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Running On Class

Jane Hyde
Jane Hyde

Shimano’s trademark freespool technology is not just reserved for coarse anglers, it’s available for saltwater enthusiasts too

Shimano Baitrunner 12000D and 12000 OC

RRP: £164.99 & £149.99

Hear the word Baitrunner and many will immediately think of coarse fishing reels boasting Shimano’s trademark and revolutionary freespool system developed more than 20 years ago.

Ideal for tackling big fish, this popular system is available to sea anglers in the form of the robust 12000D and heavy-duty 12000 OC versions. The latter is the Oceanic, sometimes called the Baitrunner USA, and considered by many as a perfect mid-priced saltwater reel.

Earlier this year I was sent both versions to target cod and rays in the fast tides of the Bristol Channel and then plaice at Chesil Beach, both being venues where a good cast is required to catch fish in numbers.

Baitrunner is a system operated by a lever at the rear of the reel that allows you to set the line to achieve a tension-controlled freespool with the fixed-spool reel’s bale-arm closed – ideal for all big-fish applications and a feature that has become a standard on big-fish reels.

My first impressions of the reels were good, and I strongly suspected that they would be up to my demands. For the first few trips in the Bristol Channel I fished over a rough ground reef, in the hope of catching cod and bass. Both reels performed as I expected, with beautiful casting thanks to the perfect line-lay on the spool. As luck would have it the first bites came quickly. Soon enough, some nice-sized codling were being cranked in with ease over the rough ground, the super smooth Shimano gearing making it effortless. I have since used these reels a lot over rough ground and they have taken everything throw at them, in the process landing some sizeable cod, bass and rays.


Using the reel’s Baitrunner feature when fishing for the bass has resulted in more hook-ups, due to letting the fish take line against minimal resistance, with only a single turn of the handle instantly engaging the full drag and allowing me to set the hook and play the fish.

I respooled with a smaller diameter line when I switched to fishing for plaice at Chesil Beach. At Chesil there are many days when being able to present baits at a long distance can help produce the better numbers of fish. Once again both of these classy reels performed well and I was easily able to cast my baited rigs the required distance. Certainly I was very impressed with these reels in terms of casting and cranking power and, as I sit writing this, I am looking forward to using them for a smoothhound session.

Key features include a cold forged aluminium spool and gear, waterproof drag, one piece bale-arm and a maintenance port, either a 4.4:1 or 4.8:1 retrieve and a plentiful spool capacity.

These reels are made of XT-7 for lightweight, robust, performance in even the harshest of conditions. The AR-C spool, with its V-shaped angled lip, coupled with Varispeed variable oscillation system ensures that line-lay is flawless and that the line comes off the spool is smaller loops for better casting. With 3+1 ball bearings, these reels are super smooth and, combined with Floating Shaft II technology, reduce friction.

You also get Dyna-Balance, which reduces reel wobble, and a Power Roller to reduce line twist during the retrieve. Smaller sizes of both reels are available.


Shimano Baitrunner 12000D & 12000 OC

WEIGHT: 850g & 825g
BEARINGS: 3 shielded + 1 roller
CAPACITY: 240m/0.40mm
RETRIEVE: 93cm per turn
CRANK: 4.4:1

Both reels are available from all Shimano approved stockists.

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