Product Review: Shimano Speedmaster 8II & 10II - The Fisherman

Product Review: Shimano Speedmaster 8II & 10II

Launched in January just in time for the 2023 season, Shimano’s new Speedmaster 8II and 10II two-speed lever drag reels have a lot to offer inshore and near offshore anglers.

These twin debutants are actually part of a larger sorority of Shimano bluewater reels that include the 12, 16, 20 and 25 SpeedMaster two-speed models. The new 8II and 10II lever drags continue the family legacy of outstanding performance at a great price. Anglers looking for some of the proven attributes of the Talica family of bluewater reels – like a similar gear train and waterproof Cross Carbon drag system – can get Talica-like performance at a relatively budget-friendly price tag that is roughly half of the Talica’s cost.

The 8II and 10II are essentially identical twins internally, with the main difference being the 10II’s wider spool that can hold more line.  The downsized 8II and 10II SpeedMaster reels are five-tool players and certainly qualify as the one reel that can “do it all” from casting, jigging, bait fishing, bottom dropping and trolling. I recently obtained a model 8II SpeedMaster, spooled it with 400-plus yards of PowerPro Maxquatro 50-pound braid and matched it to a 6-foot Shimano Trevala jigging rod.

I plan to put this combo through the paces this season, be it casting to schools of bluefin feeding on the surface, deep dropping the wrecks south of Montauk, jigging for yellowfin on top of the sand eels in 30-fathoms, and even drifting livies for big sharks around inshore bunker schools. When it’s time to drag some daisy chains, spreader bars and ballys, I’ll be sure to reserve a spot in the trolling pattern for my SpeedMaster 8II to really test its mettle.

Like their bigger sisters, these two new SpeedMaster reels offer a lot of value for the investment. They are durable, compact, cast like a dream and are true multi-mission performers. The Hagane aluminum frame keeps the gears and metal spool in total alignment, even when stressed out dialing in her max of 18 pounds of drag. The drag lever is cammed to offer a wide range of settings and still has no problem getting free spool, even at the higher drag pre-sets. The two-speed gearbox is a total game-changer and will allow you to tame even the most stubborn gamefish. You can drop a gear easily by pressing the handle’s center button and reverse the process by flipping the nearby lever. The 6.2:1 high gear setting will retrieve 38 inches of line with every turn of the reel handle, while the lower 4.1:1 gear will slow things down to 25 inches per crank for added leverage. The S-Compact Body design makes it easy to palm the left side of the reel for an improved grip when fighting a big fish.

Last I checked each was going for a little under $250, a “reel” bargain!

Weight: 18.5 ounces
Shielded Ball Bearings: Four
Gear Ratio: High 6.2:1/Low 4.1:1
Max Drag: 18 pounds
Line Capacity (braid): 30 lb./560 yds.; 40 lb./440 yds.; 50-lb./370-yds.
Line Amount Per Crank: high-gear (38 inches); low-gear (25 inches)


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