Two of the main questions that I would encounter on my social media channels on a regular basis are:
- “Hi there, I have just started fishing and I want to know what reel should I start with?”
- Or my favourite one in response to my Hardy Ultralite ASR 4000 Review, “Great review mate but it’s unrealistic as not all of us would have that sort of budget. Do you have anything at the lower end of the market that represents good value?”
When you hear the term Sigma, you are probably thinking of the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet? Perhaps even the eighteenth star in a constellation? The mathematical sum of something? Or perhaps you are talking electron momentum through an internuclear axis? If you are like me, you are probably lost by now. But if you put the word Shakespeare in front of it and I am sure about 99% of us will associate it with a fishing product. Ladies and gentlemen, the answer to the two questions at the beginning….the Shakespeare Sigma fly reel.
Shakespeare fishing are now entering their 120th year in the business, making a name for themselves supplying both quality and affordable tackle to all entry levels of angling and to all disciplines. But either way you look at it, Shakespeare have been around a long time, so they have plenty of experience in product development with reputation still intact. I think one of my first rods was a hand me down Shakespeare with the model, too faded to recognise. It is still here today, even though it’s in my garage!
As with most reels on the market these days, Shakespeare have went with the lightweight, large arbor approach. To achieve weight reduction, it means a slight deviation from the metal reels of old. Shakespeare, like most of their competitors have adopted a lightweight reinforced composite frame and spool. This has a more durable plastic feel which explains very much why it has also been referred to as a polymer.
As I explained in my Hardy Ultralite ASR 4000 review, a composite is quite simply a mix of two or more materials with marked different physical or chemical properties. This allows them to combine the strength of one material with the lightweight of another to achieve a durable and lightweight product.
The matt black reel comes in a range of sizes with the small 3/4 and right to the large 7/8 and is supplied with a spare spool and padded carry case if ordering 6/7 and above.
- The spools are grooved which allow you to load around 100 yards of line and can be changed at the push of a button.
- The reel has the unique feature of accommodating the ambidextrous fisherfolk as the reel can be easily adjusted to suit both right and left handed fly anglers.
- Last but not least, the disc drag system is quite smooth and is very easily adjustable.
Bearing in mind we were testing the 7/8 size, we were suitably impressed with the affordability, durability and simplicity. Pricing from £25-£31 at many reputable tackle dealers such as John Norris of Penrith (www.johnnorris.co.uk) it’s more than affordable.
A lot of people will tell you that this reel is aimed at the beginner. Don’t let that sway your opinion. I personally think you should consider buying this if you are quite careless with your fishing gear (Shout out to David Welsh!). It’s also a good reel to consider if you like travelling a lot, or keeping kit in the car with the off chance that you may pass a river, but don’t want to keep your expensive gear in the car. The reel can basically accommodate anybody. It also teams up very well with Shakespeare Sigma rod and balances it well. The rod and reel combo could come in around the £50-£60 mark.
While it doesn’t have the looks, swagger and appeal of some of the pricier reels, it is important to remember what you are buying it for. If you want a strong, hard worker or a backup who doesn’t let you down, this is a good person to have on your team.
The only drawback I do have with this reel is the difficulty in obtaining additional spools. That remains to be said, I have heard of anglers who have contacted the company directly and been quite fortunate.
All in all a lightweight, dependable, durable and affordable reel that can do the job, no matter how hard it is pushed. The positives do outweigh the negatives and from £25-£32, it’s impossible to gripe.