Shimano Baitcasting Reels: The 10 Best Models For 2021

Man holding fishing rod using a shimano baitcasting reel
Want success finesse fishing or inshore saltwater? To be successful, you will need one of the best baitcast 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 baitcasting reels. Every baitcasting reel reviewed today will provide excellent performance for price in 2021. You will find top models for freshwater, inshore saltwater and some that can handle both environments. Likewise for peace of mind Shimano provides a 2-year warranty on their reels and rods.

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.

Related: The Best Spinning Reels From Shimano In 2021

We updated this article in January 2021 to meet this years standard for the best Baitcasting reels from Shimano. For this year two 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 2021. 

Outdoors Informed is reader supported. We independently research and rate every product. When you buy through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. However, our opinions and evaluations are our own. Outdoors Informed does not accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more.

Share This Article
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Table of Contents

Comparison Table

Ultimate Shimano Flagship Baitcasting Reel

purple and gold colored label showing trophy and editor's choice text
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
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): 10/110, 12/90, 14/75
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/120, 30/110, 40/85
  • Frame Construction: Magnesium Hagane Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum S3D Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

Shimano Metanium DC 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 (260.82 g) 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

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.

Capable Inexpensive Saltwater Shimano Baitcaster

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
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): 8/180, 10/155, 14/110
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 30/190, 50/120, 65/80
  • Frame Construction: Cold-Forged Aluminum Hagane Body & S3D Aluminum Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

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 side 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 lip 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

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’ll be happy you did!

Best "Bait Finesse" Casting Reel From Shimano

blue and gold colored label showing check mark and top marks text
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
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): 8/85, 10/75, 12/65
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/85, 30/75, 40/60
  • Frame Construction: Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Body & Magnesium Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

Review Of The Shimano Aldebaran MGL:

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 (181 g) 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 the coveted MGL moniker.

What Does The MGL Abbreviation Mean?

The MGL abbreviation for the Aldebaran means it uses Shimanos Magnumlite (MGL) spool. Its a lighter spool design, by 30% over the 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

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 (45.72 m) 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 casting distances come from a myriad of features, two of which are the new “silent tune” and SVS Infinity brakes. For more info on these and 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 the brands’ 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 2021 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 Mid-Range Finesse Reel

red and white colored new model label
Sale
Shimano Curado MGL 70 K
  • Retrieve: Right/left
  • Gear Ratio: 7.4:1 or 8.1:1
  • Use: Freshwater & Light Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 6.9 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 29 - 32 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 8 + 1
  • Product Code: 70 denotes Right Hand, 71 denotes Left, HG = High Gear, XG = Extra High Gear
  • Max Drag: 12 pounds
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): 10/105, 12/85, 14/70
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/115, 30/105, 40/80
  • Frame Construction: Aluminum Hagane Body, with Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Side Plate & Magnesium Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

 

Shimano Curado MGL 70 K Review:

Introduced in the fall of 2020, this is the new Curado MGL 70 K reel. It’s one of the most hyped reels for the 2021 fishing season. If you loved the Curado K series for pitching and flipping, feast your eyes on this sleek update to the series. The big additions to the newest iteration, is the MGL spool and MicroModule gearing. I like to think of the Curado MGL 70 K as a mid-season refresh of the 70 and K.

First Impressions

If you’ve ever looked at the pictures of new models from Shimano, you know what you see in person if often different. In person the Curado MGL 70 K has a two-tone frame that’s both matte and metallic black. If you owned the old 200 k, this reel is basically the same colors. While it shares appearance with the 200 K, it differs in frame size, and is definitely smaller. Palming it feels natural in my hand and since it weighs 6.9 ounces it will be easy to balance it with lighter rods.

Looking on the side, the spool tensioner is dark metallic green with the MGL logo and the star drag is also green. The tensioner feels upgraded and beefier but spins smooth. While the star drag is a new shape, it’s no longer a finesse style, instead its like the one found on the 200 K.

Inside you see the added Magnumlite (MGL) spool which spins effortlessly. The double paddle handle measures in at 90 mm like the older Curado 70 as well. But the paddle knobs are more reminiscent of the one on the Bantam series. Not that I’m complaining, the Septon grips feel great between my fingers.

Adding Power & Finesse

Why did Shimano decide to give a refresh to the venerable Curado series? They did so to increase both the power and finesse of the reel. That’s a difficult task for a finesse style reel. Power increases come from the SVS Infinity braking system and cross carbon drag. Adding a Magnumlite (MGL) spool, MicroModule gearing and more bearings increases finesse. Read the features tab below for explanations of each.

