We slowly navigated our way through the very shallow river mouth, unsure if we’d make it but Sam assured me he’d get out and push should we put my 21ft Sportsman on the sand. There was a strong air of excitement once we made the deeper waters of Bemm River and we didn’t move far upriver before we found some likely fish-holding snags. The target species was EP and it’s the perfect species to test the new Shimano Sustain FJ C3000 I had for review. This size reel perfectly complements and balances with rods from 1-3kg through to 6-8kg with a line capacity that can handle almost all inshore applications.
The new model is without doubt the best Sustain yet and the advancement from the last series (FI) to this series (FJ) has been more dramatic than any of Shimano’s other reels we’ve reviewed, including Stradic, Twin Power and Stella. The Sustain has a RRP of $469 (you’ll more than likely get it cheaper) but feels and performs like a reel that sits in that $550 price range. Shimano has stayed with the classic black aesthetic that Sustain has become famous for, and it looks amazing with subtle gold and silver highlights.
It’s lighter than its predecessors, very smooth in all aspects of its operation and has outstanding line management. Price-wise it sits between Twin Power and Vanford and we had all three reels on board paired with TCurves to make comparisons. It’s quite a bit smoother than the already smooth Vanford and feels more solid thanks to the mix of Hagane body, as opposed to the straight Ci4+ body on the Vanford. It’s not as smooth as the remarkable Twin Power but is slightly lighter and better suited to these ultra-finesse applications, making it a highly versatile reel that can present light offerings to smaller fish such as bream and bass but won’t have any troubles tangling with snapper, big flathead and jacks.
We came across some good structure and I got snagged and busted off first cast. It was during my third cast on this snag (and what felt like my 1000th for the day, so I was in that daze-like state of casting and retrieving) when my lure got whacked and line started peeling off the Sustain and the TCurve doubled over. I was now very much awake. My friend Sam called what I was thinking, “Big EP! Wind, wind”, but what I couldn’t summon the courage to tell him was that I had retied with a 5lb leader, as opposed to the more sensible 8lb he was using. The fish had stopped taking drag but I couldn’t budge it, it was just pulling hard, then line peeled off again and Sam exclaimed, “What are you doing Captain Loose Drag?”. The fish took me in the snag but hadn’t busted me off, so I was still hooked up but it was a stalemate and I was about to lose the battle – I could feel my leader rubbing on the snag. I (as the captain) rightfully responded that Sam should “shut up and let me fight the fish”, and I ever-so gently applied the slightest bit of hand pressure to the spool and managed to extract the fish from the snag and to the surface, where a big black EP exploded and Sam netted him, placed the fish and net on the deck and said, “That’s a good fish”. As I relive it now, it seems like the fight went for longer, but from strike to the fish hitting the deck was about 35 seconds. I now had the chance to explain to Sam I was still using 5lb leader, we laughed a lot and upon inspection of the leader saw how close I was to losing the fish. The leader was frayed in multiple places and had the fight gone on a second longer I would have been telling a “one that got away” story.
That fight demonstrated the silky-smooth drag and rigid body of the Sustain which was essential in me winning that fight and I can’t heap enough praise on it. As I said earlier, the Sustain really slots in nicely between Shimano’s existing light tackle reels; it’s tougher than a Vanford, a bit more refined than a Stradic and doesn’t carry the price tag of the Twin Power. It has the sensitivity and finesse to cast light lures with light lines, but you can spool it with 15lb and tackle larger fish like jews and snapper. If you’re looking for an all-rounder that won’t break the bank and can do it all with style, the Sustain FJ is the reel you’re after.