Best 8 Shimano Spinning Reels (2020 Reviews)

Fishing is a pastime known by all and adored by many. It is as old as humankind itself and while it was once a means of survival, today it is a cherished hobby and sport. An important component to help you have a successful day out on the water is a reel. Most anglers know that Shimano spinning reels are some of the most revered. This is because every model is lightweight and responsive, with excellent casting accuracy.

With tons of great Shimano reels on the market, it can be tricky picking the best model for you. Don’t worry though, I have got you covered.

Today, I’m giving you a comparison table and full reviews of each of the 8 best Shimano spin reels for 2020. Expect to find fishing reels for every experience level.

After the reviews I include a buying guide about how to choose a Shimano spin reel. For ease of uses there’s a clickable table of contents for you to navigate to a each review. Alright, let’s get started.

We updated this article in February 2020 to meet this years standard for the best Spinning reels from Shimano. For this year four new models made the list! Introducing models that conquer every type of fishing you desire. From freshwater, inshore to monster offshore models. Read on to discover the best 8 Shimano spinning reels in 2020. 

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Table of Contents

Comparison Chart

Preview
Editor's Choice
Shimano Stella FJ Spinning Fishing Reel
Shimano Socorro 5000F SW Offshore Spinning Fishing Reel
Top Marks
SHIMANO Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel
Product Name
Shimano Stella FJ
Shimano Socorro SW
Shimano Stradic FL
Verdict
Newest Premium Benchmark For Shimano Spin Reels
Top Mid-Range Salt Water Front Drag Reel
Best Finesse Reel Under $300
Key Feature
Silent drive
X-Ship
MicroModule II
Use
Freshwater
Saltwater
Freshwater & Saltwater
Drag System
Front
Front
Front
Weight Range (Ounces)
6 – 9.2
15.5 – 23.5
6.5 – 10.4
Bearings
12 + 1
4 + 1
6 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
25 – 40
31 – 40
30 – 40
Gear Ratio(s)
5.1:1, 6.0:1, 6.2:1 or 6.4:1
4.6:1 or 4.9:1
6.0:1, 6.2:1 or 6.4:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
7 – 24
22 – 27
7 – 24
Line Capacity
Stella FJ Table
Socorro SW Table
Stradic FL Table
Models Offered
5
4
5
Editor's Choice
Preview
Shimano Stella FJ Spinning Fishing Reel
Product Name
Shimano Stella FJ
Verdict
Newest Premium Benchmark For Shimano Spin Reels
Key Feature
Silent drive
Use
Freshwater
Drag System
Front
Weight Range (Ounces)
6 – 9.2
Bearings
12 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
25 – 40
Gear Ratio(s)
5.1:1, 6.0:1, 6.2:1 or 6.4:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
7 – 24
Line Capacity
Stella FJ Table
Models Offered
5
Preview
Shimano Socorro 5000F SW Offshore Spinning Fishing Reel
Product Name
Shimano Socorro SW
Verdict
Top Mid-Range Salt Water Front Drag Reel
Key Feature
X-Ship
Use
Saltwater
Drag System
Front
Weight Range (Ounces)
15.5 – 23.5
Bearings
4 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
31 – 40
Gear Ratio(s)
4.6:1 or 4.9:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
22 – 27
Line Capacity
Socorro SW Table
Models Offered
4
Top Marks
Preview
SHIMANO Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel
Product Name
Shimano Stradic FL
Verdict
Best Finesse Reel Under $300
Key Feature
MicroModule II
Use
Freshwater & Saltwater
Drag System
Front
Weight Range (Ounces)
6.5 – 10.4
Bearings
6 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
30 – 40
Gear Ratio(s)
6.0:1, 6.2:1 or 6.4:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
7 – 24
Line Capacity
Stradic FL Table
Models Offered
5

Preview
Top Marks
Shimano Twin Power XD TPXDC3000XG Spinning Fishing Reel, Gear Ratio: 6.4:1
SHIMANO Ultegra CI4 14000 XTC Offshore Saltwater Spinning Reel
Budget Friendly
SHIMANO SYNCOPATE Front Drag, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
Product Name
Shimano Twin Power XD
Shimano Ultegra CI4+
Shimano Syncopate
Verdict
Serious Inshore Saltwater Reel
Excellent Surf Casting Spin Reel
Best Spinning Reel Under $50
Key Feature
X-Protect
Super Slow Oscillation
Quick Fire II
Use
Inshore Saltwater
Saltwater
Freshwater
Drag System
Front
Front
Front
Weight Range (Ounces)
8.3 – 10.6
15.5 – 19
7.6 – 12.7
Bearings
9 + 1
5 + 1
4 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
37 – 41
41
25 – 32
Gear Ratio(s)
6.2:1 or 6.4:1
4.3:1 or 5.3:1
5.1:1 or 5.2:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
20 – 24
33 – 44
7 – 13
Line Capacity
Twin Power XD Table
Ultegra CI4+ Table
Syncopate Table
Models Offered
3
2
3
Top Marks
Preview
Shimano Twin Power XD TPXDC3000XG Spinning Fishing Reel, Gear Ratio: 6.4:1
Product Name
Shimano Twin Power XD
Verdict
Serious Inshore Saltwater Reel
Key Feature
X-Protect
Use
Inshore Saltwater
Drag System
Front
Weight Range (Ounces)
8.3 – 10.6
Bearings
9 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
37 – 41
Gear Ratio(s)
6.2:1 or 6.4:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
20 – 24
Line Capacity
Twin Power XD Table
Models Offered
3
Preview
SHIMANO Ultegra CI4 14000 XTC Offshore Saltwater Spinning Reel
Product Name
Shimano Ultegra CI4+
Verdict
Excellent Surf Casting Spin Reel
Key Feature
Super Slow Oscillation
Use
Saltwater
Drag System
Front
Weight Range (Ounces)
15.5 – 19
Bearings
5 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
41
Gear Ratio(s)
4.3:1 or 5.3:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
33 – 44
Line Capacity
Ultegra CI4+ Table
Models Offered
2
Budget Friendly
Preview
SHIMANO SYNCOPATE Front Drag, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
Product Name
Shimano Syncopate
Verdict
Best Spinning Reel Under $50
Key Feature
Quick Fire II
Use
Freshwater
Drag System
Front
Weight Range (Ounces)
7.6 – 12.7
Bearings
4 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
25 – 32
Gear Ratio(s)
5.1:1 or 5.2:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
7 – 13
Line Capacity
Syncopate Table
Models Offered
3

Preview
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 1000 FB Spinning Fishing Reel With Front Drag, STCI41000FB
Budget Friendly
Shimano IX 2000R Front Drag Freshwater Spinning Reel
Product Name
Shimano Stradic Ci4+
Shimano IX
Verdict
Great Super Lightweight Finesse Reel
Best Cheap Entry Level Youth Reel
Key Feature
Magnumlite Rotor
Quick Fire II
Use
Freshwater & Saltwater
Freshwater & Saltwater
Drag System
Front
Rear
Weight Range (Ounces)
5.6 – 8.1
8.4 – 11.4
Bearings
6 + 1
None: Uses Bushings
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
31 – 39
19 – 24
Gear Ratio(s)
6.0:1 or 6.2:1
4.1:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
7 – 24
7 – 15
Line Capacity
Stradic Ci4+ Table
IX Table
Models Offered
4
3
Preview
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 1000 FB Spinning Fishing Reel With Front Drag, STCI41000FB
Product Name
Shimano Stradic Ci4+
Verdict
Great Super Lightweight Finesse Reel
Key Feature
Magnumlite Rotor
Use
Freshwater & Saltwater
Drag System
Front
Weight Range (Ounces)
5.6 – 8.1
Bearings
6 + 1
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
31 – 39
Gear Ratio(s)
6.0:1 or 6.2:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
7 – 24
Line Capacity
Stradic Ci4+ Table
Models Offered
4
Budget Friendly
Preview
Shimano IX 2000R Front Drag Freshwater Spinning Reel
Product Name
Shimano IX
Verdict
Best Cheap Entry Level Youth Reel
Key Feature
Quick Fire II
Use
Freshwater & Saltwater
Drag System
Rear
Weight Range (Ounces)
8.4 – 11.4
Bearings
None: Uses Bushings
Line Retrieve Per Crank (Inches)
19 – 24
Gear Ratio(s)
4.1:1
Maximum Drag (Pounds)
7 – 15
Line Capacity
IX Table
Models Offered
3

