exterior the dial has 5 settings for lure/bait weight. See the features section for an explanation of each lure setting.

My casts with this reel are effortless and I don’t worry about backlash. Other than setting the brake system, this is a set it and forget type of reel with very little user output. I like using it for jigging or light spinner baits.

The features don’t stop there, it comes with many of the features you expect to get with premium Shimano fishing reels. Such as the superior line management with the S3D Spool Design. Plus powerful gearing with a super smooth 9+1 bearing system. Finally the drag system is very consistent, with each model having a max drag of 11 pounds.

Features of Shimano Baitcasting Reels: Metanium DC

I-DC Gearing: This is an extremely advanced digital controlled system that uses a micro-computer to adjust resistance during the cast. The Metanium DC comes with Shimanos’ newest version called I-DC5. With this reel you can select your line type on the inside of the reel, doing so makes semi automatic brake adjustments. Plus there is an external dial to make precision brake adjustments. These include lure weight settings 1-4 and “A”:

  1. Big lures (18 -30 grams)
  2. Medium lures (10 – 20 grams)
  3. Small lures (8 – 12 grams)
  4. Finesse lures (5 – 8 grams)
  • A. This is the “Intelligent Auto” function. It auto sets a range from 7 to 30 gram lure weight. Using a micro computer to sense (1000 times per second) optimal brake strength.

By setting a material and lure weight, the Metanium DC casts longer without you having to worry about back lash.

Micro Module Gear: Very smooth gearing with ultra-refined teeth for superior performance. Each have many small teeth, making more contact points between the drive gear and pinion gear. As a result this gearing provides a smoother retrieve.

X-Ship: Improves gear durability. The pinion gear has support by (S) A-RB roller bearings at each end. As a result, they stabilize the gear and maintain alignment under the heaviest of loads.

(S) A-RB: Shimano uses corrosion resistant shielded stainless steel ball bearings. The more bearing a reel has, the smoother it can operate. The (S) stands for shielded, so each bearing has covers on both sides. This helps keep out salt and grit, which can inhibit the bearings rotation. The Metanium DC uses 9 bearings and one roller bearing, creating super fast gearing.

Hagane Body: Its body construction is a magnesium alloy and is a low sitting, small palming body. Shimano only uses magnesium in its highest quality reels. Magnesium offers a weight savings of 10% over aluminum.

CI4+: This is a composite mixture of carbon fiber and poly-amide. The Metanuim DC uses Ci4+ for its side plates, the material is ultra-light, rigid and won’t rust! Another nice feature, the one touch removable side plate to access the I-DC5 gearing.

Dual Handle Paddles: The large dual paddle grips of this reel provide extra fish fighting power. Especially when battling bass and feisty inshore species.

S3D Spool: The spool that the Metanium DC uses is a cold-forged aluminum that uses “S3D” technology. This leads to a significant reduction in spool vibration. The thin wall design of this spool creates a balanced and smooth casting and retrieving.

Super Free Spool: This is a spool design for eliminating friction on the spool shaft during casting. In most baitcasting reels, engaging the clutch bar, frees the pinion gear which drags against the spool shaft. But with the Super Free (SF) the pinion gear has support from a bearing at all times. So, even when the clutch bar releases the pinion won’t touch the spool shaft. As a result, there is zero friction and the spool can spin freely.

Star Drag: This star shaped design allows for strong and comfortable adjustments to the drag.

Why Buy The Metanium DC?

Buy the Metanium DC because it is an excellent general purpose baitcasting reel. It provides adept, smooth, accurate casting with any line and lure combinations needed. Capable of casting lures ranging from 5 grams up to 30 grams. This is a premium DC reel for advanced anglers who want an all-around performer that is a delight to use.

Best Inexpensive Saltwater Shimano Baitcasting Reel

Shimano Tranx 200
  • Retrieve: Product Codes Denote "01" for Left handed, others are Right
  • Gear Ratio: 4.6:1, 6.2:1 or 6.3:1
  • Use: Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 8.5 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 26 to 36 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 3 + 1
  • Product Code: HG = High Gear, XG = Extra High Gear
  • Max Drag: 12 to 13 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Cold-Forged Aluminum Hagane Body & S3D Aluminum Spool
What We Like
  • It's A Saltwater Curado K!
  • Long Handle For Faster Retrievals
  • Excellent SVS Braking System With External Adjust Dial
  • Efficient Brass Gearing
  • Hydrophobic Drag System
  • Great 13lbs Max Drag
What We Do Not Like
  • A Bit Heavier Than Others

Tranx 200 Line Capacity Chart:

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

TRX200A

8.5

8/180, 10/155, 14/110

3 + 1

6.2:1

13

30/190, 50/120, 65/80

26

TRX200AHG

8.5

8/180, 10/155, 14/110

3 + 1

7.2:1

13

30/190, 50/120, 65/80

30

TRX200AXG

8.5

8/180, 10/155, 14/110

3 + 1

8.5:1

13

30/190, 50/120, 65/80

36

TRX201AHG

8.5

8/180, 10/155, 14/110

3 + 1

7.2:1

12

30/190, 50/120, 65/80

30

Review of the Tranx 200:

The best inshore saltwater baitcasting reel under $200 is the Shimano Tranx 200. Bold claim right? What about the Curado 200K for saltwater inshore fishing?

Well, the Tranx 200 is a beefed up saltwater version of the Curado. It has a bigger handle, more waterproofing with less ball bearings to go bad. This low-profile baitcaster feels good in the palm and sports the same plastic level wind as the Curado K.

How else did they beef it up? First the body is aluminum Hagane design, the same as the Curado. Except the Tranx uses CoreProtect construction to make its body impervious to saltwater. The first time you open the reel you will see the waterproof sealant between each sides of the reel body. The handle is 8 mm longer than the Curado and the start drag is slim but comfortable.

Next, it has waterproof drag to protect the body, the roller clutch and the line roller. This uses hydrophobic coated gaskets to prevent water/salt into the drag system.

Finally, one thing it shares with the Tranx 300 is the same rubber lipped seal. The purpose of this is to prevent water entering the star drag between the handle and the side plate.

SVS Infinity Braking System

My favorite feature of the Tranx 200 baitcasting reel is the smooth external brake dial. This dial controls the SVS Infinity brake system, a built-in centrifugal brake system. These are brake weights using ‘inner friction’ against the raceway during the cast. The dial gives six setting and is easy to use. Although some anglers feel adjusting the brakes and spool tension a bit tricky with light lures.

