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Tackle Junkie: New Lightweight Shimano Baitcasting Reels for Bass

The SLX and Metanium may be at opposite ends of the spectrum pricewise, but the performance of each is more than commensurate with their asking prices.

The trend among reel makers the past few years has been to offer downsized versions of their popular 200-size reel platforms. The slightly smaller frames maintain a familiar look and feel to their larger counterparts, but also shave ounces off the reel frames and are even easier to palm during the retrieve. The smaller spools found on a downsized reel can cast lightweight lures with ease while still handling the “power” tactics such as square-bill crankbaits, spinnerbaits and even flipping and pitching.

Among the smaller reel offerings in 2024, Shimano introduces two size-70 reel frames, the SLX 70 A and the Metanium DC 70 A. Prior iterations of both reel models have strong followings among bass anglers, and the newer, smaller versions will find quick success with the angling public as well.

The SLX 70 A is a workhorse reel at a very reasonable $149, while the Metanium DC 70 A is $499 and has all the elite technology one would expect in an enthusiast-class reel. As you would expect, the technology gap between the SLX and the Metanium is significant, as detailed below.

SLX 70 A

The SLX 70 A is a no-nonsense baitcaster that offers solid performance at a comfortable price point. Out of the box, it looks sharp and clean with a gray finish and silver lettering. While there isn’t an extensive list of high-end technology in the SLX, Shimano’s SVS Infinity brake is an excellent, reliable brake and one I’ve appreciated from Shimano for years. The SVS Infinity is a centrifugal brake under the swing-away palm plate, combined with an external dial to fine-tune the casting performance based upon lure weight and wind speed.

I was quite pleased with the performance of the SLX 70 A while casting 1.5 square-bill crankbaits, swim jigs and 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits, and flipping a 3/8-ounce soft plastic during testing. The casting distance is plenty adequate with a smaller square-bill thanks in part to an upgraded MGL Spool III that’s found in the Metanium and other popular Shimano baitcasters. The SLX doesn’t deliver the whisper-quiet retrieve that the Metanium offers; however, if you’re looking for a solid reel with legendary Shimano performance, the SLX delivers.

Metanium DC 70 A

Even the name “Metanium” sounds high-end, and the Metanium DC 70 A not only looks sleek, it’s loaded with all the latest Shimano reel technology. Most of my efforts with the Metanium centered around a small, 2-hook jerkbait, 1.0 and 1.5 square-bill crankbaits and a 5/16-ounce Texas-rigged craw flipped around shallow cover.

The most obvious addition to this downsized Metanium is the “DC” designation, which denotes Shimano’s popular digital cast control brake. The DC can be adjusted with two external dials on the palm plate; the inner dial specifies the line type (monofilament, fluorocarbon or braid) and the outer dial specifies the amount of brake pressure the user desires. It’s an excellent braking system, especially when casting in the wind with lighter lures, and has a distinct whine as the digital brake is applied during the cast.

The digital brake adds weight to any baitcasting reel; however, this is more than offset with the magnesium frame of the Metanium. Magnesium is feather-light, ultra-strong and contributes to the $499 price tag. Even with the added weight of the digital brake, the Metanium DC 70 A weighs a mere 6.2 ounces, while the SLX 70 A weighs 6.9 ounces.

Another great addition to the Metanium DC is Shimano’s Micro-Module Gears, which have smaller teeth cut to provide greater surface area at the mesh point. This makes the retrieve virtually silent and silky smooth for that effortless, high-performance feedback during the retrieve.


After extensive use on the water, I can attest that the small size of both baitcasters shouldn’t be perceived as delicate on performance. These reels can handle heavier braided lines just as easily as fluorocarbon in the 10- to 12-pound range. In fact, the Metanium was able to winch a 9-pound bass to the boat through heavy cover during testing.

Both reels hold 85 yards of 12-pound fluorocarbon and are available in right- or left-hand retrieves. The SLX 70 A is available in a 7.2:1 or 8.2:1 gear ratio, while the Metanium DC 70 A is available in a 7.1:1 or 8.1:1 ratio.

Each reel meets or exceeds expectations for their price points, with the SLX 70 delivering affordable value and the Metanium offering a premium, high-end experience.

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