Ultimate Heavy-Duty Freshwater Spin Reel

Purple label with gold anchor stating Editor's choice
Shimano Stella FJ
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1:1, 6.0:1, 6.2:1 or 6.4:1
  • Use: Freshwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 6 to 9.2 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 25 to 40 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 12 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 7 to 24 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Long Stroke Spool
What We Like
  • Absolute Monster Of A Reel
  • MicroModule 2 = Ideal Gear Design
  • Amazingly Smooth
  • Super Silent Operation
  • Massive Casting Ability
  • Premium Refined Construction
What We Do Not Like
  • Wish It Were Cheaper

Shimano Stella FJ Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

STL1000FJ

6

2/270, 4/140, 6/110

12 + 1

5.1:1

7

10/95, 15/85, 20/65

25

STL2500HGFJ

7.2

8/140, 10/120

12 + 1

6.0:1

20

10/150, 15/145, 30/100

35

STLC3000XGFJ

7.4

6/230, 8/170, 10/140

12 + 1

6.4:1

20

10/200, 20/140, 40/105

37

STL4000XGFJ

9

8/240, 10/200, 12/160

12 + 1

6.2:1

24

15/230, 30/180, 50/120

40

STLC5000XGFJ

9.2

10/240, 12/195, 14/165

12 + 1

6.2:1

24

20/260, 30/235, 40/185

40

Stella FJ Reel Review:

My pick for the absolute best of the Shimano spinning reels for 2020 is the Stella FJ. Released at 2018’s Yokohama tackle show the Stella FJ caused an immediate uproar. From the beginning it’s been impressive to look at and feel in the palm of your hand. For those of you who don’t know, this is the flagship in Shimanos’ spin reel line-up.

On first look, the newest Stella reel body is a beautiful mixture of silver and chrome color schemes. Around the spool there are small delicate cut-outs. This 2020 version of the reel is the pinnacle of a refined and luxurious spinning reel.

“Reel Feel”

Using the Stella FJ for the first time is like driving a super car. Few people can afford to, but those who can love it. I felt this way fishing with it.

At first touch of the body I could sense the near perfection of the ergonomics. Like any high-end Shimano reel, the body to the rotor and spool are in total balance. For buyers of the older models, one area that changes is the handle knob. New for 2020, no more T-shaped knob! I like many others found the older knob shape to be a bit cumbersome.

Unbeatable Features Of The Stella FJ

Silent Drive: A total redesign of 11 internal components, including the drive gear, worm shaft, its pin and gear. Done to help reduce microscopic handle play. While also eliminating noise and unnatural feelings from the worm shaft. Combining redesigned components with fine tolerance engineering produces silent and super smooth reeling.

Hagane Gear: Is precision forged gearing that provides amazing strength and durability. The gears have a special 3D design which are a fundamental concept of Shimano reels.

MicroModule II: This is a state-of-the-art, gear tooth surface design. Each gear has many small teeth, making more contact points between the drive gear and pinion gear. Resulting in a smoother retrieve.

MGL Rotor: Known as the Magnum Light Rotor, it’s is 25% lighter than last year. Offering better balance and requiring 22% less inertia. This makes it easier to start and stop your retrieve for an overall smoother feel.

S-ARB: Are corrosion resistant shielded stainless steel ball bearings. The “S” means they have shields on both sides, this protects them from slat, water and debris. More bearings equal smoother operation but add to reel cost. The Stella FJ uses 12 bearings and one roller bearing for lightning fast gearing.

X-Ship: This X-concept provides improved gear durability. It supports the pinion gear on both ends with bearings. This aids the pinion gear to maintain precise alignment with the drive gear. Even under the heaviest loads. Resulting in enhanced casting distances with lighter lures.

Hagane Body: A Hagane body is a metal (magnesium) reel body with high rigidity. The body stiffness and impact resistance eliminates body flexing and increases cranking power.

Ci4+: The CI4+ is an advanced version of the original CI4. It is 2.5 times stiffer than the Ci4 polymers. Plus it is 10% lighter in weight than aluminum.

E.I.: Is Shimano’s proprietary surface treatment of the spool and body. This creates more than double the corrosion resistance than a conventional surface treatment.

G-Free Body: A development to shift the reel’s center of gravity closer to the rod. By doing this it moves the center of gravity closer to the anglers hand position. Designed to reduce fatigue and enhance casting comfort.

X-Protect: A water repellent coating combined with a labyrinth of water channels. X-Protect provides high-level water resistance without sacrificing light gear and rotor rotation.

Folding Single Machined Aluminum Handle: Not only does the Stella FJ have a reversible handle for right or left handed anglers. But it is also made of single machined aluminum to provide precision and strength while also being very lightweight.

AR-C Spool: This is a patented spool design with an angled spool lip. It helps the line leaves the spool in small coils that are near friction-less. As a result you can make longer accurate casts. Proven to reduce backlashes and wind knots in braid line. This is now the standard spool design of all Shimano reels.

Long Stroke Spool: This spool has longer stroke compared to conventional spool designs. This long stroke specification results in even greater casting distance.

Propulsion Line Management: A specific propulsion spool lip design. Which Shimano tested ten of thousands of times to create longer casts.

Aero Wrap 2: A two-speed oscillation system that lays the line onto the spool in a crisscross pattern. It reduces line-to-line friction for longer casts. The obvious way to see it in action is to watch the reel as it moves. With this system it moves the spool upward fast and downward slow. By winding the line in a precise pattern there is less friction, and a smooth, long casting ability.

One Piece Bail: Using a single piece bail allows the line to travel unimpeded to the line roller. This seamless design reduces friction and line tangles.

Cross Carbon/Waterproof Drag: The Stella FJ uses sealed waterproof carbon fiber drag washers. These washers feature a cross hatch design that improves strength and smoothness. Being sealed they prevent intrusion from water salt and other debris.

Rigid Support Drag: Another design to provide smooth drag under high loads. It is a strengthening of the spool support of the main shaft. This helps suppress the play and fluctuation of the spool during drag operation.

Versatile Model Range

The Stella FJ series offers five models that suit a big range of species and target methods. These models include a 1000, 2500HG, C3000XG, 4000XG, and C5000XG.

For anglers that aren’t aware of Shimanos’ acronyms below are some basic explanations:

  • PG = Power Gear (None for Stella FJ). A reel best suited for cranking and fighting fish for deep depths.
  • HG = High Gear or faster gear ratio. Best for jerk-baiting, stick-baiting and popping.
  • XG = Extra Gear or super fast gear ratio. Made for high-speed spinning, popping, jerk-baiting in swift currents.
  • C = Compact. This reel is the same physical size as the preceding smaller model. The difference is the spool is larger. As a result, the drag pressure and internals are more powerful.

Stella FJ Models At A Glance

The 1000 model is perfect for light action and light line use with a max drag of 7 pounds. It comes with the 5.1:1 gear ratio and 25 inches of line per crank. With an average line capacity of 140 yards of four-pound mono-line and 85 yards of 15-pound braid.

Next, the 2500HG has a swift gear ratio of 6.0:1 while being able to retrieve 35 inches of line per crank. This model has a max drag of 20 pounds. For line capacity it holds 120 yards of 10 pound mono/fluoro and 145 yards of 15-pound braid.

For third, the C3000XG has the exact body size as the 2500 but with larger line capacity. This delivers flawless performance for deep freshwater situations. Its’ max drag comes in at 20 pounds. For line capacity it holds 170 yards of 8 pound mono-line and 140 yards of 20 pound PowerPro/braid. Expect 37 inches of line per rotation due to the fastest gear ratio available at 6.4:1.

The next two models will retrieve 40-inches per crank using 6.2:1 gear ratios. Each deliver a max drag of 24 pounds.

The fourth model, the 4000XG is another extra gear model a bit larger in actual size to the previous model. At 255 grams the 4000 is ultra light that feels spectacular in your hand. It’s line capacity is impressive with 200 yards of 10-pound test mono or 170 yards of 30-pound braid.

Finishing with the C5000XG, is identical in physical size as the last model. The difference being it uses a larger spool. Holding 195 yards of 12 pound test mono/fluoro and 200 yards of 30 pound braid-line.

Casting & Retrieving

The first time I turned the reel’s handle I kind of mistook it for an electric reel, that is how smooth it feels. It offers exceptional accuracy and effortless casting. Shimano uses a patented spool design meant to increase casting distance. I will say that real world testing of actual performance is subjective. In my experiences the casting is effortless for hours on end.

One thing I will confirm is the line management system is second to none. Using a one piece bail, the operation is flawless. The bail snaps open with a crisp but near silent “click” sound. Or if you tend to turn the handle to close the bail, it will snap closed with authority.