Add the wide-ranging Cross Carbon Drag up of to 13 lbs of max drag. Its more than powerful to hook set any inshore species you target. It’s simple to see that this is a tough and powerful little reel.

Another difference with the Curado you won’t see unless you crack open the reel is the pinion. The Tranx 200 uses a full brass pinion gear over a machined aluminum with brass sleeve gears of the Curado. Plus they modified the frame to supports the pinion, unlike using bearing support in the Curado 200K. As a result, under extreme loads like hook setting or drag slippage, in theory doing this makes it stronger.

Tranx 200 Features

SVS Infinity: A centrifugal brake system uses small weights inside of the reel to activate the braking. Anglers control the system via an external dial with 6 tension settings. Or make mini adjustments by opening the side plate and engaging the inner weights. SVS Infinity provides easy-to-manage, dependable spool control and brake force.

(S) A-RB: To fight corrosion, Shimano uses shielded stainless steel ball bearings. Shielded means each bearing has rubber or metal covers on both sides. Using shields keeps out salt and grit, which can slow the bearings rotation.  The Tranx 200 uses 3 bearings and one roller bearing, creating efficient gearing.

Hagane: The Tranx 200 reel has a body made of cold-forged aluminum. This is to ensure it is lightweight but super strong. Using Shimanos patented Hagane frame construction. All body components including the single piece handle are aluminum. Overall the body uses thinner components without sacrificing structural integrity.

Core Protect: The is a surface protection coating to provide water resistance without creating a heavy rotation feeling. The three key areas of the reel that use it are the roller clutch, the body and the line roller.

Waterproof Drag: These are non-contact rubber gaskets with a hydrophobic coating. Used to seal the drag system against intrusion of water and dust. The coating ensures that even if water does make it inside it beads up and rolls off the gasket. One gasket is next to the spool, to make it impossible for saltwater to contact the spool when it’s spinning. Another two gaskets are on the outside of the side plate. One is protecting the clutch and the second at the handle support bearing.

PV Power Paddles: The two over sized paddle grips provide incredible power. While also staying comfortable for a full day of heavy cranking.

S3D Spool: The spool on the Tranx 200  is a cold-forged aluminum, non-ported spool that uses “S3D” technology. This technology enable stable movement and a reduction in spool vibration. As a result, this spool provides balanced and smooth casting and retrieving.

Star Drag: This reel uses a cold-forged aluminum for its’ star drag. A star drag allows the angler to make strong and comfortable changes to the drag.

Cross Carbon Drag: To aid with power fishing, the Tranx 200 packs an impressive amount of pressure into its’ drag system. It does this by using waterproof carbon fiber drag washers. These washers feature a cross hatch design that improves strength and smoothness.

Saltwater Fishing? Then Pick Up A Tranx 200!

For saltwater inshore fishing, the Tranx 200 is a beast for it’s size. This is a durable little reel that is nearly the same as a Curado K but with key differences. It is virtually impervious to saltwater with a simple and effective braking system. Plus the versatile gearing of each Tranx 200 model makes it perfect for jerk, crank or spinner baits. Give it a try, you will be glad you did!

Top Budget-Friendly Baitcasting Reel

green budget friendly label
Shimano SLX DC
  • Retrieve: Product Codes Denote "151" for Left handed, others are Right
  • Gear Ratio: 6.3:1, 7.2:1 or 8.2:1
  • Use: Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 7.6 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 26 to 35 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 4 + 1
  • Product Code: HG = High Gear, XG = Extra High Gear
  • Max Drag: 11 to 12 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Aluminum Hagane Body & S3D Aluminum Spool
What We Like
  • DC Brakes System For A SLX Price!
  • Very Smooth Reeling
  • Flex-Free Hagane Body
  • Simple To Use
  • Less Backlashing
  • Casts Long With Little Effort
What We Do Not Like
  • Not A Direct Replacement For A Curado DC
  • Some Hate The "DC Whine" Sound
  • Others Are Better For Pitching & Flipping

SLX DC Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

SLXDC150

7.6

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

4 + 1

6.3:1

12

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

26

SLXDC150HG

7.6

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

4 + 1

7.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

30

SLXDC150XG

7.6

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

4 + 1

8.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

35

SLXDC151

7.6

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

4 + 1

6.3:1

12

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

26

SLXDC151HG

7.6

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

4 + 1

7.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

30

SLXDC151XG

7.6

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

4 + 1

8.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

35

SLX DC Review

Introduced at Icast 2019 this is the Shimano SLX DC. This “max control” reel is the latest addition to the SLX series of baitcasting reels. For those of you aren’t aware, in 2018 Shimano introduced DC brake control into their Curado series. DC means Digital Control, reels marked DC have a micro-computer inside them. This computer driven reel makes precise adjustments to reduce human error during casts. In fact, this system  actually activates and deactivates the centrifugal brakes 1000 times per second.

The SLX DC allows anglers to maximize casting distance in any conditions. Without making adjustments to the reel and limited to no thumbing. It prevents backlash, increases cast distance and reduces the learning curve for baitcasting. Inside it uses the same I-DC4 digital braking system as the Curado DC. Fish with a weightless senko or heavy hard bait, you will have no fear with the adjustments.

Features Of The SLX DC Baitcast Reel

Variable Braking System (VBS): The SLX uses this to aid in controlling casting. Instead of using magnets to control braking, it uses centrifugal force. For example, say an angler puts the individual brake weights into the “on” position. At the beginning of the cast, the weights will move outward, which puts pressure and friction on the spool. This slows the spool speed, eventually as the pressure lessens, the spool starts to move freely. As a result, anglers get consistent spool speeds as well as great casting distances. Settings range from zero weights “on” for free spooling and up six weights “on” for super windy conditions.

Hagane Body: The Shimano SLX baitcasting reel has a lightweight aluminum Hagane frame. This material provides durable protection for internal components. As well as rigidity to withstand any body flexing.

XT-7 Side Plates: Shimano uses a graphite composite material for the SLX’s side plates. This helps the SLX stay budget friendly but still lightweight and strong. The bonus of this material over die-cast aluminum is that being a composite it won’t rust.

Long Double Handle: This Shimano baitcasting reel has a 45/48 mm long handle for extra control.

