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Reel Review

WTF?!? ... Shimano Sustain with an Edge (continued)

Line Management: And here's where we get back to my statement earlier about spinning gear being easier to use initially, compared to casting gear. I wish I could say I fished the Sustain 2500FG tangle free for the entire time I tested the reel, but unfortunately, I cannot. No matter how careful you are with your spinning gear and especially when using fluorocarbon or nylon line, you will at some point in time experience line twist.

The Sustain's spool is supported by this bearing along the drive shaft.

There are ways to mitigate against its occurrence (e.g. closing the bail by hand, holding your line taught as it enters the reel each and every time before beginning your retrieve, not turning the handle when the drag is engaged), but it will eventually happen. On this matter, I'd say the Sustain was decidedly average - not really any better or any worse than other spinning reels I typically use (Stella, Exist, Steez, Cerate).

The Sustain's drag is reminiscent of the Stella's.

Drag: As pointed out in our review of the Stella 3000 FE, maximum lock down drag in a bass-sized spinning reel is secondary to how smoothly that drag performs. Face it, you're not going to need maximum drag pressure when using 8 pound test or less, but if needed, you can easily lock down a spinning reel so that spool does not move.

A closer look at the finesse inspired felt drag material.

Taking a look inside the Sustain 2500FG's spool and it's a little bit of déjà-vu. The drag stack in the Sustain is identical to that of the Stella 3000 FE with the only difference being in the spools themselves. Where the Stella has a bearing inside the spool, the Sustain has no such support. Instead, the Sustain simply has a built in bushing evidenced by the reinforced lip at the center of its spool. There is, however, a bearing supporting the Sustain's spool right along the reel's drive shaft.

Where the Stella features a bearing within the spool, the Sustain simply has a built in bushing.


Waterproof drag system? Why yes, courtesy of this rubber gasket on the drag knob.

Out on the water, any differences between the smoothness of the Sustain's drag performance versus that of the Stella's is marginal. We'd have to get into a battle with some harder pulling fish to really tell the difference and unfortunately, Zander and I did not make it out for any Steelhead fishing this past winter.

So how does a reel that was once offered at $400 become more affordable? Well, aside from eliminating the 24K gold plating, you move manufacturing over to somewhere else - note, the Sustain performs well regardless of its point of origin.


Shimano Sustain 2500FG Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A solid and well built reel that makes use of quality materials inside and out 9
Performance Great overall performance across the spectrum of tests. It may not be a Stella but it is the better balance of performance considering the price 8
Price Once top of the line, now second in command and priced lower than when originally introduced (because it is no longer made in Japan) 7
Features Too many to list, but still no shallow spool option 8
Design (Ergonomics) Stealthy with design cues and features borrowed from older generation JDM Stella 9
Application A really nice general purpose spinning reel for everything from freshwater to inshore fishing 8.5

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ We like the stealthy look - $300+ may still be a tough price point for many considering this reel is not Made in Japan
+ Borrowing style from the JDM Stella is a good thing  
+ Solid performance at a good, high-intermediate price point  


Conclusion: I tend to get a little sentimental when fishing and testing a piece of tackle that takes me back to my early days getting into bass fishing. The Sustain was, at one time for me, the ultimate spinning reel. Seeing it hanging on the wall with its 24K gold plating, it definitely served to motivate me and served as a symbol of status that when I could finally afford one, life will be good.


Spice up a once overshadowed product with a little interest and win back some attention.

Well, somehow in my "evoluzion," I totally leapfrogged the Sustain, but when Shimano debuted this new, stealthier and edgier version of this once blinged out reel, they brought me back. It may not inspire the same level of awe as it once did, but it has an entirely different degree of cool associated with it now.

The Sustain FG might be more stealth and edge than bling ...

In terms of ultimate performance, I still prefer my Stella and Exist/Steez spinning reels. But of course, for the price of one of those gems, I can have two, maybe three Sustains. That's saying a lot.

... but for those looking for a mid to high end work horse and don't want to spend close to four figures per reel, the Sustain might be the answer.

Lastly, you cannot overlook the benefit of that little kickstand that comes stock with the Sustain. It's so simple, yet so useful in protecting your spinning reel from boat rash that every manufacturer needs to offer something similar.So, in the end, how do we pay tribute to a product that doesn't quite push our enthusiast buttons, but does well to sustain our interest as a more than serviceable tool with a bit of edge to it? It is, of course, TackleTour's Editor's Choice Award.

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