Next, the retrieving of lures is so enjoyable, due to the MicroModule II gearing and Silent Drive. The transfer of sensitivity from the reel to the anglers’ hands is evident. In turn, you can feel every knock and pause which gives you better control of your lure in darkness.

Hate line twists? I do! To prevent this the Stella FJ has an internal bearing for the line roller. Most spinning reels today have a bearing supported line roller. The bearing helps the line roller rotate which in turn prevents line twists. By placing the bearing inside, the line roller is less susceptible to getting stuck.

Any Downsides?

I found one main downside for the Stella FJ, the cost of it. This is a Shimano Stella, consider it the Rolls-Royce of front drag spin reels. If you want to get your hands on one, expect to pay a little under nine hundred dollars for it. It’s the most expensive reel of its kind in the spinning reel market. For most enthusiasts this is a downside, but if you can afford it, do yourself a favor and buy it.

Verdict: Shimano Stella FJ

If you are an angler who can afford to buy this reel. Or even if you have to save for it, I recommend doing so, the Stella FJ doesn’t disappoint. Pick the small 1000 model for targeting yellow perch and light rock fish. Choose the 2500/3000 models for all around predator angling. Or if you prefer to target the biggest freshwater predators pick the 4000/5000 models. No matter what model you choose, the Stella will deliver the smoothest fishing experience.

Top Mid-Range Offshore Salt Water Reel

Shimano Socorro SW
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 4.6:1 or 4.9:1
  • Use: Saltwater 
  • Reel Weight Range: 15.5 to 23.5 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 31 - 40 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 4 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 22 to 27 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Aluminum/Composite XT-7 Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
What We Like
  • Great Value For Price
  • Offshore & Inshore Saltwater Applications
  • Hagane Gearing
  • X-Ship Technology = Proper Gear Alignment
  • Waterproof Cross-Carbon Drag System
  • Shielded 4+1 Bearings (New for 2019)
What We Do Not Like
  • Heavier Than Others
  • Appreciate More Water Protection

Socorro SW Line Capacity Chart:

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

SOC5000SW

15.5

10/240, 12/195, 14/165

4+1

4.6:1

22

20/245, 30/225, 40/175

31

SOC6000SW

15.7

12/265, 16/170, 20/120

4+1

4.6:1

22

30/290, 50/195, 65/140

33

SOC8000SW

22.6

12/345, 16/250, 20/185

4+1

4.9:1

27

40/340, 50/265, 65/215

37

SOC10000SW

23.5

12/500, 16/320, 20/220

4+1

4.9:1

27

50/360, 65/290, 80/215

40

Review of Socorro SW:

The Shimano Socorro SW is a great no frills salt water reel that will get the job done. While it is a basic reel, it does include the strong and reliable Hagane gearing. As well, it has the X-Ship technology that provides a precise and smooth retrieval. This rugged saltwater reel is capable for everything from surf casting to jigging.

Reel Model Range

You can choose from four different models of the Shimano Socorro SW. Each with versatile line capacities and efficient line retrieval per cranks. The two smaller models both have 4.6:1 gear ratios and a max drag of 22 pounds.

Starting with the smallest size, the SOC5000SW can retrieve line at a rate of 31″ per crank. While handling up to 175-yards of 40-pound braid line or 165-yards of 14-pound mono line. Sizing up to the SOC6000SW will retrieve line at a rate of 33″ per crank. It’s greatest line capacities are 140-yards at 65 pound of braid and 120-yards at 20 pounds of mono line.

The next two models are best for anglers using slow action techniques. Especially those who do surf casting or inshore where you need a heavy line capacity,

First, the SOC8000SW model retrieves line at a rate of 37″ per crank. It can handle up to 240-yards of 65-pound braid or 185-yards of 20-pound mono line.  Next, the SOC10000SW will retrieve at a rate of 40” of line per crank, which is great to pull in bigger fish quicker. The reel can handle a max of 215-yards of 80-pounds of braid or 220-yards of 20-pound mono line. Both of the larger models have a decent 4:9:1 gear ratio with a max drag of 27 lbs.

Socorro SW Features:

Hagane Gearing: Shimano cold-forged drive gears to deliver ultimate durability and a smooth drag system.

X-Ship: A unique gear system that keeps the gears in perfect alignment resulting in superior gear engagement. It uses an enlarged gear drive which positions a pinion at the center of the gear. This transfers increased power from handle to rotor. Plus this pinion is further supported by two SA-RB roller bearings. This stabilizes the gear and reduces rotor deflection.

*(S) A-RB: The Socorro SW uses four high corrosion resistant shielded stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing. Shielded ball bearings help the reel to operate smooth, also note that the more bearings a reel has the better it operates. The reason the bearings have shields on both sides is to reduce penetration from salt, dirt or water affecting the bearings smoothness.

* Per the 2019 Shimano Catalog. 

XT-7 Reel Body: This is the new and improved version of XT-7 material. It is a strong and durable graphite material which provides rigidity for the frame, side plate and rotor.  It is fairly light, tough and being a composite it won’t rust! Shimano uses this material on mid-range and budget reels for an exceptionally solid feel.

One-Piece Shank: Not only does the Socorro SW have a reversible handle for left or right handed anglers. But it is also has a single-piece shank for sustained and increased cranking power. Shimano uses this type of shank for added strength during heavy retrievals.

Cap Bail: The cap bail on the Socorro SW does not have a gap, so it won’t snag line during use. It also reduces friction as line passes by it.

AR-C Spool: The spool that the Socorro SW uses is a cold-forged aluminum type that is very strong and durable. Shimano uses a patented design with an angled spool lip. This lip reduces line friction and also lowers line twists, especially if using braid line.

VariSpeed II: This is a two speed oscillation system, it moves the spool at two different speeds to lay the line flat on the spool. As a result, you get trouble-free long distance casting.

Cross Carbon Drag: The Socorro SW uses patented carbon material washers with hatch-pattern on them. The washers are waterproof and used inside the drag system for assured performance. They are great for creating a strong and smooth drag when fighting large pelagic species.

Waterproof Drag: Another feature of the drag system, Shimano uses special protection gaskets, these prevent water intrusion into the drag system.

The Socorro SW Verdict:

You should choose the Socorro SW reel when you need a basic do-it-all saltwater reel. One that is as competent for surf casting as it is for jigging. Some may complain that the Socorro SW has a lower gear ratio, but it makes up for it with a higher cranking power.  I love that as a saltwater reel it offers the same precision “Hagane” gearing of the Stradic line, but at a lower cost.

Best Finesse Reel Under $300

top marks label in blue with yellow check mark
Shimano Stradic FL
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 6.0:1, 6.2:1 or 6.4:1
  • Use: Freshwater & Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 6.5 to 10.4 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 30 - 40 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 6 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 7 to 24 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Aluminum Hagane Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
What We Like
  • New Features Trickled Down From The Stella FJ!
  • Hagane Gearing = Super Swift Reeling
  • Flex-Free Hagane Body
  • Internal Parts Fine Tuned With "Silent Drive"
  • X-Ship = Precision Power Under Heavy Loads
  • New High Tech Waterproofing System
  • Ultra Light Weight With Silky Smooth Drag
What We Do Not Like
  • Learning Curve Of Not Having An Anti Reverse Lever
  • Certain Models Are A Bit Heavy
  • Bail Is A Bit Stiff

Stradic FL Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

ST1000HGFL

6.5

2/270, 4/160, 6/110

6 + 1

6.0:1

7

10/95, 15/75, 20/65

30

ST2500HGFL

7.9

6/200, 8/140, 10/120

6 + 1

6.0:1

20

10/150, 15/145, 30/100

35

STC3000XGFL

7.9

6/230, 8/170, 10/140

6 + 1

6.4:1

20

10/200, 20/140, 40/105

37

ST4000XGFL

9.9

8/240, 10/200, 12/160

6 + 1

6.2:1

24

15/230, 30/180, 50/120

40

STC5000XGFL

10.4

10/240, 12/195, 14/165

6 + 1

6.2:1

24

20/260, 30/235, 40/185

40

Stradic FL Review

The Stradic FL is the replacement for the previous FK model and wow is it an upgrade! Excluding the Stella FJ this is my favorite spinning reel of 2020. It’s without a doubt the top finesse fishing reel under $300 bucks. Actually I will go a step further and agree with other reviewers that this is the spin reel to beat under $400.

Sleek & Stiff Reel Body

The newest Stradic, the FL series is a feature packed ultralight spinning reel. It has a classic silver and blue finish that is compact with a comfortable non-slip grip. Using the same Hagane Body as the last series expect an aluminum body that is super stiff. As a result it prevents flexing during the hardest fight.