Dual EVA paddles: Anglers will appreciate this type of paddle, as it is comfortable in the hand. As well, it is  lightweight enough to aid in fighting fatigue on long days of fishing.

S3D Spool: Always improving spool function Shimanos uses the S3D spool technology. This is a thin wall aluminum design meant to reduce spool vibration. By using this technology the S3D spool also creates balanced  casting and retrieving.

What Are The I-DC4 Brake Settings?

The Shimano SLX DC has 4 brakes settings which adjust via an external knob. You don’t even have to open up the side plate! They include:

  1. Max Distance: This is the lowest brake setting. Which provides the least amount of braking for ultra-long casts in calmer conditions. Using this setting, you do need to use your thumb. Don’t expect great casts with this setting if you use Fluorocarbon lines with light lures.
  2. Braid/Mono: Used for balanced braking using either Mono-carbon or Braided line. Considered the all-round casting setting for versatile conditions.
  3. Fluorocarbon: The advised setting if you’re using Fluorocarbon line due to higher braking. Another reason to use this setting is if you need extra help casting in windy conditions.
  4. Max brake: Referred to as skipping mode by experienced anglers. Use this setting for challenging casting situations. Such as casting under piers and docks or for skipping lures (hence “skipping mode”).

How Is The DC System Powered?

Don’t worry, you won’t be using batteries to power the Shimano SLX DC. The DC system uses the energy generated by your cast as the spool spins. This rotational energy gets transferred to the the digital control board. Which in turn will power the next cast and so on.

Proven SLX Construction

The SLX DC uses the same construction as other SLX series reels. Made from solid steel for the frame and a rigid Hagane aluminum cold forged body. It’s rigid an I can’t feel any flex from the reel. In my palm it’s easy to hold, feels lightweight and compact. Although if you already own a regular SLX, be aware the DC version is a tad bigger.

For the side plates the reel uses a graphite composite material called XT-7. What’s great about graphite is it won’t corrode. Next the spool is cold forged aluminum with the capacity of a 150-size reel. Cosmetics of reels are a personal choice, some hate it while others like it. The SLX DC uses a matte black finish for the body and bright blue lettering. Considering some of the ugly reels on the market, this is fine for a budget “DC” reel.

Shimano SLX DC Model Specs

There are three right handed models (SLXDC150), in regular, high gear and extra high gearing. Using gear ratios starting from 6.3:1, 7.2:1 up to 8.2:1 for extra high gear models. Plus three models for lefties (SLXDC151) with these same three gearing options. Shimano uses brass gears in the SLX DC.

With an average line capacity of 12 pound test for 110 yards of Mono. Or 30 pound test for 135 yards of Braid for all models. The regular model delivers a line retrieve of 26 inches per crank up to 35 inches for the extra high gear model. Next for max drag the base model has 12 pounds, while the higher gear models have 11 pounds.

The SLX DC is a bit lighter than the Curado DC at 7.6 ounces as opposed to 7.8 and 7.9. For weight, they all come in at 7.6 ounces as opposed to 7.8 and 7.9 for the Curado. Where the SLX DC fall short over the Curado DC is the bearings. The SLX DC uses four shielded anti-rust bearings and one roller bearing. Whereas the Curado DC us six bearings and one roller bearing.

Any Disadvantages For The SLX DC?

Like all digital control reels the SLX DC makes a subtle high pitched “zing” sound on casts. Some people hate it which is a downside for some anglers, I don’t mind it though.

The next disadvantage is for anglers who use the flipping and pitching technique. Or if long casting isn’t a priority then stick with the older SLX for an affordable baitcaster.

The last disadvantage is that the SLX DC isn’t a cheap replacement for a Curado DC. Yes, it’s great Shimano trickled the DC technology into it. But don’t mistake it as being on equal footing as the Curado. This reel lacks many of the features of the Curado, the biggest being MicroModule gearing. As a result, the SLX DC won’t be as buttery smooth in gearing. For novices, or anglers who care more about cast distance than smooth reeling this might not be an issue. Still its something to consider.

Why Choose The Shimano SLX DC Reel?

Pick the SLX DC if you’re new to baitcasting and looking for a forgiving learning experience. Or if you are a seasoned angler who wants to achieve the ultimate casting with precise control. Choosing the SLX DC, you get long distance effortless casting at a reasonable price. It’s a no brainer.

Best Mid-Range DC Baitcasting Reel

top marks label in blue with yellow check mark
Shimano Curado DC
  • Retrieve: Product Code Denotes - "1" for Left Handed, others are Right
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1, 7.4:1 or 8.5:1
  • Use: Freshwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 7.8 to 7.9 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 26 - 36 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 6 + 1
  • Product Code: HG = High Gear, XG = Extra High Gear
  • Max Drag: 11 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Carbon interfused polyamide Hagane Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
What We Like
  • Awesome I-DC4 Cast/Braking System!
  • MicroModule & X-Ship = Remarkable Smoothness
  • 11 Pound Max Drag For Controlling Big Fish
  • High Gear & Extra High Gear Options
  • Strong & Smooth Drag
  • Super Free Spool
What We Do Not Like
  • Minor Learning Curve Of Setting Up I-DC4

Shimano Twin Curado DC Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

CUDC150

7.8

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

6 + 1

6.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

26

CUDC150HG

7.8

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

6 + 1

7.4:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

31

CUDC150XG

7.9

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

6 + 1

8.5:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

36

CUDC151

7.8

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

6 + 1

6.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

26

CUDC151HG

7.8

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

6 + 1

7.4:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

31

CUDC151XG

7.9

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

6 + 1

8.5:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

36

Curado DC Review

The Curado DC is all about making superior effortless casts that take the fatigue out of fishing. For anglers experienced with the Curado series, this is like a Curado K but with a DC brake system. If you love the signature “DC whine” you will like this reel.

What Is A DC Casting Reel?

For those anglers who don’t know, DC means a digital controlled brake system. The Curado DC uses a micro-computer inside reel to regulate the speed of the spool.

It does this by reading the speed of the spool one thousand times a second to sense when to apply brake force. Using a micro computer to sense brake force allows you reduce human error during casts. A system like this is crucial for successful casts into the wind.

With the DC braking you also don’t have to thumb this reel as long as you set the brake modes right. Some anglers like this while others don’t, its up to you. I prefer to thumb so that I can feather the lure when landing it. What the DC is great for is actually improving casting methods, especially skipping. Overall it is amazing and makes casting effective and efficient. In particular if using light baits and casting in windy conditions.

