Shimano Sedona FI 8000 : Trickle & Strip
Hello Covid-infested fishos
Right on the heels of reviewing a $1100 Saltiga, today I swing to the other end of the price spectrum and take a look at a $95 Shimano Sedona FI 8000. I finished testing this reel a while ago, but then had to postpone doing the review as I navigated the pandemic chaos and dedicated all available time and resources to more pressing projects. Now that the reel is nearing the end of its production life and it's a "now or never" situation, I decided to use the Christmas break to finally get it done.
When the Sedona FI 8000 came out in 2017, it aroused my curiosity enough to pull it aside as I mentally labelled almost a dozen other entry level reels I examined that year as "nothing to see here". At least on paper, it appeared that with this reel some of Shimano's premium features and components have trickled further down the line than with any previous saltwater reel from this company. Not talking about cosmetics or make-believe nonsensical "technologies", rather some genuinely beneficial top features that previously never trickled down into a saltwater Shimano under $100.
The industry being what it is though, a money making machine without a charitable bone in its body, these trickled down bits were accompanied by a stern stripping of some other features of varied importance in order to maintain an incentive for people to buy the more expensive reels. This dual action was the inspiration behind this review's subtitle "trickle and strip". I know it sounds like a cheesy title for my first attempt to write an erotic novel, although that would have entailed "strip" preceding "trickle" not to cause a sticky mess, but in reality it's a most appropriate description of this reel's design theme. We'll see what it all means, and more importantly how the final product performs on the water which is what ultimately matters.
The initial release of the Sedona FI in 2017 consisted of sizes 1000, 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, and 8000, then in 2018 they were joined by the itsy bitsy 500 to complete the series. Nothing stops you from fishing any size in either freshwater or saltwater, but naturally sizes 6000 and 8000 lend themselves more to saltwater fishing while sizes 500 to 5000 would be more at home doing light freshwater work. It's important to note that in this series the 5000 and 6000 belong to different size classes, unlike some other Shimano lines where 5000 and 6000 share the same body size only with different spools. This is why I keep reminding you that size numbers are by no means consistent nor should be used as accurate indicators of a reel's actual size.
Once I examined the reels it became obvious to me that the 8000 stands out with an improved design and more desirable features than other sizes, therefore this has become one of those occasions where I split a series and evaluate one or more of its reels separately. Please keep in mind as you read that this article is specifically about the Sedona FI 8000, and you should not assume that any findings here extend to the smaller sizes.
The reels come in two types of packaging
First type is the cardboard box, whose contents vary by geographic region but usually contains a Sedona FI manual, a general Shimano spinning reels' manual, and a warranty paper.
The second type is the clam-pack, where the reel is housed in a plastic shell. Instead of printed paper, the packaging instructs owners to check the website for warranty information etc.
When you order, the product code should tell you which style it is. The clam-pack has a "C" after FI. A toy-like packaging, but it's understood considering that's an entry level reel that could make a great present to a kid whom you want to introduce to the sport. The price of the reel in either type is the same.
A modelling session
At this price point aesthetics are barely a factor at all. The reels are made to work regardless of how they end up looking, and it shows in this reel. The Sedona having a full plastic body, certain sections had to be made thick in order to withstand loads without breaking or excessively flexing. This is most obvious in the stem, which from top to bottom looks "fat" and unappealing.
No attempts were made to mitigate or cover the removal of a large section of the housing, yet it remains an improvement over the vicious slicing off of every unused bit of material from the previous generation Sedona FE (inset), which I once described as making a reel look like the victim of a piranha attack. Shimano does one form or another of that body shaving in more expensive models as well, but often in those reels they'd hide the void behind a hollow bumper to make the reels less visually offensive.
It's not completely devoid of cosmetic touches though; a shiny insert was installed in the back of the frame to make the reel look a bit more interesting.
To summarise the looks of this reel, it's fat and bland, and while it could be partially forgiven considering its build and budgetary limits, one can't fully exonerate Shimano since their ongoing lack of aesthetic imagination has been prevalent for almost a decade now.