Tons of anglers boast about how light the Stradic FK reels are, well the FL series are lighter. This series only weighs between 6.5 to 10.4 ounces, as such the spinning reel will never feel heavy on your rod. The first time I used the C3000XG model I had a long day out on the water and had no wrist fatigue.

In my palm the reel body is compact but the spool is the big upgrade. The Stradic FL features the same long stroke spool found of the Stella FJ! Using this design makes every cast as long and accurate as possible.

The bail closes fast and the single folding aluminum handle with paddle knob. While for the 5000 size it comes fitted with a power handle.

Improved Features Of The Stradic FL Reel

Silent Drive: A redesign of 11 internal parts, including the drive gear, worm shaft, its pin and gear. This helps reduce microscopic handle play. While also eliminating noise and unnatural movement from the worm shaft. Combining redesigned components with fine tolerances produces silent and super smooth reeling.

Hagane Gear: The Newest Stradic FL uses precision forged gearing. The result is these gears provide superior strength and durability. Using special 3D designs is a fundamental concept of Shimano reels.

MicroModule II: New for 2020 the Stradic FL uses MicroModule II. This is a state-of-the-art, gear tooth surface design. Each gear has several tiny teeth, to make more contact points between the drive gear and pinion gear. As a result, the Stradic evolves into a reel with the smoothest retrieve possible.

X-Ship: Taking The Stradic FL to the next level, 2020 introduces X-Ship. Using an enlarged gear drive, they positioned a pinion at the center point of this gear. By doing so it transfers more power from the handle to rotor. For added support, the pinion lays on top of two SA-RB roller bearings. This balances the gear and lowers deflection of the rotor.

Dyna Balance: This feature uses a counter balanced rotor to stop wobble during retrieve. As well to enhance sensitivity and smoothness in the reel.

(S) A-RB: These are anti-rust stainless steel ball bearings. The (s) stands for shielded. Using shielded ball bearings aid the reel in operating smooth. Always remember, the more bearings a reel has the more smooth it will operate. Shimano uses shields on both sides of it’s bearings to keep out salt, dirt or water. A Stradic FL uses six shielded ball bearings and one roller bearing.

Hagane Body: The Stradic Fl has a flex-free aluminum body using the Hagane Concept. Reels with high rigidity eliminates flexing due to the stiffness and impact resistance. As a result you get efficient reeling that transforms in more cranking power.

G-Free Body: This moves the center of gravity of the reel closer to the reel seat and the anglers hand position. This shift in weight and balance reduces fatigue and enhances casting comfort.

Machined Aluminum Handle: The FL series uses a folding reversible handle for left or right handed anglers. Made of machined aluminum, since strength and precision is vital for heavy retrieval.

X-Protect: This is an ingenious internal waterproofing system. It uses a three lipped rubber seal system to keep out low pressure water. The water repellent grease between the second and third lips resists high pressure water. Combine this with a labyrinth of internal water channels. Providing high-level water resistance without adding weight or sacrificing light rotor rotation.

AR-C Spool: This is a cold-forged aluminum spool. It has increased strength and durability over die-cast aluminum or graphite spools. Shimano also designed it to have an angled spool lip. An angled lip reduces line friction and line twists, especially when you use braid line.

Long Stroke Spool: A spool with an increased height. This allows the line is able to lay on the spool without the spool having to fully oscillate as often. Lower revolutions means line comes off the spool fewer times during a cast. This results in less turbulence going through the guides for a smoother and longer cast.

Propulsion Line Management: After thousands tests, Shimano has a new spool lip design. Using this new design, Shimano is able to enhance casting distance and accuracy. While also preventing backlashes and wind knots.

Aero Wrap II: To help reduce line friction on the spool and during casts, the Stradic FL employs the Aero Wrap II. This is a two speed oscillation system which layers the line onto the spool in a crisscross pattern. Using a patented worm gear) to move the spool upward fast and move downward slow. This allows the reel to wind the line in a uniform pattern.

One Piece Bail: The Stradic FL uses a single wire bail. It aids in increasing smooth line exits from the reel and reduces friction on retrieval.

Power Roller: To reduce line twist, this reel uses a power roller with special groove. This ensures the line stays on the spool and reduces line twists up to 50%.

Super Stopper II: Is an anti-reverse system which uses a one-way roller bearing to cut back-play. This helps provide you with instant hook setting power by preventing back-play.

Extra Features

* Cross Carbon Drag: The Stradic FL uses patented carbon washers with hatch-pattern. These washers are waterproof and used inside the drag system to ensure performance. They are great for creating a strong and smooth drag when fighting large pelagic species.

Power Handle: The 5000 model of the Stradic Fl come with Shimanos tough power handle. This is to help increase an anglers leverage when fighting larger species.

* For 3000-5000 models only to enhance saltwater performance

Performance Features Like The Shimano Sustain

Inside the Stradic FL is a whole new performance standard for its price point. It’s like they stuffed most of the latest goodies from the Stella or Sustain series into it.

First this reel comes with the lauded MicroModule Gear II. This gear tooth design delivers rotational smoothness and big power transfer. Next the Hagane cold forged gear is 100% more strong as last year. To ensure perfect gear mesh at all times the reel employs the X-Ship pinion gear support.

To help cut vibration and noise from inside the reel the Stradic FL uses Silent Drive. This is a fine tuning of 11 internal parts, including the drive gear, worm shaft, its pin and gear. The result is silent and fluid retrieval.

For preventing water and salt intrusion the reel use the superior X-Protect system. This waterproofing helps maintain system smoothness and longevity. It achieves this through a labyrinth of water channels and water repellent grease.

Worth mentioning is that the 3000-5000 models come with cross carbon drag washers. These sizes are best if you intend to use the reel for inshore saltwater. A cross carbon drag increases your cranking strength while delivering smooth winding. Plus the 5000 model has Shimanos power handle to further aid in fighting larger targets.

Did I Find Any Disadvantages?

Nope! As of today I haven’t had any complaints nor has anyone I have spoken to. I’m blown away by how this reel fishes. While it isn’t at the Stella level of refinement it comes close.

Stradic FL Verdict:

This is the best spin reel for anglers who can’t or won’t shell out the cash for a Shimano Stella FJ. It has almost every feature of the Sustain series too. Not only is it a sleek looking reel but also superior in how it performs out on the water. With this reel you will have a solid performer due to all the goodies inside the reel. For an angler wanting an light reel that is superb to use,  the Stradic FL is the definitive choice.

Serious Inshore Saltwater Spin Reel

top marks label in blue with yellow check mark
Shimano Twin Power XD
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 4.4:1, 4.6:1 or 5.7:1
  • Use: Inshore Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 8.3 to 10.6 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 37 – 41 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 9 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 20 to 24 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool With Titanium Coating
What We Like
  • Most Stella Features At Half The Price!
  • Designed Specifically For Saltwater & Heavy Use
  • X-Protect = Best Waterproofing
  • Tough Drag System
  • Pretty Lightweight
  • Smooth & Comfortable In Harsh Environments
What We Do Not Like
  • Price Is a Bit High
  • Complaint Of Loose Handle Cap

Shimano Twin Power XD Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

TPXDC3000XG

8.3

6/230, 8/170, 10/140

9 + 1

6.4:1

20

10/200, 20/140, 40/105

37

TPXD4000XG

10.2

8/240, 10/200, 12/160

9 + 1

6.2:1

24

15/280, 30/170, 50/150

39

TPXDC5000XG

10.6

10/240, 12/195, 14/165

9 + 1

6.2:1

24

20/220, 30/200, 40/160

41

Twin Power XD Review

Searching for a monster of an inshore reel that is luxurious too from Shimano fishing? Do yourself a favor and check out the Twin Power XD, it’s a little powerhouse of a reel. Introduced in 2017 and made in Japan it has become a very popular product for Shimano.

The “XD” stands for (extreme durable). As its name suggests, the gears used in this spinning reel are 70% stronger than the older 2015 Twin Power.

I don’t own or use this model for Shimano fishing reel. Instead of not including it I asked Darren a contributor to Outdoors Informed who owns the C3000XG model to give you his review.

Darren’s Review:

Hey fellow anglers! If you are like me and prefer to use a smaller inshore saltwater reel this is one of the best I own. Think of it as an upgraded Stradic or a “Stella-lite.”

First, if you aren’t experienced with Shimano product codes this is what they mean. The “XD” stands for extra durable; while the “XG” means extra-high gearing (6.4:1).

The “C” stands for compact, but this is a bit of a misnomer. A “compact” reel is the same physical size as the previous smaller model. What’s different is the spool, on the compact reel it’s larger. This means the drag pressure and internal gearing is extra powerful. Keep in mind though, Shimano only offers compact versions for the 3000 and 5000 models.

