When Tim Kelly, tackle tart extraordinaire, pointed me to the then forthcoming new range of Shimano Baitrunners, the successors to the bullet-proof B series, I got quite excited. They were hailed as being as robust (designed for saltwater fishing) but with improved spool profiles and line lay. Being a reelaholic I was itching to get my hands on one (or more...) but managed to resist the temptation to order from the USA owing to carriage charges being ridiculous these days. I also wanted to check the spool sizes out. The 4000D seemed to be the replacement for the 3500B but the size numbering used by Shimano has changed over the years and there would be no guarantee that the spool would be any bigger.
From various forums I noted that there were some available on-line in the UK, so I checked out Ted Carter's site and there they were! I needed to visit Staples for some stationary today (I could have managed without but it was a reasonable excuse!) so I called in at Ted's. My first impression was that the reel looked small. In the hand it felt it, and light too. It was not what I was hoping for. Initially I had envisaged myself purchasing two of the 4000Ds for barbelling and three of the smaller DL FA Baitrunners to replace my Ticas - even though the Shimanos have the hateful double handles.
After handling both reels I decided that the 4000D would be perfect to go on my tench rods, and I'd stick with the 3500Bs for my barbel fishing. This is not to say the 4000D isn't a nice reel. It is. It's compact, the drag feels smooth, the Baitrunner has good adjustment and the handle is comfortable. With the reel back home the spool was almost identical in profile to that of the 3507 Tica.
However, the Baitrunner lever operates with a satisfying click (going both on and off) in the opposite direction to all previous Shimanos - which shouldn't prove troublesome as I soon got used to that on the horrible Daiwas I had - and the anti-reverse switch is annoyingly small and fiddly, just as it is on the XTEA. I suppose if you always use the drag or always backwind this isn't an issue, but I sometimes do both.
A nice feature is the one-piece bale arm that will allow line to smoothly flow onto the large roller. On the 3500B I find braid has a tendency to stop where the bale arm wire enters the flared piece over the roller - there is noticeable wear on the black anodising at this point. The rest of the bale arm on the 4000D seems a bit thin though, like it may be prone to getting bent.
I guess Shimano have introduced the 4000D and the other two small front drag Baitrunner series to get into a market that Okuma have cornered. The DL FA and ST FA ranges are competitively priced, good looking and have the Shimano name to them. They'll do well I think. I won't be getting rid of my Epix Pro 30s, but the Ticas' days are numbered.
Now to the rant! Why can't reel manufacturers settle on some universally accepted system for classifying spool sizes? Why do Shimano keep changing theirs? I have 8000 Biomaters that have bigger spools than my 10,000 XTE-As, and 3000 and 4000 spools that are interchangeable! It makes buying new reels sight-unseen impossible. What is required is a system that combines the spool diameter at the lip and the length (from lip to skirt), and even the depth as a guide to capacity. I expect I'm howling at the moon.