The original SLX baitcasting reel was introduced in 2018 and is a compact 150 size reel with a Hagane (alloy) frame, durable brass gearing and a conventional centrifugal cast control. We covered that first model in NAFA 35 Good Gear section. The SLX platform, which is positioned in the lower mid-range of baitcasters, has now received a significant atechnological upgrade with the incorporation of Shimano’s Digital Control braking system. The I-DC4 digital control in the new SLX DC is the same as that in the Curado DC that was also introduced in 2018.
Shimano’s promotional literature advises: “Shimano’s Digital Control (DC) technology allows anglers to fish a wide variety of lures, in any weather condition, with limited-to-no adjustment to the reel. Anglers will achieve longer and more accurate casts with less backlash and reduced reliance on thumbing than with conventional braking systems. The accuracy that can be achieved from this style of reel will result in more productive fishing and more time in the strike zone.” When a cast is made with the SLX DC, the DC braking system automatically activates and controls brake force at every moment of the cast.
An internal microcomputer controls the spool rotation by measuring and adjusting its speed, at 1000 RPM/second, during a cast and little to no thumbing of the spool is required from the angler. While electronic, it doesn’t require a battery, as the system re-charges itself as the spool rotates. The SLX DC offers four adjustable settings that enable anglers to fish a wide variety of lures of different shapes and sizes, in most weather conditions, and without having to constantly fiddle with internal brake settings.
The I-DC4 system can also accommodate various casting styles and different line types, from braid to mono, with setting 1 providing the least amount of brake control and 4 providing the most. The digital cast control concept is not new but it was only available in high-end Shimano reels. It then moved down the line to Curado, and now to SLX specifically targeting the mainstream consumer market. Being familiar with the Curado DC it was now time to see how the digital cast control would perform in the SLX vogue. The newest SLX continues to feature the same rigid Hagane Body and durable brass gearing as its predecessors which ensures that the latest model exhibits the same strong cranking power assisted by a slightly larger 48mm handle and a pair of decent-size Power Grip knobs.
Line capacity was not stated on the reel received for evaluation; however, we managed to load 150 yards of 20 pound Power Pro Super Slick braid on to the spool. After trialling I-DC4 with a variety of different lures at different number settings, it was indeed apparent that little or no thumbing assistance was required. Understandably, on settings 3 and 4 casting distances were reduced due to the higher braking force applied by the digital control. That’s simply par with the course. As with other DC controlled casting reels, there is the familiar “whine” as the spool spins during the cast. It’s nothing to worry about and you do get used to it. The drag on the sample reel was very good and yielded line smoothly under pressure. Shimano state the SLX DC has a maximum drag output of 5kg but realistically a good working drag for this size reel is about 1.5-2kg and it performs very well around this setting.
There are three right-handed models, featuring gear ratios of 6.3:1, 7.2:1 (HG) and 8.2:1 (XG), and one left hand (7.2:1 HG). All models have 4 + 1 ball bearings. The DC follows the SLX aesthetic with the same understated matte black and blue cosmetic finish. The SLX DC 150 offers easy, efficient lure casting at a price point that is sure to see a lot of anglers embrace this latest technology. It has a starting RRP of $339.95.