Reel Time – Shimano Sustain Review

For a while now I have felt Β that it’s worth sharing with the readers of my blog what tackle I use, but most importantly the tackle what works well for me and I trust.

I’ve discussed previously my thoughts on braids,Β (See here)Β but there is so much more that I use for my Bass fishing that I simply love to fish with and has done me proud over seasons of hard use (with a pinch of abuse) and I can wholeheartedly recommend.

One of the most essential pieces of equipment, but for various reasons I have struggled with for my Bass fishing over the last few years is reels. I remember during my 3rd season of Bass fishing, when I was starting to take it very seriously I went through 3 reels in the space of 4 months, one of which was sent back 3 times in a month and half. It simply could not stand saltwater use. It is well worth mentioning that I have not yet found a reel (that I can afford anyway) that is completely robust to saltwater abuse and if you’re using them regularly all will require a bit of TLC and regular care.

I am a big fan of Shimano reels, they are of the upmost quality, well designed, lightweight, smooth and a big plus is that there is a service station locally. I’ve used a wide range of Shimano reels from small spinning reels to chunky multipliers for boat fishing and I’ve been impressed and satisfied with nearly all of them.

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Last year I decided that I would take the plunge on a Shimano Sustain for my 2016 season and having used it exclusively for over a year now, fishing A LOT. I feel I am in a good position to give it a proper review.

Simply put, the Shimano Sustain 4000FG is about the most perfect reel I have used for my Bass Lure Fishing to date. It is light, smooth and perfectly balances on the 9-9’6 lure rods I use for my Bass fishing. Pair this with its sleek metallic midnight blue body along with gloss black and silver cosmetics, you’re on to a winner that really does look great strapped to any rod.

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The reel pairs up and looks great with the HTO 9’6 ShoreGame. Especially next to a slab of Irish Bass.

Yes anyone could tell you this within 2 minutes of handling the reel, however what is it like to fish with and how does it perform over time?

Simply awesome. I’ve fished with it all through 2016, all over my beloved Welsh coastline and 2 fishing packed trips to Ireland. Never once have I held back and on the regular the reel has been pushed to the extreme in rough conditions with plenty of salty soakings thanks to rough seas. I would often compare Bass fishing to having someone continuously throw buckets of salt water at you and the reel has to be able to withstand this.

The bail arm is positive, never do I get the annoying snap back over mid cast that I have had with other reels, that can be a tad embarrassing and even worse end up in an expensive crack off, as you watch your lure sail out towards the horizon with your line no longer attached. The roller bearing hasn’t seized up, something I would expect to see after a year of use for me, I would recommend keeping an eye on it though. The drag has remained smooth on both spools, although I did have an issue with the spare spool supplied that I will come on to later.

One thing that I must admit I really fell in love with about the Sustain from the off and over time using it have grown to love more and more is the soft EVA foam handle. It fits perfectly in the hand, feels great and grippy even with damp cold hands. Its just a joy to hold. Yes its the simple things that make a difference. Foam handles on spinning reels really do it for me.

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This is how well the handle fits in the hand. A dream to turn all day long…

This brings me on to the negatives, or not so much negatives but things I have noticed with the reel that I would advice others to take care of and keep an eye on. Firstly the spare spool that came supplied with the reel seemed to have a silent drag…I’ve since heard of 3 other people with the same problem with their Sustains, its quite easy to sort out and according to the Shimano Service Team its a case of the factory drills over tightening the screw on the drag clicker…strange its only the spare spool with this problem never the main one. Quick unscrew and re-screw to hand tight and a drop of oil to loosen the grease fixed this. The body and spool is not bullet proof…yes I would love it if it was but I will admit to a few chips in the spool and scratches to the main body from a lack of attention when putting the rod down unhooking fish, the chips were easily smoothed out though. I guess this is a sacrifice for having a lightweight reel.

The main issue I did have and it seems an issue with all Shimano’s in saltwater, is the handle bearing. This seized up on me back in October and really made the reel harsh to use. A clean and re-grease of the bearing thanks for my mate Jer sorted this, although it does need replacing due to heavy corrosion.

So as it stands with the reel resting out of action until Spring, the reel has survived a hard year of abuse. It is due a service where I expect a few bearings, probably the roller bearing and possibly one or two in the main shaft of the reel will need a clean and re-grease along with the complete replacement of the handle bearing. I may try to smooth out perfectly any chips that I have caused to the spool but on the whole, the reel has done well and I feel a bit of off season TLC is perfectly acceptable, especially for a reel that Shimano sell claiming for only “light saltwater use”.

I am very confident that the Sustain I have here will go on to serve another season of abuse, as long as I take care of it and give it a little attention after each session. I can throughly recommend it to other Bass anglers out there. I fish a lot and I would hazard a guess that a seasons use for me is the equivalent to 2 maybe even 3 seasons to some other anglers who may not be as lucky to live as close to the sea or get out fishing as much as me. Put simply it’s a reel I feel confident in, has done me proud and a real joy to use.