Shimano 'Baby' Baitrunner reel is up there with the big boys

Shimano recently showcased its new 2010 range to the press, and the stars of the show were without doubt the long-awaited ‘baby’ Baitrunner reels as exclusively revealed in Angling Times.

Since then I had been itching to get out on the bank to put one of the new sized models through its paces ¬ and what better way to test it than to pair it up with one of the new Shimano rods from the 2010 range?

In this instance I elected to use the midnight-blue Baitrunner DL 4000FA and a 12ft Medium Vengeance feeder rod that is just part of a
four-rod feeder range under the same name.

To test the reduced size Baitrunner thoroughly I needed a venue where I could fish at short to medium range ¬ after all, Shimano’s 4000 sized reels aren’t made for long-distance work. And the venue had to have a decent stock of heavyweight carp that are a little bit bigger than those in your average commercial fishery to really test the Baitrunner facility.

With this in mind I headed to the excellent day-ticket Fields End Fishery near the quaint Fenland village of Doddington, Cambs, to put the duo to the test.

As soon as I screwed the reel on to the reel seat of the rod I knew that this would be the answer to many anglers’ frustrations when tackling small or medium-sized stillwaters or rivers that contain big and aggressively biting fish.

In the past anglers have had to make do with 6000 sized reels in these situations. These not only look out of place on a lightweight feeder rod, but also give a totally unbalanced handling feel to your whole set-up, ruining the sensation as you play a fish to the net.

This new double-handled Shimano model is priced at £79.99, and in my opinion offers excellent value for money. Not only does it balance perfectly on a 12ft feeder rod, it has more than enough reliable winding power to cope all day long with leads and feeders of up to 3oz ¬ which will suit the river anglers.

It features a steady 4.8:1 retrieve rate which is perfect for combating hard-fighting carp, and a cold forged aluminium spool that allows line to peel off in a super-smooth manner. An oversized power roller helps to eliminate line twist.

Additional features include a Dyna-Balance system and all the usual refinements you would expect to find on a quality Shimano reel.

But what impressed me most about this reel during my session on the bank was the straightforward angler-friendly design. The Baitrunner tension facility is a small knob located on the rear of the reel, and is simplicity itself to set up. Turning it to the right increases the drag and turning it to the left decreases it - it couldn’t be easier, could it?

The Baitrunner lever is easy to activate, and then it deactivates with just a couple of turns of the reel handle.

An uncomplicated setting for the powerful, smooth and precise front drag system completes the features on an excellent and reliable reel.