Budget Shimano Spin Reels: 6 Picks That Impress Any Angler

Affordable Shimano Fishing Reels?

person holding a fishing rod with a pond in background

Most new buyers don’t think of Shimano as a budget fishing brand, yet there’s amazing value in their less expensive reels. Thanks to “trickle down technology” from their top-of-the-line reel series. Now, what if you aren’t sure which model is best for you. Don’t worry, searching for budget Shimano spin reels doesn’t have to be as hard as you might believe.

To narrow your research, today I give you the 6 best picks for models that are sure to impress any angler. From brand-new fishermen up to experienced users looking for something that they can beat up and replace at a lower-cost. Every reel family in this article has models priced under the maximum of one-hundred dollars. In fact, most options reviewed are at the lower end of this price range.

For ease of reading I start with a comparison table, then move on to the reviews. Alright, let’s begin.

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Table of Contents

Before you start, let talk product codes:

Shimano Fishing Product Codes

Here’s a quick explanation of what the letters and numbers mean.

  • PG = Power Gear: best for fighting fish and cranking them in from the depths. Trolling is best with a spin reel that has this rating.
  • HG = High Gear: a faster ratio, awesome for jerkbaiting, stickbaiting and popping.
  • XG = Extra-High Gear: extra fast ratio for high-speed spinning. As well as popping, and jerk-baiting in rough waters.
  • C = Compact: the reel body is the same physical size as the previous smaller model, but the spool is larger. Often the drag pressure and internal drivetrain has a bit more power.

Moving on to the numbers, which (1000, 2500, 3000, 4000, etc) mean the diameter of the spool. Thus, the bigger the diameter, the more line you can spool your fishing reel with.

Comparison Chart

Ultimate Budget Shimano Spin Reels For Light Finesse & Inshore

purple and gold colored label showing trophy and editor's choice text
Shimano Nasci FC (C3000HGFC)
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1, 5.6:1, or 6.2:1 (2500-5000)
  • Use: Freshwater & Inshore Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 6 to 10.8 Ounces
  • Line Recovery: 26 - 41 Inches Per Turn
  • Bearings: 4 + 1 (500) or 5 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 7 to 24 Pounds
  • Frame Construction: Graphite, G-Free Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
Pro's & Con's

Nasci FC Review

The new Shimano Nasci FC boasts updated features and tech well outside of its price bracket. You really are getting a lot for your money. In this redesign, the 3rd generation of the Nasci, 6 sizes are available. From a 500 to C5000 for a wide range of applications of both fresh and light inshore saltwater.

Remember the “C” in the model numbers means it’s the same size body with a deeper cut spool for a larger line capacity. Sizes 2500 and above are all high-gear (HG) models, except the C5000 that’s extra-high gear (XG).

Review of the C3000HGFC Size

Okay this is a bit of a cheater budget reel, as its priced just above $100 for this size. But the smaller sizes do meet the “sub one-hundred” budget constraints.

Body-wise it looks incredible, now with an all silver color scheme. Spinning it feels buttery smooth like the Stradic FK.  For weight, it comes in at 8.5 ounces due to the carbon/graphite body. The bail trip is easy and super smooth, you can fish all day with ease.

Inside it has 5 ball bearings plus 1 roller clutch bearing, the latter being the anti-reverse system. Next, this size has a fast 6.2:1 gear ratio. Expect an average capacity of 8-pounds at 170 yards of mono-line. For braid, the average is 20-pounds at 140 yards.

As upgrade from the previous generation, it now has the simple full screw-in handle, which isn’t usually found in this price point. Retrieve for this size comes in at 36-inches with a versatile max-drag system of 20-pounds. Fishing for inshore red fish or snook, as well as largemouth bass, walleye, carp, pike is a breeze with this size.

Nasci FC Features List

Note: The Nasci 500 (NAS500FC) doesn’t have the following features: CoreProtect, SilentDrive, X-Ship.

