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Reel Review

WTF?!? (What The Finesse)... Shimano Sustain with an Edge


Date: 3/25/12
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Shimano America Corp
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 8.25 - EDITOR'S CHOICE!

The majority of us who are first generation bass fishermen cut our index fingers on spinning gear. Casting gear, however "conventional", was just too mysterious and unorthodox to learn without a mentor to guide you in your training. Spinning gear is just easier to conceptualize mechanically and requires less effort and concentration to use - at least initially. Additionally, at a lower end, dollar for dollar comparison, (where most people enter bass fishing tackle department), spinning gear is just a better value. Case in point? Given the choice, I'd much rather use a $99 spinning reel than a $99 baitcasting reel.


Introducing the Sustain 2500FG Spinning Reel from Shimano America Corp.

My first go-to spinning reel for bass fishing was the Shimano Symetre with Quickfire II circa 1990. At the time it was a $60 reel and quite the value when compared to what I recall as the top of the line Shimano Freshwater Spinning reel - the original, white Stradic. But shortly after I loaded up on a fleet of Symetres (approximately 3 or 4 reels) to fill out my extensive arsenal of split shotting combos, I recall walking into Hi's Tackle Box to long after the top end Stradic when I saw on their wall, a brand new, top of the line Shimano spinning reel. I couldn't believe it cost more than the Stradic (roughly $110 at the time) and not just a little more, but a whole lot more... something like $400! I mean, it was so out of reach for me at the time, it really blew my mind that a spinning reel could be that expensive!

For 2012, Shimano goes stealth on the Sustain.

I mean really, how? Why? so I asked. The owner of the shop, Jonah Li, saw my amazement, grinned, took one down and showed it to me. This reel had 24K gold plating on its protector plate and on the spool's lip. It was exquisite but at $400 all I could do was give it back and think "maybe someday".

But not without a few styling cues borrowed from previous generation JDM Stella spinning reels.

Of course, I eventually did make my way over to casting gear and as the years went by, my budget for tackle increased just a little bit. What I didn't realize back then was that very first Sustain was in fact, a US version of the Japanese Freshwater Stella. Given the original Sustain's opulence, it all makes sense now. Of course, Shimano did eventually bring the Freshwater Stella with its original name to the States in the late 90's keeping the Sustain line, but changing it though not necessarily for the better. Since the Stella's introduction, to me the Sustain has been overshadowed and somewhat lost in obscurity.

This kickstand is a great way to protect your reel from boat rash and it comes standard with the Sustain FG.

This past year, at ICAST 2011, Shimano did right by the Sustain and infused it with a new mystique. Taking the reel back to its roots and borrowing from past and present styling and engineering advances pioneered in the Stella, Shimano totally revamped the Sustain line and capped off the changes by going with a new, stealthy, all black, non-color scheme. It was enough to re-inspire me, so finally, almost twenty years since I first saw this reel, I finally followed through with that promise to myself and acquired one. Here now is our look at the all new, 2012 Shimano Sustain 2500FG.

Shimano Sustain 2500FG Specifications

Line Capacity 6lb/200yds : 8lb/140yds : 10lb/120yds
Retrieve Ratio 6.0:1
Weight 8.9oz (as tested with line)
Bearings 8S ARB + 1S ARB
Origin Malaysia
MSRP $329.99


Impressions: If the original Sustain with its 24K gold plating could be considered opulent, the new Sustain FG is the anti-original. The 2012 Sustain is all about business and similar to the invitation only American Express Card is dressed in all black to mask its utility yet hinting that it may be even more capable than the competition.


On the original Sustain, this protector plate was covered in 24K gold.

The list of features on the Sustain FG is very long, but to be honest, I rarely pay attention to these lists. I mean really, "S-Concept, S-Guard, S-Arm Cam, Fluidrive II, Dyna-Balance," what do these terms really mean? Pick up the reel, feel it in your hand, turn the handle and see how the reel feels, these are the characteristics that matter most to me rather than the marketing hyperbole for features you expect a reel to have out of the box.


A close look at the Sustain's line guide.


A couple of exterior characteristics of note and that caught my attention are the Sustain's drilled drag knob and somewhat unique kickstand, both styling cues featured on previous generation JDM Stella reels. The same drag knob and kickstand were once available as aftermarket items for the JDM Stella. The fact these items are now standard on the Sustain illustrates Shimano America Corporation's desire to spicen up a line of reels that had fallen by the wayside for the last few years.

No, Shimano did not grind up and recycle their back inventory of 80's era bass tackle to build the Sustain. The Sustain's rotor is built from their new CI4 carbon fiber material.

Next Section: The Sustain FG field tests begin...









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