Shimano has been in the world of fishing for decades and has grown into a well-known company for high-end fishing gear. Be it a baitcasting reel or a spinning rod, the company has everything for its users.
To find out the best Shimano baitcaster ever made, we tested numerous models from the company and found Shimano CURADO DC the best overall Shimano Baitcaster for beginners and experienced alike.
Although All of the products are loaded with advanced features that make them unique in their performance. However, all of the baitcasters come with Shimano’s signature Hagane Body.
Best Shimano Baitcasting Reels Reviews
In order to help you find the answer for what is the best Shimano baitcasting reel, we have compared the best Shimano baitcaster reels in detail below. Let’s find out.
1. Shimano CURADO DC – Best Shimano Baitcast Reel Of All Time
This is probably the most widely used low-profile Shimano model. Loaded with a variety of top features, it offers tremendous performance for every type of fishing. Featuring the high-end signature Shimano Hagane Body which is present in all models regardless of their variants. The impact-resistant metal body ensures exceptional rigidity and results in improved efficiency.
The Curado DC 200 model has all the exact same features as the DC but differs in gear ratio and other technical specs. While the DC 200 offers 7.4:1 and 8.5:1 gear ratios, the DC offers the same two along with a 6.2:1 as well.
That said, if you wish to perform heavy fishing applications, you can choose the DC 200. However, for catching medium to massive species, the DC model offers much more versatility and enhanced performance.
Speaking of the Curado DC, Curado K, Curado 70, and Curado MGL 150, all have a couple of features in common. For example, the Cross Carbon Drag, X-Ship, S3D Spool, Super Free Spool, and S A-RB. Curado 70 is the best Shimano baitcaster for light lures, flipping, and pitching. Whereas, for amazing casting and durability, the Curado K would be ideal.
The Curado MGL 150 has the most advanced features compared to the other Curado variants. It comes with Silent Tune found in a couple of other MGL models too. This feature works by reducing the vibration significantly when the spool rotates at high speeds.
Furthermore, it comes with the MGL Spool which isn’t found in other Curado models. It diminishes the moment of inertia up to 10% right when an angler casts. As a result, there is almost a 20% increase in the overall casting distance. Be it inshore or offshore saltwater fishing, this reel would work amazingly.
The Curado DC model, being one of the best Shimano baitcaster reels boasts an Intelligent Digital Control (I-DC4) braking system. This feature is not present in any other Curado reels. This type of braking system is extremely easy to use and features four different modes.
These include max distance, fluorocarbon, monofilament/braided line, or skipping. An angler can easily adjust these via an external dial. Models with KAISUI OK are safe for saltwater use which is present in all Curado models.
2. Shimano Antares DC – Best Shimano Baitcaster For The Money
The Antares range from Shimano has great capabilities to provide strength for various fishing needs. Shimano Antares, Antares DC, and Antares DC MD are some of the best Shimano baitcasting reel for the value.
When it comes to the features, the DC and DC MD models have the same features with the DC being ahead with an extra MGL SPOOL III. Other than that, you will find Hagane body, Micromodule, X Ship, Silent Tune, S3D Spool, S A-RB, and Super Free Spool in all three variants.
One similarity between the Antares DC and DC MD models is the 4×8 braking system. It allows the users to externally control the brake power and spool speed. Doing so not only ensures a backlash-free experience but improves the casting distance.
The 4×8 translates into a combo of four different models i.e., Nylon (N), Pe (P), Fluoro (F), and Extreme Long Cast (X). On the other hand, 8 refers to the number of dial adjustments offered for setting with extremely high precision.
Both the DC and DC MD models are KAISUI OK which makes each the best Shimano baitcasting reel for saltwater. Alongside being ambidextrous, the Antares DC comes in three different gear ratios including 5.6:1, 7.4:1, and 7.8:1. So, whether you are a beginner or an expert, this reel is for all.
The DC MD on the other hand only comes in a 7.8:1 gear ratio, making it an ideal deal for hefty species. Speaking of the Antares model, its standout feature is the SVS Infinity Braking system. Whereas the other DC lineup i.e., Curado comes with a much more advanced Intelligent Digital Control braking system.
Unlike its fellow Antares reels, this one is marked as TANSUI SENYOU i.e., unusable in saltwater. Because of the 6.2:1 and 7.4:1 gear ratios, it can be stated as the best shimano baitcaster for bass.
3. Shimano Chronarch MGL – Best Shimano Baitcaster For Wade Fishing
The two models from this variant are the Chronarch MGL and Chronarch G. Both models have impeccable capabilities to fulfill numerous fishing needs. For example, the Chronarch G is best used for inshore saltwater fishing, thanks to the S A-RB bearings. It means that the bearings are shielded from all sides so that salt or sand doesn’t corrode them.
