Gone are the days when sea anglers were forced to employ fixed spool reels designed for freshwater use, and there is now an excellent array of beefed up reels built specifically for saltwater fishing. The Shimano Navi speed jigging reel is one such to receive the Des Westmore treatment.
The Navi is part of Shimano’s heavy duty spinning reel range and has been designed primarily for speed jigging afloat. With a very competitive RRP of £139, it actually represents the entry level to this range of reels. The top of the range Stella 8000 has a gobsmacking RRP of £750. Speed jigging can put a lot of strain on a reel, so the Navi features Shimano’s die-cast Power Gear, hence the PG in the name.
The ratios of the Navi’s gears are 5.2:1, which equates to a retrieve rate 97cm of line recovered per turn of the handle. The handle itself looks of a good strong design. It is what Shimano call Biomechanical, which sounds like a washing powder power word, but basically means it has a cranked shape and substantial non-slip Septon grip. The spool is a single piece cold forged aluminium design with a titanium lip. Interestingly, the only other reel in the range to get the titanium lip treatment is the top-of-the-shop Stella… that’s according to the catalogue anyway.
Shimano term the frame as a hybrid, which I take to mean that it contains reinforced plastic as well as metallic elements. The body is quite short and stubby with no reports of flexing. Four anti-rust bearings are used in the reel’s construction, which isn’t many in the modern scheme of such things, but the Navi is extremely smooth in operation. Anti-reverse is taken care of by a one-way roller bearing, and unlike some of the larger Shimano heavy-duty spinning reels, there’s an option to switch it off which suits boat anglers fishing downtide with quiver tip rods.
Other features are Shimano’s Slow-Speed Oscillation and Aerowrap to take care of line lay. Shimano rate their line-lay systems from one to seven, and this combination rates a five. As can be seen from the pictures, it works very well indeed and I have no complaints. The drag is also waterproof and has shown itself to be smooth and progressive throughout the test sessions. The drag is rated to a maximum of 11kg, which should easily cover any UK situation. The bail arm incorporates Shimano’s Power Roller, and this has also stood up to some hardcore abuse during intense testing with maintenance attention whatsoever.
The Shimano Navi is a good medium-sized but powerful fixed spool for all-round sea fishing use. Line capacity is quoted as 180 yds of 30lb mono, but I used 20 – 50lb braid on it with suitable amounts of backing. It is an ideal size for lure work for bass and pollack, but it could just as easily be employed for uptiding for the likes of smoothounds and rays.
Regular gear –testing sidekick, Milo Pragnell had this to say of the Navi: “I first used the Shimano Navi on a pollack trip and used it for speed jigging to take fish to 12lb. It was suited to this perfectly with its smooth, high retrieve. I rarely use fixed spools unless I’m spinning, but as this reel is a lot more robust, especially with the power handle, I’ve been using it for uptide fishing and it is brilliant. On price and performance I’d score this Navi 9-out-of-10… a great fixed spool reel for most general fishing on the boat”.