Upgraded Curado K

How its like the Curado K? Well, it’s almost same size, except the spool size is a “150” and the side plates are different. The Curado DC uses Ci4+ for the side plates which makes sense because it houses the micro-computer. Ci4+ is a carbon fiber and polyamide composite that is lightweight can’t rust. Which is important to protect the internal components.

Otherwise expect the same features Shimano puts into all Curado series reels. As explained below.

Features Of The Curado DC

I-DC4 System: This is a digital controlled (DC) braking system. It uses a micro-computer inside the reel to monitor spool speed 1,000 times every second. It also applies a perfect amount of brake, preventing backlash and maximizes distance. This gearing also has four semi-automatic casting functions you can control. Either based on line type or cast type, including:

  1. Max Distance mode: Best for calm conditions
  2. Braid/Mono: Mode for braid or mono line
  3. Fluorocarbon: All-round mode for fluorocarbon line
  4. Skipping mode: Stronger braking when skipping baits

By relying on smart digital control, anglers get trouble-free casting in all conditions.

Micro Module Gear: The Curado DC uses an advanced gearing that has several small teeth on each gear. This increases contact which ultimately provides buttery smooth retrievals.

X-Ship: To help provide durable gear strength the Curado DC uses X-Ship. It does this by giving support to the pinion gear with a (S) A-RB roller bearing. This helps to keep it aligned under load and stabilize the gear.

(S) A-RB: The Curado DC uses rust resistant stainless steel ball bearings. The (S) stands for shielded, thus each bearing has shield on both sides. Having a shield keeps out sand and grit which can inhibit the bearing ability to rotate. The Curado DC uses 3 bearings and one roller bearing.

Cross Carbon Drag: Inside the drag system of the Curado DC are water proof carbon washers with hatch-pattern on them. The hatch pattern improves drag strength and carbon help with smooth drag.

Hagane Body: The body construction of the Curado DC is aluminum and anodized in dark grey. Using Shimanos Hagane concept, this reel is pretty light and completely sealed. Using this material gives a level of stiffness that eliminates body flex.

CI4+ Side Plates: Ci4+ is a composite made of a mixture of carbon fiber and poly-amide. This reel uses Ci4+ for its side plates to provide an ultra-light, rigid component that doesn’t rust!

Double Handle with Paddles: The handle is a cold-forged aluminum, anodized in green. Along with large dual paddle grips, which are great when you need extra fish fighting power.

MGL Spool: The Curado DC uses a “Magnumlite” spool made of aluminum alloys. The unique design provides low startup inertia by moving the mass of the spool outwards. This helps to improve your line control when using lightweight baits or lures.

S3D: To further improve spool function the reel uses Shimanos’ S3D technology. The thin wall design of this spool reduces spool vibration. It also creates balanced smooth casting and retrieving.

Super Free Spool: Another feature of the spool is the “Super Free” design. This eliminates friction on the spool shaft during casting. In other baitcasting reels, pressing the clutch bar will free the pinion gear. When you do this the pinion gear will often drags against the spool shaft. Yet with the Super Free (SF), a bearing supports the pinion gear at all times. Therefore, when the clutch releases, the pinion never touches the spool shaft. So, without friction, the spool is able to spin freely.

Why Buy The Shimano Curado DC?

Buy the Curado DC because it’s packed with great features and will help anyone improve their casting methods. This DC baitcasting reel is such a pleasure to fish with since you can fish in any condition.

Bottom line: it works and it can’t be any more simple than that.

Top Inshore Salt Baitcasting Reel

Shimano Shimano Chronarch G
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 7.1:1 or 8.1:1
  • Use: Inshore Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 6.5 to 6.7 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 30 - 34 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 8 + 1
  • Product Code: HG = High Gear, XG = Extra High Gear
  • Max Drag: 10 to 11 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
What We Like
  • Best Chronarch Since The 100B
  • Great For Soft Plastic Presentations
  • Lightweight Stiff Reel
  • MicroModule For Increased Power
  • 9+1 Shielded Anti-Rust Bearings
  • Smooth Drag & Easy Casts
What We Do Not Like
  • Gear Needs Re-Greasing Often
  • Some Complaints Of Hollow Feeling

Shimano Chronarch G Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

CH150HGG

6.5

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

8 + 1

7.1:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

30

CH150XGG

6.7

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

8 + 1

8.1:1

10

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

34

CH151HGG

6.5

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

8 + 1

7.1:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

30

Chronarch G Review

Searching for a high-gear baitcasting reel that handles salt and fast inshore species? Your search is over, this is the Shimano Chronarch G series. Introduced in 2017, it’s a saltwater version of the freshwater reel the Chronarch MGL. If you love the performance of the MGL but tend to fish brackish or inshore salt, get this reel.

MicroModule With X-Ship

A new feature for the Chronarch G series is the introduction of MicroModule gearing. This is a fine tuning for the gear teeth, making finer cuts so that there is more teeth and better contact. Greater contact transfers more power with a smoother feel. An added bonus is the gears are brass which equates to durable performance.

Shimano matches the brass micro-gears with X-Ship. This addition is to further improve gear durability in harsh salt environments. Shimano adds double support for the pinion gear. This balances the pinion gear under heavy loads when cranking.

Why do these features makes a big difference for inshore fishing? Understand this, more gear contact and high gear ratios means you have the ability to lose a lot less fish. In particular when say a speckled trout gets hooked and turns toward you. The higher gearing allows you to reel in fast, keep slack out of the line and good bend in the rod. Thus, a soft mouth speckled trout can’t wriggle out of the fight.

Excellent Features Of The Chronarch G

SVS Infinity: This is a hand operated braking system for the reel. It helps deliver easy-to-use, dependable spool control and powerful brake force. Inside, a centrifugal brake system uses small weights to activate the braking. For control it, you can use an external dial with 6 tension settings. Or make mini adjustments by opening the side plate to engage the inner weights. Using this brake system allows for accurate casting of both heavy and light lures.

High Efficiency Gearing (HEG): A trusted and dependable gearing design. The design consists of the gears, the frame, set plate, and handle-side side plate. First, Shimano increases the size of the drive gear and pinion gear to boost leverage and power. The reel uses a one-piece frame that integrates the set plate and a one-piece stamped side plate. As a result, it eliminates flex in the drive train that causes normal gears to bind under pressure. By stopping the flex and raising the leverage, you get high-speed retrieves with a lot of torque.