  • CoreProtect (1000 to C5000) – O-rings at body, line roller and roller clutch. Less chance of water getting inside reel.
  • Hagane Gear – Cold forged aluminum drive gear, for better cranking power.
  • Arc-Spool – Cold forged aluminum is stronger and more durable than other materials.
  • Silent Drive – Same tech as the Shimano Stella. Tightens up all the tolerance between the gears. Reduces rotor wobble, noise and vibration.
  • X-Ship – Double bearing support for pinion gear. For better winding power.
  • G-Free Body – Bring the reel weight up closer to the reel seat, which balances the weight and makes winding easier.
  • Cross Carbon Drag (C5000 only) – Otherwise expect felt drag washers for everything else. Felt is good for smoothness, while carbon is best for cranking power.
  • Propulsion Spool – Angled spool lip design delivers longer casting.
  • Water Resistant Drag – An inner rubber gasket. It keeps water from leaking into the front drag system.
  • T-Paddle Knob (1000-4000) EVA Power Knob (C5000).
  • Screw-in Handle – Machined aluminum.

Verdict:

This is the best budget Shimano spin reel for inshore salt. But it’s also more than capable for ultra-light and ice fishing too. Pick the 500 for ice applications hunting pan-fish or the 1000 for walleye. Use the 2500 or C3000 for general-purpose freshwater. For inshore salt, use the 4000 or C5000 to bring in the big fish.

Popular Rear Drag Budget Shimano Spin Reels: Sienna RE

Shimano Sienna RE (SN2500RE)
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1:1 (4000), or 5.2:1 (1000, 2500)
  • Use: Freshwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 9.5 to 12.9 Ounces
  • Line Recovery: 27 - 32 Inches Per Turn
  • Bearings: 1 + 1
  • Drag System: Rear
  • Max Drag: 4 to 7 Pounds
  • Frame Construction: Graphite Body & Rotor, Die Cast Aluminum Spool
Pro's & Con's

Sienna RE Review

Fishing enthusiasts who prefer a rear drag spinning reel will like the 2022 Shimano Sienna RE. Consider it as the newest version of the Sienna RD spin reel. Why do some fishermen like rear drag? A rear drag reel allows anglers to make easier drag adjustments while fighting fish. Likewise, it has less risk of line trouble or breakage.

The Sienna RE is great for anglers who fish once in a while and don’t want to pay a lot for their reel. Yet still want the quality of a Shimano fishing reel.

There are three sizes available, a 1000, 2500, and a 4000. Gearing is either 5.2:1 (1000, 2500) or 5.1:1 (4000). Weight-wise the models range from 9.5 to 12.9 ounces. All models come with 1 bearing and 1 roller bearing with max drag at either 4-7 pounds. Retrieve ranges from 27-inches to 32-inches.

Review of the SN2500RE Size

The blueish gray and gun metal color body give a clean sleek look, but the material feels hallow. Next, even though it has a graphite body and rotor its heavy at 10.9 ounces. So, it’s not the smallest in this category but casts well and delivers a comfortable recovery.

One good feature is the bail trip, it’s so light that you barely have to put any pressure on the handle to engage it. As expected, the drag is smooth and simple to adjust. I especially like the instant lock once you stop reeling in line. No backing up 1/2 turn to lockup for a good hook set. Although some novices, may find themselves tripping the anti-reverse lever by mistake.

As I mentioned before, it only has 1 bearing plus 1 line roller bearing. Expect an average capacity of 8-pounds at 140 yards of mono-line. For braid, the average is 15-pounds at 145 yards. Retrieve for this size is decent at 30-inches with a light max-drag of 4-pounds. It’s a great for size for light/medium spinning targeting small bass, perch and pike.

Sienna RE Features List

  • XT-7 Reel Body – New “M-compact” graphite body and rotor.
  • Propulsion Line Management System – Special angled spool lip design to deliver longer casts.
  • Quick Fire II – Center-balanced trigger for one handed casting.
  • Die Cast – Aluminum spool.
  • Varispeed Oscillation – An oval oscillation gear which delivers consistent spool speed.
  • Dyna-Balance – Counter balancing the rotor to reduce wobble.
  • Power Roller II – Line roller with a groove in it to reduce line twists.
  • Super Stopper II – One-way roller bearing that eliminates back-play.

Verdict:

Buy the Sienna RE if you want a decent freshwater rear drag option at a great price. It comes with quality features in an attractive package. Albeit being a tad heavier than expected.

New Model For Freshwater Weekend Warriors: Nexave FI

red and white colored new model label
Shimano Nexave FI (NEXC3000HGFI)
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1 (1000), 5.8:1 (4000, 5000) or 6.2:1 (2500, C3000)
  • Use: Freshwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 7.8 to 10.8 Ounces
  • Line Recovery: 26 - 39 Inches Per Turn
  • Bearings: 3 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 7 to 24 Pounds
  • Frame Construction: Graphite Body & Rotor, Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
Pro's & Con's

2022 Nexave FI Spinning Reel Review

A new model for this year, the Shimano Nexave FI balances form and function in an affordable package. This isn’t a tournament level reel but for hobbyists or weekend warriors it’s hard to beat. This is an upgraded version of the older Nexave FE but still sits in the category of a budget freshwater spin reel.

