Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

How light does a spinning reel need to be, and is lighter always better?

I put my stunning little and still as smooth as it was on day one Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel (second review here, 250g loaded with line) onto my ridiculously lovely Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g lure rod (review here, Shimano Japan quotes a weight of 132g) and I am now holding what I happen to think is the most amazing lure fishing rod and reel combination I have ever used - and it weighs a total of 382g, which is essentially nothing. I can fish with this rod and reel until the cows come home and it’s so unlike thrashing my old beachcasters around that I still smile when I think about how gloriously different various kinds of fishing can be…………..

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I go lure fishing with a rod and reel combination like this and I think wow, isn’t it amazing how light it is. Most of the lure rods and reels we might fish with these days are incredibly light. I look at spinning reels especially and with each generation of particular ones I wonder if it’s possible to make them lighter again - which seems to be the goal of the big companies such as Shimano and Daiwa especially. There’s a new version of the (not cheap!) Shimano Vanquish coming out soon which if the figures above are to be believed is a fair bit lighter again than my awesome little Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG. I obviously don’t need one of these new Vanquish reels but even if I don’t understand a single word of the Shimano Japan video below, the weak part of me me lusts after one, and a part of that desire I can assure you is down to how light it’s meant to be.


But why? Why do we obsess about ever lighter rods and reels? Can lighter be stronger and does lighter always make a rod and reel combination feel a little bit better again when we are fishing with it? I know what I am like in that I will ooh and aah when I pick up a really light spinning reel and turn the handle. I put that reel on a modern 9’ or 9’6’’ lure rod and within ten minutes of fishing with it I am most likely purring and convincing myself that lighter is the way forward…………….

But then because I like playing with fishing tackle and largely because of my falling in love with the Penn Slammer III 3500 (review here) and 4500 spinning reels especially (the 4500 has the same body size as the 3500 if that helps, but it has a larger spool and therefore balearm), the inquisitive side of me has been interested to take those same wand-like lure rods that so many of fish with - and strap the heavier reel to them to see if I still think lighter is always better.

The Penn Slammer III 3500 weighs 403g loaded with line, so whilst its size - essentially the same as a Shimano 4000 spinning reel - makes it unfair to compare it to my little Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel, the Slammer III 3500 is still at least 100g heavier than any Shimano 4000 size spinning reels I own or have used in the last few years. Make no mistake that this weight difference is noticeable when you put the Slammer on a lure rod, and especially if you have are so used to fishing with a more “regular” spinning reel. Then that little voice in my head says remember what you said to yourself last time Henry, lighter is better………….


One thing I am not going to do here is get into the whole rod and reel “balance” thing, because where a lure rod balances on my finger I have to say means squat to me. It’s down to how a rod and reel feels when I am actually fishing with it that means everything to me. I take my uber-light outfit out and I am purring away like a mountain lion (okay, perhaps not, but you get my drift), but then I go out fishing again with a heavier spinning reel like the Slammer strapped to my lure rod and initially there was an element of doubt - until I fished like this, and as with the uber-light outfit, give me ten minutes or so of fishing with the heavier spinning reel and it feels just as right as the lighter one. I remember last summer I think it was when I first put the Slammer on my almost ridiculously light Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g lure rod, and by rights this combination should not work because such a light rod surely demands an uber-light spinning reel. Ten minutes of fishing with the Slammer III 3500 on this rod which I am sure would have the bods at Shimano Japan tearing their hair out and this US/Japan combination feels outstanding though. And so on.

As ever with all this stuff, I would urge you to fish with whatever feels right to you, and whilst I am lucky in that I most likely get to try more rod and reel combination than a lot of you here, one thing I am increasingly conscious of is that the lightest and/or smallest spinning reel doesn’t automatically feel the best on all lure rods. As an example, I think the Penn Slammer III 3500 fishes just fine on that stunning, “finesse style longer and more powerful” Tailwalk EGinn 106M-R 10'6'' Max 45g lure rod (review here), but for whatever reason I slightly prefer how a Shimano 4000 spinning reel feels on the rod when I am fishing with it - bearing in mind that I will go to the Slammer regardless when I think that my reel is going to ship a lot of saltwater over it. And then as a comparison to that, I have this very, very interesting Shimano Dialuna S96M 9’6’’ 8-45g lure rod here which is a foot shorter than the 10’6’’ Tailwalk EGinn, yet for whatever reason I happen to think the Dialuna feels better in my hands when it’s got the 100g+ or so extra of the Penn Slammer III 3500 spinning reel strapped to it. I need a lot more time with this rather stunning Shimano Dialuna rod and of course it also feels rather nice with a Shimano 4000 size spinning reel on it, but for whatever reason I currently like that bit of extra weight down the butt end. Which combination is right? Well that’s just it to me - there are no rights or wrongs here, just what works the best for you……..


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