When the Hagane Concept was introduced to the Shimano range of reels nearly two years ago, the feature was only available in a few top end reel models. As is often the case, due to its spectacular success, the Hagane Concept now comes standard in some of Shimano’s more budget-minded models, too.
This development saw me recently spending a day out with the Shimano NZ team playing with their new Shimano Ultegra, Sedona and Sahara spin reels, all of which feature the Hagane Concept gear systems, with the Ultegra also boasting a Hagane body.
As explained in previous articles, the Hagane Concept is steeped in Shimano’s history as a steel maker. It has developed a unique metal processing technology to manufacture items such as cold-forged gears, which are extremely durable, right to the tip of their teeth. The process sees the parts produced using extreme pressures, which brings out the best in the metal, rather than machining them. When used to create a reel body, almost no twisting (torque) occurs when cranking in a decent fish under pressure.
As for the X-Ship gear systems found in the three test reels, the Hagane Concept ensures smooth but powerful operation – basically Hagane enables these reels to fight well above their weight – and price point.
The aim of this tackle test day was to put these three reels through their paces, in conjunction with the relatively new Sliding Kabura lures and more tried-and-true Colt Snipers.
We fished over the deep-water pins off The Hen and Chicken Islands, targeting a location known locally as the ‘War Zone’ in particular. This foul ground covers a square nautical mile or so northwest of the Chicks and has fished exceptionally well this summer.
However, on the day we arrived with the film crew, we found one of commercial industry’s finest – a gillnetter – had crisscrossed the area with his own form of indiscriminate death. In addition to being difficult to fish around, as we did not know which way the nets had been set, it appeared the fish had already either been caught or had scarpered.
It was therefore a challenging day for skippers and anglers alike, but fortunately, another reasonably reliable spot – Coppermine Reef – provided us with some modest kingfish and snapper to test the gear out on.
The kingies were not monsters – up to 88cm in length – but were a fair test of the tackle, with the reels matched appropriately to Shimano Backbone Elite 7’2” 3-6kg and 6’3” Colt Sniper rods.
The Sedona 4000FI XG, and its slightly higher-ranked Sahara 4000F, both have the Hagane gear system, which gives them a solid feel, especially when the heat comes on with a decent fish.
The Ultegra C3000FB is closer to the Stradic FK in specifications, a reel I am well familiar with. A feature of the Ultegra is the Hagane body and drive train, resulting in a smooth operation, aided by five conventional bearings and one roller bearing.
Although the action was slow for the area, we still enjoyed some decent battles. For example, earlier in the day I had a short but explosive encounter with a 60kg mako, which took a liking to one of the few snapper I’d hooked on the Sliding Kabura. No problems with the drag – silky smooth – but the reel capacity was just too small and the leader not tough enough to complete the job!
The best scrap I had was on the biggest kingfish of the day, using the Sedona 4000 FI, attached to the longer Backbone Elite and armed with a soft-bait (I was providing a control element to the lure experiment!). The fish fought hard to get back among its brethren, but the gear was good enough to stop it. I had nothing negative to say about the gear – that’s unusual, and impressive.
I was left with the overall impression that the three models – the Ultegra, Sahara and Sedona – have genuinely undergone a significant upgrade. These reels won’t break the bank, yet offer excellent performance.
Of the two rod styles, I like the Shimano Backbone Elite Colt Sniper best. It has a soft-tipped action that’s well suited for fishing lures (hence the name, I guess!), which also absorbs the headshakes that might ordinarily see the lure’s small hooks bend out or pull. The extra length provides the advantage that it can fish both lures and soft-baits, casting the latter well.
The kubura-style lures have been around for a while now, but are relatively new to the Shimano line-up. I have given up trying to work out why fish find certain lures attractive, especially something as outrageous to my eye as the Sliding Kubura. But regardless of my misgivings, work they do.
Shimano’s Sliding Kaburas are available in five weights between 45-130 grams and four popular colour combinations. Shimano’s Kaburas are slightly different from other brands in that their rubber tentacles are separate from the hook rigs.
These lures are particularly good over sand, and I have used the heavier models to catch snapper in depths down to 60 metres using a super-slow yo-yoing action. The red-gold head model (03T) has been the go-to colour for me.
A special lure box is available to keep the heads, skirts and hooks separate and in good nick.
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