Thus, don’t expect a big list of features, but do expect the typical Shimano performance. If you own the SLX series of rods this is the perfect match for you. This spinning reel is more than capable throwing flukes or drops shots. Especially when targeting crappie, trout or small bass.

It comes in five different sizes; a 1000, 2500, C3000, 4000, and C5000. Gear ratios range from 5.0:1 (1000), 5.8:1 (4000/C5000) or 6.2:1 (2500/C3000). For weight, the models range from 7.8 to 10.8 ounces. All models come with 3 bearings and 1 roller bearing and drag ranging from 7-24 pounds. Length of retrieve ranges from 26-inches to 39-inches.

Nexave C3000HG FI Review

This looks and feels really good! Shimano updated it with an all black frame and body with bright blue accents. Then it has chrome on the handle, on top of the drag and at the bail connection.

Actually, the drag cap is the same as most of the higher end spin models with tons of settings. Bail is simple and light to trip and the machined aluminum handle rotates with ease. Likewise, you get the EVA handle knob, it feels natural between my fingers. One thing to note, the handle screws in via an opposite side hex knob, some users don’t like it.

Inside it has 3 non-shielded bearings plus 1 line roller bearing. Anticipate an average capacity of 8-pounds at 170 yards of mono-line. Then for power braid, the average is 20-pounds at 140 yards. Retrieve for this size is comes in at 36-inches with a reasonable max-drag of 20-pounds. I would replace the felt drag washers with carbon for added durability. Size-wise the C3000 is perfect for kayak fishing. Particularly if you are using light to moderate lures targeting trout, bass and pike.

Nexave FI Features List

  • XT-7 Construction – Graphite body and rotor.
  • G-Free Body – Moving center of gravity in reel closer to rod connection. It reduces fatigue and enhance casting comfort.
  • Propulsion Management System – Angled spool lip, less line friction equals longer casting distance.
  • ARC-Spool – A cold forged aluminum spool.
  • Machined Aluminum Handle – With chrome finishing.
  • Septon Knob – Contoured for all day comfort.

Verdict:

These are the budget Shimano spin reels to pick if you want freshwater performance but don’t want to spend a lot. It doesn’t have a lot of features but the ones it has are practical and make it a great pick for the price.

Top Affordable Spinning Reel For Ice Fishing: Sienna 500FG

blue and gold colored label showing check mark and top marks text
Shimano Sienna FG (SN500FG)
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1 (Up To C3000), 5.2:1 (4000), 5.6:1 (500) or 6.2:1 (2500HG)
  • Use: Ice, Freshwater & Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 6.3 to 11.3 Ounces
  • Line Recovery: 24 - 35 Inches Per Turn
  • Bearings: 3 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 7 to 19 Pounds
  • Frame Construction: Graphite Body & Rotor, Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
Pro's & Con's

Shimano Sienna FG Reel Review

The Shimano Sienna FG is the upgraded version of the old FD series. Having so many size options makes this model a great option for both ice fishing and light finesse applications. Especially at this price, since you get a pretty smooth reel. The 500 size is great for ice fishing, (after upgrading the drag washers). This is because it has a fast gear ratio, almost as fast as the high gear (hg) 2500 size.

In total, the lineup includes eight available sizes; the 500, 1000, 2000, 2500(+hg) 3000(+C), and 4000. Every model has 3 bearings and 1 line roller bearing. The gearing ratios are as follows:

  • 5.0:1 (1000, 2000, 2500, 3000, 3000C)
  • 5.2:1 (4000)
  • 5.6:1 (500)
  • 6.2:1 (2500hg)

Reel weight ranges from 6.3 to 11.3 ounces. While the retrieve per crank, ranges from 24 to 35-inches. Max drag pressures are versatile from 4 to 19-pounds.

Sienna SN500FG Reel Review

New for this upgraded model is a black and red color for the body and rotor. Likewise, the entire frame, body and rotor are graphite to keep weight and costs low. For feature upgrades in this series, you get both the G-Free body and propulsion line management. The 500 comes in at 6.3 ounces, so you will have no problem fishing ice all day long. Next, the single piece bail is thin and in motion your thumb barely contacts the drag control.