Malaysian production. For some reason the printing looks funny when seen from an angle, but it's alright when looked at straight ahead (inset). The code on the sticker indicates that it was made in November 2017. Check the 2014 Spheros SW review to learn how to decipher sticker codes.
At 619 grams (~21.9 oz) the reel's capacity/weight ratio is slightly better than similarly priced reels of equivalent size by other mainstream brands, thanks largely to its plastic frame, side cover, and rotor. Of course that's when actual weights and line capacities are used, not the advertised figures which in many cases aren't accurate as demonstrated in several previous reviews.
Speaking of actual figures, the above photo is your first introduction to "Jenny", my new scale lovingly named after my first crush back when I was in elementary, who kept promising she'll become my girlfriend if I did her homework and I kept doing it for weeks but she never became my girl and instead stopped talking to me when she found another moron to do her homework. You probably think I'm mad for naming anything after someone who used and abused me, but I'm a man who thoroughly appreciates intelligence, even the evil kind. Here is a better look at her
Jenny replaces Katjia, who was stolen from my checked-in luggage a while ago, most likely by one of TSA.invalids. I bought Katja 13 years ago and she remained faithful and true to me until she was taken away, and you probably remember her from a dozen or so reviews over the years
The idiot who stole her probably thought she was an expensive electronic gadget or something, and I can't imagine what they did to her when they went home and discovered she was a $7 scale. May baby Katja rest in peace, and may the perpetrator return home one day to find that burglars have taken everything they care for and defecated on their bed before they left for no particular reason. I digress though..
Another bit of good news is that by the time this reel was made Shimano had already begun backtracking on the parallel foot design, which proved to be one of the biggest debacles in recent memory having caused widespread compatibility issues. The Sedona FI has a traditional tilt for global rod compatibility, and if you look closely you'd see that the tilting begins at the rotor and spool instead of at the stem as is commonly the case. This looks weird and it makes the flange stick out awkwardly (blue arrow), but it doesn't affect the reel's performance so I'll just retrospectively file this one under aesthetics.
Time to take a break from good news. The first bit of "stripping" comes in the drag knob, which lacks a seal. This practically renders it a "dry" reel not to be fished where it will constantly be sprayed or splashed. This knob is not made specifically for the Sedona since the recess for the seal is still there, rather it goes into other models that cost more, and in those models a seal is installed in the recess. It would've cost them very little to snap a seal in there, but it's not about saving money as much as it's about creating a clear advantage for the more expensive models so you'd have a reason to buy them. I don't like this sort of intentional sabotage, but it is what it is. Keep reading.
The drag stack is located at the top of the spool, and it's easily accessible by removing a simple wire retainer.
This is effectively what sets the 8000 apart from the rest of the series. All smaller Sedona FI models have drag washers made of felt while the 8000 has carbon fibre washers, one of which is keyed to the spool (red arrow) to allow both its sides to generate braking force thus it does the work of 2 standard washers. Felt washers are not bad per se and they have their place in light duty small reels, but carbon washers are heat-resisting tough cookies made to withstand the punishment of heavier saltwater work.
The drag clicker is operated by a wire spring (red arrow). These wire springs are an unpredictable bunch; sometimes they work flawlessly, and other times they break left and right. Thankfully Shimano ordered quality springs for the Sedona FI and I found the clicker to be reliable. The limb of the spool's line clip is at the opposite side (blue arrow). It's a non-adjusting fixed line clip that depends on the elasticity of its plastic material to grip the line. Not that spring-loaded or adjusting line clips are any better in my opinion. All line clips are ridiculous and they make reels look unserious. I can't back this up with any practical reasoning though, these things just look stupid and they tick me off. Meah.
