SHIMANO | Ultegra Ci4+ XTC

When you’re in the market for a top end reel you’d be foolish to overlook the selection on offer from Shimano. Shimano is renowned for producing some of the best gearing in the world, so you can be confident in the longevity of its reels.

In particular, these Ultegras carry a number of key aspects that prolong their effortless performance. Cold-forged HAGANE gearing ensures long-lasting strength and power in demanding situations, while the use of X-Ship and five stainless A-RB bearings plus a roller bearing deliver supremely smooth and efficient winding performance. Meanwhile Shimano’s latest innovation, X-Protect, guarantees the reel’s inner parts against intrusion from water and dirt through a specially designed triple-lip internal structure.

Having heavily used the reels for much of my personal fishing for almost two years I can safely say, with the omission of some knocks and scrapes to the outer cosmetics, the reels are continuing to perform as they did when I first picked them up. I’m confident that with a little TLC these will last me for many, many years to come.

As well as high quality gearing these reels carry a number of other features that make them both technically superb and a real pleasure to use. Firstly, the use of Ci4+ technology has enabled Shimano to produce a very compact and extremely lightweight body on this big-pit reel – it weighs in at just 540g! Furthermore, the reel features a G-free, parallel body and has immaculate line-lay thanks to the two-speed Aero Wrap II Super Slow 5 oscillation. These all lead to superior casting performance and optimised comfort in use.

Additionally, the line guard below the spool ensures line doesn’t regularly wrap under the spool as it does with many other reels. Finally I think Shimano really hit the nail on the head with the Hi-Speed drag on these models, whereby a half turn of the drag knob transitions from freespool to fighting drag. For me this is the ideal speed, as it still provides plenty of control to find the optimum drag tension when playing fish, which becomes harder with a much faster drag.

All in all, I’ve loved using these reels and they will continue to take pride and place on my rods for the foreseeable future. I’d heartily recommend them for someone looking to invest, and if the darker colour variant isn’t of your preference, Shimano also provides the XSC model, which is in a more ‘blingy’ pearlescent silver body, with a gold lipped spool.

Matt’s Verdict: A techically superb reel that provides a powerful yet effortlessly smooth and elegant performance.

RRP: £269.99