The actual control knob is comfortable to touch and its big enough that your fingers won’t slip off. However, the drag does need a bit of muscle to close, but over time it will loosen up. On to weird placement of the anti-reverse, it’s under the rotor, and it’s tiny. Some anglers don’t use it, but for those who do, you might hate it.

I should note, to use it for ice fishing you need to do a couple things to achieve greatness. First, replace the supplied felt drag washers for carbon (costs less than 5 bucks). As you are opening up the reel anyways, oil it with specific cold weather grease. Now its a perfect for an ice fishing arsenal. At this price, you should expect to do this kind of DIY upgrading. Also, for some reason this reel isn’t great for intense jigging. As it tends to make line twists leading to bird nest snags.

Expect an average capacity of 4-pounds at 100 yards of mono-line. For braid, the average is 8-pounds at 105 yards. Line retrieve is 27-inches, and it has a max-drag of 4-pounds, perfect for pan fish.

Features List:

  • XT-7 Graphite Body – Found in frame, body and rotor.
  • G-Free Body – Reel center of gravity comes closer to the rod. Lowering fatigue and increasing casting comfort.
  • Propulsion Spool System – Angled spool lip to promote better casting distance.
  • Metal Spool – Cold-forged aluminum, stronger than die-cast or machined.
  • Varispeed – Oval oscillation gear that delivers a consistent spool speed.
  • Dyna-Balance – Counter balancing the rotor to reduce wobble.
  • Power Roller II – Grooved line roller to reduce line twists.
  • Super Stopper II – One-way roller bearing that stops back-play.
  • Ported Handle Shank – Made of machined aluminum.
  • Single Knob – Contoured EVA knob.

Verdict:

At a 500 size the Sienna spinning reel is the cheapest option for a smooth ice fishing. Otherwise, the remaining sizes are excellent for fresh and inshore salt. If you aren’t a dedicated jig angler and don’t mind making DIY upgrades, these are reliable budget Shimano spin reels.

Durable Affordable Fresh Or Saltwater Fishing Reel: Sedona FI

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Shimano Sedona FI
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 4.6:1 (6000), 4.9:1 (8000), 5.0:1 (1000), 5.6:1 (500), or 6.2:1
  • Use: Ice, Freshwater & Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 6.3 to 21.7 Ounces
  • Line Recovery: 26 - 41 Inches Per Turn
  • Bearings: 3 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 7 to 24 Pounds
  • Frame Construction: Graphite Body, Magnesium Rotor, Aluminum Spool
Pro's & Con's

Sedona FI Spinning Reel Review

If you took the Sedona series out of your arsenal, it’s time to take a second look at this upgraded version, the FI series. This series has replaced the discontinued series of Sedona FE and FD. These budget Shimano spin reels still offer a low price point, but with new practical features. In the first place, inside it has the revered Hagane drive train and Magnumlite rotor. Outside it features the G-free body and Propulsion spool.

These changes make it lighter, stronger, faster, and more durable than ever before. As a matter of fact, every size except the 1000 now have higher gear ratios and increased drag power. One other thing to note, only the 8000 size gets carbon drag washers, otherwise expect felt ones.

The Sienna FI is available in eight sizes from 500 up to a whopping 8000. If you fish in freshwater, such as in ponds and rivers choose a 500, 1000, 2500, C3000. Next, if you want an all-purpose fresh and inshore salt reel go for the 4000 or C5000. Finally, surf or open ocean anglers hunting salmon, mackerel or big snappers need the 6000 or 8000 sizes.

Gear ratios range from 5.0:1 up to 6.2:1 and weight spans 6.3 to a hefty 21.7 ounces. Every model comes with 3 bearings and 1 roller bearing and drag ranging from 7 to 24-pounds. Length of retrieve ranges from 26-inches to 41-inches.

Shimano Sedona SE6000FI Review

Reminiscent of higher end reels like the Stella, the new Sedona FI has a gold and silver color scheme. The drag cap is the same as most of the higher end spin models, but the bail operation could be better.

Handle rotation is fine albeit a tad clunky compared to others. The knob is the T-shaped one found on many lower-end reels. Also note, the handle screws in via an opposite side hex knob, not a fan. Weight-wise it’s a respectable 15 ounces, not terrible for a 6000 size.

