I can't get away from the fact that if a reel, rod, lure etc. sits "right" with my eye then I reckon I am drawn to it that bit more, so when I lifted this brand new Shimano AR-C Aero C14+ 4000 spinning reel out of the box I wasn't quite sure what to make of it when compared say to these sublime Sustains that I have been fishing with for most of the year. What was this new reel and why does it look like it does ? Why doesn't it look more like say my Sustain 4000FG ?
Well there seem to be various reasons for the look of this brand new AR-C Aero C14+ 4000 spinning reel, and my understanding is that the more compact body/larger sized spool has come about via demand from the freshwater market wanting a relatively small bodied reel but with a larger sized spool for various line pickup and casting reasons - hence this Shimano family of compact body "Aero" spinning reels that encompass various freshwater applications - look at the standard/somewhat cheaper, non-C14+ Aero reels and you will find match, feeder and spin models. But surely this style of spinning reel should work for saltwater or freshwater lure fishing ?
Well of course they would or indeed do, but for some reason or another we seem not to have switched on to them at all in "our" world - I have a sneaking suspicion though that this brand new C14+ version is going to change that, and I note that some of the Japanese (sea) bass anglers are starting to shout about this reel. So what is C14+ ? I believe it's a very strong and lightweight material that Shimano are using on some of their higher-end spinning reels. I have played a bit with the rather impressive and similar looking, roughly £150 Shimano Aero Spin 4000, and although it's hardly a heavyweight at 330g, I cannot tell you how much lighter and even more "together" this brand new AR-C Aero C14+ reel feels when you strap it to a rod and go fishing with it - at 255g it's obviously lighter (good maths eh ??!!), but with that weight saving it feels like a completely different reel again. Weight loss like this does not come for free though and I understand you should be able to find this new AR-C Aero C14+ for around the £300 mark sometime soon in the tackle shops - so what you are you getting for this not inconsiderable sum of money ?
A few sessions with the new reel and I'm fine with the slightly different shape. Sure, with that larger spool this AR-C Aero C14+ does look a little larger than say the Sustain or Rarenium 4000, but put them side by side and now you can see that in fact it's only that wider spool on the AR-C Aero C14+ that gives you this impression. I have used the reel on various 9' and longer lure rods and I really like how it feels, and you can't get away from how important it is how a reel feels for you. Holy cow does my braid come off this reel nice and easily during the cast.
I can't sit here and tell you that if you buy this spinning reel then you will magically catch more fish, but what I can tell you is what I think it's like to fish with. I could bang on about how smooth the thing is to use, but at this price and with a name like Shimano behind it you guessed that anyway. Yes, this AR-C Aero C14+ is smooth, in fact it's so smooth that I don't really see how a reel can actually get any smoother without a bit of fairy dust in the bearings. It's one of those reels that gives me a lot of pleasure from simply turning the handle, and yes, I like reels like that. I like my spinning reels to feel very "together" when you retrieve, and this AR-C Aero C14+ has got that in spades.
I am not able yet to tell you how the reel will survive lure fishing on a longer term basis, but at its price point and with the design of the thing I would be amazed if it doesn't do the job. I would be interested to know your thoughts on picking one up because although I have nothing remotely scientific to base my feelings upon, these Aero reels to me just feel as tough as hell. Time will tell for sure, but for now I am just head over heels with this reel and I can't wait to give it a decent hammering out in Morocco.
There is a slightly more expensive version of this reel that has a faster 6.2:1 retrieve ratio (the 4000XG model), but with the larger spool size which gives what I must assume is a slightly quicker line pickup already, I have got the more regular 4.8:1 version here. I know that I am inclined to retrieve the hell out of hard lures, and especially when my adrenaline levels are up, and I don't want a reel that makes my problems any worse !! If it helps, fishing with this 4.8:1 version feels fairly close in terms of retrieve to my Sustain 4000FG which has the same 4.8:1 retrieve ratio.
I clicked the supplied spool reducer onto the reel and loaded up with a 120m spool of 20lb (0.15mm) Sufix 832 braid which then required a small amount of mono backing to take it up to the level you can see in the photos. The first time I took the reel fishing was in some strong onshore conditions yet I never had a single problem with fluff-ups or anything like that. The line lay straight out of the box is what you see here as well and I haven't messed around with adding or removing any washers because it just seems to work perfectly as it is.
We do tend to attach a lot of importance to the drag system for our fishing, but I would argue that in reality we should not be giving very much if any line to the majority of the fish we might hook from our shoreline. Sure, a smooth drag system is nice and all that, but if you hook a bass and it screams off yards and yards of line when I would politely suggest that you need to apply a little bit of turning to that drag knob and give your hooked fish a bit more grief. My feelings on the subject aside though, when you pull line off this AR-C Aero C14+ there is not even the tiniest hint of snatching, indeed line seems to just ease off with such precision - as you would expect for the price, and although it feels like the bearings run on butter for example, I am not about to start describing a fishing reel as "buttery" !! Believe me, this is one smooth customer.
OK, so I have gone back and read the review right through and now I'm thinking that I should be more grizzled and miserable and tell you what I don't like about the reel. You can choose to think that my association with Shimano precludes me from being honest if you want to, but with the (unpaid) time that I spend on this blog I just can't be bothered to tell you about gear that I don't like fishing with - nope, I would far rather yap to you about the stuff that I like using and then you can make up your own minds and possibly even find a bit of assistance via my blog reviews. I like fishing gear and I make no excuses for it. If you want to read reviews by reviewers who don't seem to like their specialist subject very much then I suggest you go and read a bunch of film reviews instead.
I do wish that this new Shimano AR-C Aero C14+ came a spare spool, but I have found that the spool from the somewhat cheaper Aero Spin 4000 (that does come with a spare spool) fits perfectly onto this newer AR-C Aero C14+ and I am guessing that a call to Felindre Servicing would source one if needs be. Is it just me that likes to carry a spare spool loaded up with line ? I always do although I very rarely need to turn to it, and to be honest this new AR-C Aero C14+ is behaving so immaculately that I wonder if and when a dreaded wind-knot might actually rear its ugly head (shouldn't have said that, I know) - is it my imagination or does braid seem to come off a wider/larger spool that bit more efficiently again ? Yes, I have now got my head around the slightly different look of the reel and I think it's just one hell of a thing to fish with, and I hope that a few more lure anglers might give these Shimano Aero style reels a go because I reckon they are pretty awesome bits of kit to fish with. £300 buys you this new and lighter AR-C Aero C14+ and around £150 buys you the slightly heavier (by 75g) Aero Spin 4000 (with spare spool included). Now I've really got into this reel, I am dreaming and hoping that the powers that be will someday soon make a 3000 size version of this new AR-C Aero C14+ for the lighter, shorter lure rods - albeit this thing is so light and well balanced as it is that you can of course very easily fish with it on the lighter rods.