Micro Module: The new Chronarch G uses extra smooth gearing with super-refined teeth. for high-caliber performance. Each gear has more teeth, creating exact contact between the drive gear and pinion gear. The result is ultra smoother retrieve.

X-Ship: To improve gear durability in harsh salt water the Chronarch G Uses X-Ship. This is the use of bearings on either end to support the pinion gear. Which stabilizes the pinion gear and maintains alignment under the heaviest of loads.

Salt Approved Bearings

(S) A-RB: Used on all saltwater approved baitcasting reels to fight corrosion. These are stainless steel ball bearings with shields. The shields mean each ball bearing has rubber or metal covers on both sides. Using shields keeps out salt and grit, which can slow the bearings rotation. The Chronarch G uses eight bearings and one roller bearing to keep movement fluid.

Super Stopper: This is a special anti-reverse roller bearing. The Chronarch G reel uses it to cut back play when you need instant hook setting power.

CI4+: The material of the body and side plates of the Chronarch G are a composite mixture of carbon fiber and poly-amide. This material is ultra-light, rigid and won’t rust! Another nice feature, the one touch removable side plate to access the SVS Infinity system.

Dual Handle With EVA Paddles: Measuring at 90mm handle for HG models and a 95mm handle for the XG model these will provide more fighting leverage. This handle has cut outs to reduce the weight of the reel without sacrificing strength. While the two EVA paddles are comfortable for long days of angling.

S3D Spool: The spool that the Chronarch G uses is a cold-forged aluminum one, that uses “S3D” technology. S3D is a thin walled spool which lessens vibration. This results in smooth and balanced cats or retrieves.

Super Free (SF) Spool: The Chronarch G uses this spool design. In some baitcasting reels if you activate the clutch bar, the pinion gear can drag on the spool shaft. Not with the Super Free (SF)! For this reel, the pinion gear has support from a bearing at all times. If the clutch bar releases, the pinion can’t touch the spool shaft. As a result, there is no friction and the spool spins free.

Star Drag: A star shaped design delivers strong and adjustments to the drag. Using it is important for adjustments if short for time during a fight.

Cross Carbon Drag: To aid with inshore salt fishing, the Chronarch G use this drag system. Which delivers a significant amount of power. It exerts this power via waterproof carbon fiber drag washers. These washers use a cross hatch design that increase retrieve strength and smoothness.

Models At A Glance

The body of the reel is comfortable to palm and lightweight due to the carbon body and side plates. While the long handles, (90mm) for the HG model and (95mm) for the XG provide more fighting leverage.

Both right and left handed models are available, product number 150 is right and 151 for left. The G series comes in either a high gear (HG) ratio of 7.1:1 or and extra high gear (XG) of 8.1:1. While the HG weighs in at 6.5 ounces and the XG is 6.7 ounces.

For line capacity all models hold (#test/yard) of 10/120, 12/110, 14/90 for mono. While for braid they hold (#test/yard) of 20/150, 30/135, 40/105.

A max drag of 10-11 pounds and crank per inch of 30-34 is more than capable to fish trout, redfish and flounder. To combat the salt all models have 8 shielded anti-rust bearings with 1 roller bearing.

Chronarch G Versus Tranx 200

Look I get it, why spend the money for the Chronarch G if you can get the cheaper Tranx 200? Well, they are different reels that excel at different types of inshore saltwater fishing.

First, the Chronarch G has higher gear ratio, more bearings and its lighter in weight. Plus it has Shimanos newer brass “Micro-gears” and X-Ship. The reel delivers a supreme level of smooth gearing that blows the Tranx 200 out of the water. Add to this, it has higher end reel construction and weighs 2 ounces less.

Whereas the Tranx 200 does have high gear ratio models, it only has 3+1 bearings. The basic rule is the more bearings a reel has the smoother it is. This isn’t to say that the Tranx 200 isn’t a great reel, it’s awesome for slower inshore species. But for anglers looking for an excellent fast gearing inshore reel, the top choice is the Chronarch G.

The best secret about the 2020 Chronarch G; you can swap out the spool for the MGL type, turning it into a freshwater monster!

Downsides? Gear Maintenance.

As with any Shimano reel that has “micro-gearing” you do have to re-grease the gears at times. I have talked to anglers who mistake newer gritty feeling reels as “lemons.” The main reason for this is, the gears need a re-grease. Which makes sense, every reel needs maintenance, saltwater more than freshwater reels.

Another issue I read and hear about is a hollow feeling to the reel. My guess is the reason is due to the Ci4+ carbon frame and side plates. Composite materials tend to telegraph vibration more than solid metal. The bonus of carbon is it won’t rust which is a huge bonus for salty areas. It’s up to you if this is a problem, it isn’t for me.

Why Pick The Chronarch G?

If you are fishing in inshore saltwater the Chronarch G is a swift powerhouse of a reel. This is the perfect low-profile high geared reel to deliver top level performance. Its excellent saltwater protection ensures you get a durable and reliable casting reel. While the packed in advanced features will put a smile on every saltwater enthusiasts face.

Best "Bait Finesse" Casting Reel From Shimano

top marks label in blue with yellow check mark
Shimano Aldebaran MGL
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 6.5:1 or 7.4:1
  • Use: Freshwater & Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 4.8 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 26 - 29 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 9 + 1
  • Product Code: 50 denotes Right Hand, 51 denotes Left Hand, HG = High Gear
  • Max Drag: 10 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Body & Magnesium Spool
What We Like
  • Outstanding Bait Finesse Reel
  • Insanely Lightweight At 4.8oz!
  • 20% Longer Casting Than 2015 Aldebaran
  • Now With Silent Tune & SVS Infinity
  • Precise Yet Buttery Smooth Retrieves
What We Do Not Like
  • It Has A Very Specific Use

Shimano Aldebaran MGL Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

ALDMGL50

4.8

8/85, 10/75, 12/65

9 + 1

6.5:1

10

20/85, 30/75, 40/60

26

ALDMGL50HG

4.8

8/85, 10/75, 12/65

9 + 1

7.4:1

10

20/85, 30/75, 40/60

29

ALDMGL51

4.8

8/85, 10/75, 12/65

9 + 1

6.5:1

10

20/85, 30/75, 40/60

26

ALDMGL50HG

4.8

8/85, 10/75, 12/65

9 + 1

7.4:1

10

20/85, 30/75, 40/60

29

Aldebaran MGL Reel Review

The Shimano Japan fishing division debuted the Aldebaran reel back in 2009. From the debut to today it’s won several publications editors choice awards. It is an ultra lightweight reel that can handle and wide range of applications. In fact, you could actually classify this reel as a true “finesse baitcasting reel.”

