Shimano is far more well-known for its cycling componentry than its fishing gear, especially its shifters and derailleurs.
That said, Shimano is known, above all else, for high-end quality and premier products used by professionals within the field, and the company meets this lofty standard in the fishing market as well.
However, that’s not to say every Shimano product makes it a point to push the boundaries of their product with numerous types of customers with different needs.
For instance, when it comes to the Shimano Sojourn Casting Rod, quality may be an important factor, but it’s not the most important factor.
In this case, the Shimano Sojourn shoots for the budget-friendly market which can be a trickier target to aim for than you might think.
So follow along as this review aims to take a deeper dive than just assigning a simple “good” or “bad,” “pass” or “fail” grade and figure out who the Shimano Sojourn Casting Rod is for.
Type of Rod
Though you know the Shimano Sojourn is a casting rod, there’s still a bit of wiggle room within that category too, depending on whether you want a “true” casting rod or a spincasting rod.
This rod comes in the “true” or baitcasting type which works well both for beginners and advanced fishermen but can sometimes leave intermediate fishermen on the outside looking in.
Still, beginners can mount a spincast reel onto this rod and enjoy a cheap and easy option that won’t leave as sour of a taste in your mouth if something happens to it.
While the baitcasting design allows you to mount a proper baitcasting reel onto this rod, it may not meet the other lofty standards many expert fishermen will demand with their equipment.
Construction (craftsmanship, make quality)
When you consider that the Shimano Sojourn casting pole is designed for the budget-friendly market, it’s almost surprising how well it holds up.
Granted, you still need to keep in mind what kind of rod you’re purchasing, but it compares favorably in general construction with the competition.
Of course, the average competition in this price market can be pretty dicey which only makes the Shimano Sojourn baitcasting fishing rod that much more attractive by comparison.
But, you still shouldn’t expect this cheap fishing pole to withstand the kind of abuse you’d put a top-tier or even mind-tier rod through.
Though the construction has fallen out of favor in recent years, the Shimano Sojourn baitcasting fishing pole employs a composite construction.
While there is definitely a bit of give and take when it comes to composite rod blanks, it certainly increases the overall value of this casting fishing rod.
Given that it’s a budget option, you would generally purchase one and expect it to be unusable by the end of the season.
However, the combination of graphite and fiberglass provides enough flexibility to still allow for a good action and delicate sensitivity while also increasing the overall durability far more than graphite blanks alone.
While the Shimano Sojourn casting rod definitely leans a bit towards the middle when it comes to power, it still provides enough range to appeal to particular types of fishing.
That said, this is likely one of the few areas where the casting rod performs a bit better than you might expect due to the composite construction.
Still, with half of the options focused on medium power and the other half covering the heavier powers, you should be able to easily hoist large fish out of the water with this rod.
On top of that, the varying power levels tend to correspond to the rod’s length, further specializing those configurations.
While this review may have pumped the Shimano Sojourn baitcasting pole up, that’s only in comparison with other similarly priced rods.
Now’s the time to bring this fishing rod back down to earth, because when you aim for the far low end of the budget-friendly market, you inevitably have to give up something.
Unfortunately for the Shimano Sojourn casting pole, some of that sacrifice comes at the expense of one of the most important factors: sensitivity. While this casting rod may not feel downright dull in your hands, the composite construction definitely reduces the sensitivity.
Much like sensitivity, the Shimano Sojourn casting rod suffers from a somewhat stiffer taper regardless of its official classification. On top of that, this baitcasting fishing pole only comes in a fast action configuration, though that isn’t necessarily the worst thing.
It just means that you cannot get the kind of wind up that a lower action would provide for additional distance. But, this at least provides more control and helps ease some of the sensitivity loss that accompanies the use of composite materials.
Thankfully, the Shimano Sojourn’s taper is left largely unaffected by the use of the composite materials as the rod begins its bend at the expected point.
That said, when you combine the fast action setting with the stiffer composite blank, you do have the ability to set the hook quicker– if you can feel the fish biting.
The Shimano Sojourn’s rod guides are made out of aluminum oxide which means that braided, heavy test lines may cut right through the guides when put to the test.
On the other hand, it also means that the line should slide along the guide better and reduce the likelihood of the line tangling– especially important for a true baitcasting reel.
This is another area where the Shimano Sojourn baitcasting fishing pole’s composite construction comes to bite it in the backside again.
As great as the added durability may be, you should also expect to add an ounce more than whatever the industry average for a rod of its given size
Generally, this shouldn’t be that much of an issue unless you’re a beginner who’s still learning how to properly cast or baitcast fishing for more than four hours.
The Shimano Sojourn fishing rod comes in 4 different sizes that range from 6’ to 7’6” and includes both stops every 6” in between.
This ensures that you can goose the power or add a bit of control, but this rod still shies away from the more extreme lengths of 5’6” and 7’6”+
Handle (material, shape, etc)
The Shimano Sojourn casting rod’s handle is surprising in that it uses both cork and EVA foam which is fairly uncommon but imparts an interesting combination onto the handle.
While the exterior cork is durable and offers an excellent grip, the EVA foam will help prevent rot at the point of contact with the blank.
Reel and Real Seat Compatibility
As a baitcasting rod, the Shimano Sojourn seats the reel at the top of the rod blank, above the trigger grip of the handle.
This arrangement not only allows you to choose a spincast reel for beginners or a baitcast reel for experts, but it also further reinforces the power, leveraging the rod instead of the guides.
Markings on Rod
As is fairly common with budget-friendly fishing poles, the Shimano Sojourn does not print the rod specs on the rod itself.
Instead, the Shimano brand name and model name emblazons both the rod and the handle.
The Shimano warranty is a bit of a mixed bag in that its length is fairly disappointing at only a single year which sits at the low end of rods that even have a warranty.
On the other hand, Shimano also offers a 30-warranty which they are extremely responsive for and even covers return shipping.
Shimano’s customer service is adequate with no horror stories but no one singing its praises either.
However, the biggest complaint with this rod is it often arrives broke requiring you to use the 30-day warranty.
Uses (Who is this good for)
While there are certainly plenty of people who can find a good use for the Shimano Sojourn casting pole, its construction and overall value push for the extreme value shoppers.
The materials and componentry are nothing special, but neither are they terrible– especially at this price point.
When you look at the absence of higher-end features with the all-around great durability of its blank, this baitcasting rod is one of the few cheap fishing rods that can last multiple seasons.
As such, beginners or those with serious budget concerns will likely get the most out of this casting pole.
In the end, Shimano shows the same intimate understanding of the fishing rod market as they do for their cycling componentry.
This allows the Shimano Sojourn casting rod to get away with some extremely average specs and components across the board because it can offer one of the best long-term values.
Of course, it’s important not to forget that those “extremely average specs” put something of a hard ceiling on how well this rod will perform.
As such, experts and even intermediate fishermen are less likely to find the Shimano Sojourn casting fishing pole as attractive an offer when they’re willing and able to spend more for better performance.
Regardless, the Shimano Sojourn casting fishing pole doesn’t really miss the mark in any major way while still offering as many different configurations as is reasonable at its price point.
You may not curse it as a piece of garbage, but neither will you be blown away by its incredible performance.