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Gear Review: 2011-2012 Shimano Sustain FG

Shimano unveiled their new sexy black and silver clad Sustain FG earlier this year at ICAST. The new Sustain FG offers many new features such as X-SHIP, magnumlite rotor, rapid fire drag, and reel stand (a first for spinning reels). Along with these new features, all the old features we’ve come to love about Shimano’s premium reels are also found in the Sustain FG. This is a whole new Sustain that set’s itself apart from the rest of its family. The gap between Stradic and Stella is set in place by the Sustain FG and places it truly in the half way point between the two.

New Features:

According to Shimano “X-SHIP takes spinning reel technology to a whole new level. Anglers will experience increased gearing efficiency and power, providing for ultra-light handle rotation. By using a large diameter drive gear, moving the pinion gear closer to the center of the drive gear to provide 20% more power, and by supporting the pinion gear with two ball bearings, X-Ship provides a smooth, effortless retrieve, and also virtually eliminates the pinion gear twist and rotor flex common with most spinning reels when fighting a fish. As showcased in the Stella FD reels, and now also offered in the Sustain FG and Stradic FJ spinning reels, X-Ship provides anglers with smoothness right out-of-the-box.”

The magnumlite rotor use a new CI4 material that is stronger than that found in the Stradic Ci4 to reduce the Sustain FG’s rotor weight by half. This provides a stronger more solid feel, while retaining the reel’s smoothness and light weight.

Rapid fire drag makes for a steeper drag curve. Turning the drag knob half way around will be the equivalent of making two full rotations with other reels. Light tackle snook fisherman and finesse bass fisherman will find this feature very useful as quick adjustments are needed to be made during a fight to pull a fish away from of structure. Every second counts when a big snook or redfish is dashing for the mangroves and you need to set the drag from light to tight to “D” for destroy. The entire drag system is sealed off from the salt, dust, and sand encountered in the fishing environment. As an added safety feature, once the drag is backed off all the way and the spool is pulled off of the reel, the drag knob will stay secured on the spool. To pop the drag off, push the spool down slightly and remove the drag knob before taking the spool off of the reel. This feature helps prevent accidents associated with dropping the drag knob in the water while changing spools, which can ruin a day on the water.

The reel stand will also be offered on the Sustain FG. This will be like a kick stand on the opposite end of the reel handle to keep the reel upright and the bail assembly away from the flat solid surface to bent bail wires and other damages to the bail system.

A list of features from Shimano:
• X-Ship
• New “Magnumlite CI4 Rotor” (1000-4000)
• Aluminum Sideplate
• Rapid Fire Drag
• New “Reel Stand”
• Paladin® Gear Durability Enhancement
• Propulsion® Line Management System
• Propulsion® Spool Lip
• SR® One-Piece Bail Wire
• Power Roller® III
• S®- Arm Cam
• Aerowrap® II Oscillation
• SR® Concept
• SR® 3D Gear
• SR® One-Piece Bail Wire
• 7 S® A-RB (Shielded A-RB) Ball Bearings (1000)
• 8 S® A-RB (Shielded A-RB) Ball Bearings (2500-5000)
• Aluminum Spool
• S® – Concept
• S®-Rotor
• S®- Guard
• S®- Arm Cam
• New Machined Aluminum Handle
• Direct Drive Mechanism (Thread-In Attachment)
• EVA Handle Knob
• WP Drag (Waterproof Drag)
• Maintenance Port
• Fluidrive® II
• Floating Shaft
• Dyna-Balance®
• Super Stopper® II
• Repairable Clicker
• Approved for use in Saltwater
• Rated for use with Mono, Flruoro and PowerPro® lines

The skinny…
I was blown away by the Stradic 3000FJ when I tested one of the field test models this past Spring. Earlier this month, I was presented the new 2011 Shimano Sustain 4000FG as a Field Tester to put through the rigors of our South Florida light tackle fishery. This Sustain 4000FG was combined with a G Loomis 7’9 Greenwater GWR930S spinning rod and 10lb red Power Pro braid (the red color pretty real sexy on the reel), making it a deadly all around combination for light tackle inshore fishing. I could throw half dollar size crabs at permit, medium to large shrimp at bonefish, jigs and DOA plastics to Redfish, and small plugs to snook using this outfit.

The Sustain FG combined many of the great attributes of the new Stradic FJ, Stradic Ci4, and Stella. Featuring an Aluminum body and side plates, the first thing I noticed about the Sustain FG was it’s absolute solid feel. The Sustain FG winds like a refined machine that set’s itself apart from other spinning reels and places it closer to the Stella, but valued in it’s own class just below Shimano’s flagship Stella. Thanks to the Sustain FG’s Magnumlite rotor, weight was reduced to 1/2 of regular graphite to provide for a much smoother handle rotation and smaller size rotor then the previous model (1000-4000 size). The Sustain FG is incredibly light weight. I spent days blind casting pot holes, skipping DOA Shrimp under mangrove overhangs, and ripping jigs through the surf without the worry of fatigue. The retrieve remains smooth and powerful through its coarse of time on the water, in both extreme heat and cool weather. The new drag system was redesigned to surpass it’s predecessors. This drag system feels smooth…REEEAALLLLYYYYY smoooooooth. The sound and feel of the Sustain FG’s drag is extremely impressive. We tested the drag against hard pulling spanish macks off the beach and speeding bonefish on the flats of Biscayne Bay. The sound of the Sustain FG drag zinging to the 100 yard dash of a big bonefish was a sweet melody that all anglers will appreciate. The melody is soothing, while the feel get’s the adrenaline pumping. I almost want to record the sound and make it into an alarm tone. Better yet, I’ll find myself replacing just about all my spinning reels with new Sustain FG reels. The word from Shimano is that the new Sustain FG will be available very soon; sizes SA1000FG size in January, SA2500FG and SA3000FG available in December, SA4000FG and SA5000FG available in February for dealers who have placed their orders early.