Shimano's designers are sticking with the same spool lip shape they began using about 12 years ago, and I see no reason to change it. It does improve casting, and I always found it very forgiving for loose braid coils; when retrieving a very light lure or if you cut off a jig and have to wind slack line, the line will be spooled under no tension and there is a good possibility that on the next cast/drop some coils will slip and become loose on the spool. This lip would then capture these coils, thanks to its taper gradually increasing in height, which would prevent these loose coils from flying out and causing knots and stuff. Have to admit that I'm really enjoying the variety of designs available across various brands, and it's always fun to observe their characteristics during use and make comparisons and pick favourites. Things would be boring if everyone did the same thing.
Despite my attempts to be disciplined, my mind must have slipped in the heat of a moment and I somehow dented the lip of my Sedona. A painful reminder of the value of hardened spool lips found in some upper-medium class and high end reels. Actually the absence of a hardened lip on the Makaira spinning is what kept that reel from becoming one of the greatest reels ever made in my book. Anyway, I checked whether the cost of a replacement spool for my Sedona was sensible or not, and since it was relatively costly I decided to just puff out the dents to prevent potential damage to the braid as it leaves the spool. Never ignore damaged or scratched spool lips.
While checking the cost of the spool I suddenly had a nagging question; why don't everyone learn from Shimano USA and set up an online portal where we can shop for parts? I mean look at this glorious system which gives you current prices, tells you if a part has been replaced or redesigned, you see estimated availability dates for parts that are out of stock, then you pay securely online and it's done. Why is it that in 2021 I still have to make a phone call, talk to someone and pray that he gets the model variant and part code right, then give him my credit card details and potentially have him use it to sign up for Grindr knowing fully well that I'd be too scared to call my bank and dispute the charge? I mean I was once disputing a charge for a pair of shoes that fell apart in three weeks and the dispute specialist asked me if it was really a faulty product or I was just having "buyer's remorse". Imagine getting the same question about that dating app!! I digress though. Not even sure how we got from buying reel parts to the intricacies of disputing a Grindr membership, but it's what you signed up for by reading my asinine reviews. You see what I did there? Said "signed up for"right after discussing that app's membership. That's some quality stuff right there, don't deny it. But I digress again...
Beneath the spool a good job was done but nothing exceptional. A brass rotor nut for durability (red arrow), and a simple but effective nut retainer (blue arrow). The spool shims (green arrow) should be easy to adjust if you need to tune the line lay, although no extra shims come with the reel.
Speaking of line lay, this is how the reel spooled braid without any tuning. Absolutely beautiful, and one of the various elements that come together to give the Sedona what I found to be admirable casting performance and line control, certainly beyond its $95 price tag. In this photo I had taken it for some inshore jigging to see where its limits are, and knowing that the drag stack was unprotected I had to cover the reel whenever the boat was moving to keep spray out of the spool.
The plastic rotor is lightweight and stiffer than one expects. Today's improved polymers and advanced computer aided design mean that a better material is shaped more precisely for maximum effectiveness. More material is shifted to where it's needed to resist operating stresses, while redundant material is removed to minimise weight.
Two more instances of stripping here. One end of the red arrow points the lever that trips the bail closed when the handle is turned, which also is supposed to engage a rubber ring to hold the rotor still during a cast, except that the rubber ring was omitted from this reel as pointed by the other end of the arrow in the inset photo. The empty recess remains there for when that frame goes into a more costly model, in which case the rubber ring would be installed. Once more it's not about saving the few cents the rubber ring costs, rather it's about creating an incentive for people to buy costlier reels that have that ring for an added rotor brake feature. Moving on, the second instance of stripping is pointed by the blue arrows in the above photo; this raised ring is supposed to fit into a corresponding circular recess in the clutch cover to form a "maze" style barrier against water, but...
...that clutch cover doesn't exist in the Sedona and the clutch sits unprotected.
The clutch itself though is a decent bit of trickling that's been going on for some time, and it luckily continues into the Sedona FI. This anti-reverse clutch is the same design and build used in Shimano's top reels including the latest flagship 2019 Stella SW. That design used to be incorporated in reels as high up the line as the Twin Power SW, but last year the latest Stella SW adopted it as well. A time tested and proven unit with a long track record of reliability that's beyond question.
