The Shimano Sensilite Spinning Rod isn’t your standard fishing pole and instead focuses heavily on finesse fishing styles.
Granted, there are plenty of other rods that advertise themselves as being designed for finesse techniques, but more often than not, those rods are only incidentally acceptable for that style of fishing.
However, the Sensilite matches as many of its specs and configurations as possible to appeal to different weight classes of finesse fishing.
That said, is it worth getting the Shimano Sensilite at a reasonable price, or should you spend a little bit more on your fishing gear investment when moving into a growing, if niche, type of fishing?
- Extremely competitive price
- Perfect for light fishing applications
- Lightweight graphite blanks
- Not the longest casting distance
- Not the most powerful
- Very specific application
Construction (craftsmanship, make quality)
To suit the finesse style of fishing, the Sensilite needs to be a lightweight and ultra-sensitive rod which can be a tricky balance for manufacturers to manage.
One of the biggest qualities this rod has going for it is how few bells and whistles come attached to it– including things like the Shimano Hi-Power X technologies.
That’s right, this is one of the few areas where less is more.
Aside from the fact that the blank exclusively uses carbon fiber graphite, it also uses fewer and less dense fibers.
Taking that approach a step further, this rod also lacks some of the popular exclusive technologies used by Shimano to otherwise reinforce the durability and backbone of their blanks.
This, however, leaves the Sensilite in a somewhat narrow category.
As a way of keeping the weight down while also increasing the rod’s sensitivity, this Shimano fishing pole also uses an aluminum oxide micro guide system.
This approach has a couple of benefits, but increasing the blank’s sensitivity ranks at the top for this rod’s intended use.
Of course, it never hurts to get longer casts from the guide system either.
Older models of the Sensilite used to come with stainless steel hoods over the reel seat, but Shimano replaced those to further reduce weight and increase sensitivity.
Presumably, these reel seats still use carbon fiber graphite which is ideal for a lightweight rod– even if nylon seats can technically be made lighter.
While not exactly a revelation, the Shimano Sensilite comes with high-quality split-grip handle designs, though it’s not one of your standard split grip rods.
Whereas most split grips stick with one material or another, the Sensilite alternates the material used on the grips to further drive down the weight of the pole and blend comfort with function.
There’s not too much to note here with the Shimano only offering four different lengths of 5’6″, 6’0″, 6’6″, and 7’0″.
The more important fact is that none of these poles are all that long and are all one-piece blank models.
This helps increase casting accuracy which is particularly important for the smaller waters where you generally use finesse techniques.
Necessary for any high-performance finesse spin casting rod is a lightweight blank that can still deliver enough power to handle fighting fish out of cover and over rocks.
Granted, many of the techniques used work best in smaller streams, but that still doesn’t change the fact that the Sensilite’s 24-ton graphite material covers all the necessary bases.
This fishing rod’s micro guide system also follows this trend by using aluminum oxide guides.
Aside from how much weight the pole cuts by using smaller guides, aluminum oxide is one of the lightest materials used for any guide system.
When combined, the material and guide size allow for a smooth action casting extremely light bait and lures.
While this spin casting fishing pole comes with high-quality split-grip cork handles, they aren’t your traditional cork split grips.
Instead, this spinning rod uses a different grip material for the fore and rear grip.
Specifically, this pole uses EVA foam to further cut down on weight without having to give up much in the way of comfort or durability.
The Shimano Sensilite comes in the popular actions of fast and extra-fast, but these popular actions also happen to work the best for finesse techniques.
These are not only versatile actions, but they are versatile and technique-specific actions designed specifically for light action rods engaged in finesse fishing.
In this instance, you have to look at it like trading an incredible casting distance to get a requisite incredible casting accuracy.
When finesse fishing for trout or panfish in a smaller rocky stream, that’s a trade you should make pretty much every time.
And the precise actions only allow you to better control the position as well as land the lure softer and not scare away the fish.
This series of spinning rods don’t come in too many power ratings, though this is to be expected for a fishing pole centered around finesse styles and techniques.
That said, high-power anglers might doubt this rod’s ability to reel in a nice size bass.
Of course, experienced finesse fishermen have been using these techniques in bass fishing forever.
Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Shimano Sensilite UL likely won’t be pulling any 10+ lb fish out of your local lake.
But, the light and ultra-light rod power ratings provide plenty of backbone with enough give to both handle catching skittish panfish while still ensuring an accurate cast over, around, and even under cover if necessary.
This Shimano series of rods’ Aluminum oxide micro guides might be the sneakiest and best part of the build, at least as far as taking full advantage of the pole’s versatile actions go.
Given that the actions are quick and the rods are generally on the shorter side, some fishermen may feel the loss of casting distance more than others.
However, the micro guides help prevent your fishing line from slapping against the rod blank during the cast, extending both the casting distance as well as the lifespan of all the parts involved.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that the lightweight aluminum oxide inserts are silky smooth, letting you gently layup your lighter lures near skittish fish without frightening them away.
Handle (material, shape, etc)
As mentioned, the high-quality cork grips from previous models have been scaled back so that there’s only a cork mid grip with both the fore and rear grips using EVA foam.
That said, when you consider that most of your time will be spent holding the mid grip and the reel, you probably shouldn’t worry too much about the foam. It certainly shouldn’t cause any problems with performance.
Uses (Who is this good for)
Though not traditionally seen as the preferred style when fishing for bass, a finesse rod that can effectively use the fishing techniques associated with the traditional bait fishing system may change that perception.
That said, you can target fish species that rely on finesse from crappie to bass gear, like fishing with artificials.
Keep in mind that you need to use specialized fishing styles for finesse tactics that often require fast and extra-fast popular actions.
The Shimano Sensilite UL lets you feel the softest bites, allowing you to target panfish like a nice size bluegill.
However, it can also be used for smallmouth bass fishing, though hardcore bass anglers may dispute whether this rod can catch a nice size bass.
Regardless of whether or not it’s a performance bass rod series, this compact series of rods delivers more than enough touch with the sensitive blank, graphite reel seat, and aluminum oxide micro guides.
Not only does this spinning set-up provide everything necessary to catch skittish fish, but it also comes in at an extremely competitive price.
Granted, part of the reason this is such an affordable option comes down to how many features it lacks.
Still, its lower price range means that you don’t have to worry about whether or not this rod sits in a beginner’s hands or not.
If the fisherman eventually decides to walk away from finesse finishing, there’s not that much of a sunk cost.
Reel and Real Seat Compatibility
The graphite custom reel seat is nothing special– either for Shimano or finesse-style fishing rods.
It cuts down on weight while also increasing the rod’s overall sensitivity.
However, the decrease in weight works on a couple of different levels which is important since finesse fishing in a mountain stream is generally more of an all-day fishing trip.
Conclusion (Wrap Up)
While not the most versatile rod series in the world, the Shimano Sensilite still serves its purpose exceedingly well– even without high-performance, proprietary technologies like the Shimano Hi-Power X.
Instead, this spin casting pole focuses on making one of the best finesse rods on the market that can also be had at an affordable price.
This approach starts with the popular actions fast and extra-fast as well as the common rod power ratings of light and extra-light.
Slap a system of extremely lightweight, aluminum oxide micro guides and a carbon fiber graphite reel seat, and you have a rod that’s not only exceptionally light but also surprisingly sensitive.