Contrarily, the Chronarch MGL is unusable in water instead, is best suggested for saltwater fishing. Apart from this, both the models share the same features including X-Ship, CI4+, Micromodule, Cross Carbon Drag, SVS Infinity, and S3D Spool.
The MGL uses the MGL Spool as an additional feature and hence offers enhanced casting distances. With the Micromodule, both reels operate with silky smoothness. Also, because of the CI4+ feature, the Chronarch reels are a lot lighter yet 2.5x times sturdier than their predecessor.
Considering that, it would be fair to call these the best shimano baitcaster for beginners because of easy manageability. Both of the models are available in two gear ratios including 6.5:1 and 6.7:1. With the 10 or 11 lbs. max drag poundage, these can be a decent choice for new learners.
That said, these baitcasters would be a fine choice for decent fishing applications. Providing the right power, you can easily use these for wade fishing and target redfish, panfish, flounder, and speckled trout. The MGL’s corrosion-inhibiting ability is what makes it unique from the Curado and Antares models.
4. Shimano Reel 19 Scorpion MGL – Best Shimano Baitcaster For Casting Distance
You will find two models in the Shimano Scorpion variant i.e., Scorpion DC and Scorpion MGL. Both baitcasters have the following same features: Hagane body, Micromodule, X ship, MGL Spool, S3D Spool, Super Free Spool, and S A-RB. It is worth mentioning that the DC and MGL reels are marked KAISUK OK and hence are saltwater friendly.
Because of the MGL Spool, the reel works with low inertia during the cast, resulting in exceptional distances with accuracy. Speaking of the dissimilarities, the DC reel features an advanced I-DC5 braking system. It allows 5 dial adjustments for 3 different modes which ensure high precision.
The MGL model sports SVS Infinity Braking System as well as CI4+ for lightweight just like the Curado DC. With this reel, you can cast a country mile with a low trajectory using light lures. For the gear ratios, there are three options in both models i.e., 6.2:1, 7.4:1, and 8.5:1.
The two reels come with a deeper spool which allows greater line capacity. Be it bass fishing or rock fishing, the Scorpion DC and MGL will be exceptional choices to cast longer distances. You can choose any based on the difference in the braking system.
5. Shimano Aldebaran MGL – Best Shimano Baitcaster For Light Lures
If you don’t wish to cast longer distances and work with small swim baits then this variant from Shimano has so much for you. From efficient braking systems to Micromodule, these are great performers when used for smaller lures. Just like the majority of the Shimano variants, the Aldebaran also comes with Hagane Body for increased rigidity.
The two models from the Aldebaran variant are MGL and BFS. The outstanding feature that these reels boast is the Silent Tune technology. It is found in very few Shimano baitcasters and is responsible for reducing the vibration while the spool rotates at a fast pace. As a result, it offers extremely smooth operation regardless of the speed.
Not only you can use Shimano Aldebaran for light lures, but these amazing reels are also safe for use in saltwater. The S A-RB and S3D spool technology reduce the chances of sand accumulation in the mechanical parts and offer an uninterrupted smooth operation.
For the difference, the MGL model utilizes Cross Carbon Drag that provides the angler with numerous drag adjustments. However, this is what you also get with the Chronarch MGL. While this feature is absent in the BFS model, it has Shimano’s latest inventions i.e., Finesse Tune Brake (FTB). This technology removes the brake unit from the spool and increases casting distances when an angler uses light lures.
Overall, both the baitcasting reels are unique in their own way and work like a charm for finesse fishing. The features that you will find in both models include Hagane body, X ship, MGL Spool, Silent Tune, S3D Spool, Super Free Spool, and S A-RB.
6. Shimano SLX DC – Best Shimano Baitcaster For Saltwater
The four famous models from the SLX variant by Shimano include the SLX DC, DC XT, MGL, and BFS. Besides the Curado variant, the SLX comes as the second most widely used. Out of all models, the BFS is the lightest Shimano baitcaster weighing only 0.3 lbs. That said, it can be a great reel for people that fish for longer hours.
Hagane body, S3D Spool, S A-RB, and KAISUI OK are the common feature among all four baitcasters. Considering that, all of the SLX baitcasters are compatible with saltwater fishing. The DC and MGL models have all same technologies except for the braking system.
SLX MGL uses SVS Infinity whereas, the SLX DC has the advanced I-DC4 braking system as in the Curado DC. With 12 lbs. drag power and decent gear ratio choices from 6.2:1 to 8.5:1, these models are ideal for catching medium to large species in saltwater.
The SLX DC XT and BFS are newer models, therefore, have a few more advanced features. For example, the DC XT comes with MGL Spool III for smooth operation as well as the latest I-DC5 braking system. Overall, the reel is an excellent choice for experts looking for convenient brake adjustments while they tackle hefty species.
