You're looking at the least expensive yet most technically advanced Baitrunner reel that Shimano has produced since the legendary marque was launched over a quarter of a century ago.
The new, entry-level, match-sized ST-FB model is designed to appeal to anglers on a budget who still want the iconic reputation and kudos of a Shimano Baitrunner loaded with famous features.
The ‘Bait Runner’ freespool mechanism first appeared on the Shimano Triton Sea Spin reel (top left) back in 1987 but coarse anglers were quick to catch on to the then revolutionary concept of allowing big fish to charge off without dragging the rod and reel off the rest and into the lake.
The ‘sea’ tag was soon dropped and the iconic, and jealously protected, trade-marked Baitrunner (as opposed to the original Bait Runner) brand became a generic term for the hoards of freespool reels that subsequently mimicked it.
The ability to fish ‘hands-free’ with the Baitrunner mechanism engaged, yet click back into fish-fighting gear at the turn of a handle, has always been a brilliant feature. It means you can pour a cup of tea or mix groundbait secure in the knowledge that your valuable rod and reel aren’t going to be pulled in. As someone who lost a rod and reel in the blink of an eye while pouring a cuppa on a commercial many years ago, I know just how easy, and how fast, this can happen.
Even when big fish are less active in winter it can still happen on the commercials, or on the rivers after chub or barbel, so it’s always best to engage that handy freespool lever.
The new, two ball bearing, ST-FB front drag reel is available in two sizes. The 2500FB float and light feeder size has a recommended retail price of £69.99 but is likely to sell in the shops for £54.99. The feeder/light specialist 4000-size model has an RRP of £74.99 but a suggested selling price of £59.99. In 2014 terms, that’s cheaper than the original Triton Sea Spin, yet the ST-FB is light years ahead on technology in every department.