A closer look at the Sedona's clutch. It derives its well known dependability and long service life from its dimensions, the quality of its components and alloys, and of course these tiny metal springs that don't suffer much elastic fatigue and actively compensate for wear and make the clutch more tolerant of thermal extremes. At the time of writing no other brand offers anything remotely close in the sub $100 category.
The clutch itself is externally mounted on the reel's frame via screws and plastic posts, exactly as in the 2019 Stella SW. If Shimano thinks that's good enough for their thousand dollars top spinner then I have no complaints seeing it in my $95 Sedona FI 8000. In this photo you can also see the white ramp that automatically closes the bail when the handle is turned, which can be easily removed to convert it to manual bail closure only. When a reel has auto bail closure and no rotor brake it's usually a recipe for disaster, but in this reel the ramp needs to be hit with quite a bit of force to close the bail, and the rotor is so light it doesn't have enough momentum to spin on its own and hit the ramp with enough force to cause bail closure during a cast.
Everything out, and another trickle seems to be coming
Yep, the reel has Minebea Mitsumi ball bearings, the same ones found in pretty much all high end reels. Don't think I need to add anything here.
Side cover off, and the trickle and strip continues in there.
Simple and sturdy locomotive style oscillation system. Looks generic, but looks are deceiving. You saw earlier the superb line lay it produces.
The oscillation gear is mounted on a brass bushing for low-friction longevity.
But they stripped off the stainless steel bar on which the oscillation block was supposed to ride for smooth action under load. The hole for that bar remains (red arrow), but no bar or mounts for a bar here.
Instead, when the reel is under load from a fighting fish, the tip of the oscillation block rubs against a rail in the side cover. You can see how the one in my reel has developed a rubbing mark from that contact during fishing.
The back of the oscillation block, with the curved channel that controls its pace.
Now that's the mother of all trickles; Shimano's cold forged and surface coated aluminium alloy drive gear. Another proven and time tested premium feature that's at the heart of more expensive Shimanos all the way to the Stella, although with a different surface coating in that flagship model. Here is my Sedona's gear after almost a hundred hours of actual fishing time still looking and feeling good with only minor signs of wear. The extended service life of these gears is well known, and with regular care and lubing it would take many years of use just to wear off the surface coating see the grey metal beneath it.
The gear is assembled in a more economy fashion though. Instead of being threaded onto a stainless steel shaft or fastened to it by screws as in more expensive reels, here it's pressed onto a cast zinc shaft with little posts sticking out of the gear plate (red arrows) and fitting into holes in the shaft's flange to prevent separation. This arrangement works well since you shouldn't be applying enough pressure to cause gear separation on the handle of any spinning reel, let alone this entry level one.
The pinion is machined brass just like the pinion of the 2019 Stella SW, and here it's proving to be a great match for the drive gear in toughness and low wear rate. This gear coupling works incredibly smoothly, it produces the trademark pulling power of top Shimano saltwater reels, and feels way too refined for a reel costing under a hundred bucks.
The pinion's inner end is mounted on a synthetic bushing for stability and friction reduction. Naturally a bearing here would be better, but for what this reel is this setup is not too shabby at all.
The handle is a slide-in hex shaft type. Still not at the same level of convenience and care-free reliability of a thread-in handle, but over the past 5-6 years the Japanese companies have been rapidly improving slide-in handles with tighter tolerances and intelligent locking wedge so much so that the difference is now smaller than ever. Just like when I tested the Daiwa Eliminator or the Shimano Nasci FB which have slide-in handles, the Sedona's handle gave me no trouble at all and I did not have to re-tighten the handle even once throughout my field testing of this reel.
The handle's shank is aluminium alloy, formed by casting to keep cost down but makes up for it by being chunky to maintain good strength. The joint is sturdy and it remained clean and free of corrosion with standard care.
