REVIEW: Shimano Ultegra Ci4+ XTC 5500 and XSC 5500

REVIEW: Shimano Ultegra Ci4+ XTC 5500 and XSC 5500

Shimano's latest baby big-pit reels look incredible and appear to have the pedigree to match...

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Price: £249.99 http://fish.shimano-eu.com/

Carp reels come and go in our office, but few have stopped us in our tracks quite like Shimano's news baby big pit.

Looks are, of course, a subjective matter, but this reel just seems to nail it. The wide spool dominates without looking imbalanced, and the body of the reel appears almost impossibly tiny.

 The tiny body hides a host of mechanical trickery

The tiny body hides a host of mechanical trickery

Pick it up and you're instantly impressed by how little it weighs. At just 440g this is truly a manageable big pit reel.

Shimano has noticeably upped its game in the last couple of years and this reel combines all of that progress in one package.

 The look of the XTC model blew us away

The look of the XTC model blew us away

The lack of weight is in part down to the Ci4 carbon-polymer rotor, while the X-Ship gearing provides rock-solid cranking without any spindle wobble. Shimano's X-Protect system, which repels dirt, grit and water ingress, is also present. 

Another feature is called Parallel Body, which keeps the spool on exactly the same plane as the rod blank to aid line flow.

On the clutch side of things, the much simpler Hi-Speed drag replaces the old 'dual-knob' Baitrunner II system, which is definitely good news.

A one-piece aluminium handle provides your connection with the reel and there's a 5.3:1 gear ratio that retrieves 105cm of line per handle crank.

These aren't monstrous 'proper' big-pit reels, but they will easily cope with the majority of carp angling done in this country, and they certainly won't break your wrists when you get stuck into a lengthy fight.

For us, the black/grey XTC model is the best looker, but if you don't agree then the shinier XSC offers a completely different aesthetic.

The Ultegra Ci4 1400s were huge sellers for Shimano and we can genuinely see these becoming an even greater unit shifter.