OK, so I buckled. I finally capitulated. I gave in to my cravings and allowed myself to be weak-willed. I showed a distinct lack of inner strength. I might well need professional help to deal with my problem. I went and got a Shimano Stella 4000FD. How could I resist any longer ? For years now I have held off from getting various Stella models for different kinds of fishing all over the world. I showed true resolve in not kitting myself out with at least four of them, and I saved my bank balance from a serious hammering. But no longer could I hold out, and I have finally got the perfect reel to use for bass fishing, and specifically the right size reel to pair up with my Tenryu Super Mix 240. There you have it. I am weak and I need help. I just could not resist getting my mitts on what is in my opinion (and many anglers the world over would agree with me) the finest spinning reel there is.
Just reading the specification list makes my heart race a little faster, and I don't even know what most of it means. What I do know is that I have fished with some of the Stella models around the world, and they just feel about as good as a spinning reel can be. Stupidly smooth, insane drags, and a feeling of overall "tightness" for want of a better word. They're just plain different and awesome to fish with. There is no bass that swims in European waters that is going to trouble a half-tidy spinning reel, we all know that, but if lure fishing for these wonderful creatures is your thing as seriously as it is mine, then I would guess that your eyes have wandered over plenty of expensive catalogue pages before. I did my best to hold off getting a Stella, but finally I just thought "what the hell, you only live once" and got one. I have been tempted by the Stella 4000FD in particular as soon as I saw them, but it was not until Patrick sauntered down the beach early one morning in August with a brand new one strapped to his red rod that I mentally capitulated. A couple of casts and retrieves later and my resolve had melted as fast as a bass smashes into a hapless morsel of food.
Obviously my new Stella is going to be loaded with braid for my bass fishing, and I owe it to the reel to use what I seriously believe is the best bass fishing braid we can get our hands on. It is not cheap, but the best never is - I have used it for a long time now and I just can not find one single fault with it. At first I thought that the Varivas Avani Sea Bass Max Power PE braid in the light grey 20lb might be too thin for our bass fishing, but I have been proved completely wrong. You can horse fish with it, cast miles, fish in and around horrible stuff, wrench plugs out of plenty of snags, and just keep on using and abusing it for ages. You can get this braid right here. I know technology marches on and on, but at the moment I am struggling to think of ways that a braided mainline can get any better - ok, I do really like bright lines, and perhaps if they did this specific braid in a bright green, yellow or orange then I would be completely made up. Just like the Stella though, it's top end gear that does the job.
As an aside on braid, I am always in favour of using a short length of 20-30lb fluorocarbon leader that is tied to a small JB clip (see here) - some people tell me that I am weakening my overall line strength by doing this, but considering that I have stood next to anglers and literally straightened out treble and single hooks with my set-up, then I reckon what I am doing is plenty strong enough for our bass fishing. Some guys get worried about a knot that joins braid to fluoro and then use a little swivel, but all you need is a decent knot and you will be fine. Some guys like to use braid direct to their lure, and that works for them - I suppose it's horses for courses. With most braids (and especially with the Varivas ones) for bass fishing, I use what is generally known as a "modified Albright knot" (see here) to attach my braid to my 30cms of fluorocarbon, and then I put a couple of half-hitches back around the braid mainline with my braid tag-end - does this make sense ? I then dab a little bit of superglue/angler's glue on the knot and let it dry. This connection is incredibly strong.
Above is a Stella 4000FD in use - mine is still in it's lovely shiny box, but I am about to load it up with line and then use the hell out of it in Ireland next week. Expect a slew of photos of my new purchase all over the blog in due course, plus long-term test findings and observations. Reels like this are often a special order item and most places here in the UK will not hold them in stock. The guys here can order one quickly for you if needs be. I can not be held responsible though if you are as weak-willed as me when it comes to good fishing tackle......