Function Over Cosmetics

For looks, it’s super slick, but for the money you are spending what’s vital is how tough it’s construction is. More about that in another section of this review. One thing you will notice is how light and compact this reel feels in your palm, it’s comfortable and rock solid.

On first touch you’ll notice Shimanos well-known lightweight Ci4+ carbon reel body. The single aluminum handle feels secure but rotates smooth. While I find the round EVA grip comfortable, some anglers prefer the paddle shaped knob. An EVA knob is great for instances like it gets wet, unlike other types it won’t get slippery. Shape and comfort is subjective but know I never fail to grip with this knob when engaged in a fight.

Another feature I love is how the inner low inertia works via the MGL rotor to allow the handle to move. There is a distinct feeling of fluid movement combined with big cranking power. Plus the single bail has a steady trip closed on every use.

At the top of the spool is the front dray control and it clicks with authority. Below the spool you will see some cutouts, these allow water to exit from the channels of the X-protect

Durable And Reliable Features

Hagane Gear: A strong and durable cold-forged gearing that makes up the heart of the reel. This 3D design delivers assured resilience that provides butter-like smoothness.

MGL Rotor: This is the “Magnum Light Rotor”, which is 25% lighter than last year. Giving a better balance and requiring 22% less inertia. This makes it easier to start and stop your retrieve while still feeling smooth. 

X-Ship: To provide tenacious gear strength the Twin Power XD uses Shimanos’ X-Ship. What this means is a support for the pinion gear via a (S) A-RB roller bearing. As a result the pinion stays aligned under load and helps stabilize the gear.

(S) A-RB: Are corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings. The (S) means each bearing has a shield on both sides. This keeps out sand and grit which can inhibit the bearing ability to rotate. The Twin Power uses nine bearings and one roller bearing.

X-Protect: Used to prevent water intrusion the line roller and roller clutch. It’s a combo of water repellent coating and a labyrinth of internal water channels.

Hagane Body: This is a metal reel body with high rigidity. For assured stiffness and impact resistance stopping reel body flex. Which aids in increasing the angler’s cranking power.

Ci4+: Made of an inter-fusion of carbon and polyamide it’s an advanced version of the Ci4 material. The results are body panels that are 2.5 times stiffer and found only on top end Shimano reels. Ci4= is also the material for the MGL rotor. Another bonus, this reel body delivers a huge weight savings. Which ensures that which ever rod you use it with, it will be easy to generate long distance casting.

G-Free Body: A developed technology to shift the reel’s center of gravity closer to the rod. Doing so enhances balance and reduces fatigue.

Single Aluminum Handle: A super lightweight and comfortable handle for tough inshore reeling.

AR-C Spool: This is a lightweight cold-forged aluminum spool with a titanium coating. Plus it features a patented design, an angled spool lip. The lip allows the line to leave the spool with less friction, and in small coils for long accurate casts. An AR-C spool will also reduce line twists, especially with braided fishing line.

Propulsion Line Management System: Shimanos’ actual term for its new spool lip design.

Aero Wrap II: A two speed oscillation system used to layer incoming line in a crisscross pattern. This aids in reducing line-to-line friction for longer casts. The system uses a worm gear design (patented) which pushes the spool high at a swift speed. Next in a smooth motion, slows the speed to pull down which winds the line in the hatch pattern. It results in lower friction and smoother longer casting.

One Piece Bail: Using a single wire bail allows the line to travel unhampered to the line roller. A vital physical feature to reduce friction and line tangles.

Rigid Support Drag: It is a strengthening of the spool support of the main shaft. This helps suppress the play and fluctuation of the spool during drag operation. Another design to provide smooth drag under high loads.

Water Proof Drag: Sealed rubber drag gaskets to prevent water and debris intrusion.

.

Model Specs: Weight/Max Drag/Line Capacity

Shimanos Twin Power XD series offers three models to suit a many species and cast methods. The models include the C3000XG, 4000XG, and C5000XG.

The C3000XG is the lightest model of the bunch at a puny 8.3 ounces. Don’t let the weight fool you though, it is more than capable to target red fish. Its max drag comes in at 20 pounds. For average line capacity it holds 170 yards of 8 pound mono-line and 140 yards of 20 pound PowerPro/braid. Retrieve 37 inches of line per rotation with fastest gear ratio available at 6.4:1.

Next is the 4000XG, which weighs in at decent 10.2 ounces. Pick this model if you like to target larger species like bluefish and striper. It has a tough drag system with a max drag of 24 pounds. For line capacity it holds 200 yards of 10 pound mono-line and 170 yards of 30 pound braid. It has a fast gear ratio of 6.2:1 and a retrieval of 39 inches per crank.

Third, is the C5000XG another compact model. This one is the heaviest at 10.6 ounces although the extra weight is from the bigger spool. Like the last model it is best to conquer bull reds, striped bass and other big inshore species. Likewise it has a max drag of 24 pounds. It holds an average of 195 yards of 12 pound mono line and 200 yards of 30 pound braid line.

Stella Like Features At Half The Price!

I bet your next question is how does it perform? Let me put it this way, flawless. Shimano designed this reel with harsh saltwater environments in mind. But they also included almost all the features found in the double the cost Stella SW series!

The big concept for the Twin Power XD is X-Protect. This is a labyrinth of internal channels combined with a water resistant grease. It’s meant to protect the line roller and clutch and from my uses, it’s been great. Keep in mind though, this reel isn’t waterproof like a Van Staal, but for most anglers it’s more than proficient.

If you open up the reel you will see that it isn’t a sealed reel. Which isn’t much of a surprise as Shimano has never made a fully sealed reel. This is because the brand focuses on smooth performance and luxury features. Over you being able to dunk the reel for extended amounts of time.

Cast & Retrieve Performance

For such a small reel I was a bit worried my first time out. But no matter how aggressive I cast the body simply doesn’t flex. This is thanks to the Ci4+ carbon and polyamide body, its stiff. Shimano also uses this material for the rotor. Match this with X-Ship and the S-ARB bearing. As a result it delivers massive improvements over the 2015 Twin Power models.

During retrieves the main improvement I notice is the durable cross carbon drag for better control while fighting fish. Targeting lighter inshore species using soft bait was a breeze. Like the Stella it uses an AR-C spool, 2-speed oscillation and full titanium bail. The sum of these parts makes this reel super powerful and exceeds my expectations. The bottom line, this is my go-to for inshore fishing with lures.

Is It Better Than A SW Stella Or Twin Power?

Well, no it isn’t. While the X-protect works well for inshore I wouldn’t class it the same as the Stella or other “SW” reels. The Stella has greater waterproofing, it’s ideal for off-shore and works for inshore albeit overkill.

Looking at the Twin Power XD as a less expensive version of the Stella or Twin Power SW models, take my advice, don’t. This is a excellent reel for inshore saltwater targeting small to medium species. But when hooking something large it struggles unless you buy the 5000 model. Even with this size some anglers who target strippers feel it’s under powered. Although this is dependent on personal preference.

Verdict

This is all about fishing experience, by that I mean this is a high-end inshore spinning reel. Anglers who appreciate intense cranking power with luxury features will love it. It’s great light inshore reel but I imagine it’s not as robust as the either of the SW models. All the same, for discerning anglers there is no better option for a light inshore reel.

Top Surf Casting Spin Reel

Shimano Ultegra Ci4 XTC
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 4.3:1 or 5.3:1
  • Use: Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 15.5 to 19 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 41 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 5 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 33 to 44 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
What We Like
  • Amazing Long Distance Casting
  • Lightweight Minimal Reel Body
  • X-Protect Waterproofing
  • Long Stroke Spool
  • Hi-Speed Drag Is Awesome
  • Crazy Cranking Power
What We Do Not Like
  • Weak bail On 5500 Model

Shimano Ultegra Ci4+ XTC Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

ULTCI414000XTC

19

12/600, 16/440, 20/330

5 + 1

4.3:1

44

40/550, 50/460, 65/335

41

ULTCI45500XTC

15.5

10/425, 12/315, 16/230

5 + 1

5.3:1

33

30/360, 40/270, 50/220

41

Ultegra Ci4+ XTC Review

Looking for a spectacular reel which handles the surf, salt and the abuse from big fish? Stop, your search is over. This is the reel you want if you are standing on the pier or on the beach and need a super long cast. It’s the Shimano Ultegra Ci4+ XTC surf-casting reel. The line up of this reel includes two power house models, offered in both 5500 XTC and 14000 XTC sizes.

