OBJECT OF DESIRE: Shimano Ultegra 5500XTD

OBJECT OF DESIRE: Shimano Ultegra 5500XTD
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Shimano Ultegra 5500XTD

RRP: £139.99 | www.fish.shimano-eu.com

Shimano has created what some affectionately call a ‘baby big-pit’ version of the Ultegra 14000XTD – namely the 5500XTD.

The ability of this compact reel to provide huge casting distances needs to be seen to be believed. When I first tried one, albeit paired with a solid-backboned rod set-up, the Ultegra sent a 4.5oz lead to the 120-yard mark.

Technology is such now that with superb line lay and Shimano’s patented ARC Spool design, ‘getting it out there’ is easier than ever before.

However, it’s in its versatility that the Ultegra 5500XTD raises the bar.

Yes, it can cast a lead a very long way, relatively speaking, but unlike a traditional big-pit reel it does not look or feel out of place when faced with more modest tasks.

Take this to a smaller water, stalk in the margins with it or even surface fish with big, modern controllers, and not only does this reel take it all in its stride, but it does so with a reassuring elegance. The Ultegra 5500XTD can truly lay claim to the term ‘all-rounder’.

It’s dressed in the same black livery as its bigger brother and is very much ‘on trend’ when it comes to those all-important first impressions. But it’s with regard to the build quality where I am particularly impressed.

I once visited Shimano HQ in Japan and witnessed the huge cold-forge presses, which rose up from the factory floor and churned out spools with graceful might.

Each Ultegra 5500XTD comes with two such cold-forged spools, and when you consider the effort and expertise that goes into producing that one element of this breathtaking reel, just imagine how much goes into the rest of the engineering itself.