Shimano 3500b Baitrunner
by David Parker
by David Parker
I have been through my fair share of reels during my angling lifetime - and many of them are still with me I'm pleased to say, ranged on their own shelf in my makeshift tackle emporium (the garage!). And I mention this because I want this brief review of the Shimano 3500b to be seen in that context. I have used many winches; and most of them have been considered at one time or another excellent tools for barbel fishing. In short, I have some experience of other Shimano baitrunners, and also the Stradics with which to compare this reel's performance.
So why is it I now opt for the 3500b over all other fixed spool reels I own?
Well let's start with the things that have nothing to do with my decision. Like the aesthetics for instance. This isn't a beautiful reel by any means (unless you happen to be into 80s angularity). It is all straight lines and hard edges. Nor is the line lay particularly brilliant. The spool width is pretty compressed - the total opposite of a long chuck carp reel. And so the line can appear to lay unevenly. The baitrunner facility is smooth and micro-adjustable, but not particularly loud. So never rely on the sound of the baitrunner as indication of a take! The handle folds down against the body but doesn't fix in position, so safer not to undo them if you keep your reels on your rods in a quiver 24/7. It isn't the lightest reel on the market either - coming in at 557g.
But none of these things bother me one bit.
The reasons I always marry this reel up with my Harrison triptych these days are all to do with performance. Here is a reel that is a triumph of function over form. Forget the 80s boxiness and retro design (although, secretly I quite like it). When you pick one up and begin to turn the handle you are won over with every oscillation of the spool. The reel generates significant cranking power. And this always makes you feel in control. As does the 3500b's star turn - the absolutely brilliant (waterproof) clutch. Set it correctly and you will not feel overpowered by the fish you've hooked and you can kiss goodbye to that 'will it or won't it' feeling you have with the Shimano Aero baitrunners as you ponder if line will be given when the fish of your dreams makes an extra powerful lunge. This reel gives line smoothly, and in a controlled manner from start to finish. Just how you want it - a clutch with watchmaker precision.
Price-wise they aren't the cheapest baitrunners on the market. The RRP is Â£94.99p. But there are deals to be had now and then and Ebay is always worth a look (I got three brand new for Â£35 per reel). USA prices are significantly lower, but beware excise duties if you have the item shipped in from stateside - the extra costs can wipe out any savings.
To summarise - a true workhorse of a reel with a formula one clutch inside. I've had a few doubles from tight swims and this reel, I'm sure, was the difference between success and failure. They were originally made for sea fishing and the rigours that branch of our sport can bring and so all you anglers out there who are clumsy like me can use and abuse with confidence. One of the most durable reels out there. Highly recommended!
Comparison of Shimano 3500b and Shimano Stradic X 4000 GTM
Close up of spool
Close up of baitrunner mechanism
david (barbeldoctor) parker