The SLX BFS on the contrary is best known for its unique feature found in no other SLX model i.e., the Exciting Drag Sound. This technology makes an automatic drag sound without requiring any bait clicker. It gives an advantage to the angler by making a sound as the fish pulls the drag,
For the braking system, BFS integrates Finesse Tune Brake (FTB) and ensures magnificent casting distances with lighter lures.
7. Shimano Metanium MGL – Best All-Around Shimano Baitcasters
The Metanium baitcasting reels from Shimano are the most saturated with almost all the amazing features. There is no difference in the features of the Metanium and Metanium Shallow Edition reel. Both the models are available in three gear ratios i.e., 6.2:1, 7.1:1, and 8.1:1. However, the two differ when it comes to technical specifications.
The Metanium has greater line capacity for nylon mono i.e., 12-100, 14-90, 16-80, and 20-65 (lbs-m). On the other hand, the Metanium Shallow Edition offers 8-100, 10-90, and 12-65 (lbs-m) line capacity. Another notable difference is in the weight where Shallow Edition is a lot lighter than Metanium.
For a powerful reel that casts a country mile even with lighter rules, we would suggest the Metanium. However, for the best bass fishing experience with a variety of lures, try the Metanium Shallow Edition.
Speaking of the Metanium DC, it shares a couple of features with the other two models. These include Hagane body, X ship, Micromodule, S3D Spool, and Super Free Spool. The Metanium and Metanium Shallow Edition incorporate an SVS Infinity braking system.
Whereas, the Metanium DC comes with the most advanced I-DC5 braking system. This feature makes Metanium even better than the Curado DC and Antares models. It is one of the top backlash-free baitcasting reels and is suitable for new learners too.
8. Shimano Tranx 200 – Best Shimano Baitcaster For Conventional Fishing
Sometimes all you need is the right power to fight against the heftiest species without any inconvenience. The Shimano Tranx 200 and Tranx 500 models are there to fulfill your requirements. Be it harsh saltwater conditions or a huge fish, manage it all easily with these high-performing baitcasters.
Similar to other Shimano baitcasters, these two models also share the Hagane body feature. Besides that, both feature an easy-to-adjust drag, thanks to the Cross Carbon Drag. Not to forget for smooth operation, these reels come with Super Free Spool and S3D Spool.
The Tranx 200 and 500 are integrated with an SVS Infinity braking system and work impeccably to reduce backlashes. Though it eliminates backlashes but not as efficiently as the Metanium DC does with its advanced I-DC5 braking system.
The Tranx 200 weighs around 0.5 lbs. whereas, the Tranx 500 is twice its weight i.e., 1 lb. You can find Tranx 500 in two gear ratios i.e., 4.6:1 and 6.6:1, making it suitable for small to medium species. However, the Tranx 200 comes in 6.2:1, 7.2:1, and 8.5:1 gear ratios and can manage small to mighty fish easily.
9. Shimano Calcutta B – Best Shimano Round Profile Baitcaster
Be it a low profile or a round profile model, Shimano always pleases. Calcutta is the best-seller variant when it comes to best round-profile baitcasting reels. It includes the models Calcutta B, Calcutta D, Calcutta Conquest 100-200, and Calcutta Conquest 300-400.
Calcutta B comes with the lowest number of features but still manages to be among anglers’ favorite reels. The Hagane body and A-RB make it a tough choice for harsh water conditions. Whereas, the Super Free Spool results in exceptional smoothness throughout.
It is worth mentioning that the reel comes with a Variable Braking System and offers a backlash-free experience. This reel is ideal for numerous applications from fresh to saltwater, small to heavy species, and even harsh weather conditions.
The Calcutta D boasts a unique EI surface treatment that makes the gear corrosion-resistant and suitable for saltwater. This model is known well for conventional fishing because of its incredible durability regardless of the season.
Conquest 100-200 and Conquest 300-400 are designed to reach the pinnacle of performance by utilizing their features. These two reels are stuffed with advanced technologies. For example, you will find a unique Infinite Drive technology in the 100-200 model. With this feature, the angler can enjoy better smoothness and enhanced winding torque.
The 100-200 reel relies on the SVS Infinity braking system while the 300-400 reel uses VBS to eliminate backlashes. Cross Carbon Drag on both reels enables the users to conveniently change drag settings with a wider range of adjustments.
10. Shimano Cardiff Reel – Best Shimano Round Profile Baitcaster For Saltwater
Sometimes all you want to pull those mighty species out from a saltwater lake is a powerful baitcaster. Made out of diecast aluminum, the reel features a sturdy frame that withstands pressure easily. For increased rigidity, its Hagane body prevents body flexing especially when you tackle a large fish.
