Both reels benefit from Shimano’s HAGANE design, which is an excellent example of how quality design and manufacturing can result in an extremely rigid body that translates directly into efficient cranking power by eliminating flex in the frame.
The Forcemaster is a fully tricked out electric reel that offers anglers a wide variety of programmable modes or manual modes depending on your preference and usage. You can use it for deep dropping, kite fishing, teaser reels or jigging. I’m sure that many more uses will come about as anglers discover new ways to utilize the power and flexibility of these reels.
The reel also features a manual crank handle that is always there as a backup to the powerful 12-volt motor. The Forcemaster delivers a “best in class” winding speed, winding strength and drag capability. The reel also features a level-wind system that eliminates the sometimes-dangerous job of guiding braided lines with their flesh-parting properties.
I got my introduction to the Forcemaster 9000 and must say I was very impressed with its ease of function. We paired the 9000 up with the Shimano Terez TZC-STH 2SC bent butt rod. The rod is 5’6” and is rated “heavy and fast”. I spooled it with 980-yards of 80-pound Power Pro braid, which falls perfectly into the 50 to 100-pound rating. The rod has a carbon fiber butt which really helped cut off weight making the outfit a breeze to move around.
There is not much this reel can’t do.
A quick review of the directions and the quick start guide gave me enough to know the basic functions, though like all modern electronics the reel will do so much more than I explored on the first trip. I thought I would mainly deep-drop for snapper and grouper, but ended up finding more uses for it. I’ve thought of more that I look forward to trying.
I started out using it for jigging for grouper. I would drop the 12-ounce bucktail jig, tipped with belly strips, to the bottom some 200-feet down. As soon as the spool paused with the impact on the bottom, I would flip the reel in gear and engage the variable speed motor. A toggle switch on the top of the reel gives you full variable control over the speed of the retrieve. In this way I could feather the power of the pull depending on the situation. The star drag engages the incredibly smooth Cross Carbon Drag washers giving anglers the ability to easily increase or back off the “heat” you are putting on a fish.
I got to try this out pretty quickly after my first few drops with the jig. I hit the switch and the Terez rod bowed towards the water and the Forcemaster was running but the drag was slipping. I gave the star a few cranks and the rod bowed harder, but no line came onto the reel. I gave it a little more drag and would have said I was hung in the bottom except for the repeated violent headshakes I could feel. I gave it some more drag and cranked up the power. I began to get a little line coming and the pulse of life on the other end continued.
Now all of this happened in the first few seconds of the fight. The fish was now coming, though the reel was giving it its all to do it. I was making some progress for about 4 minutes when all of a sudden the reel stopped and the overheat safety feature kicked in. I quickly grabbed the reel handle and continued to make slow progress using the wave action and the beef of the rod in the gunnel to gain short bursts of line.
Now I admit I was thinking the reel was not cut out for what we were doing, but as soon as I saw what was coming up, I had to give credit back to the reel. My jig was lodged in the jaw of a 300 to 400-pound shark and I was now impressed that the reel had done what it had against this very large and powerful adversary.
Having the manual option had saved the day and as soon as the reel cooled down, the motor came back online and never missed a lick while catching “normal sized” big fish.
We were all duly impressed given the size of the first catch.
We switched gears and headed for deeper water to try our hand at deep dropping. We broke out multiple circle hook rigs and clipped on a hefty 10-pound stick weight. This is our standard rig for chasing a variety of snapper and grouper in 500 to 1500-feet of water. The Forcemaster has a line counter built in and a line stop memory for the retrieve. Both of these features come into play when fishing the deep. The counter lets you know exactly where you are coming up or going down, while the auto line stop prevents the disastrous moment when one does not stop retrieving in time and tries to reel the rig and fish through the rod tip.
It will always amaze me how the feel of the bite some 1500-feet down is transferred through the Power Pro braid and into the rod. The Terez rod had a great blend of flex at the tip to see or feel the bite, yet the backbone to lay the heat on once hooked up. It made for a great combination.
We caught a variety of deep-water snapper before the sudden downward surge of a nice grouper doubled the rod over. The motor never paused and kept steady pressure on the fish, while the smooth drag slipped just enough to absorb the shock of the fish’s surges. The Forcemaster has two setting to control the power sent to the motor. The “R” setting regulates the power sent to the motor to match the draw and the pressure, thereby preserving the life of the motor by lowering the stress on it. The “S” setting focuses on keeping the spool speed the same no matter what. The “R” is recommended and what we used, but the choice is yours with the touch of a button.
When the fish popped finally broke the surface, we were elated at the capture of a nice red grouper. Red grouper can pull hard at first, but once headed to the surface, they loose some of their “umph”. Being typical fisherman, we wondered if the grass was greener in deeper water and what would happen on a fish that kept pulling.
A short move put us in the deep and moments later our questions were answered by the unending pull of amberjacks. Not too unusual to catch on cut bait, amberjack are one of the hardest-fighting fish pound-per-pound that you can tangle with. The Forcemaster never missed a beat and we now felt pretty confident that we could whip about any fish within reason.
That left us wondering how it would react to a tuna? We were spending our mornings chasing yellowfin tuna and they were extremely skittish, but we were getting a few bites out of 50 to 60-pound fish. The only problem was that we were also getting some bites out of every tuna we hooked.
It was like April 15 and the taxman was on the prowl.
We decided we might have a better chance if we rigged our ballyhoo on the Forcemaster and gave it a try. I used the FG knot to add a 30-foot length of 100-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader to the Power Pro 80. I put on a naked, swimming ballyhoo as we were in full stealth mode just trying to get a bite from these fish. Unfortunately that bite never came after we got ready, but I look forward to the match up in the future.
We also rigged the 9000 up to troll for grouper on the shallower reefs. A Sebile deep-diving lure was set out on the same 100-pound leader and we worked back and forth across the reef in 25 to 40-feet of water. Again it did not happen this trip, but we know it works, as we’ve tasted success in previous attempts. The steady pressure of the Forcemaster will be perfect for keeping the attacking grouper from making it back down to freedom in the reef.
Our experience with the Shimano Forcemaster 9000 on this trip did two things. It impressed us with its abilities in the fisheries where we connected with good fish. It also left us dreaming of so many other ways to use this reel on future excursions. Daytime swordfishing and golden tilefish were near the top of the list and we can’t wait to see the match up between the Forcemaster and a fat gag grouper that so often leaves a conventional reel in the dust. They are so swift and strong that any edge is welcome in the attempt to dislodge them from the bottom.
It was by pure coincidence that I saw a friend on Facebook with a nice golden tilefish and he had a Shimano 9000 in the background. His name is Shane Harnett and we have fished together on several occasions. I gave him a call and asked for the rundown on his electric reel experience. He loves it and gave me a prime example of how it saved the day for them on a recent charter trip. “We were fishing the deep wreck for amberjacks the other day and the sharks were so bad that we could not land a single fish after we hooked up. We decided to break out the electric and give it a go”, said Shane. “We dropped a live bait down and were met with the familiar bite, but this time we came up a winner and landed our first nice AJ. We caught our limit of four AJ’s and never lost another one to the sharks. The Shimano 9000 saved the day.”
So to this point I leave you with the thought that, though some may not be into using electric reels, there is a time and a place where it can be the key to success. I think as anglers get their hands on a Forcemaster, they will find more and more ways to use it in their particular fisheries and I’m sure the Shimano Forcemaster will be up to the task.