Made from a magnesium body with carbon inter-fused side plates, in my hand, it’s insane how light this reel is. At 4.8 ounces it’s the lightest baitcaster from Shimano. For body color it’s a metallic steel blue which depending on how sunny out it is, can color shift to grayish. The side-plate detaches to provide easy access the new SVS infinity brake system too.

The Aldebaran MGL is available in two models for right handed and two for left handed anglers. With two gear ratios available, either a standard (6.5:1)or a high gear HG (7.4:1). All models have a max drag of 10 pounds, 9+1 bearings and a line retrieve of 26-29 inches. It shares the same physical size for the spool as the 2015 Aldebaran with a 50/51 spool. But that’s where the similarities stop.

As with other top performing reels from Shimano the Aldebaran had many upgrades over 9 years. In 2018, Shimano refreshed it with the latest cast technology. They decided it was time for the Aldebaran to receive Shimanos coveted MGL moniker.

What’s The MGL Abbreviation Mean For The 2020 Aldebaran?

The MGL abbreviation for the Aldebaran means it uses Shimanos Magnumlite spool. Its a lighter spool design, by 30% over over older spool. But the big upgrade is it lessens startup inertia by rotating the mass of the spool outwards. Doing so, enhances your line control when using lightweight baits or lures.

Compared to the 2015 Aldebaran you should expect cast distances to increase by at least 20%. This isn’t the only excellent feature of the Aldebaran MGL, check out all its features below.

Features Of The Aldebaran MGL Reel

Silent Tune: Is a technology exclusive to the Aldebaran series of baitcasting reels. To explain, for every casting reel, the spool will ride on bearings. To maintain/change these bearings, reel brands house them inside a small frame. Inside the frame these bearings have a bit of space that can create vibrations when moving the spool. Any vibration takes energy away from the core of the reel and reduces casting distances. Silent Tune is Shimano’s answer to this problem. They add small springs under the bearings which keep the bearings in place. Cutting any movement or vibration and ensuring smoother longer casts.

SVS Infinity: An innovative brake system technology. Using brake weights that use ‘inner friction’ against the raceway during the cast. SVS Infinity controls spool speed for precision casting especially when using lighter lures. Adjust the system via an external knob for quick changes due to the conditions or switch baits.

X-Ship: Makes use of a double bearing supported pinion gear. This provides a precise alignment of the drive gear and pinion gear. The result is a much smoother retrieve with increased durability.

(S) A-RB: Shimano uses corrosion resistant shielded stainless steel ball bearings. The more bearing a reel has, the smoother it can operate. The (S) stands for shielded, so each bearing has covers on both sides. To help keep out salt and grit, which can inhibit the bearings rotation. The Aldebaran MGL uses 9 bearings and one roller bearing, creating ultra swift gearing.

Hagane Body: A special all metal body construction is a magnesium alloy, Shimano only uses magnesium in its highest quality reels. Magnesium offers a weight savings of 10% over aluminum. This produces a low sitting, small palming reel body that is both luxurious and strong.

CI4+: This is a composite mixture of carbon fiber and poly-amide. The Aldebaran MGL uses Ci4+ for its side plates, the material is ultra-light, rigid and won’t rust! Another nice feature, the one touch removable side plate to access the SVS Infinity Brake system.

Dual Handle with EVA Paddles: The handle is a drilled out cold-forged aluminum it’s lightweight and strong. Along with large EVA paddle grips, which are great for comfort and control when finesse fishing.

Star Drag: This is a cold forged aluminum drag star located next to the handle. Its unique design provides comfortable and quick adjustments to the drag system.

MGL Spool: The big upgrade for the Aldebaran MGL is that it uses a “Magnumlite” spool made of aluminum alloys. This special design lessens low startup inertia by moving the mass of the spool outwards. This helps to enhances your line control when using lightweight baits or lures.

S3D: To improve spool function the reel uses Shimanos’ S3D technology. This is a new machining method which ensures a uniform spool material thickness across the entire spool. The higher balanced spool helps cut noise and reduces vibration during the cast.

Super Free Spool: An added feature of the spool is the “Super Free” design. This stops friction against the spool shaft during a cast. With the Super Free (SF), a bearing supports the pinion gear. Therefore, when you release the clutch, the pinion gear won’t slip and drag on the spool shaft. Without this friction, the spool spins fast and free.

Cross Carbon Drag: To deliver strength when finesse fishing, the Aldebaran MGL uses carbon fiber drag washers, which feature a cross hatch design to increase hook-set power.

Casting & Retrieve

I’ve been matching this reel with the Shimano Expride 164LF and can fish it almost like a spinning reel. Most of the time I toss light drop shots with 1/8 oz weights and a Jackall Spade T.G. Jig. But you will have great success using most small jerks, top waters, t-rigs or finesse jigs. You can heavier lures, say 1/4 oz but expect around 50 yard casts. While it’s best used as a pure bait finesse reel it doesn’t mean it isn’t tough and versatile.

It’s great casts come from a myriad of features, two of which are the new “silent tune” and SVS Infinity brakes. For more info on these and the everything else Shimano packs into the reel, check out the features tab above.

Next on to retrieval, Like I mentioned before there are two gear ratios. Whichever one you choose expect to feel that old school Shimano smoothness. By this I mean the Aldebaran uses Shimanos trusted X-ship gearing. This is a double bearing supported pinion gear made of aluminum. The result is a classic smoothness, whereas some new Shimano reels use the micro-gears. Either way, the difference between the two types of gearing is hard to notice unless you are an expert.

For drag, the Aldebaran MGL maxes out at 10 pounds, but remember this is a bait finesse casting reel. It isn’t meant to hook-set and work a fish out in dense or heavy cover. Inside the reel use cross-carbon drag washers, which for this level of reel is standard.

