REVIEW BY ROGER SINCLAIR
Sitting at the top of Shimano Australia’s baitcaster family tree, the Exsence DC baitcaster draws together Shimano’s cutting edge technology and the key feature of this reel, which is its Digital Cast Control system.
Self-energising, the DCC recharges during each cast, ready to control the next one in the event of it becoming a little wayward. Predictably, the Exsence provides a smooth, connected feel when cranking, no doubt due to the quality of its 8:1 ratio high-efficiency gearing, X-ship bearing supported pinion gear, 9 shielded anti-rust ball bearings and one roller bearing plus oversize paddle grips. The Hagane rigid aluminium body protects the Exsence’s highprecision, high-tech internals from the ravages of salt water and keeps all the internals in perfect alignment, even under high-pressure fishing situations.
The drawcard for the Exsence is the hi-tech Digital Cast Control. It has three special-purpose settings: SP (Special Purpose) that applies maximum resistance almost to the point of not needing any thumb control, apparently ideal for night casting; BB — for casting oversize, bulky baits; and F — if one desires to use straight fluorocarbon line. It also has a standard variable tuning, general use with 4 settings which is the one that will be most commonly used with braid lines. The Exsence emits a hi-pitched whine when casting which appears to be a peculiarity in common with similar digital control reels that I have seen and used. Once the cast control was set correctly within the standard settings, the Exsence was a gem to cast, whether punching out long or pitching short casts it handled it all pretty comfortably with just the odd application of thumb required when driving lures into the teeth of a freshening sea breeze. The drag was consistent without any hint of chatter across the full range of settings.
The Shimano Exsence weighs in at 240g so it’s not the lightest baitcaster in Shimano’s line up; however, it has a nice solid, precision feel that reflects the use of more metal and less composite components. The reel holds 190m of 15kg Power Pro braid, so its application can be varied across a range of species such as barra, jacks, threadies, school jew, murray cod and yellowbelly. The profile of the Excense is undeniably reminiscent of Shimano’s Chronarch D series so with that sort of pedigree it’s sure to be a great performer.