Shimano Twinpower CI4 3000/4000SRA (Tri-Drag)
by Chris Jones
by Chris Jones
For my general coarse fishing work I've been using a pair of Stradic GTMs for the last ten years plus. They weren't exactly cheap back then and I wasn't anticipating replacing them at all. However, I was in the market for a front drag reel for general leger/feeder work. Being a Shimano fan I was, naturally, looking little further than that brand. The Twinpower CI4 FA grabbed my attention, partly because it wasn't as horribly garish as many of the reels in the Shimano range, I was also intrigued by the EVA handle. However, another reel stole my affection, the Twin Power Ci4 SRA (Tri-Drag). I was deeply suspicious that Tri-Drag was nothing but a gimmick. I was also very wary of it being so much cheaper than the equivalent Twin Power CI4 front drag reel, despite seeming to have the same features (Super Stopper II, Power Roller, Floating Shaft II, Aero Wrap II, S A-RB, SR, AR-C Spool, Dyna-Balance) in every respect barring the drag system. That didn't make much sense to me. The complete lack of information on the web, other than that lifted from the Shimano website, was also a concern. I'd guess that many folks are as sceptical as I was and the model just isn't selling. I suspect that this will mean that bargain hunters might get a good opportunity in the coming months.
I like the quick adjustability of rear drag reels but acknowledge that front drag gives a smoother release without any of the snatching often associated with rear drag reels. I'm happy to report that the Tri-Drag does indeed give the best of both worlds, the front drag is excellent but the rear is more than acceptable too. Playing fish only on the rear drag is a better experience than it is on many of the older Shimano rear drag reels where, on occasion, I'd set the drag lighter than I really wanted to avoid it snatching. You can hear the difference depending on which drag is actually slipping, a clicker in the front drag makes a distinctive metallic ping like the 4000Ds. I'm less than convinced by the Shimano video explanation of how to use Tri Drag. The initial part about winding rear and fighting drag to maximum then setting the front is fair enough but it doesn't go any further. This method does render the rear and fighting drag redundant if left alone. I go further and set the front drag as strong as I can get away with for the line setup I'm using. I then set the rear drag a little lighter knowing that as the fight dictates I can alter tension up or down, as required, on the rear or fighting drag. The fail safe being that the front drag will slip even if I overdo it at the rear. If you think all that is too much fuss then just turn up the drag you don't actually want to use (front or rear) to maximum and set the other as required. The front drag appears to be the same as is fitted to the 4000D, as is the alloy arm of the handle and the one piece bail arm, no bad thing.
I've always liked double handles, if only because they seem to eliminate the wobble that some smaller reels with singles have. The purchase of 4000Ds for barbelling has put my obsession with doubles on the back burner but for a lighter general fishing reel I'd still usually think double. That's now blown out of the water. This reel is seriously smooth and wobble free even at speeds that you'll never see in real fishing situations. The hard EVA handle is very comfortable in use and is really grippy even when your hands and the reel are thoroughly soaked. Line lay is excellent, not a hint of bedding in even after having to pull for a break or doing battle with a decent fish. The use of the CI4 material leaves the reel feeling significantly lighter than the equivalent sized Stradic GTM. If you are using a particular reel to balance a certain rod this may be worth bearing in mind.
If it concerns any of you, the reel is much less garish than the ubiquitous Shimano promo pictures suggest. The main blue colour being much darker in real life than it is in the online pictures. It does sparkle quite subtly though. I was so impressed with the 3000 model, that I managed to pick up for a bargain price, that I ended up counting my pennies to see if I could afford a 4000 size to match. I managed to find one at a relatively sensible price so it looks like my venerable Japanese Stradic GTMs are going to be unemployed.
However, there are negatives with this reel. The most glaringly obvious being the plastic line clip. Shimano seem to be lagging behind the likes of Daiwa in this respect. Daiwa are increasingly using well thought out metal line clips throughout their reel ranges. Shimano only seem to have decent metal line clips on their carp reels. Even the Baitrunner Ds suffer with the plastic clips that everyone regarded as a weakness way back in the days of the 5010GTs. This won't be a problem if a reel is only going to be use for float fishing. Any reel with a potential for leger use really should have a better line clip, particularly at this price point.
The other negative is the price, an RRP at around the Â£225 mark is anything but cheap. We all know that street price is quite different to RRP, you can find them for Â£180 without much effort. The saving grace is that the reel is supplied with two extra spools as part of the package. When you consider that spares are Â£24 and Â£26 respectively, the reel with a total of three spools at around Â£180 doesn't seem quite as expensive all of a sudden. Fortunately I managed to pick up both of mine for significantly less than the street price. I really don't understand why anyone would buy the front drag Twinpower CI4 FA. It seems to have the same features as the Twinpower CI4 SRA Tri Drag but is more expensive (RRP Â£225 compared to Â£429 for the 4000 size). If you object to that rear drag then you can easily turn it to maximum and never touch it again, leaving you with a front drag reel that just happens to have a couple of extra knobs at the back. In conclusion, it's a fantastic reel with a couple of minor flaws. It's expensive but when compared to its sister front drag reels it actually seems fairly reasonable. Would I buy one at full price? Possibly not, even at street prices it's a hell of a lot of cash and more than I've ever spent on a reel before. Is the Tri-Drag a gimmick? Quite probably, but it's not anywhere near as silly as you might think. If you get the chance to try one, go for it, I suspect that you'll be impressed even if you can't justify the price. Just wait until you can find one at less than Â£180 and you'll have yourself a superb top of the range reel for reasonable money.
Update to the Shimano Twinpower Ci4 review.
It's now nearly two years on from the initial review and time for a little update.
Some may wonder if the initial review was a little hyperbolic and that time would lead to a negative reappraisal. I'm very happy that it isn't the case.
I like the reels so much that I now have two of each of the 3000 and 4000 sized reels and a few extra spare spools to give me lots of options. I use them for every scenario that I feel doesn't require the use of a baitrunner.
The only negatives that I can think of are the plastic line clip, negated for me by generally not using the reels in situations that necessitate â€œclipping upâ€. I've also found that the bail arms aren't the most substantial. It's not particularly difficult to bend them out of shape if you are a bit rough with them. Many readers may be familiar with the type as they seem the same as on the 4000D. If I'm being really picky, then I could note that the single handle has a propensity to drop under its own weight. This is most notable when fishing a light quiver tip. An option of a double handle in addition to the supplied single would solve this very minor issue. However, I'd only be interested in acquiring a double handle for quiver tipping if it retained the EVA handles.
Positives outweigh any minor negatives. The drag is sublime, I'm quite convinced that it has contributed to me catching bigger fish on lighter tackle than I could have hoped for before. Both carp and barbel well into double figures have been landed with ease. I've thoroughly enjoyed using them for catches of multiple barbel on trotted maggot and more recently for margin float fishing for gravel pit carp.
Two years on and I'm still thoroughly impressed with these reels. I'm still yet to see another user on the bank so suspect that they have been all but ignored by most. That's a shame because Shimano have made a cracking reel.
July 2010 (April 2012)
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