The grip is square shaped, made of hard plastic with a few holes to make its surface less slippery. Nothing special or highly ergonomic but it did a satisfactory job and always provided me with good control.
Thankfully the grip is not permanently bolted as often found on low cost reels. It has a retaining screw for easy removal, and while this is not the type of reel people get custom grips for, the removable grip facilitates comprehensive cleaning and lubing of this hard working part.
The bail mechanism is simple and straightforward, but it interestingly houses discreet balancing counterweights, which is highly unusual these days, so I thought I'd show it. In this era of computerised design and manufacturing, rotors are often given the desired balance by redistributing the rotor's own material during production, negating the need for external counterweights. In this case though the rotor of the Sedona, just like many other parts of this reel, goes into different models which have different bail arms, wires, line rollers, etc. These components weigh differently than the ones used in the Sedona, so the rotor needs to have adjustable balancing so it could be tweaked to balance different components in different reels. Hope I'm not boring you here. I just like to tell you these neat little details so you'd have a fuller understanding of the industry and the subject in general, not just the reel that's being reviewed.
The bail arm is thick durable plastic, and the bail wire connection remains solid after thousands of opening/closing cycles.
And finally the line roller. No bearings, but with the aid of elaborately designed and strategically positioned stainless steel and synthetic bushings it runs fluidly and resists invasion by contaminants. Another budget arrangement that does a brilliant job.
Naturally all features, trickles, and components mean nothing unless the reel works as a whole and proves itself on the water, and that's what it did. For many months I dragged it along while testing other reels, and whenever I felt that its proper target fish were around I'd reach for whether I was fishing from shore or inshore. That proper target fish in my opinion would be anything up to about 7kg (~15 lbs) that you can fight on its actual maximum drag of roughly 6kg (13.2 lbs), which is plenty for this class of fishing. I landed many cobias, black drums, and a few jack crevalles on it from land, and inshore it brought home several groupers, spangled emperors, and stingrays.
Once more I'm making sure to include trip and catch photos in order to continue to hammer home the point I stressed in the Saltiga review 3 months ago; I do not and will not review, judge, or compare any reel without first exhaustively pitting it against fish in the same conditions and environments you'd be fishing yours. This is the only way I'm able to form an opinion and the closest I can get to finding a reel's actual strengths and spotting its weaknesses or failures. Unfortunately this means that it takes me months after a reel's release to provide an evaluation, which I know frustrates you especially when you're trying to make snap purchase decisions, but at least you know that your patience will be rewarded with an article whose every word was informed by those sneaky critters of the oceans first and foremost, and that's always worth the wait.
In conclusion, the Sedona FI 8000 is not a high performance or a heavy duty reel. Rather it's an entry level medium sized saltwater spinner that simply offers more than any reel of this category and price at the time of writing. Compared to similarly priced reels that I often see you using on piers or casual party boats, this Sedona casts measurably better, gives fewer knots, has superior gear efficiency for better pulling power, and the carbon fibre drag system is ready for unexpected challenges that might overwhelm the felt drag systems found in most reels of this price. To make it even better it's powered by long lasting high grade components, and its weight is quite sensible. If your fishing is the kind that subjects a reel to continuous spray and splashing then look for a different reel, but if you fish reasonably dry or can cover the reel when things become temporarily wet then there is nothing out there that can beat it at less than $100.
As I wrap this review up I can't help but feel grateful for Daiwa's 2016's release of the BG series, since it put immense pressure on other brands to give us extra quality for little money. And while this Sedona was an early response created the very following year by hastily putting together existing bits from here and there, other brands have since taken their time to create reels from scratch aiming to dethrone Daiwa's budget queen. I've been examining some of these reels, intermittently due to pandemic disruptions, but I remain hopeful that the world will soon be back to normal so I can finish my tests and share my findings with you smelly gang. Until then, be careful out there and enjoy all the madness.
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January, 2nd, 2021