What is the Shimano S-Concept?
manufacturers release new promotions it is hard to distinguish what is truly
innovation, and what is just marketing hoopla. What sounds like the ultimate
solution can turn out to be no more then just swanky advertising. We take a look
at Shimano’s new “S-Concept” to distinguish if this new conception is just more
of the same, or something to really get excited about.
4 BB, 1 RB
4 BB, 1 RB|
What is S-Concept? Shimano S-Concept stands for
"Smooth, Silent, and Strong" operation in their new family of reels. This
represents the "initial philosophy" on which the newer Shimano reels were
designed. This year there are three reel families which take advantage of the
new S-Concept design, the Stella FA, Sustain FD, and Stradic FH. S-Concept reels
have new dimensions, new spools, and a wealth of upgraded features that set them
apart from the previous generation models. We take a look at the Stradic FH to
provide a snapshot of what the new S-Concept really means for anglers.
The new S-Concept Stradic is so
well built that it is competitive in smoothness and refinement to the previous
Sustain (and actually much lighter)
Side by Side: When you put the new Stradic
side by side with its previous generation model you immediately will notice two
things, the new sleeker design, and the reduced overall weight of the reel. We
found the Stradic to be so sleek and elegant in design that we laid it side by
side the Sustain 1000FB and still found many elements of the new StradicFD that
made it superior to the old Sustain! While going through all the comparisons we
noted that the new S-Concept reels now have many of the same features that many
anglers love about the older Daiwa offerings. These include a breakaway handle,
enlarged spool, and super-sized drag. Also interesting to note is that the new
lightweight Stradic MgF is not part of the S-Concept family and is built much
more similarly to the previous generation model.
picked up by the "no-fail-bail" and retrieved through a titanium coated all
bearing power roller
Smooth (operation): The previous Stradic models were famous for being silky smooth,
but after a few minutes of reeling the new Stradic FH the old models simply felt
unrefined in comparison. The new Stradic FH is amazingly smooth and is
comparable to reels previously costing twice as much! How is it that Shimano can
make a reel with the same number of bearings operate so much smoother? The
answer is in the very guts of the reel. The Stradic FH makes use of the same
Fluidrive II large bore master gear, which makes winding smooth and effortless,
and adds in new stainless steel ball bearings which are treated with a special
coating making them more durable and causing them to stay smoother and rounder
much longer. In addition these bearings are a real benefit for saltwater anglers
as the treatment drastically improves corrosion resistance. Shimano states that
these new "A-RB" (Anti-Rust bearings) will last at least 10 times longer then
conventional bearings in high salinity environments.
The StradicFH has a much sleeker and refined design then the previous model
Smooth (casts): When you cast the new S-Concept
reels you will also notice a significant gain in casting distance. This is
caused by what Shimano calls "super slow oscillation." The oscillation of the
spool has been adjusted both through gearing and a wider spool to be less then
the previous models. Line is then wound onto the spool slower and in a more even
manner. This line management allows the line to flow from the spool in much
nicer curls minimizing energy loss, and resulting in longer more accurate casts.
Compare the original Sustain's drag system (left) to the new enlarged drag that
the S-Concept reels boast (right)
Smooth (Drag): One of the main reasons Daiwa spinning reels are a favorite
among anglers is due to their excellent drag performance. Well now Shimano
S-Concept reels are boasting drags that truly rival Daiwa's latest offerings.
Increased drag surface area and a new microclick function allow for the
smoothest most accurate fade free drag performance ever exhibited by any Shimano
reel. In pressure tests the new drag system in the StradicFH outperformed the
previous Stradic and Sustain in both level of adjustment and overall drag
pressure! It is important to note that if you are fishing big game or enjoy surf
fishing the SustainFD and StellaFA would be better choices as these now include
a completely sealed waterproof drag system.
The new microclick drag system
allows for minute drag adjustments never before seen in a reel of this price,
and the drags feature much larger washers
Silent: How do you make a quiet reel even more silent? Shimano's answer is
to improve the materials and tighten tolerances to a new levels in the S-Concept
reels. But the single most important upgrade is the new improved floating shaft
which now adopts a bearing to support the spool shaft and physically separate it
from the pinion gear, reducing a great deal of friction to allow resistance free
rotation, and a ultra silent operation.
Anglers know that maintaining your reel is key to ensuring smooth and
silent performance, but how many of us actually correctly maintain our reels? It
is fact that the main assembly gears in our reels can only be properly
lubricated by opening the main reel housing. Few anglers will do this themselves
due to the complexity of high performance reel design. I personally have taken
apart reels for tests and put them back together only to find an extra screw or
gasket that I had neglected to put back. To allow any angler to properly
maintain the S-Concept reels with ease Shimano introduces their ingenious
"maintenance port" which is essentially a removable access screw that allows you
to directly oil the inside mechanism without having to take the entire reel
apart! Thus keeping your S-Concept reel smooth and silent long after the initial
day of use.
One of the most innovative designs
we have ever seen in a reel, the new Shimano "maintenance port"
Strong: New hardened pinion gears are more
then twice as strong as previous reels and have a much lower wear rate resulting
in superior torque the day you buy the reel, and the same muscular operation a
year later. With more durable gears, bearings, forged aluminum spools, and a
reinforced aluminum body, the new S-Concept reels are the most reliable and
durable Shimano reels ever designed. Surprisingly the new reels are more durable
and still able to achieve lower total weights then the previous models. We were
very pleased to see that Shimano did not sacrifice any durability, line
capacity, or refinement when they designed the new longer lasting S-Concept
reels. In fact these new reels are simply lighter, extra ergonomic, and more
robust then last years offerings.
Conclusion: The Shimano S-Concept is not just a fancy new campaign at
work, it is in fact the successful efforts of Shimano engineers to design reels
that are even more smooth, silent, and strong then their previous premium
offerings. These "state-of-the-art" reels not only raise the bar for performance
spinning but arm anglers with tackle boasting a new level of refinement,
durability, and ease of maintenance. We were very impressed with our initial
tests of the StradicFH and will be providing even more in depth field tests and
comparisons with competitor offerings shortly.