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Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


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Friday, 4 July 2014

Product Review - Shimano Stradic 3000 Ci4+ & Raider Soft Plastics Barra Spin

I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to test out Shimano's new Ci4+ Stradic for almost a year. I owned one of the original 2500 Ci4 Stradic's and was always very impressed with it. This time I was looking for an affordable outfit to chase Barramundi, Grunter and Fingermark on Soft Plastic Vibes in the deeper holes and rock bars. With the Ci4+ promising to be even lighter and stronger than the original, it is an obvious choice. I wanted to run 15lb Power Pro on the outfit, and the 3000 size was spot on.

Shimano also released the Rarenium Ci4 at the same time as the Stradic Ci4+ range, and while the specifications of the two reels are very similar, my preference went to the faster gear ratio of the Stradic. However, I do have a few friends who are rating the Rarenium very highly.

The Ci4 technology used by Shimano is a Carbon infused material where the 4 represents the number of electrons in the Carbon atom. This material is incredibly light and strong. It is boasted as being one-and-a-half times stronger than Shimano's XT-7 graphite, while being 20% lighter as well. The original Ci4 Stradic did suffer from a fair degree of body flex in then material, especially in the reel seat and reel post. But the second generation 'plus' material is said to be 250% stronger. And there is a very noticeable improvement in the body flex on the new reels. While improving rigidity in the Ci4+ Shimano has also managed to make the material 12% lighter than Ci4. In the Stradic's, this Ci4+ material is used in the frame, side plate and rotors, making for an overall very light and strong fishing reel. The carbon infused material contains no metal, so rusting of the body is completely eliminated.

Another improvement over the fist generation Ci4 Stradic is the inclusion of X-Ship Gearing. This technology was originally developed in the top end Stella range of reels, but in now making its way into more affordable models. X-Ship Gearing is more efficient and powerful, meaning less effort is required to turn the handle. This is achieved by using a larger diameter drive gear, and moving the pinion gear closer to the centre of the drive gear. The pinion gear is then supported on both ends by A-RB ball bearing. Overall the reel has a smooth and effortless retrieve, critical when casting lures all day.

The Ci4+ Stradic features 7 A-RB stainless bearing. These are positioned around the reel in all the important places. There are bearings supporting the handle and grip, spool, line roller and main and pinion gears. This gives support and smoothness to all the critical componentry of the reel. The A-RB bearings from Shimano undergo an Anti-rust process that improves durability by 10 times that of standard stainless steel bearings. In the Ci4+ these A-RB bearings are also shielded to provide another level of protection. A-RB bearings are backed by Shimano's extensive 10 year guarantee. So you can rest assured the reel will remain smooth after years of use, obviously with proper maintenance and care.

The Shimano 3000 Ci4+ Stradic has a gear ratio of 6:1 giving it a retrieve of 88cm of line per turn of the handle. The drag capacity is rated at 7kg, more than enough to fish 15 or even 20lb braided lines. The drag is smooth and accurate, and has never faulted in the time I have been using the reel. The 3000 spool holds 235yds of 10lb Power Pro, a little closer to 200yds for 15lb. This reel weighs in at a very impressive 198g. Thats considerably lighter than the equivalent size Stella!

The grip on the Ci4+ Stradic range is a high density EVA material. This is again very light and comfortable, but takes some getting use to over the traditional rubber grips. The rounded shape of the grip can feel a little poxy in the hand compared to the flat paddle shape of other reels. You just don't quite feel like you have the same level of grasp on the handle. But on the flip side, it does contribute to the overall delicate feel of the reel. Extra care needs to be taken with the EVA material as its not quite as robust as rubber.

Due to the very light and nimble nature of this reel, it is ideal suited for use by young kids. My boys both find this reel comfortable and easy to handle for long periods of time. And I can rest easy in the confidence that the reel will handle much larger fish if one should take the lure. The last thing you want to do is put a cheap k-mart reel in the hands of a child and watch them loose a quality fish when it fails to stand up to the task.

Depending on where you purchase this reel, you will definitely get some change out of $300. Putting this reel, that has a lot of the quality and feel of a Stella, into the range of the average angler. This is a perfect reel for very large range of fishing options. It will not disappoint! My Ci4 Stradic's sit proudly along side the more expensive Stella range.

At around $120 the Raider Soft Plastic Barra Spin is definitely at the cheaper end of the graphite range of rods. However, the graphite is nice and light and very crisp. Designed by Shimano specifically for fishing soft plastic lures, the rod features a fast actioned blank to help impart action in the lure. The cork used in the grip of this rod is not particularly high density, but it is comfortable and functional. Over time this lower density cork may suffer from some degrading, but a full year on and my rod still looks good. Cork grips on the Barra Spin add to the overall lightness of this outfit and fell great to use.

This rod has an overall length of or 2.03m or 6'8". This falls slightly short of the preferred 7 feet most people go for with a plastics rod, but it gives the rod more power for fighting bigger fish. This particular model is a 2 piece outfit and packs down well for transport in the car. The connection between the two pieces is clean, solid and strong. Once together it feels just like a one piece. The rod is rated 4-8kg, making it perfect for 15lb braid, and is rated for a casting weight of 8-30g. Again, perfect for the soft plastics used to target fish all along the coast. Guides are Sea Guide Zirconium and are two footed in the lower portion of the rod and change to single foot in the tip section. The graphite is good quality and feels great to use.

The rod also features a hook keeper that is useful for stowing lures without damaging the precious guides. But just be careful of lead heads and other hooks damaging the graphite as the rod bounces around in rod lockers or rod holders.

My best capture to date on this outfit would be a 4kg Queenfish. This fish really tested out the staying power of the reel, with the fight lasting a good 20mins. Screaming runs and lots of pressure put the drag, gears and rod through it paces. The reel came out the other end still running silky smooth.

This outfit is perfectly suited to a wide range of lure casting situations. From soft plastics for Barramundi, Grunter and Fingermark, to high speed spinning for Mackerel. This setup is capable of it all. After a year of very heavy use and plenty of good quality fish, the entire outfit looks and feels as good as the day it arrived. Both this rod and reel come very highly recommended. I would give the 3000 Ci4+ Stradic a 8.5/10 and the Raider Soft Plastics Barra Spin 7/10.