The Looks: Minimal Matte Black

Looks are a subjective matter, but for angler who love minimalist looks this reel nails it. The body including the handle is matte black in color. It’s lightweight due to the carbon Ci4+ construction of the body plates and rotor. Ci4+ material is light and resistant to flex, while providing all-day fishing comfort. With a weight range of 15.5 – 19 ounces this is in truth a manageable big pit surf reel.

Like other Shimano inshore/surf cast reels it isn’t sealed. But it does have X-Protect which is more than capable to keep out salt spray and debris.

For this review I am describing and using the 14000 model. But both the 5500 and 14000 reels feature large diameter long stroke spools. This spool dominates the reel without looking imbalanced.

A one-piece aluminum handle provides your connection with the reel. It comes with an EVA paddle knob, some anglers like these and some don’t, count me in the latter group.

Next, on top of the spool is the front drag clutch. With this reel you get the much simpler “Hi-Speed drag”. Which replaces the older Baitrunner II drag system. Make half a turn to go from free spool to fighting drag. This change is great news to any big pit or surf cast enthusiasts.

Likewise the bail is a single wire that for the 14000 model is faultless. Although I have heard of a couple complaints that on the 5500 the bail is a bit weak.

Great Features Of The Ultegra Ci4+ XTC

Hagane Gear: A strong and durable cold-forged gear that is the heart of the reel. This 3D design results in assured resilience that delivers supreme smoothness.

X-Ship: To help provide durable gear strength the Ultegra Ci4+ XTC uses X-Ship. This provides support to the pinion gear via a (S) A-RB roller bearing. As a result it keeps it aligned under load and helps stabilize the gear.

(S) A-RB: These are rust resistant stainless steel ball bearings. The (S) stands for shielded, so each bearing has shield on both sides. Shields keep out sand and grit which can inhibit the bearing ability to rotate. The Ultegra Ci4+ XTC uses five bearings and one roller bearing.

Ci4+: Made of an inter-fusion of carbon and polyamide this is an advanced version of Ci4 material. IT is 2.5 times stiffer and found only on top end shimano reels. The compact Ci4+ body delivers a huge weight savings. This ensures that any rod you use with it will combine to generate long distance casts.

G-Free Body: A developed technology to shift the reel’s center of gravity closer to the rod. By moving it closer to the your hand position enhances balance and reduces fatigue.

Parallel Body: Designed to increase dynamic line flow from the reel to the first guide. On other reels, spool alignment is a bit upward towards the rod blank, but this one is at 90° to the blank. The result is less line slapping the blank as it travels towards the first guide during casting.

X-Protect: A water repellent coating placed over special labyrinth of internal water channels. This provides the highest water resistance without sacrificing gear and rotor rotation.

Folding Machined Aluminum Handle: A super lightweight and comfortable handle for precise reeling.

AR-C Spool: This is a cold-forged aluminum spool produces great strength and durability. A patented design, this spool has an angled spool lip. This lip enables the line to leave the spool with less friction, as well in small coils for long accurate casts. An AR-C spool will also make less line twists, especially with braided fishing line.

Aero Wrap II: Is a two speed oscillation system which layers the line onto the spool in a crisscross pattern. Doing so, will help to reduce line-to-line friction for longer casts. The system uses a worm gear design (patented) which pushes the spool upward fast. Next, in a smooth motion, pull downward slow to wind the line in a precise pattern. As a result, you get lower friction and smoother longer casting.

Super Slow Oscillation 5: A slower spool oscillation compared to standard Shimano reels. It reduces the speed the line travels up and down the spool on the cast. As a result, you receive less friction as line leaves the spool and reduced drag on the lead. Which in the end improves casting distance and accuracy. Shimano Standard Oscillation is up to 20 wraps per cycle. Super Slow Oscillation 5 is up to 55 wraps per cycle.

Propulsion Line Management System: The newest propulsion spool lip design. Provides longer casting distances than a standard spool lip design while reducing backlashes.

Hi-Speed Drag: This is the fastest drag function featured on a Shimano front drag reel. A half turn of the drag knob will transition the drag settings from “free spool mode” to “fight mode”.

Water Proof Drag: Sealed rubber drag gaskets to prevent the intrusion water and dust.

Ultegra Ci4+ XTC Models

Two powerful models are available for this series from Shimano.

First, the 5500 model is the best surf casting reel for casting, jigging, plugging due to the max drag of 33 pounds. In fact this is the absolute perfect reel for carp. It comes with the 5.3:1 gear ratio and a massive 41 inches of line per crank. With an average line capacity of 315 yards of 12-pound mono-line. Or a respectable 270 yards of 40-pound braid.

Second, the 14000 is the choice if you are chucking live bait long distances due to the heavy 40 pounds of max drag. This will hook every large species (shark!) you would want to hook. It has a good fighting gear ratio of 4.3:1 while being able to retrieve 41 inches of line per crank. This model has a hefty max drag of 40 pounds. With its big spool the line capacity holds 440 yards of 16 pound mono/fluoro and 460 yards of 50-pound braid. That’s impressive.

Cast & Retrieve

Both Ultegra Ci4+ XTC models come with the Hagane gearing and “parallel body”. As mentioned the gears are cold forged to provide smooth casting and reeling. Parallel body is hanging the reel 90 degree to the rod blank. This decreases line touches against the line guides. Most anglers understand that more friction equals poor casting distances.

The real reason this reel can cast such long distances is the long stroke AR-C spool. This means the spool is taller than others.

On my first attempt casting with the 14000 I was gob-smacked at the average distances I could achieve. Distances of 275 feet and over are definitely doable depending on your technique. At first cast the thing I see is the super slow oscillation of the spool and the cross hatch line lay. The real reason this reel can cast such long distances is the long stroke AR-C spool. This means the spool is wider than others and line will pour out of it.

Like most of the other reels in this article, the reel uses X-Ship and five bearings and one roller bearing. The result is butter smooth winding in. Match this with the waterproof and hi-speed drag and you have intense cranking power. With this surf cast reel you have the best arsenal to catch anything you want.

Any Downsides?

For me, the 14000 model is flawless as long as I use it as intended and not for off-shore salt fishing. It’s for fishing off a dock, on the beach or in a canal. For the 5500 model, the main downside is the weaker bail. Which becomes evident if targeting around near 30 pounds of drag.

Why Pick The Ultegra Ci4+ XTC?

Pick the Ultegra Ci4+ XTC if you’re passionate about surf fishing. You get a spectacular reel that holds up to the rigors of salt, sand, spray, and big fish. Fish everything from red drum, sharks, and rays, you’ll find no better option. Bottom line this reel casts a country mile and fights like a ox.

Best Spinning Reel Under $50

green budget friendly label
Shimano Syncopate
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1:1 or 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: 4 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 7 to 13 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Graphite Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
What We Like
  • Simple One-Hand Casting
  • Buttery Smooth Drag
  • Speedy Gear Ratio
  • Dyna-Balance Wobble-Free Rotor
  • Great With Fluoro, Braid, and Mono Line
What We Do Not Like
  • Bail Is Stiffer Than Others
  • Trigger Feels Loose

Syncopate Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

SC1000FG

7.6

2/270, 4/140, 6/110

4+1

5.2:1

7

10/95, 15/85, 20/65

25

SC2500FG

9.2

6/200, 8/140, 10/120

4+1

5.2:1

7

10/170, 15/145, 30/95

29

SC4000FG

12.7

8/240, 10/200, 12/160

4+1

5.1:1

13

15/265, 30/175, 50/145

32

Shimano Syncopate Reel Review

The Shimano Syncopate spinning reel is the perfect stepping stone from the Shimano IX. Especially for novices looking to improve the efficiency and distance of their casts.

On first attachment to my rod I noticed how easy it was to secure it. Plus the reel foot & stem feel sturdy & light. The handle made of EVA material feels comfortable, while casting and reeling feels smooth. I also noticed that it has good to great gearing speeds.

For anglers with little experience, gearing speed should take a backseat to ease of casting. Lucky for you because this is an easy reel to cast with due to the “Quick Fire II” trigger. It is simple to use since you can cast and close the bail with one hand. Although on the reel I used, the trigger did feel a little loose which will annoy me over time. Another thing I noted was the bail is a bit stiff, but for a reel under $50 it is comparable to other brands.

Good Drag Management

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

The Syncopate comes in three sizes (1000, 2500 or 4000) with a gear ratios of either 5.1:1 or 5.2:1. Combining the smooth gears and the 4 ball bearings with one roller bearing this is a versatile and fast reel. It will allow you to target species from crappie up to larger inshore species like bass.

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. If you want a capable saltwater reel do yourself a favor and check out the Shimano Socorro SW.