Aldebaran MGL Disadvantages

As of 2020 the one disadvantage for the Aldebaran MGL is its specific use. What I mean by this is that it’s exceptional at bait finesse fishing, but don’t try deep cranking with it. Nor is this the reel for thick, nasty, mats of overgrown weeds. I suppose you can try light cranking, something like top water frogs. For this it’s more than capable.

Verdict

Looking for the complete package for ultra-lightweight bait finesse fishing? Pick my favorite reel for drop shot techniques, the Aldebaran MGL. It is the top of its class performer for fishing light baits 1/16 oz up to 1/4 oz. Plus with a reel this light you can cast for hours without any noticeable fatigue. It’s an instant classic baitcasting reel from Shimano.

Top Round Baitcasting Reel

Shimano Shimano Calcutta B
  • Retrieve: Product Code Denotes - "1" for Left Handed, others are Right
  • Gear Ratio: 4.7:1, 5.0:1 or 6.0:1  
  • Use: Freshwater (approved for inshore saltwater)
  • Reel Weight Range: 10.1 to 18.2 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 24 - 28 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 3 + 1
  • Product Code: GT = Higher Bearings
  • 400 & 700 series have "bait clicker" feature
  • Max Drag: 11 to 17 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Cold-Forged Aluminum Frame, Side Plates & Spool
What We Like
  • Buttery Smooth Bearings
  • Excellent VBS Braking System
  • Buttery Smooth Drag
  • Dyna-Balance Wobble-Free Rotor
  • Great With Fluoro, Braid, and Mono Line
What We Do Not Like
  • Heavy
  • Star Drag Could Be Improved
  • You Can't Be Lazy With Maintenance

Shimano Calcutta B Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

CT200B

10.1

8/210, 10/190, 14/120

3 + 1

6.0:1

11

40/135, 50/130, 65/90

27

CT201B

10.1

8/210, 10/190, 14/120

3 + 1

6.0:1

11

40/135, 50/130, 65/90

27

CT400B

11.7

12/330, 14/260, 20/160

3 + 1

5.0:1

17.5

50/305, 65/180, 80/160

24

CT700B

18.2

20/310, 30/200

3 + 1

4.7:1

16.5

50/620, 65/375, 80/330

28

Calcutta B Review: A True Swim Bait Work Horse

The Shimano Calcutta has been a favorite with anglers as a round bait casting reel since 1991. On first look it has a simple and elegant design. As Shimano built the body and side plates with cold-forged aluminum anodized in gold. While a beautiful round bait casting reel, it’s purpose is a true fresh and inshore salt water work horse. To accomplish super tough fishing its weight ranges from 9.9 oz (200GTB) up to a staggering 18.2 oz (700B).

I like the classic bait caster shape and finish, the grips on the handle, plus the large wide spool for increased line capacity. But my favorite feature of this round baitcasting reel is the VBS braking system. In the first models back in the 1990’s you’d have to open the reel and remove the spool to adjust braking. Today, all you have to do is open the easy access side plate. Upon opening, you will see VBS braking system and six brake weights. Ranging from zero to six, you can set precise brake adjustments to your casts.

Plus, every model includes “Dartanium drag” with a patented drag material. At first the washers work great but I find that over time I switch these out for carbon washers. Another feature with the Calcutta B is that models come with either “level wind” or without. Level wind is great for casting distance or if you worry about backlash. It is a moving eyelet that tracks back and forth on the spool as line is cast.

The Features Of The Shimano Calcutta B Reel

Variable Braking System (VBS): This is a special braking system to aid you in controlling a cast. It uses centrifugal force rather than magnets like old bait cast reels use. Here you put the individual brake weights in the on position. At the beginning of the cast, the weights move outward putting pressure and friction on the spool. This slows the spool speed, then as the pressure lessens the spool moves freely. The result is a consistent spool speed and maximum casting distances. Settings go from zero weights “on” for free spooling and up six weights “on” for super windy conditions.

Anti-Rust Bearings (A-RB): The Calcutta B uses unique stainless steel ball bearings, to ensure optimal rotation. Each ball bearing goes through an anti-rust process. The result makes them at least 10 times more corrosion resistant. Using a no shield design allows for easy maintenance and increased bearing speed. The Calcutta B uses three bearings and one roller bearing. With exception of the CT200GTB model which has seven bearings and one roller bearing.

Super Stopper: This is a one-way, stainless steel roller bearing to cut back play. Stopping any back play from happening helps an angler make solid hook sets.

Cold-Forged Aluminum Body: The Calcutta B has this very strong and lightweight material for its frame and side plates. Made from a single piece of aluminum, cold forging produces incredible strength. By using a metal frame the reel can keep moving parts in precise alignment. It also features the use of the latest gold anodizing, plating and painting techniques.

Dual Septon Power Paddles: These are lightweight and comfortable to touch. Plus they are waterproof to ensure total comfort for long days on the water.

Clicker System: The 400 and 700 models of the Calcutta B have an optional feature called a “clicker.” When engaged, the clicker increases the tension in free spool. As well it activates a clicking alarm to alert you when a fish bites.

Easy Access Side Plate: Reels such as the Calcutta B use Shimanos’ VBS braking system. To access the VBS system this reel provides a set screw on the handle side of the reel. When loosened the opposite side plate rotates open, revealing the inner braking mechanism of the reel. This allows for easy worry free changes when out on the water.

Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool: The Calcutta B reel use s a cold-forged aluminum spool. This type of spool has increased strength and durability over cheaper materials. 

Star Drag: This reel uses a cold-forged aluminum for its’ clicker star drag system. Shimano also anodized it in gold to help with durability. Its unique design provides comfort whenever the angler is adjusting the drag.

Dartainium Drag: Inside the Calcutta B are dartainium drag washers. This drag material gives a wider range of drag settings, along with a very smooth drag. As long as you do regular maintenance such as re-greasing.

Non-Disengaging Level Wind: Available the CT400B and CT700B models only. This is a plastic level wind system that uses a moving eyelet to track the line back and forth during both cast and retrieval. The level wind reduces drastic line angles which cause unwanted friction and backlashes on wide-spool reels.

Casting With The Calcutta B

Casting with the Calcutta B is quiet and satisfying, while the drag is buttery smooth and strong too. Especially with the 700 model as is has a super powerful gear ratio of 4.7:1. Although if you are looking for a more finesse freshwater model check out the 200GTB with a gear ratio of 6.0:1.

Downsides?

The only thing that I would like to see improved is the curved star drag. It’s great that it is metal but the only models with the “clicker” feature are the 400 and 700.