Features Of The Shimano Curado MGL 70 K

Bottom Line:

If you love the Curado 70 and K series, try out the Curado MGL 70 K reel. Anglers will love the new spool, gears, more bearings, but with the frame of the lauded Curado 70 reel. If you fish by pitching jigs, or casting swim jigs this reel delivers a great balance of power and finesse.

Great Inshore Salt Baitcasting Reel

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
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): 10/120, 12/110, 14/90
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/150, 30/135, 40/105
  • Frame Construction: Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

Review Of The Shimano Chronarch G:

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 are 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

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, (90 mm) for the HG model and (95 mm) 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 (184 g) and the XG is 6.7 ounces (190 g).

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. 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 (57 g) 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 2021 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.

Verdict:

Choose Chronarch G if you are fishing in inshore saltwater, it’s 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. Plus its advanced features will put a smile on every saltwater enthusiasts face.

Best Mid-Range DC Baitcasting Reel

blue and gold colored label showing check mark and top marks text
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
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): 10/120, 12/110, 14/90
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/150, 30/135, 40/105
  • Frame Construction: Carbon Interfused Polyamide Hagane Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

Shimano 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 to 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, it’s 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. Building with these materials helps protect the internal components.

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

Features Of The Curado DC

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 simpler than that.

Wallet-Friendly DC Baitcasting Reel

green and white colored 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
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): 10/120, 12/110, 14/90
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/150, 30/135, 40/105
  • Frame Construction: Aluminum Hagane Body & S3D Aluminum Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

Review Of The Shimano SLX DC

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 with 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

 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:

  • 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.
  • Braid/Mono: Used for balanced braking using either Mono-carbon or Braided line. Considered the all-round casting setting for versatile conditions.
  • 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 to cast in windy conditions.
  • 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 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 and as I grasp it 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 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 (101 meters) of Mono. Or 30 pound-test for 135 yards (123 m) 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 (215 grams) as opposed to 7.8 and 7.9. On feature where the SLX DC falls short over the Curado DC is the bearing quality. The SLX DC uses four shielded anti-rust bearings and one roller bearing. Whereas the Curado DC uses 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.

Verdict:

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.

Top Round Baitcasting Reel

Shimano Calcutta Conquest 300 & 400
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Use: Freshwater & Inshore Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 11.6 - 12 Ounces
  • Line Recovery: 33 Inches Per Turn
  • Bearings: 12 + 1
  • Product Code: 00 = Right Hand, 01 = Left hand
  • Max Drag: 15 Pounds
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): (300) 12/230, 14/180, 17/150, (400) 12/330, 14/260, 20/160
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): (300) 40/195, 50/190, 65/125, (400) 50/275, 65/170, 80/140
  • Frame Construction: Cold-Forged Aluminum Hagane Body & S3D Aluminum Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

Calcutta Conquest 300/400 Review:

The Shimano Calcutta Conquest 300/400 has always been a staple in the Japanese market. In 2021 the 300 and 400 models are the flagships in round baitcasting reels for the US market. For new anglers, this type of reel is ideal for high resistant baits. For example spinner baits, chatterbait, and crank baits. The frame body and side plates are a cold-forged aluminum anodized in gold. While it’s an elegant round baitcaster, its purpose is as a true fresh and inshore saltwater workhorse.

For North American anglers, the Calcutta B or D models were the favorite round reels since 1991. Today, Shimano delivers the new Calcutta Conquest line in four new 300 and 400-size models. All models have 12+1 bearings, a 6.2:1 gearing and 15 pound max drag. Plus, a hefty 33″ of retrieve per crank.

  • The 300 series weighs in at 11.6 ounces and can spool 12 to 17 pound-test monofilament. Or it spools 40 to 65 pounds of braid line. If most of your angling is freshwater, this is the best size.
  • If you are more of an inshore saltwater angler, it’s better to move up the to 400 series which weighs 12 ounces. Due to the bigger spool capacity, which hold 12 to 20 pound-test monofilament. As well as 50 to 80-pounds of braid fishing line.

This year, Shimano has made a few excellent upgrades to the Conquest 300/400 reels. Including a new synchronized level-wind, HG gear ratio and a return to the 8 pin VBS braking system.

Initial Thoughts

Handling the Calcutta Conquest for the first time, it’s a beautiful reel. Both the 300 and 400 will fit most anglers hands nicely, but know that the 400 is wider. The spool tension knob deliver a quiet clicking and spins smooth. Every model includes the “Dartanium drag” with a patented drag material. It also provides Shimano’s satisfying clicking as it turns.

