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Reel Review

A Push for True Market Alternatives : The Shift Baitcasting Reel (continued)

Drag: The Shift Baitcaster tested out with five pounds of maximum drag in our lab. Opening the reel up reveals a single drag washer sandwiched between the bearing supported main gear and a metal key washer. The bearing supported gear intrigued us as this is not a design we’re accustomed to seeing.

To remove the non-handle sideplate, you need to loosen the orange screw shown here.

Out on the water, it all translated to a very smooth performing drag though we weren’t really able to hook into anything to fully tax the reel. The reel’s small, compact size is very sturdy, so while the maximum drag pressure might be a little light by today’s standards, it’s still more than sufficient for the targeted species, namely large and smallmouth bass.

A quick look inside the reel.

Design/Ergonomics: As mentioned previously, the Shift Baitcaster is a very compact reel. It is more along the lines of a “100” sized reel from Shimano or Daiwa and similar in shape to the Daiwa Alphas/Sol series though not the same either. It features a swept handle and dragstar, a composite, soft touch thumb bar and flattened eva knobs.

One of the Shift's 13 bearings sits on the main gear. The drag consists of a single washer.

Each knob is supported by at least one bearing, but we were not able to remove the knobs to verify whether or not there is a second bearing under each because the holding screws on each knob were virtually fused to the knob’s post which in turn rotated within the handle so it was impossible to disassemble this component.

Ergonomically, they don't come any easier to palm than this reel.

Second Opinion: While on this test trip, and fishing alongside Jonah Li, owner of Hi’s Tackle Box, Jonah looked over and thought it odd I was fishing with a right handed reel. I explained to him the growing “CDM” phenomenon and piqued his interest to the point he wanted to try out this Rapala Canada combo. He was pleasantly surprised at the light weight and balance of the combo together with the contemporary design of the rod. He was so enamored with the combo, he wanted to know how he could get the product in his store, but I had to explain again, that this combo is made for and sold within the Canadian market only.

The thumb bar is coated with a soft-touch rubber making it very comfortable when casting or palming.

Just the same, he took the opportunity to make a couple of casts and test the combo out for himself. Of course, you know what happened next. On Jonah’s second cast, while working a Spro McRip jerkbait, Jonah got a strike, swept the rod and set on a chunky four pound bass! I was lucky to get the rod, reel, and bait back!

Jonah Li asked to check out the Rapala Canada combo and proceeded to break it in for me!

Availability: The Rapala Shift Baitcaster is available in both left and right and retrieve and has been in full production since early 2011. If you’re interested in one, and reside in Canada, we suggest inquiring about the reel at any local tackle store that carries the Rapala product.

Rapala Canada makes a push for a true alternate market in the fishing industry by offering both quality rods, and now, quality reels.



Rapala Canada Shift Baitcaster Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Looks and feels pretty solid 8
Performance It didn't disappoint me, but it didn't wow me either 7.5
Price Priced more than fair given its features 7.5
Features 80mm swept handle, 13+1 bearings, aluminum frame (graphite sideplates), micro-click drag star 8
Design (Ergonomics) Fits really comfortable in hand 8
Application A good, all purpose option 8

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:


+ Compact Size - Canada Only
+ Solid performer  
+ Left and right hand options  


Conclusion: Rapala Canada is really focused on bringing to their target market, tools that are not only functional, but fun to look at and use because when it's all said and done, having fun is what our favorite past time is all about, remember? The added bonus with products like these Shift series rods and reels is the fact they won't overload your budget like some of the other exotic, non-USDM rods and reels yet they still look and feel like something in your hand.


Rapala Canada's aspiration may not have been to produce a reel to attract non-Canadian customers, but when paired with its intended rod, the two combine to offer a rather sweet combo.

So has Rapala Canada achieved the side benefit of creating a true, alternate market for rods and reels? In some respects, yes, in others no. It's obvious their rods are very worthwhile and desirable no matter in which market you reside. On the other hand, while the Shift Baitcasting reel is a solid performer at a very good price point and sure to sell in its intended market, it's difficult to see US anglers clamoring for this product in the same manner they might a JDM Daiwa Alphas or Shimano Scorpion. The allure isn't quite there and the competition within the US market at the same price point is fierce. But that's ok, because Rapala Canada's goal wasn't really to produce this reel with the aspirations of attracting non-Canadian customers, now was it? What they set out to do was produce a good performing reel with some higher end bells and whistles (micro-click drag star, bearing handles, left and right hand retrieve options) and do so a price that will attract anglers looking for a quality alternative without scaring them away. To this we say, objective achieved!









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