Saturday 28 June 2014

Shimano Medium Baitrunner XT-A Long Cast Review

Before I start this review I'd firstly like to point out that I am not connected with Shimano, secondly I would also like to state that I am in no way back tracking on my review and opinions on both the Diawa Crosscast S and X series reels. I stand by what I said about both reels in the crosscast range and they're brilliant value for money, I will no doubt dig them back out for the occasional session. I like to review some of the items I use hoping it will help people out when they're deciding what to purchase.

Although I initially got on very well with the front drag on the 'X series', it became apparent that I started to miss the bait-runner facility. Having grown up using the "bite & run" system on my old Shimano 6010's I really wanted to have a reel that had the same system. I like the way you can have both of the clutches set up correctly prior to the take. After months of thinking, I decided to purchase three 'Shimano Medium Bait-runner XT-A Long Casts. RRP £195.00

Before buying any item of tackle I painstakingly research various options. After talking to a number of people that have been in the 'reel development' sector, I started to get a great insight into the make up of certain reels and learnt a little bit in the process. The point that I found very interesting was the subject of spool size in relation to distance. There was a pretty solid conclusion that a slightly smaller spool can be more beneficial for fishing at range. It's a very simple concept - basically with a smaller spool, the line doesn't have such a large radius to peel off from.

Don't get me wrong with this theory, if you are fishing huge gravel pits where you have to fish at serious distance, then it makes sense to have a reel that can work for you. I don't fish massive waters so this model suits my style of fishing perfectly, all you big pit carpers out there would probably be better off with a big spool with a huge line capacity.

Spool Lengths
Spool Radius
As you can see by the measurements above, there isn't a great deal of difference between both the Diawa and Shimano spools regarding their size, taking into account that other reels on the market may have a larger spool than the Crosscast. It's clear that the Shimano spool is a little more compact and even though it's only a few CM's, the smallest of details can end up putting a few more yards on your cast.

The first point that struck me after closer inspection of the reel was how solid and sturdy it was, aesthetically it's perfect looking with nicely understated graphics. There was no wobble at all from the handle and the clutch is silky smooth, they handle like a dream off the rods so I was itching to get them spooled up to give them a go on the bank. 

The line went on the reels beautifully, because of the slow osculation the line is distributed evenly and gathers nice and tight, by far one of the best line lays I have come across. All these minor details can end up making a massive difference in the overall performance.

The line clip is nice and solid and both the front and back clutches are very easy to adjust, both give off that magically addictive 'ticking' noise. Spooled up with 12IB line the reel weights 1IB 7.7oz, at this weight it feels very balanced on the rod. When on the rod the reel is nice and compact and doesn't feel bulky at all, some other pit reels can have big protruding handles that can be tight to fit on a two rod buzzer, I have no problem at all fitting these on my carbon sticks.

An Object Of Beauty
Fits Nice And Snug On The Buzzers

The reels were really put through their paces on my first session using them, I was lucky enough to get into a few carp ranging from mid doubles to low 20's. I was amazed at how easy they cast, with a minor flick the line flew off the spool and the drag on the fight was solid and smooth. The bait-runner clicks on nice and quick and the front drag is sensitive, you don't need to turn it very much to find the sweet spot. For a smaller reel they feel bullet proof and so solid, I have no doubt if looked after they will last for years. 

Since using them I haven't experienced any problems with the line getting wrapped under the shaft of the spool, because of the anti-twist mechanism any problem with the line twisting or getting caught seem to be eliminated. 

Having recently joined a new club where I am required to hit greater distances than I've ever had to in the past, I am finding that I can hit the clip comfortably at around 100 yards. I am not a great distance caster, I know that a lot of it is down to your technique, but I have no doubt that the reel is helping me gain those few precious yards.

One specific point that I am very impressed with is the locking mechanism of the handle, as long as I can remember I have experienced a certain degree of wobble on the handles of reels I have owned in the past, this can be frustrating because your kit just doesn't feel solid, I can safely say this specific design is hands down the best I have come across.

Handle Locking Mechanism 'Open'

Handle Locking Mechanism 'Closed'

All in all I am very impressed with this series of Shimano reel, I have no doubt that it's built to last, it's pretty safe to say the internal parts are designed to take prolonged abuse. As we all know, Shimano have mastered the art of longevity and it feels "good to be home", sitting behind a bait-runner once again.

I know 'reel development' is constant and there is already a newer version of this specific model on the market. My advice would be that if you are in the running for a new reel with a bait-runner facility and it's within your price range. The Shimano Medium XT-A Long Cast is a strong contender and it's well worth a look at, go down your local tackle shop and have a play, I personally can't recommend it highly enough.


Features Include:

Baitrunner System: A feature that has proved so beneficial that it has become a standard on big fish reels. Bait-runner is a lever located on the rear of the reel that allows the reel to be set so that line is released in controlled free-spool.

Dyna Balance: Reduces reel wobble and allows produces ultra-smooth performance.

Super Stopper II: With the reel set in anti-reverse mode you’ll find zero free-play on the handle thanks to Super Stopper II. Unerringly positive every time, its practical benefits include micro increment settings of quiver tips or specialist bite indicators and faster hook setting.

Power Roller: The special design of the Shimano Power Roller significantly reduces line twist during the retrieve and is a big advantage when using thin mono and braid.

Floating Shaft II: The key friction area on most fixed spool reels is where the spool drive shaft meets the pinion. Shimano designers have overcome this by reducing a large percentage of surface area contact, and incorporating bearings on either side of the shaft. The resultant design leaves the shaft in a “floating” position, considerably improving efficiency and longevity.

Varispeed: Good quality line lay is the most important feature for precise, long and accurate casting. Shimanos revolutionary Varispeed System consists of two specially designed gears. One is oval and the other a remarkable square shape!

AR-C Spool: A spool design with a V-shape spool lip ensuring that the line comes off the reel in smaller loops for further and more accurate casting. The AR-C spool will minimise the risk of backlash.

Aero Wrap II: By improving the internal friction efficiency Shimano succeeded in bringing its line lay systems close to perfection. Close parallel coils in combination with 2 speed oscillation ensure smoother and further casting.

S-ARB: The original high corrosion resistant A-RB ball bearing with shielding for improved protection and sealed lubrication.
Specifications Are Listed Below:

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