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Enthusiast Review


Shimano Re-Ignites Their Shining Star : The 2015 Aldebaran


Date: 4/6/16
Tackle Type: Reel
Manufacturer: Shimano Japan
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 8.32 - EDITOR'S CHOICE AWARD!

Originally introduced back in 2009 and dubbed the Alphas Killer (in reference to Daiwa's Alphas platform), the Aldebaran has been a staple in my collection ever since. Six years later, in 2015, Shimano re-imaged this reel and upped the ante by including it in their JDM import lineup to be sold in US stores. It's taken some time, but here now is our look at the 2015 Shimano Aldebaran.


Shimano 2015 Aldebaran 50/51 Specifications

Line Capacity - Rated 10lb / 90yds
Line Capacity - Spool Volume 9.3 cm3
Retrieve Ratio
Inches Per Turn (IPT) - calculated
Weight 4.7 oz
Spool Weight 12 g
Handle Length 84 mm
Bearings 9+1
Bearings per Knob 2 bearing
Levelwind Bearings None
Tested Max Drag ~11.3lbs
Origin Made in Japan
MSRP $329

Introducing Shimano's 2015 Aldebaran.

Quality/Construction: The 2015 Shimano Aldebaran is a magnesium framed reel with CI4+ carbon sideplates. It's roughly the same size as the 2009 model that it replaces, but features a more aggressively designed nose. The spools are the same size but are not interchangeable.

The latest version of this reel features the same, low profile design as the original.

The new Aldebaran comes with a dark, satiny, charcoal grey finish with plenty of different planes, ridges, and edges reminiscent of the F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft. Yet with all these ridges and planes, joint lines between sideplates and other pieces are spot on. The handle has an almost undetectable amount of backplay and the knobs on the handle are about as tight as they can be. This reel is really quite solid out of the box.


Quality Ratings for Shimano 2015 Aldebaran 50/51

Finish (1-5)
Frame & Sideplate Tolerance (1-5)
Handle Tolerance (1-5)
Knob Tolerance (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

But with more ridges, edges and planes along the body, this reel resembles a stealth fighter!

Performance: The Aldebaran is marketed as more of a finesse reel than one for general purpose, but my interests with this reel was with how far it could be pushed. I strung it up with some Sunline Reaction FC and mounted it on a Shimano Zodias 172H to get a sense out of its capabilities.

The HG model comes with a 7.4:1 retrieve ratio, the standard version comes with a 6.5:1..

Retrieve: The Aldebaran does not benefit officially from Shimano's Micro-Modulus gearing system, but the teeth on the reel's aluminum main gear do appear to be smaller than usual. When you turn the handle on the Aldebaran you get a familiar, connected feel to the gearing but in a good way. The reel is so small and light, and the frame and sideplates so rigid you can't help but feel everything that's going on inside the reel.

Both version feature an 84mm handle.

Another reason for the reel's smooth performance is X-Ship, a bearing supported pinion gear.

The stock 84 mm handle is a welcome feature as well and the newly designed knobs are supported by two bearings each. Add to this the fact the Aldebaran features the bearing supported pinion gear (X-Ship), and this reel really is incredibly smooth.

Performance Ratings for Shimano 2015 Aldebaran 50/51

Retrieve (1-5)
Drag (1-5)
Power (1-5)
Casting Range (1-5)
Brakes (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

The single drag washer design delivers super smooth and consistent performance.

Drag: The 2015 Aldebaran's drag performed incredibly well on The Machine. Referencing the reel's Sweet Drag Performance Chart below you can see that each curve is really very smooth and consistent. The highest curve, representing the reel's performance at lockdown drag is somewhat erratic, but even then it's smoother than a lot of reels we've tested of late.

Fig 1: The Sweet Drag Performance chart above shows the consistency in drag performance of our Shimano 2015 Aldebaran 50/51.

This outstanding performance can be attributed to the single drag washer design Shimano employs in the majority of its bass sized low profile reels. Where other reels achieve higher maximum settings with their multi-stack drag washer designs, Shimano consistently delivers reels with drags that are super smooth and consistent in their performance.

Sweet Drag Performance for Shimano 2015 Aldebaran 50/51

Lock - 8
Lock - 6
Lock - 4
Lock - 2
Avg % Change
Start Up
Lowest Value
Change in Startup vs Sustained
Biggest Drop from Sustained
Drag on this reel was tested with the dragstar fully tightened. Then with each successive test, the drag was backed off with two short pushes of the dragstar with our thumb.


Power: Though I did test this reel in general purpose applications, one thing I did not do was tie on a deep diving crankbait to test its pulling power. What I did do, however was respool the reel with some braid and toss some frog baits with the reel as well as mount it on a punch rod and perform some punch presentations with it. In both instances, it performed just fine with plenty of power to pull some average sized bass out of thick cover.

Not quite micro-module but still smaller than usual teeth.

Casting Range: Respooling the reel yet again and mounting it on a Phenix Recon 2 PHX-C682L at the lab, I tied on a series of finesse style offerings to see just how low I could get the Aldebaran to go. My best result was with a quarter ounce finesse style jig that I was able to cast roughly forty to fifty feet using 6 pound test Sunline Supernatural nylon monofilament. Ratings for this reel claim 5 grams or 3/16oz. I have little doubt with the right line and rod, this can be achieved but the lowest I was able to go in practical situations was about one quarter of an ounce.

Set your brakes on the spool to on or off...

Brakes: The 2015 Aldebaran, features the latest and greatest centrifugal braking system from Shimano, namely the SVS Infinity system. There are 4 brakes on the spool that you can set to on or off, and an external dial with numbers from one to six (1 to 6) to further fine tune your cast. That external dial is not ratcheted, however, so you can really fine tune the brakes through the dial to suit conditions of the day.

then fine tune your adjustment with the external dial.

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