Moving on to the handle and grips, which are the same as other Conquest models. My favorite feature of this year’s models are the return of the VBS braking system. To access the braking system all you have to do is click open the side plate. Upon opening, you will see VBS braking system its brake weights. Ranging from zero to eight, you can set precise brake adjustments to your casts. Below read about the other awesome features of this superior round reel.

A Note About Cleaning

I want to mention, the Calcutta Conquest reels need cleaning after every use. I often 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 others don’t. For this reel though, keeping up with maintenance is a must.

The Features Of The Shimano Calcutta B Reel

Bottom Line:

If budget isn’t an issue, buy the Calcutta Conquest 300 or 400 reels. Doing so, gets you a round baitcasting reel that stunning to look at that’s tough as a tank. It will handle freshwater and inshore salt with ease. For over 20 years the Calcutta and Newer Conquest series has proven the test of time. Don’t disappoint yourself with any of the copycats. Get the best round baitcasting reel, the Shimano Calcutta Conquest 300/400.

Most Affordable MGL Spool Equipped Baitcaster

red and white colored new model label
Shimano SLX MGL 70
  • Retrieve: Model Code 70 = Right Hand, 71 = Left hand
  • Gear Ratio: 6.3:1, 7.2:1 or 8.2:1
  • Use: Freshwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 7.1 Ounces
  • Line Recovery: 25 - 32 Inches Per Turn
  • Bearings: 4 + 1
  • Product Code: HG = High Gear, XG = Extra High Gear
  • Max Drag: 12 Pounds
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): 10/105, 12/85, 14/70
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/115, 30/105, 40/80
  • Frame Construction: Aluminum Hagane Body & Magnesium (MGL III/S3D) Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

Review Of The SLX MGL 70:

New for 2021 is the SLX MGL 70 low profile baitcasting reel. The SLX family is the way Shimano recruits new anglers into their brand. As seen with the basic SLX, the DC and the XT models.

Today, the new SLX MGL 70 gets the more compact 70 size form factor for perfect palming. Next, Shimano made some surprise decisions for upgrades. Like adding a Magnumlite (MGL) spool and the SVS Infinity braking system. I expected them to add these upgrades for the Curado models, but for the SLX, it was a welcomed shock for sure. For new anglers looking to upgrade from the basic SLX this is reel is amazing.

Shimano is providing five models in total. All will weigh 7.1 ounces, loaded with 4+1 bearings and use cross carbon drag rated for a max drag of 12 pounds. For gear ratios, you can choose between 6.3:1, 7.2:1 and 8.2:1 gear ratio. Keep in mind, the 6.3:1 gear ratio will only be available in right-hand retrieve. You also have the option of a high gear (HG) or extra high gear (XG) versions.

Compact & Capable

In my hand the reel does feel compact but not like a true 70-size reel. Inside there is the wide and shallow MGL spool the features in the other 70 size reels though. I like the easy side plate access for making adjustments to the SVS Infinity braking system. The best way I can describe the SLX MGL 70 is to imagine a 150 size frame with a 70 size compact spool inside. I like this because it means anglers with larger hands won’t feel like the frame it too small palm.

Expect the same handles and pads as the rest of the SLX family, same goes for spool tensioner and star drag. Plus the aluminum Hagane frame, brass gearing, and as I mentioned before the cross carbon drag.

MGL 70 Size Spool Advantages

The advantage of having a shallow MGL spool is to enhance pitching and skipping. As well as use light baits like jerkbaits a small topwaters. This smaller and lighter spool uses less inertia to get started spinning. Which is perfect for casting lighter lures or soft plastics. Read below for the other features of this baitcast reel.

Features Of The Shimano SLX MGL 70 Reel

Verdict:

If you finesse fish freshwater with light lures or baits, buy this reel! Its a workhorse of a reel that’s equally capable of pitching and flipping as it’s stopping a bass. To be able to get a MGL armed baitcaster at this price it’s a no-brainer.

Best Sub $100 Starter Baitcasting Reel

green and white colored budget friendly label
Shimano SLX
  • Retrieve: Model Code "151" for Left Handed, 150 = 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
  • Monofilament Line Capacity(#Test/Yds): 10/120, 12/110, 14/90
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/150, 30/135, 40/105
  • Frame Construction: Aluminum Hagane Body & Aluminum SD3 Spool
What We Like
What We Don't Like

Shimano 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.

Good Features Of The Shimano SLX Reel

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 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.

You May Also Like

Last update on 2021-10-22

black letter O green letter I

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website: more info