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Enthusiast Review

A New Star Emerges in the Dark Enthusiast Sky : Shimano Japan's Aldebaran (continued)

Well, wreak havoc they did as the takes from these fish vary from suicide slams (if the fish slap at your spoon) to the very subtle weight at the end of your rod (if the fish is swimming in with your bait back towards you). The Aldebaran performed flawlessly in this duty with its casting and landing ability. The drag performed smoothly, even when wet, and on the retrieve, the reel never labored – even while battling a three to five pound Lahontan Cut Throat Trout.

The Aldebaran sits low in the reel seat...


What I did not realize was the water in Pyramid Lake is salty. I found this out the very next day after our return from Pyramid Lake when all my gear was crusted with that typical salty water, white spotting. “Wait, did I fish the Aldebaran in SALT WATER?!?!” was my immediate panic and I grabbed the reel to run under the faucet for a good five to ten minutes opening up the sideplate, pulling out the spool and everything. I then set it on the dish rack to dry.

... and is a very comfortable reel to palm.


No rest for the weary though as the reason I was going through my gear was to pack for another trip. Destination? Clear Lake, California. With no re-lube or new oil, back the Aldebaran went onto the Shimano FD TS-168 for our trip to Clear Lake and a return to the Year of the Crank duties. Back on the water, and on the boat, I strung up the rod and tied to the end of the line a Lucky Craft BDS3.


A look inside the Aldebaran reveals the standard Shimano drag stack.

Right back to work and without skipping a beat, the Aldebaran again performed flawlessly casting the lure and pulling it back through the water without a hiccup. After several battles with more than worthy Lahontan Cut Throats, largemouth bass just didn’t do the reel justice. It was like a vacation for the Aldebaran.

The Aldebaran's main gear is a very lightweight Aluminum Alloy bringing to question the long term viability of this reel's main gear.

It’s quite obvious the Aldebaran is a solid reel all around. So what about the nagging question most reel Enthusiasts want to know. How low will the Aldebaran go? How low in casting weight that is. To determine this little sticking point, I pulled out my collection of splitshots and lightweight jig heads and to make a long story short, matched with the right line and rod, my estimation is the Aldebaran can handle casting and pitching duties down to about one eighth of an ounce. At one sixteenth of an ounce, the spool of the Aldebaran just gets moving but not enough to effect a cast or pitch. But with an eighth ounce jighead I was able to barely pitch to a distance of about twenty feet using that same ten pound test line and the FD TS-168 rod. I imagine by switching to even lighter line and a lighter powered rod, one eighth of an ounce should be a very presentable weight for the Aldebaran and if not, certainly three sixteenths up to a quarter of an ounce should be no problem.

Another look at the lightweight gearing

The last bit of news from the lab is the Aldebaran’s drag, when buttoned down to about eighty percent, does begin to demonstrate some stuttering. This was something I did not notice out on the water, but I was not in situations where I had my drag tightened down to this extent either.


Shimano Aldebaran Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A very solid and sturdy reel despite being an Mg 8.5
Performance Just about everything we had hoped for 9
Price Quite the departure from the value driven Scorpion Mg 7
Features Oversized gearing, Aluminum Spool, 8+1 Bearings 8
Design (Ergonomics) Very comfortable reel to fish and super light 9
Application Not just a finesse reel - a good all around performer 8.5

Total Score

Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
(For a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

Pluses and Minuses:


J Very comfortable reel to fish L Pricey
J Very good power L Aluminum main gear may not be suitable for longterm heavy duty use
J Excellent casting performance  


Conclusion: Everything I was hoping to get out of my original Scorpion Mg reels, the Aldebaran delivers and with performance to spare. A standard sized (for US anglers anyway) handle, good line capacity, excellent casting and pitching performance, a strong smooth drag, superb ergonomics, and good power. The Aldebaran truly is a bright star amongst a constellation of superb product in Shimano Japan’s lineup. Is it a reel to replace my collection Daiwa Pixy or Steez reels? Of course not. Any worthy Enthusiast knows you have to have them all. While the Aldebaran is very refined, it is not refined to the level of a Steez and while it can handle light baits well, the Pixy is still king of that domain.


By the way, yes, the Aldebaran performs well as a bass reel too.


Now, does the Aldebaran maybe bridge the gap between the Pixy and Steez and bring to question the viability of its own Mg brother, the Metanium Mg? Um, yes. This new reel from Shimano feels very much like what you would get from a hybrid Steez/Pixy reel. Set it up next to a Metanium Mg and the Aldebaran has a better form factor, is lighter, and handles lighter weight baits better. The Metanium Mg has more line capacity and casts a bit further, but the difference between these two reels is not as apparent as that between the Daiwa Steez and Pixy. What’s more the Aldebaran and Metanium Mg are priced the same. Seems like a rather odd strategy unless the plan is to abandon the standard Metanium Mg and just produce the DC version.


There's a new star in Shimano Japan's lineup and it is the Aldebaran.


Whatever the case may be in Shimano Japan’s long term goal, the only question remaining in this TackleTour Editor’s mind is… what is the Shimano USA version like and is performance the same or has Shimano Japan kept some refinements for themselves? Now that the so called "secret" of the parallel tackle universes is not such a mystery can Shimano afford to have one star shine a little brighter than the other? Apparently not, as Shimano US has introduced the Core 50Mg which is actually .1oz lighter and only available in a 7.0:1 gear ratio. Well, the JDM version has certainly made it to our team, and you can bet, unbeknownst to Shimano USA, Zander already had one packed away in his bag after ICAST. So stay tuned for more on this new little platform from Shimano with a close-up look at the Core50mg7.


Looking for a Shimano Aldebaran? Try JapanTackle.com.












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