A flagship rod from Shimano is put through its paces by Dave Wood-Brignall

Shimano Surf Leader Ultra SFT425BX

RRP: £459.99

Since purchasing Shimano’s flagship Surf Leader Ultra tubular tip version in October, I have used it three or four times a week targeting bass, thornback rays and plaice.

My first impressions were that the three-piece rod, which is 4.25 metres (about 14ft) long, was well built, containing a Fuji DPS reel seat and Fuji Low Rider stainless steel, silicon carbide guides. I paired the rod with a Shimano Aero Technium fixed-spool reel loaded with PowerPro Super 8 slick 2 braid.

For my first session I visited a mark at Dungeness in Kent, where I fished into a southerly wind blowing a good 40mph directly into my face. The first few casts with a 6oz lead weight were very impressive, with the rod compressing well from an off-the-ground cast.

I baited a two-hook loop rig with fresh yellow tail lug and cast out around 60 or 70 metres. The tip assumed a nice bend as the tide took up the slack and the wires of the 6oz grip weight dug into the seabed. At times the wind really was brutal, yet the tip of the Surf Leader held steady. After 10 to 15 minutes, I had my first bite, which resulted in a nice school bass of around 2lb. I could feel every shake of the fish’s head through the tip of the rod. Over the next hour I landed plenty of bass including a new shore personal best of 5lb 10oz.

The Surf Leader Ultra in action

CONFIDENCE WITH THE SURF LEADER ULTRA

Next trip out I fished for rays at a local beach in Kent where you need a good cast to present a large bait among the fish. One large sandeel and strips of herring, bluey and squid were whipped on to a size 4/0 Cox & Rawle Specimen hook on a pulley rig. Even with a slight crosswind I easily cast this large bait 80 to 90 metres out. As I got more confidence with the rod, I started loading it up more managing to cast 120 metres. Bites were very hard to come by, but I managed to land thornback rays to 12lb 8oz.

My latest session was targeting plaice. We had some very settled conditions near the end of November and the water clarity was excellent. The sea was mirror calm too. This time I fished a two-hook loop rig incorporating size 1 Cox & Rawle Aberdeens, each baited with a yellowtail lug. This mark required a good cast to reach the mud holes located approximately 130 yards from the shore. Having by then used the Shimano Surf Leader for a good five or six weeks, I had grown in confidence and easily cast the required distance. Within minutes the super-sensitive tip indicated a first bite, which resulted in the first of 10 plaice.

For me this is a rod that ticks a lot of boxes. It’s a nice light rod, which is very adaptable to most conditions and if fishing either large or delicate baits. Available in either tubular or solid tip versions of 4.25m and 4.50m.

Within minutes of casting Dave caught his first of 10 plaice

TECH SPEC

Shimano Surf Leader Ultra SFT425BX

Overall length: 4.25 metres (approx 14ft)

Transport length:149.5cm (approx. 5ft)

Sections: Three

Weight: 552 grams (19.47oz)

Casting weight: 225g maximum

Guides: Eight, Fuji Low Rider SiC

Reel seat: Fuji DPS with cast control grip

Blank: Spiral X & Hi-Power X

Packaging: Nylon bag

RRP: £459.99

For more rod reviews, head to our Tackle section or pick up a copy of Sea Angler