I had the opportunity to field test Shimano’s new surf reel, the SpeedMaster 14000XTC matched to the Shimano Speed Master 10’6” SPMS106MH2 surf rod, which is rated as medium-heavy with moderate action. This outfit was fished 41 days off the beach at Assateague Island, and was given a workout by striped bass, black drum, and big blues, with fish beached up to 25-pounds.
The first thing noticed when picking up this reel and turning the handle was Shimano’s legendary smoothness. However, I was really impressed with the balance of this reel, considering the relatively modest price point. Give the handle a hard turn and the reel spins effortlessly with hardly any wobble. The reel has a manual bail; if you use auto-bail spinning reels, it’s an adjustment to hand flip the bail over after each cast. And why I initially thought of this to be a minus, it actually turned into a positive. Not once did I snap off a rig when rearing back and really cutting loose to gain those few extra yards in a cast. Anglers trying to reach breaking fish (which always seem to be a few yards farther then you can cast) often snap off rigs or lures when the auto-bail accidentally flips over during the adrenaline rush. That’s not an issue with this reel.
Shimano uses super slow oscillation with this reel and the rising and falling of the spool is incredibly slow, creating tight coils of line. This is immediately appreciated on the first cast. The tight coils reduce friction, allowing longer distances to be achieved. Over the years I’ve accumulated 16 surf outfits, and this one out-casts every reel in my inventory for distance. Just how far will it sling your rigs? Three cast down the beach with no wind and four ounces on a Doodlebug rig, I averaged 116 yards.
The 14000 does not have a Baitrunner secondary drag, which is irrelevant for casting lures but some bait anglers will prefer. However, the drag system is so precise it can be backed off to a light setting and after the bait is picked up, set back to the original position with your predetermined pounds of drag. After moving the drag knob hundreds of times this summer, the drag position still maintains its integrity at the same location with the same poundage of pull – impressive.
The 10’6” medium heavy rod is sensitive and telegraphs kingfish, croaker and spot bites, but also has the backbone to subdue those legal stripers or drum. It loads well and during forward motion is smooth, releasing pressure with no snap. If there are breaking blues just past the outer bar, with this outfit you can fling a casting spoon out there and it’s game on! Price: $149.99/$300 for the package. Visit Shimano, to learn more.