In the reel body, you have 3 shielded bearings plus 1 line roller bearing. For mono-line the average capacity is 16-pounds at 170 yards. Then for power braid, the average is 50-pounds at 195 yards. Retrieve for this size is comes in at 33-inches with a max drag system of 23-pounds.

The Features List

  • G-Free Body – Moves the center of gravity of reel closer to the rod. Reducing fatigue and increase cast comfort.
  • XT-7 Materials – Graphite on the body and side-plate.
  • Hagane Gearing – Cold-forged drive train for massive reeling power.
  • Magnumlite Rotor – Super-lightweight rotor with less startup inertia for easier casting.
  • Propulsion Spool Design – Angled tip of the spool lip.
  • Double Anodized Machine Cut Spool -machine cut equals more line capacity. Double anodizing provides protection against corrosion.
  • Varispeed Oscillation – Helps prevent fishing line from stacking on one end of the spool.
  • Single Paddle Handle (SE1000FI and SE2500HGFI).
  • Power Handle (All Other Models).

Verdict:

Even though it’s not an ultra high-end spinning reel, the Sedona FI stands up to plenty of abuse in fresh and saltwater. These budget Shimano spin reels cast far, have smooth drag and will get plenty of fish in the boat. It doesn’t get any more simple than this, it gets the job done, at a decent price too.

Best Entry-Level Budget Shimano Spin Reels

green and white colored budget friendly label
Shimano Syncopate FG
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Use: Freshwater (approved with saltwater)
  • Reel Weight Range: 7.6 to 12.7 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 25 - 32 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 3 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 7 to 13 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Graphite Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
Pro's & Con's

Shimano Syncopate Reel Review:

For 2022, the Shimano Syncopate is my absolute starter pick. It’s the perfect stepping stone from the Shimano FX Reels. Especially for novices looking to improve the efficiency and distance of their casts.

While new anglers may want fast gearing speed, it should take a backseat to ease of casting. The three available sizes, 1000, 2500 and a 4000 all have 5.2:1 gearing and 3+1 (4) bearings. Retrieve ranges from 25-inches to 32-inches.

Shimano Fishing states that this reel is a freshwater reel. Although many resources I found state you can use it for saltwater. Keep in mind that if you use it for saltwater this reel is for smaller species. Plus you will have to be diligent with cleaning and maintaining it.

Review of the SC2500FG Size

The bronze color body is attractive due to the graphite body and rotor but weigh-wise its a bit beefy at 9.2 ounces. Tripping the bail is easy, yet a bit clunky compared to others.

Drag on this reel is steady and simple to adjust. Yes, some will complain about the reel lacking an instant anti-reverse lever. But for anglers who are learning it’s a good choice to keep your hand on the handle to feel for strikes.

As I mentioned, the Syncopate gets 3 shielded bearings plus 1 line roller bearing. You can spool an average capacity of 8-pounds at 140 yards of mono-line. For braid, the average is 15-pounds at 145 yards. Retrieve for this size is decent at 29-inches with a light max-drag of 7-pounds. It’s a good size drag system for fishing crappie or for trout in streams.

Syncopate FG Features List

  • XT-7 Reel Body – Graphite frame, side-plate and rotor.
  • Propulsion Line Spool Lip – Angled spool lip design delivers longer casts.
  • Quick Fire II – Center-balanced trigger for one handed casting.
  • Metal Spool – Cold-forged aluminum, stronger than die-cast or machined.
  • Varispeed Oscillation – An oval oscillation gear to provide a consistent spool speed.
  • (S) A-RB -Four shielded anti-rust ball bearings with one roller bearing.
  • Ported Handle Shank
  • Dyna-Balance – A counter balanced rotor to prevent wobble.
  • Power Roller II – special roller design with a groove to reduce line twists.

Verdict:

These are the best budget Shimano spin reels for absolute starter anglers. The quick fire trigger makes casting a bail tripping simple for beginners. It has decent Shimano tech for the ultra low cost. Although the caveat is, the lack of an actual anti-reverse lever.

To Conclude: Budget Shimano Spin Reels

Now you have six great options to choose from to find the best budget Shimano spin reels for you. Even at a lower price point this brand will provide you with the features needed to have a fun and successful day out fishing.

Thank you for letting us at Outdoors Informed, aid in your research. We like doing it, so you can spend less time in front of a screen and more time reeling in dinner.

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Last update on 2022-09-24

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