Tags Top Gear


Tags Top Gear

I am not very technically minded when it comes to fishing gear. I love new gear, but when it comes to the ins and outs of the technologies that make them up or the technical jargon that companies use to try and convince us of their superiority, my eyes tend to glaze over.

I’m more interested in performance than anything else, and above all a reel needs to be dependable. When you hook THE fish that you’re after, the absolute last thing you want is gear failure, and I’ve experienced that before. So when it comes to choosing which reels I use, dependability is the biggest factor for me. Of course, it’s almost impossible to know the true dependability of a reel until you’ve used it, which is a bit of a catch 22, especially with new gear.

I’m sceptical of companies dressing up an old product in fancy colours and calling it something new, so the release of a new Shimano Saragosa range piqued my interest. Would they be exactly the same as the old ones with some new aesthetic features? Mind you, I don’t think that would have been such a bad thing because the old Saragosa (SW) is an absolute cracker of a reel. I’ve owned a couple over the past five years, and they have never missed a beat. A service here and there to keep them feeling good and they will fish the house down every time you call upon them.

However, when I got my hands on the new Saragosa SWA 5000XG for day out on the water with Jazz Charters, I instantly knew this was more than just a marketing ploy. This is a far superior reel to the previous model. The most noticeable change is an improvement to what I viewed as the biggest failing of the old model and that was the weight. Shimano has managed to carve significant grams off these reels, making them much lighter in the hand and improving the overall balance.

They have also started including features and technologies in their mid-range reels, like the Saragosa SWA, that were previously only available in the high-end Stella models. Cross-Carbon drag, Hagane gearing, X-Protect … okay I’ve probably lost you! If you’re like me and don’t care for the jargon, I urge you to get your hands on one of these reels and try them for yourself. I was very impressed with the performance of the 5000XG while chasing pinkies with Jazz. If you’re trying to find a new reliable workhorse for your arsenal for anything from the light jigging we were doing all the way up to tussling with monster GTs, then look no further. You will not be disappointed.



SHIMANO’S Saragosa SWA is not all that different to its predecessor at first glance, but look closer and the ball game has changed big time for what many describe as the best value sealed reel on the market. I was able to strip down a 5000XG and actually see what makes this reel tick.

The first noticeable difference is the weight. At 455g, it’s over 110g lighter than the previous model. The bulk of weight loss is due to a much smaller winding block running around on the oscillating gear, allowing a smaller body profile. The Infinity Drive concept has been incorporated and has eliminated contact between the main shaft and pinion. Turn the handle and it spins like a finely-tuned baitcaster. No longer a 5.7:1 retrieve, the gearing of 6.2:1 now gets you 105cm of line back onto the spool with every turn of the handle.

The other major difference is the new IPX8 waterproofing rating. A different compound for the rubber seals and gaskets means less friction on the main drive gear bearing seals and the pinion gear seal. A ‘water maze’ incorporated to the underside of the rotor allows centrifugal force to disperse water away from the anti-reverse bearing. It’s the line roller that gets the biggest tick though and the waterproofing introduced there will certainly prolong the life of those pesky little bearings packed inside, allowing for a smooth, silent operation of the most overlooked part of any reel.

There are other little things like a non-folding one-piece handle and more audible spool clicker. Scouring through the schematic diagrams of the two new sizes I believe a parallel helical cut oscillating gear has been introduced and this should mean increased forward drive in the cold forged Hagane gears in the bigger models.

All in all, the Saragosa SWA5000XG has the west coast tailor and salmon populations shaking in their scales.

Caption: The heart of the new Shimano Saragosa SWA 5000XG, an impressive reel.

Shimano Saragosa SWA 5000XG

  • Weight: 450 grams
  • Ratio: 6.2:1 (105cm per turn)
  • Max. drag: 10kg
  • Braid capacity: 9kg/225m
  • RRP: $399
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