Features Of The Syncopate Reel

Dyna-Balance: To enhance sensitivity and smoothness in the reel, the Syncopate uses a counter balanced rotor to prevent wobble.

(S) A-RB: Syncopate reels use four shielded anti-rust ball bearings with one roller bearing. The more bearings a reel has the more smoothly it can operate. Shimano uses shields on either side of each bearing to keep out dirt, sand or water.

XT-7 Reel Body: The Syncopate uses a durable graphite material for the frame, side plate and rotor. It is an okay weight, very rigid and as a composite it can’t rust!

EVA Handle Knob: A lightweight and comfortable to touch handle for long days on the water.

Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool: The Syncopate reels use cold-forged aluminum spools. This type of spool has increased strength and durability over cheap die-cast aluminum or graphite spools.

Quick Fire II: The reel uses a special trigger, or as some anglers call it a thumb bar. Its purpose is to allow for one hand casting by allowing you to open the bail with a single finger. Shimano has center balanced it so that when the reel spins it will it always line up with your finger/thumb.

Propulsion Line Management System: This is a patented spool lip design that uses a long stroke design. As a result, it enhances casting distance as well as prevents backlashes and wind knots.

One Piece Bail: Using a single wire bail, the Syncopate can increase smooth line exits from the reel. As well, it helps to reduce reeling in line friction.

Power Roller: To reduce line twist, the Syncopate uses a power roller with special groove ensuring the line stays on the spool. By using a power roller the reel reduces line twists up to 50%.

Why Buy The Shimano Syncopate?

If you are an angler searching for a stepped up entry-level spinning reel, this is a perfect pick. It combines affordability, improved speed and durability inside a great little reel. The Syncopate is simple to learn, rugged and smooth to operate. This is a versatile reel that will assist you along many levels of angling experiences.

Great Super Lightweight Finesse Reel

Shimano Stradic Ci4+
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 6.0:1 or 6.2:1
  • Use: Freshwater & Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 5.6 to 8.1 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 31-39 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 6 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 7 to 24 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Body & Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
What We Like
  • Super Light Weight
  • Smooth As Silk Casting
  • Magnumlite Rotor = Smart Drag System
  • Hagane Gearing ("HG" models)
  • Waterproof & Grit Proof Design
  • Less Line Twists Compared To Others
What We Do Not Like
  • No Actual Anti-Reverse Lever

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

STCI41000HGFB

5.6

2/270, 4/140, 6/110

6+1

6.0:1

7

10/95, 15/85, 20/65

31

STCI42500HGFB

6.7

6/200, 8/140, 10/120

6+1

6.0:1

20

10/150, 15/145, 30/100

35

STCI43000HGFB

6.7

6/230, 8/170, 10/140

6+1

6.0:1

20

10/200, 20/140, 40/105

35

STCI44000XGFB

8.1

8/240, 10/200, 12/160

6+1

6.2:1

24

15/280, 30/170, 50/150

39

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Review

The Ci4+ was a top marks reel last year, but the Stradic FL pushed it off its perch. It lost marks because it didn’t get the upgrades in internal features of the FL series.

For 2020 the Stradic Ci4+ is a great mid range Shimano spin reel. The Ci4+ is the a part of the “lightweight” series of the Stradic from Shimano.

While the other Stradic offering from Shimano is amazing, the Ci4+ is better in a few key aspects. One noticeable addition of the Ci4+ is how ultra-lightweight it is. This is due to the carbon and poly-amide body combined with the cold-forged AR-C spool. The Ci4+ material is 2.5 times stronger than the other Hagane materials. As a result this reel is ultra lightweight and because it isn’t metal it should be rust proof.

Another feature crucial for long days fishing is creating smooth and easy retrievals. Which is why Shimano includes a key feature with a the Ci4+, called the Magnumlite Rotor. Unlike the previous Ci4 designs this is 25% lighter and makes 22% less inertia. Resulting in better balance which takes less force to start and stop your retrieve.

Shimano fishing reels make incredible and smooth drag systems. As such the Ci4+ comes with the great gearing and bearings. Including the lauded Hagane gearing and X-ship, explained in the features section below.

Features Of The Stradic Ci4+

Hagane Gearing: Precision cold-forged drive gears, 20% thicker to provide superior smooth drag and durability.

X-Ship: A unique gear system for superior gear engagement. Using enlarged gear drive that positions the pinion at the center. This will transfer more power from handle to rotor. Plus the pinion is further supported by two (S)A-RB roller bearings. This stabilizes the gear and reduces rotor deflection.

Magnumlite Rotor: A lightweight rotor with an asymmetrical profile. This produces a very light rotation and improves balance when reeling in the handle.

(S) A-RB: High corrosion resistant shielded stainless steel ball bearings. Bearings contribute to the reel operating smooth and having more bearings is always best. The (S) stands for shielded, so these bearings have shields on both sides. Which reduces penetration from salt, dirt or water affecting the bearings smoothness. The Stradic Ci4+ uses 6 bearings and one roller bearing, as such it has incredibly quick gearing.

CI4+ Reel Body: This is an advance of the old Ci4 material, which is a composite mixture of carbon fiber and poly-amide. It is super-light, strong and being a composite it won’t rust! This is amazing as you used to only get carbon in more expensive reels like the Shimano Stella (4 times the cost).

Machined Aluminum Handle: Not only does the Ci4+ have a reversible handle for left or right handed anglers. But the construction is single machined aluminum. Because strength and precision is important during heavy retrievals.

G-Free Body Design: To improve the weight and balance of the reel in your hand, Shimano provides a G-Free body design. This is a shift in the reel’s center of gravity, moving it closer to the fishing rod. It achieves this by moving the oscillation mechanism 3/4 inch from the bottom of the reel up to the top. The purpose of the G-Free design is to enhance casting comfort and to reduce fatigue.

Core Protect:  Is 360-degree all-weather prevention of water entering the reel. The protection is under the rotor at the front of the body and at the roller bearing unit area. 

One Piece Bail: Made of stainless steel, the bail on the Ci4+ has no gap to snag line during use. It also reduces friction and allows the line to hit the line roller quicker.

AR-C Spool: This is a cold-forged aluminum spool producing great strength and durability. The patented design of this spool has an angled spool lip. The lip enables the line to leave the spool with less friction, as well in small coils for long accurate casts. The AR-C spool will also make less line twists, especially with braided fishing line.

Aero Wrap II: Is a two speed oscillation system which layers the line onto the spool in a crisscross pattern. Doing so, will help to reduce line-to-line friction for longer casts. The system uses a worm gear design (patented) which pushes the spool up fast. Next in a smooth motion, pull downward slow to wind the line in a precise pattern. As a result, you get lower friction and smooth long casting.

Power Roller: The power roller is a line twist reduction system. It uses a special groove to assure the line stays wrapped on the spool. Using Shimano’s Power Roller can reduce line twists by as much as 50%.

Super Stopper II: It is an anti-reverse system which uses a one-way roller bearing to cut back-play. This helps provide you with instant hook setting power.

Ci4+ Downsides?

One thing to keep in mind, there is no actual anti-reverse lever on this reel. Some anglers like having this lever to put the spool into “free-spool” mode. Instead the anti-reverse feature is “on” all the time with the Stradic Ci4+. I suspect they do this because it means one less port of entry for corrosion when used in saltwater.

Why Buy The Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Buy this Shimano fishing reel if you want a lightweight, smooth reel with a strong drag system. As an added plus it is near waterproof and sand/dust proof. I appreciate that the Ci4+ has components that most would only expect from much more expensive reels.

Anyways, for a mid range reel that you can use in fresh or light inshore saltwater, the Ci4+ won’t disappoint.

Best Cheap Entry Level Youth Reel

green budget friendly label
Shimano IX Rear Drag Spin Reel
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 4.1:1
  • Use: Freshwater & Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 8.4 to 11.4 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 19 - 24 inches per turn
  • Bearings: None - Uses Bushings
  • Drag System: Rear
  • Max Drag: 7 to 15 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Graphite Body & Spool
What We Like
  • Incredible Price
  • Good Basic Reel For Light Lures
  • Bullet Proof Reel Body
  • Decent Weight
  • Simple To Use
What We Do Not Like
  • No Bearings
  • Slow Retrievals
  • Short Casting Distances

IX Line Capacity Table

Product Code

Weight (oz)

Mono-Line Capacity (#Test/Yd)

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Max Drag (Lb)

Braid Line Capacity (Lb/Yd)

Retrieve Per Crank (In)

IX1000R

8.4

2/270, 4/140, 6/110

0

4.1:1

7

10/95, 15/85, 20/65

19

IX2000R

8.6

6/170, 8/120, 10/100

0

4.1:1

7

10/130, 15/100, 20/85

21

IX4000R

11.4

8/240, 10/200, 12/160

0

4.1:1

15

15/265, 30/175, 50/145

24

Shimano IX Reel Review

The Shimano IX is by far the most budget friendly item I have ever reviewed. Not only is it easy to use but it is also a bullet proof little reel. Buying this reel for a beginner or kids proves that a good Shimano reel doesn’t have to burn a hole in your wallet.

