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Enthusiast Review


2013 Bait-the-Finesse Finale : Shimano Aldebaran BFS

 

Date: 1/1/14
Tackle Type: Enthusiast
Manufacturer: Shimano Japan
Reviewer: Cal






Total Score: 7.94 - GOOD

Introduction:
When we left our Bait the Finesse shootout earlier this year, we had simply completed an in lab breakdown and analysis of Shimano Japan's Aldebaran BFS and Daiwa Japan's T3 Air. After comparing reel and spool weights, Sweet Drag performance, bearing placements, spool startup inertia, and ergonomics, we gave a slight edge to Daiwa. However, we promised that the final say was not yet done because as with all TackleTour evaluations, nothing is quite complete until we have a chance to get the products in question out on the water. So let's see how these two reels stack up against one another in real world situations.

 


Daiwa's T3 Air had the upper hand over the BFS in the lab, but what happens when we spool these reels up and take them out on the water?

 

Aldebaran BFS: As its name would suggest, the Aldebaran BFS is built off of the Aldebaran, Shimano's 2009 compact magnesium baitcaster introduction known stateside as the Core 50Mg. The interesting note here is that while the BFS shares the overall same dimensions as the original Aldebaran, there are a few differences. For one, the spools are not interchangeable in these two reels because the spool shafts are of different lengths. Where the Aldebaran's sideplate flips open and remains attached to the reel's body, the BFS sideplate is completely removable. And lastly, as we discovered post publication of our insight article setting up this challenge, the BFS's cast control knob is on the non-handle side of the reel.

 


First up, the Aldebaran BFS.

 

Shimano Aldebaran BFS Specifications

Line Capacity 6lb / 80yds
Retrieve Ratio 8.0:1
Inches Per Turn (IPT) tested 24 - 31 inches
Weight 5.1 oz
Bearings 9+1
Drag Max as tested ~7lbs
Origin Made in Japan
MSRP (36,540 JPY) ~$370

 

Quality/Construction: Getting down and dirty with the Aldebaran BFS on its own, this reel has a very refined finish to it although we find it interesting its color scheme is more reminiscent of the Core50 than it is the Aldebaran. The finish is a very attractive charcoal grey with subtle red accents throughout the reel. The handle sideplate fits very snug next to the frame but the non handle sideplate on our review specimen has a slight alignment issue at the front of the reel that's not so much visible as it is tactile. You can feel the sideplate sticking up from the rest of the reel as you run you finger back and forth at the joint.

 


Our review specimen had a slight alignment issue between the non-handle sideplate and frame.

 

Additionally, the handle on our Aldebaran BFS has a considerable amount of play in it both back and forth in the direction of the handle's rotation and also side to side in a see-saw motion to the body of the reel. The knobs, however, are secured perfectly with zero movement in and out. This reel could stand for some improvements with its tolerances.

 

Quality Ratings for Shimano Aldebaran BFS

Finish (1-5)
Frame & Sideplate Tolerance (1-5)
Handle Tolerance (1-5)
Knob Tolerance (1-5)
Total
Possible
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)
5
4
3
5
17
20
8.5

Performance: Thanks to the TT Lab, we're able to gain a considerable amount of data for an extended first impression on many of the products that make their way into our review queue, but realistically what makes our final conclusions possible are our on the water tests. This is where products are intended to be used and evaluated and this is where we form our real world impressions. For both the Aldebaran BFS and Daiwa T3 Air, we took it a step further and leveraged the help of some of our Junior TT Editors figuring if these high priced reels are easy enough for them to use, then in the hands of a seasoned angler, they'll perform even better.


Meet a couple of our Junior Editors!

Retrieve: The Aldebaran BFS is available in one retrieve ration - 8.0:1. Based on our calculations, and depending upon how much line you have out on your cast, this means you can expect to pick up between twenty four to thirty one inches of line on each crank of the handle.


The Aldebaran BFS is manufactured in Japan.

During retrieve, this reel feels predictably smooth although the play in the handle does detract a little from the experience because you can feel a knock every now and then caused by the low tolerance play in the handle.

Performance Ratings for Shimano Aldebaran BFS

Retrieve (1-5)
Drag (1-5)
Power (1-5)
Casting Range (1-5)
Brakes (1-5)
Total
Possible
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)
3
5
4
5
5
22
25
8.8

Drag: We profiled the Aldebaran's drag in our insight article for both of these reels. We've repeated that data here for ease of reference. Out on the water, we were fishing both reels with six pound (6 lb.) test monofilament (Sunline Super Natural), so maximum drag was no where near any concern for us.

Sweet Drag Performance for Shimano Aldebaran BFS

Aldebaran BFS
Full Turn
Full + 2
Full + 4
Full + 6
Lockdown
Avg % Change
Start Up
0.31
0.90
1.52
4.17
5.35
Sustained
0.30
0.88
1.64
4.28
6.10
Biggest Drop
0.24
0.74
1.35
3.84
4.79
Change in Startup vs Sustained
3.23%
2.22%
7.89%
2.64%
14.02%
6.0%
Biggest Drop from Sustained
20%
15.91%
17.68%
10.28%
21.48%
17.07%

 

Instead, we had our reels adjusted to suit the line we were using and then let our Junior staffers experience the thrill of actually fighting a fish when the opportunity arose. The Aldebaran BFS's drag performed flawlessly letting the fish run with smooth resistance to tire them out. If there's one thing you can usually count on with a Shimano reel it's the sweet performance of that drag.

 


In Fig 1. above, you can see the Aldebaran's BFS Drag profile across 5 different settings. The dark blue curve on the bottom represents one full turn of the dragstar while the light blue curve on top is full lockdown.

 


The Aldebaran BFS is more than just a finesse reel.

 

Power: Neither the Aldebaran BFS nor the Daiwa T3 Air were designed for power applications. These are finesse reels designed for light line applications so the relative power of each reel is sort of moot. Having said that, if you're a light line fanatic, the Aldebaran BFS is so much more than just a finesse reel. If you have the courage to throw cranks, jerkbaits, and the like on six pound test line, the BFS can more than handle its own with these types of baits and it has the line capacity to back it up.

 


After testing the BFS's casting range, we put a Keitech trailer on this micro jig for some casting fun.


If our Junior Staffer can handle the Aldebaran BFS, imagine how it handles in the hands of a seasoned angler!

Next Section: Check out the "Casting Range"


 

 

 

 

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