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Enthusiast Review

What the Finesse : Shimano Japan's Ultegra Advance


Date: 1/19/11
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Shimano Japan
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 8.42 - GREAT

Viewed from across the pond, the Shimano Japan spinning reel lineup for freshwater fisherman is a confusing array of reels with different looks and finishes, but similar specifications and price points. Certainly at the top of the food chain, you have the flagship Stella, always distinct in appearance, price point, and for the most part, feel. The Stella is easy to understand because there is a direct US counterpart with the same name, specification, and appearance. But after Shimano’s flagship Stella, fall off to the other members in the spinning reel lineup is severe with no real clear second-in-the-lineup product.


Introducing the Shimano Japan Ultegra Advance.

Most will argue for the TwinPower MG, a 9+1 bearing reel that follows right after the Stella in Shimano Japan’s 2010 product catalog. But what of the Exsence - another 9+1 bearing reel that retails for slightly more than the TwinPower MG? Then what of the non-MG TwinPower? Not only does this reel come with a non-MG frame and rotor, but it also has one less bearing! Why? Let’s not forget the Sephia, a reel only offered in one size either with or without a double handle. It looks like a Stradic CI4 with 9 + 1 bearings yet costs 50,000 JPY! Oh wait, there’s also a Sephia CI4, but that reel has only 6+1 bearings and retails for 32,000JPY and comes in the same limited sizes as the “standard” Sephia. Is your head spinning yet? See what I mean?

We take a look at the 2500S.

I bring all this up because about a year ago, I picked up a Shimano Ultegra Advanced 2500S. This is a reel I assumed was the JDM counterpart to the US market Shimano Symetre because the standard Ultegra has the same 4 + 1 bearing specification as the Symetre. The “Advanced” has a 5+1 specification which would put it in the category of a Stradic only the Stradic lines up with the JDM Biomaster (except the Biomaster is now at the Sustain price point). So maybe the Ultegra Advanced is just what it seems, a tuned version of the Ultegra (JDM Symetre) to which there is no US market counterpart. Does any of this really matter? Only if you are one that dwells on the “grass is always greener” syndrome protesting that Shimano Japan always keeps the better reels for themselves.

Though far from top of the line, the Ultegra Advance shares some features we first noticed on the flagship Stella line, like this convenient maintenance port.

So what does the Advanced really have to offer? Why don’t we kick off our 2011 Enthusiast category WTF theme with a look at this little gem from Shimano Japan. Introducing the Shimano Ultegra Advanced 2500S.

Shimano Japan Ultegra Advance 2500S Specifications

Line Capacity IM-10 Graphite
Retrieve Ratio 5:1
Inches Per Turn (IPT) tested 27"
Weight 9.3 oz.
Bearings 5 +1
Additional Features Maintenance Port, Foldable Machine Handle, SARBs, bearing supported drag and line roller.
Origin Malaysia
MSRP 15,500 JPY


Impressions: Regardless of who, what, why, where, when, and how this reel lines up with anything Shimano USA has to offer, on its own, this is a really handsome little spinning reel. Its deep blue finish is reminiscent of my Daiwa Certate 2000 reviewed back in February of 2005 only the Ultegra Advanced comes with a much more attractive machined handle as well the 2500s is a shallow spool reel.


A nice feature for a reel in this price range? The machined aluminum handle - and yes, it's foldable too.

Shallow spool spinning reels are very popular in Japan. They give you enough room to put roughly one hundred meters of whatever line the reel is truly designed around which turns out to be really more than enough. The problem is, US anglers like to have the option of going way up in line test if needed. These shallow spools do not afford you that option unless you resort to braid.

Shallow spool reels are difficult to distinguish once filled with line ...

The 2500S from Shimano is designed to hold one hundred meters of five pound test line which means the comfortable range for this reel is any line rated six pounds and below

... but the 2500S is built to hold only 100 meters of 5 lb test line.

Field Tests: I loaded up the Shimano Ultegra 2500s with 5 lb test Toray HiClass fluorocarbon, matched it up with my Rapala Canada Shift spinning rod and had it with me for several trips through 2010.

Spooled up and ready to go aboard a Rapala Canada Shift spinning rod.

Next Section: Time to make a cast and finesse fish









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