Shimano makes sure that the anglers never indulge in line tangling or backlashes with this reel. Therefore, they have integrated Super Stopper technology that uses stainless steel ball bearings and reduces back play.
Identical to the Calcutta B, it uses the Variable Brake System works tremendously for controlling the spool speed and eliminating backlashes. The A-RB offers corrosion-resistant ball bearings, making this reel ideal for inshore saltwater fishing without any trouble.
1. Low Profile vs. Round Profile
In the world of baitcasting, low-profile reels are the most popular due to several reasons. These are significantly lighter in weight as compared to the round profile ones however, both are equally durable. Since low-profile reels are much more compact, these fit even the smallest hands.
Round-profile reels on the other hand are mostly preferred by experts and for heavier fishing applications. These are designed to hold more as well as heavier lines. If you are a beginner, you should opt for the low-profile model.
2. Hagane Body
Majority of reels including the most expensive Shimano baitcaster sport Hagane Body. This is one of the most premium features that the company offers and reels with Hagane are slightly pricier.
It includes a metal body that is extremely rigid and ultimately prevents the body from flexing. This allows the fisherman to crank with better power and provides great strength. Doing so helps the anglers to achieve the desired efficiency while casting.
3. Braking System
Shimano baitcasters use either of the following braking systems. Each operates differently it is extremely efficient.
1. SVS Infinity
This braking system is present mostly in the newer Shimano baitcasting reels. The SVS infinity braking system is the easiest to adjust and ensures consistent brake force and spool speed control.
It works when the brake weights provide friction on the inside and slow down the spool. You can easily adjust the brake power from the knob located externally on the reel. Variants with SVS Infinity are best suggested for lighter lures.
2. Variable Brake System
Reels with VBS utilize centrifugal force to control the spool speed instead of magnets. Since backlashes normally occur during the beginning of the cast, the VBS works right at that time. It pressurizes the brake weights in an outward direction which results in friction and hence slows the spool speed.
As soon as the spool starts moving slowly, the force of the brake weights lessens, allowing it to regain its natural speed. Baitcasters with VBS can help you cast longer distances without indulging in backlashes and line tangling issues. Shimano Cardiff is the best choice if you are looking for a reel with VBS.
3. Intelligent Digital Control Braking System (I-DC4)
It is the most advanced technology that Shimano uses in its baitcasting reels. While the I-DC stands for Intelligent Digital Control, 4 denotes the number of modes you can set. With the external dial, the braking system is exceptionally easy to adjust.
This dial can be used to set the lures easily in four different modes including Max Distance, Fluorocarbon line, Braided/Mono line, and Skipping. The variety of modes offers the anglers versatility in terms of lures. Moreover, reels with I-DC4 are great performers in every condition.
With the help of spool rotation reading, this digital braking system determines the change in situation starting from when the angler casts till the lire arrives at the target. Once any unusual change is detected, the system finely tunes the brake accordingly.
Some newer models come with I-DC5. It includes 5 dial adjustments for 3 different modes i.e., Nylon, Fluoro, and P. Currently, the Metanium DC baitcaster features this latest braking system technology.
4. Drag System
For an exceptionally smooth performance, Shimano baitcasting reels come with a Cross Carbon Drag system. It ensures a broader range of adjustments for drag that ensures a buttery smooth performance.
5. Saltwater Compatibility
Before purchasing any baitcaster, it is crucial to know whether its components can resist saltwater rigors or not. The best thing about Shimano baitcasting reels is that they come marked with usability in saltwater.
If you see a reel having a ‘KAISUI OK’ mark, it means you can use it in saltwater. Whereas, if one is marked with ‘TANSUI SENYOU’, it denotes that the reel isn’t safe for saltwater and will only work best in freshwater.
1. Abu Garcia vs Shimano baitcaster: Which is better?
It is a great topic of debate for many anglers. Though the best one would differ from person to person based on the purpose of use. But many professional anglers consider Shimano a better brand for baitcasting reels. Nevertheless, both companies use high-end technologies and advanced features to ensure an exceptional fishing experience. We have reviewed complete Abu Garcia line up in best Abu Garcia baitcasters
2. What is the best rod for Shimano baitcasters?
Any casting rod regardless of the brand would make the best shimano baitcaster combo. You can also choose from a wide range of Shimano casting rods available. The company has designed rods for specified purposes including trolling, jigging, inshore/offshore, saltwater or freshwater, surfing, or salmon/steelhead fishing.
There is a huge comparison among top baitcasting reel manufacturers. You will see numerous anglers debating over Abu Garcia vs Daiwa vs Shimano baitcaster. Each comes with unique features and is used for different purposes.
Speaking of the best Shimano baitcaster reels, you will find great competition within this particular brand too.