From time to time I come across items of fishing tackle that for whatever reason seem to have slipped under the radar. I can understand why if a certain rod/reel/line etc. has been personally imported say from Japan, but I do wonder why occasionally some of the really good UK market stuff sometimes doesn't get noticed, or perhaps it does but not in the market sector that you might think it would. I have a growing suspicion that this "budget" Shimano Aero Spin reel is one of those items, in that the more time I spend with it, the more I can't for the life of me work out why more lure saltwater lure anglers especially aren't crawling all over this thing............
Yes, I do some work with Shimano, but it's up to me to ask them for various items to have a look at, and for all my loving the Sustains etc., I never even noticed this Aero Spin reel in their catalogue until one of the guys up there told me on the phone that I really should check the thing out as he reckoned it might be perfect for the sort of saltwater lure fishing we get up to. So I got hold of one to have a look at, loaded it up with Sufix 832 20lb braid (0.15mm), took it fishing a few times and thought it was rather nice, but then I went back to getting on with longer-term fishing with the Sustains, Vanquish, etc. Why did I put this Aero Spin aside ? Maybe it's because it almost doesn't look like you expect a Shimano spinning reel to look like - daft I know, but we are drawn to how gear looks whether we like it or not. Daiwas tend to look like Daiwas and Shimanos tend to look like Shimanos do they not ?
So the reel sat on my shelf. Then late last year I started to use that rather awesome (but not cheap) new AR-C Aero C14+ spinning reel (review here). OK, so again it doesn't look like a "typical" Shimano reel, but it was so light and so interesting that I could hardly resist, and as a result I've now got my head around this "larger spool/compact body" thing. I can't ignore it when a reel just behaves and fishes so immaculately. I am not sure how much the design of this reel matters and I can't remotely prove it, but my braid feels like it comes off a spool like this that bit easier again, and I am convinced my lures are flying a little bit further. It's just a feeling though and not remotely fact. So this expensive reel made me think about the "budget" version again.
Does a smooth feeling spinning reel really matter ? Perhaps it doesn't at the end of the day, but I can't get away from liking my reels to feel as good as possible when you fish with them. I used to own a couple of Van Staal spinning reels and apart from liking the fact that they were waterproof, I don't remember deriving the slightest amount of pleasure from fishing with them - they're just too rough feeling for me and I sold them both last year. Horses for course of course, but pick this "budget" Shimano Aero spin up and tell me it isn't one of the smoothest spinning reels you've ever handled. Seriously, I accept that £150 these days can buy a quality bit of kit, but this Aero thing feels like it's almost hewn from a solid block of something ridiculous. Smooth, solid, feels far more expensive than it i, this reel inspires confidence if you ask me, and that means a lot with my fishing. I understand completely why reels like the Rareniums, Caldias etc. appeal to lure anglers, but I wonder how many Rarenium users have ever seen this Aero Spin, let alone ever picked one up and turned the handle ? There isn't a single little bit of "looseness" about the reel if that makes any sense, indeed the two Shimano "larger spool/compact body" spinning reels that I have fished with so far feel a little bit "tighter" than their other reels - and I mean that in a good way.
You could nearly buy two of these Aero Spin reels for the retail price of one of the more expensive AR-C Aero C14+ reels. Sure, the C14+ Aero is 75g lighter (255g against 330g), it's got a few more "shielded AR-B bearings" (sounds impressive !!), and it's one awesome reel to lure fish with - but with how special this somewhat cheaper Aero Spin feels, it once again reinforces my belief that we have one of these potentially rather serious items of fishing tackle here that has gone and slipped under saltwater anglers' radars. Strap the "budget" Aero Spin onto a regular 9' or longer lure rod and once you're fishing away it feels about as well balanced and just plain "right" as a reel can be. I like the smaller spinning reels, but with me increasingly feeling more comfortable with some of the slightly longer lure rods, I have found that a reel which is almost too small and too light doesn't then feel as well balanced as a larger 4000 size (or comparable Daiwa).
OK, so I wouldn't personally want to be using this Aero Spin on a sub-28g, "light" 8' lure rod, but put it to the rather special APIA Foojin'X Grove Stream 93ML for example (review here) and the combination feels pretty damn serious. I bet the reel would sit rather nicely on my mate's Tenryu Red Luck Super Distance, and it happens to feel very nice on that little gem of a French-style lure rod, the Shimano Stradic 8'1'' 10-35g (review here). I also really like the fact that this Aero Spin comes with a spare spool, and yes, it does irk me slightly when spinning reels don't come with one. The more expensive AR-C Aero C14+ does not come with a spare spool, although I can swap spools between the reels. The line-lay on both is absolutely impeccable. They can hold a lot of line if needs be, but for these thin braids we use, the reels both come with a spool reducer which of course lessens the amount of backing you might need.
As I said, I haven't used this Aero Spin enough to be able to give you any longer-term info, but I will report back. I can think of a number of anglers I know who would get on really well with a spinning reel like this, and especially if it lasts as long as it feels it might. I like the retrieve speed on the Aero Spin (4.8:1), but if you want something a bit faster then have a look at the Shimano Aero Feeder, which I understand is essentially the same reel but a black body colour, a faster retrieve and 10g heavier. There must be the odd lure angler out there who has "discovered" this Aero Spin reel, but I haven't actually seen anybody fishing with one yet. Is it a reel that is destined to not get much love from us lure anglers ? A crying shame if you ask me......................