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Enthusiast Review

2013 Bait-the-Finesse Finale : Shimano Aldebaran BFS (continued)


Casting Range: This category is the bread and butter of a finesse baitcasting reel comparison. We paired our two bait finesse reels on identical rods - Phenix's Recon 2 PHX-682C. The lure weight ratings on this rod are one sixteenth (1/16th) to three eighths (3/8ths) of an ounce while the line rating is four to ten (4 - 10) pound test. We chose this stick for its affordability and attractive styling when matched up to our two bait finesse competitors. The PHX682C also happened to be readily available in the rod section of Hi's Tackle Box making our last minute decision an easy one.


Line capacity is better than most bait finesse reels, but still pretty small.


With the rod's limitations in mind, we were still able to get a good sense of the Aldebaran BFS's casting range. Spooled with six pound Sunline Super Natural Monofilament and mounted on the Phenix PHX-682C, the lightest lure we could comfortably cast on this rod was a finesse jig rated at one eighth of an ounce (tested at 4.2 grams on our scale). We failed to get any reasonable distance with an unweighted four inch (4") straight tail Roboworm that we measured on our scale to be 3 grams. This equates to somewhere between three thirty seconds of an ounce and seven sixty fourths (3/32 oz < 3 grams < 7/64 oz).


The BFS's brake setup.


Brakes: The casting brakes on the Aldebaran BFS are accessed by removing the non-handle sideplate. From there, you will find a unique configuration of Shimano's traditional centrifugal brakes. Those on the BFS consist of eight arms grouped in pairs. In typical Shimano performance paradigms, once you've found the setting that suits your casting style, it is very much a set it and forget it type of braking system.


Unlike the standard Aldebaran, the BFS's sideplate detaches. The reasoning behind this no doubt, is to save weight.


The one area of caution as you are removing the sideplate and re-attaching it until you find your perfect brake setting is to be aware the cast control knob is located right beneath the locking lever for the non-handle sideplate. This tension knob does not benefit from micro-click adjustments and is very easily turned out of adjustment as you are removing and re-installing the sideplate. So caution must be exercised to check the tension knob and ensure the reel is still in adjustment each time the non-handle sideplate is removed and reinstalled.


Because of the spool tension knob's location beneath the locking mechanism for the sideplate, the knob is easy to unintentionally move out of adjustment.


Features: As fun and comfortable it is to use the Aldebaran BFS, the features on this reel are pretty basic. Adjustment of the casting brakes is handled by removing the sideplate, there is no bearing on the reel's levelwind, each knob on the reel does feature two bearings, micro click adjustments are available on the drag star only, there is no reel cover included in the box, and the reel does come with factory provided bearing oil.


Features Ratings for Shimano Aldebaran BFS

Ext Brake Adjust? (1-2)
Levelwind Bearing (1-2)
Knob Bearings (1-3)
Micro Clicks (1-3)
Reel Cover (1-2)
Oil (1-2)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)


The Aldebaran BFS shares the same overall dimensions as the standard Aldebaran save for the depth of the non-handle sideplate making the BFS slightly more narrow overall.


Design & Ergonomics: The Aldebaran profile is among the most compact and comfortable to fish. The BFS variation is no different. Sharing essentially the same overall dimensions as the original, the one area of difference is in the depth of the non-handle sideplate. On the BFS, this sideplate sticks out less than the original making the reel feel even smaller when pressed up against the palm of your hand.


The knobs of the BFS are traditional Shimano and among our favorites.


On the actual scoring points, the BFS comes with an eighty (80) millimeter handle, Shimano's very comfortable left/right hand contoured knobs, and a super light 5.1 ounces in weight. The reel is relatively easy to break down with no hidden screws although not all three screws holding the handle sideplate in place can be accessed from the same side, so exercise caution while turning the reel back and forth to remove the sideplate securing screws.


Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Shimano Aldebaran BFS

Handle Length (1-5)
Knobs (1-5)
Palming (1-5)
Overall Weight (1-5)
Ease of Breakdown (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)


The BFS breaks down fairly easily but this one screw is located on the other side of the non-handle sideplate.


Application: We touched upon this earlier, but the Aldebaran BFS is not simply a reel for finesse applications. The only real limitation this reel has is line capacity, but with the advent of superlines on the market today, it's very easy to become creative with your choice in line and extending the utility of this reel to everything but big baits.


Application Ratings for Shimano Aldebaran BFS

Horizontal (1-5)
Vertical (1-5)
Finesse (1-5)
Big Baits (1-5)
Topwater (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)



Shimano Aldebaran BFS Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A little low on the tolerances 8.5
Performance Wonderful casting performance 8.8
Price Thanks to an improved exchange rate, this reel more attractively priced than before 7
Features Micro-click tension knob would be a nice add for this reel in particular 7.14
Design (Ergonomics) Super comfortable to palm 8.6
Application More than just a finesse reel 7.6

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ This reel really casts well - We understand the probable reason for it, but we don't like the detachable sideplate
+ Better than average bait finesse reel line capacity - The spool tension knob's placement makes it easy to accidently move it out of adjustment especially since there is no micro-click notching to secure the knob's setting


The Aldebaran BFS scores just short of "Great" on our scale. Will that be good enough to overtake Daiwa's T3 Air?


Still To Come: We're not done yet. In our next article, we will explore the performance results of the Aldebaran BFS's 2013 Bait Finesse Shootout nemesis, the Daiwa T3 Air. For now, know that the BFS scored just a fraction below "Great" in our rating system and that's saying a lot for a reel whose price is governed by the fluctuating exchange rate. Performance wise the Aldebaran BFS was outstanding. Think the T3 Air can match or do even better? Find out in our next article.









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