The New Shimano SLX with Tim Little from Tactical Bassin'

This year Shimano unveiled a new line of rods and reels called the SLX.

They have many of the same features as more expensive Shimano products, look and feel great, and retail for under $100.

They have been getting attention from bass anglers, including Tim Little of TacticalBassin.

His initial thoughts on the baitcast reel and both spinning and casting rods were that they could easily sell for more than their price tag shows.

The Best Choice for the Budget Minded

Little and TacticalBassin partner Matt Allen are known for their excellent content covering bass fishing gear and have the opportunity to try a host of products. Little is also known for his Record Spotted Bass catch.

They have tested several rods and reels in this price range and have come away very impressed with the SLX lineup.

“The price point is definitely budget friendly, and these rods and reels feel like they should cost much more. We’ve tried a whole bunch of rods and reels that are under $100, and they may seem good at first, but they don’t hold up to hard use,” says Little who added that he has put the Shimano SLX baitcast reel and 7’2” heavy SLX rod to the test this year for big Clear Lake bass. “I used that combo all year for power techniques like flipping, frogging, and power fishing stuff and it has held up great.”

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High-End Tech at a Lower Price

Some of the technology that Shimano uses for their higher priced baitcasting reels has been shared with the SLX. “It has a similar feel to the Curado K, but it is costs less,” says Little.

The SLX features a Hagane Body that Shimano includes to keep it feeling solid while at the same time reducing weight. The SLX also has a Variable Breaking System that aids in casting distance and helps to minimize backlashes.

The reel is offered in both right and left-hand retrieves and in three gear ratios that cover just about any situation. The SLX comes in 6.3:1, 7.2:1, and 8.2:1 and each of the models weigh 6.9 ounces. The drag power ranges between 11 and 12-pounds based on the model and all of them feature a 3+1 bearing system that includes three quality ball bearings and a roller bearing.

SLX Rods

The SLX lineup consists of nine casting models and four spinning models. While they do not offer an SLX spinning reel, Little has paired the rods with a NASCI reel that keeps the total combo price at less than $200. He has used several of the rods and shared his experiences with them and what he is using them for.

Here is Little’s rundown of four of models, starting with the one that he says is the most versatile of the bunch.

  • 7’2” Medium-Heavy Casting Rod - Little says this rod can do just about everything. “It is a great all-purpose rod for throwing just about everything in your tackle box. It is great for jigs, buzzbaits, small swimbaits, ChatterBaits, Horny Toads, and more,” he says.
  • 7’5” Heavy Casting Rod – This rod has been excellent for frogs, topwaters and swimbaits according to Little.
  • 6’10” Medium Casting Rod – Little has used this rod for a few different techniques. “It is a great rod for throwing weightless Senkos but doubles as a jerkbait rod,” he says.
  • 7’ Medium Spinning Rod - This is a rod that Little has found to be useful for heavier finesse techniques. “It is good for Texas-rigs, shaky heads with bigger worms and anytime you are around bigger fish but still need to use finesse techniques on spinning tackle,” adds Little.

The rods are lighter than many other rods in this price range, and I have weighed them to be sure. They are also very comfortable, and like the reels, they feel like they should cost more than they do,” he says.

When it comes to specifications, the SLX rods have some great qualities that make them light, sensitive and strong. Starting with a 24-ton carbon construction to the titanium oxide guides, they look and feel like a quality rod. They feature comfortable high-density EVA grips with a carbon foregrip and a custom reel seat to round out the package.

Shimano has been on a roll in the past few years with several great rods and reels for bass anglers from the entry-level price point to the enthusiast level.

Little says he has been blown away with the quality they have been putting out, and the $99 SLX rods and baitcast reel continues that trend.

I have not found a better rod or reel that retails for under $100 than the SLX,” he says.

While the price may be budget-friendly, the technology and quality of the SLX are enough to satisfy the beginner to the experienced bass angler.