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Reel Review


The Sahara 750FB, a quality pint sized spinning reel for under 60 dollars (continued)
 

Ergonomics: The Sahara is unmistakable “Shimano.” The reel looks and feels like an archetypal Shimano product, both smooth and refined. This generation Sahara really is a huge jump over the previous model. The plastic barrel handle has been replaced with a comfortable ergonomic rubber knob. While the knob is comfortable it isn’t septon like Shimano’s higher end reels. We really can’t complain for this price point, but after using this reel it really had us appreciating the tack that Septon grips provide. During our tests in the Eastern Sierras it was both cold and dry, and our fingers sometimes would slip off the handle. An issue I never really noticed before as I was used to Shimano’s other reels. Weighing in at 6.9oz the Sahara is identical in weight to the comparably sized Sedona and Symetre. This is a pretty good weight and was achieved with the use of a fully ported handle shank. This same shank is used on the Symetre through Sedona 750 sized reels. So the reels are all identical in weight, coming in at 6.9oz.

 

We really couldn't complain. This field test took us to some of the most beautiful trout country in California. Welcome to the Eastern Sierras...

 
Durability: So why would you step up from a $49.99 Sedona to a $59.99 Sahara? Both reels feature S-Concept design, 3 A-RB bearings, cold forged spools, and Super Stopper II. The main reason to move up to the Sahara and invest 10 more greenbacks is simply to move up from a graphite frame to an aluminum one. On both reels the sidesplate and rotor are still graphite. But here’s the catch in our test reel, every other reel size in the Sahara lineup is aluminum, but not the ultralight 750FB. This fact left us scratching our heads a bit. As we looked for differences between the two all we seemed to find were more similarities. Both reels weigh the same, both have the exact same ratio, and both delivered the same drag performance. The only difference other than price is the slight refinement the Sahara offers during retrieves, courtesy of one more bearing. So while the durability of the 750’s frame isn’t improved over the graphite based Sedona, the guts get a small boost in refinement. Of course if you are looking at any other size then you will get an aluminum frame. Not only are aluminum frames more durable in general, but they also do a better job keeping all the components lined up within tighter tolerances for optimal performance.

 

Casting into a river we didn't tap into the casting ability of the Sahara at all. It was more about proper placement and stealth over distance

Price: I remember when for 60 dollars you got a reel that was obviously made out of graphite, had the refinement of a coffee grinder, and you could count your blessings just to get a spare spool constructed out of graphite. Thank goodness times have changed and with more and more competition reels in the value range are now not only looking more and more like their more pricey siblings, but performing at a much higher level as well. For 59.99 the Sahara is a good deal for any Shimano fan. In fact, the Sahara performs more like a sub 100 dollar reel than a sub 60 dollar product, and makes use of many proven Shimano technologies, that were once reserved for reels costing over twice as much.

Getting waist deep while playing a Rainbow, the Sahara's drag came through for us time and again

 

Now if you compare the Sahara to the Sedona or the Symetre the decision becomes a bit tougher. If you are looking for any size larger than the 750 we tested then the ten extra dollars to move up from a graphite frame to an aluminum one makes absolute sense. The Symetre just offers incremental performance increases courtesy of an extra bearing. The 750 model on the Symetre also makes use of a graphite frame so considering the money I’d stick with the Sahara. As you go up in size there are more reasons to move up from a Sedona to a Symetre, the 750 sizes have the most similarities from the graphite frames to the ported handle shank.

 

Ratings:

Shimano Sahara (SH750FB) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality

The main reason to step up from a Sedona to a Sahara is to move up from a graphite to an aluminum frame, which is true for all sizes minus the 750FB ultralight we tested. At least the Sahara FB does get one more bearing but we wish that the frame on this reel was aluminum. Thing is this also makes the Sahara very attractive in the 750 size because the more expensive Symetre 750 is still graphite as well

8.5
Performance

Great overall performance in all categories. This isn't the most refined reel but for 60 bucks we are not complaining

9
Price

A good price considering the features and performance. Its just a bit confusing to really separate out a lot of differences between the Sedona and Symetre in the 750 size. The other sizes have notable material differences, but for the money the Sahara looks like the sweet spot

8.5
Features

A lot of features once reserved for the Stradic and up reels are now making their way to mainstream reels like the Sahara

8.5
Design (Ergonomics)

Overall ergonomics are good. There are lighter reels out there like the Quantum xtralite, but the Shimano offers a good balance overall

8
Application

A great trout and panfish reel, with the drag and gearing capability to take on a small bass. Just don't go bigger than that...

8

Total Score

8.41


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Attractive ergonomic design is easy on the eyes, hands, and wallet L 750 size is graphite while rest of the series is aluminum
J Good price, Great Value L Makes you wish for Septon grips
J Great casting for a reel of this size. Spare aluminum spool is a plus  
J Shimano has a spinning reel for every price point, and anglers need make fewer and fewer sacrifices  

 

Conclusion: With refinement and advanced features that we only saw on the Stradic and up a season ago, we wonder what else can they possibly pack into a sub 60 dollar spinning reel. Bearing counts may go up, but as far as design and materials the Sahara represents one heck of quality product, one that targets the mainstream space nicely. Sandwiched in between two very good reels, it is getting harder and harder to decide exactly which reel to buy. On the plus side with reels separated out by only 10-20 dollar increments there really is a Shimano spinning reel for every budget. As far as trout and panfish reels go the Sahara is a nice reel, one that is well worth the 60 dollar investment.

 

                            

 

 

   

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