The first time you handle the Shimano IX you will feel the graphite body. Graphite is lightweight, inexpensive and durable. This reel uses this material on its spool, rotor, body and side plates. The reel isn’t as light as the others in the article, but for novices it is a great introduction to spinning.

The reel comes in three sizes, either a 1000, 2000, or 4000 and every model has a 4.1:1 gear ratio so it is pretty slow. Don’t expect quick retrievals either, as the line retrieve per crank in inches are only 19″ to 24″.

I recommend to use the 1000 for little ponds or as a kids first reel. The next step up in size, the 2000 is great for freshwater fishing. Finally the 4000 is the best choice for saltwater fishing when targeting smaller species like small striped bass.

All things considered, if you use light spoon lures or are teaching someone new to fishing, then this is a very capable Shimano fishing reel.

What Is A Rear Drag Spinning Reel?

Unlike the other reels, the IX is a rear drag which means that the drag system controls are at the rear of the reel. Whereas front drag controls are on top of the spool. Rear-drag reels are easier to use for beginners because the access is easier to find.

However it’s caveats are that it might not be able to fight large, hard fighting fish. Nor will you be able to achieve super long casts with it. But as a first timer, you should be focusing on casting accuracy over distance anyways.

Features Of The Shimano IX Reel

Bushings: The Shimano IX uses bushings in place of ball bearings. This is probably done to keep costs low. Bushings will operate fine as long as the angler keeps up with basic cleaning of the reel.

XT-7 Reel Body: As a budget reel, the Shimano IX uses a graphite material for the frame, side plate and rotor. Graphite is a composite material that is lightweight and stiff that won’t rust.

EVA Handle Knob: This type of knob is comfortable in your hand. As well as lightweight to help fight fatigue on those long days on the water.

One Piece Bail: Like the other Shimano fishing reels in this article, the IX uses a single wire bail. A one piece bail improves smooth line exits and reduces friction.

Quick Fire II: This is a thumb bar or trigger which allows you to open the bail with a single finger. It is center balanced so that it will line up with the anglers finger/thumb for ease of use.

Anti-Reverse Lever: On the belly of the reel is a small switch. When clicked into the “off” position the handle will be able to move in either direction. In the “on” direction, when you crank the handle backwards the bail will stop in the 12 o’clock position, ready for the next cast.

Is the Shimano XI comparable to another model?

Keep in mind, you shouldn’t compare this reel to $50-$100 dollar reels. Since it doesn’t have any ball bearings nor a similar smoothness during drags. But for the price it’s hard not to justify picking one up either. Think of all have times when you have an extra fisherman around that needs to borrow a reel. Plus the Shimano IX is a good reel to have around when targeting pond carp, channel, and bullhead.

Who Picks the Shimano XI?

It is not very often that you find a rugged and easy to use Shimano reel with an unbelievable price tag. So do yourself a favor and buy one, the Shimano IX is a perfect pick for anyone who is budget-conscious or new to fishing.

How To Choose Shimano Spinning Reels

Not sure which of the series or models to pick for your fishing needs? The best Shimano spinning reel for you will depend on how and where you fish and some personal preferences. To help you find the best spin reel for you below are nine vital considerations.

Size

Every series of Shimano reels make models that are capable for everything from super light freshwater species to larger off-shore game fish. The numbers in the product code mean the diameter of the spool. Bigger the diameter means more line you spool your fishing reel with.
For this article the smallest reel size is a 1000 used for light finesse fishing. While the largest is a monster coming in at 14000.

Freshwater & Inshore Salt

1000
This size reel is best used with 4-8 pound line, for targeting small to medium crappie, bream, walleye, or trout.

2500 – 3000
This size reel is for jumping up to 6-15 pound test line. A 2500 size reel is the most versatile size but the 3000 size tend to get less line twists. This size can handle every smaller species and medium fish like large mouth bass.

4000-6000
The actual reel size at 4000 is medium, whereas a 6000 size is bulkier and heavy. These size reels will use 10-17 pound test of mono or fluorocarbon line. Use these sizes for big freshwater predators and lighter inshore salt fishing.

Saltwater – Offshore

8000-10,000
This are bigger reels both in physical size and line capacity. These reel are for big fish such as species that hit 20 – 30 pounds. If you want to target striper, leopard shark or rays these are great size range of reels.

14000+
Anything over the 14000 size is for serious angler who want to catch massive species. This size of reel hold between 16-50 pound test of mono or fluoro-line! You hunt sharks with this size of spinning reel.

Line Capacity

It’s important that the reel size you choose matches the type and line size you fish with. Shimano prints line capacity numbers on the side of the reel. The numbers denote the average range of line capacity like this: pound-test weight/length of line.
For example: a reel stamped with 8/140 equals 8 pound-test line/at 140 yards. Which means this reel can use 6 and 10 pound lines too.

Drag System

This is the built-in braking system for the reel.You will either chose a front drag system or a rear drag system.

  • Front Drag: Located on top of the spool. It features several drag washers for increased durability and performance. Used in moderate to expensive spinning reels.
  • Rear Drag: Found under the bottom of the reel body. While it’s easier access when fighting fish it isn’t strong. As a result it isn’t great for strong and fast fighting fish. Inexpensive reels like the Shimano IX use the rear drag system.

Max Drag

The maximum drag rating indicates the stopping power a reel offers. In this article the Shimano spinning reels have maximum drags ranging from 7 to 44 pounds.

  • Finesse Freshwater – Look for 7-15 pounds max drag.
  • Inshore Saltwater – Pick 15-20 max drag
  • Offshore Saltwater – Need 20+ pounds of max drag

Gear Ratio

Gearing is the internal parts that transmits power via rotation from the handle to the spool. If you want fast retrieves a reaction strikes, opt for gear ratios of 6.1:1 or higher. Whereas if you are using crank baits, spinner baits for heavy cranking, opt of low gear ratio like 4.1:1. If you are in the middle and want a versatile targeting try a gear ratio of 5.1:1 or 6.0:1.

Ball Bearings

Most Shimano Spin reels use shielded anti-rust ball bearings. Their function is to reduce friction when the bail arm and spool rotates. Reels print a set of numbers to state ball bearings like this: “6 + 1.”

The first number (6) means a six ball bearing unit and the second number (1) is one pinion/roller gear.

More high quality ball bearings equal more smooth and durable reel performance. The Shimano “Super Stopper II” pinion gear is what promises smooth hook sets.

Shimano Spinning Reels Construction

Shimano packs their products with industry leading technology which translates into the best quality reels. Features like the Cold forged Hagane gears. Combining with Shimano’s advanced MicroModule Gear II and X-Ship pinion gear-support system. These ensure unflinching smooth control and exceptional durability despite heavy loads.

Using Shimanos Propulsion Line Management System ensures perfect fishing line management. While having implementing the AR-C spool on every reel to deliver long accurate casting.

Reel Weight

It should be obvious why reel weight is an important factor. Weight makes a big difference on long fishing excursions. The good news is that Shimano reels come in everything from ultra-lightweight 5.3 ounces up to 12.7 ounces for freshwater/inshore reels. While the Shimano saltwater reels range from a respectable 15.5 ounces to 23.5 ounces.

High Quality Materials

Reel body and handle materials are crucial as they determine the durability of the reel and weight. Shimano Hagane aluminum and carbon-fiber are the best materials. These are strong, corrosion resistant and lightweight. Shimano’s version of graphite, called X-T7 is rigid and being a composite it won’t rust.

Warranty

It’s good insurance to buy from a brand that covers their products. As a company, Shimano offers a two-year limited warranty. This covers defects in materials and workmanship. Be mindful to read the fine print in a warranty. It’s critical to know what conditions can void a warranty.

Finishing Up: Shimano Spinning Reels

As shown above finding the right Shimano fishing reel doesn’t have to be hard. Most of us want a reel that is lightweight, powerful and has a smooth drag. With your new found knowledge about the best 8 spinning reels, you will have an easy time picking the reel best suited for you.

Thanks for letting us at Outdoors Informed to help with your research. We do it, to ensure you can spend less time indoors and more time outside hooking fish.

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Last update on 2020-07-12

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