A “clicker” is a Shimano feature that increases the tension in free-spool. Which will also activate a clicking alarm to alert you when a fish bites. Which is lacking on the smaller models, since there is no way to define each position. Another nuisance is that I would hit it by accident loosening the drag.

Last point I want to mention, this reel needs cleaning after every use. I use a salt removal compound, then rinse the reel with fresh water and re-grease as needed. Some anglers love to open up and clean the reels while other don’t. For this reel though I do recommend keeping up with maintenance, doing so will make this reel basically bullet proof.

Why Buy The Calcutta B?

Buy the Calcutta B if you want a round bait casting reel that is tough as a tank. One that will easily handle freshwater and inshore salt alike. For over 20 years the Calcutta series has proven the test of time. Don’t disappoint yourself with any of the copycats. Get the best round bait casting reel, the Shimano Calcutta B.

Best Sub $100 Starter Baitcasting Reel

green budget friendly label
Shimano SLX
  • Retrieve: Product Code Denotes - "1" for Left Handed, others are Right
  • Gear Ratio: 6.3:1, 7.2:1 or 8.2:1
  • Use: Freshwater or Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 6.9 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 25 - 32 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 3 + 1
  • Product Code Denotes - HG = High Gear, XG = Extra High Gear
  • Max Drag: 11 to 12 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Aluminum Hagane Body & Aluminum SD3 Spool
What We Like
  • Incredible Price
  • Lightweight Aluminum Hagane Body
  • Basically A Curado 70 With A 150 Spool!
  • Super Reliable VBS Braking
  • Versatile Brass Gearing
What We Do Not Like
  • No External Brake Dial
  • Spool Tension / Side Plate Closing Issue

Shimano SLX Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

SLX150

6.9

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

3 + 1

6.3:1

12

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

25

SLX150HG

6.9

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

7 + 1

7.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

29

SLX150XG

6.9

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

3 + 1

8.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

32

SLX151

6.9

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

3 + 1

6.3:1

12

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

25

SLX151HG

6.9

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

3 + 1

7.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

29

SLX151XG

6.9

10/120, 12/110, 14/90

3 + 1

8.2:1

11

20/150, 30/135, 40/105

32

SLX Reel Review

The Shimano SLX is the best budget friendly baitcasting reel under $100. It’s a compact, rigid and versatile reel that won’t hurt your wallet.

On first touch, the reel feels very compact and comfortable to palm, with good tension and travel in the thumb bar. The size is comparable to the older Curado 70 model, except it has a larger spool. If you love older Curado models then you will love this reel.

Another feature the SLX has is an extended handle of 45-48 mm. Plus, the same paddles as the more expensive Curado K. Long handles are awesome for upping the cranking power and speeding up retrieves.

The SLX comes with brass gearing, with a versatile amount of gear ratios. Such as: Regular Gear at 6.3:1, High Gear at 7.2:1, and Extra High Gear at 8.2:1. Both the methodical lure worker or the angler who likes a bit of finesse will enjoy the SLX series.

Shimano SLX Versus Caenan Model

The other thing you will notice is that for a sub $100 bait caster reel it has an aluminum Hagane body. Unlike say the Shimano Caenan which is graphite. Weighing a mere 6.9 ounces, this reel is 22% more compact than the Caenan baitcaster. The reel is super rigid with no flex, with a PowerPro line capacity of 150, it’s very capable.

“For newbies, finding a baitcasting reel this lightweight, at this price point is hard to find!”

If you remove the easy access side plate, you will notice Shimano has included a 6 Pin VBS braking system. Engaging each pin allows for precise brake adjustments. This allows you to control the cast based on lure weight under any weather condition.

During testing, the free spool is good and near silent. Add a max drag of between 11 and 12 pounds, the SLX also provides decent hook setting power for a reel of this price.
Features Of The Shimano SLX

Good Features Of The Shimano SLX Reel

Variable Braking System (VBS): The SLX uses this to aid in controlling casting. Instead of using magnets to control braking, it uses centrifugal force. For example, say an angler puts the individual brake weights into the “on” position. At the beginning of the cast, the weights will move outward, which puts pressure and friction on the spool. This slows the spool speed, eventually as the pressure lessens, the spool starts to move freely. As a result, anglers get consistent spool speeds as well as great casting distances. Settings range from zero weights “on” for free spooling and up six weights “on” for super windy conditions.

Hagane Body: The Shimano SLX baitcasting reel has a lightweight aluminum Hagane frame. This material provides durable protection for internal components. As well as rigidity to withstand any body flexing.

XT-7 Side Plates: Shimano uses a graphite composite material for the SLX’s side plates. This helps the SLX stay budget friendly but still lightweight and strong. The bonus of this material over die-cast aluminum is that being a composite it won’t rust.

Long Double Handle: This Shimano baitcasting reel has a 45/48 mm long handle for extra control.

Dual EVA paddles: Anglers will appreciate this type of paddle, as it is comfortable in the hand. As well, it is  lightweight enough to aid in fighting fatigue on long days of fishing.

S3D Spool: Always improving spool function Shimanos uses the S3D spool technology. This is a thin wall aluminum design meant to reduce spool vibration. By using this technology the S3D spool also creates balanced  casting and retrieving.

Any Downsides Of The Shimano SLX?

The real time fishing downside is that there’s no external brake dial. It uses static internal brake settings, for some anglers this could become annoying.

Last year there was another downside pertaining to a side plate issue. But it’s seems fixed with the 2020 SLX. Otherwise I didn’t find any mechanical issues with the SLX.

Who Buys the Shimano SLX?

Looking to step up from the Shimano Casitas or Caenan? Or are you new to bait casting and want a great inexpensive reel? Look no further, the SLX is rock solid and simple to use yet also a compact budget friendly reel. This reel is awesome for spinner baits and jigs or fishing small mouth bass. Try throwing 3/8 oz jigs for small mouth bass and expect to have insane success.

Finishing Up: Shimano Baitcasting Reels

With your new found knowledge, choosing the best Shimano baitcasting reel isn’t hard. Keep in mind what you are targeting and what features are most important to you. Regardless of your choice, using a Shimano reel ensures that you will have a great day out fishing.

Finally, thank you for letting us at Outdoors Informed help with your research. Trusting us lets you spend less time indoors and more time outdoors fishing.

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Last update on 2020-07-12

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