Shimano Spinning Reels Guide: Top 6 Flagship Reels In 2023

photo of fishing rod and reel propped on stand on a wooden dockWhy Shimano Spinning Reels?

Smart anglers buy Shimano spinning reels because they know using precision tuned fishing reels give them the advantages needed to be successful. While Shimano hasn’t been in North America as long as others, they’ve built a reputation for delivering spectacular performance and reliability. This is due to every model being lightweight and responsive, with industry leading 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 6 best Shimano spin reels for 2023. Expect to find fishing reels for every discipline and experience level.

After the reviews, I include a buying guide about how to choose a Shimano spinning reel. For ease of uses there’s a clickable table of contents for you to navigate to a specific review.

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Table of Contents

Before moving on, let talk product codes:

Shimano Product Codes

If you aren’t experienced with Shimano product codes, here’s a quick explanation.

  • PG = Power Gear: better suited to fighting fish and cranking them in from the depths. If you want to go trolling with a spin reel look for this rating.
  • HG = High Gear: a faster ratio, that’s great jerkbaiting, stickbaiting and popping.
  • XG = Extra-High Gear: extra fast ratio for high-speed spinning. As well as popping, and jerk-baiting in fast currents.
  • C = Compact: 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 tiny bit more power.

On to the numbers, which (1000, 2500, 3000, 4000, etc) indicate the diameter of the spool. So, the bigger the diameter, the more line you can spool your fishing reel with.

Comparison Chart

The Best Do-Everything Saltwater Spinning Reel

purple and gold colored label showing trophy and editor's choice text
Shimano Saragosa SW A
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 4.4:1, 4.9:1, 5.6:1, 5.7:1, or 6.2:1
  • Use: Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 15.9 to 33.9 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 40 to 53 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 5 + 1 or 6 +1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 22 to 44 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Cold-Forged Aluminum Body & Long Stroke Spool
Pro's & Con's

Saragosa SW A Review

After 7 years of service, a favorite workhorse reel has finally gotten an update! This is the Saragosa SW-A, a recognizable but enhanced version of the old Saragosa SW. In 2023, it’s the editor’s choice for the best do-everything Shimano spinning reels. Thanks to keeping many of the beloved features of the old model. While adding some trickle-down tech from the Stella SW!

The series comes in 8 sizes to fulfill all your saltwater fishing needs.

  • 5000 – light casting applications.
  • 6000 – light jigging.
  • 8000 – top water work, for smaller tuna.
  • 10000 – general jigging purposes.
  • 14000 – the best bang for your buck size, great for big stripe bass.
  • 18000 – used for top water targeting big hard-fight species tuna.
  • 20000 & 25000 – game jigging, marlin and other large pelagic species.

Floating Shaft Design

A big update, is the addition of “Infinity Drive” to this series of salt spinning reels. What this means in layman’s terms is, a floating shaft. It “floats” via a low-friction bushing inside the rotor nut. This isolates the shaft from rotational friction against the pinion. Which gains smoother winding and more torque under heavy loads. In reality, it fixes the rotor wobble that plagued old SW models. Keep in mind though, the rotor is graphite to keep the weight down.

For an anti-reverse it’s the same one as all the other Saragosa series. Shimano’s industry leading drive-gear, is basically the same one found in the Stella SW. The only difference being the type of surface coating. Likewise, the pinion is a machined brass. Also, it has aluminum Hagane gears and shielded anti-rust bearings inside too. Both come together and follow the X-SHIP design model.

The entire drag system is the same as Stella SW. Expect the any of the 8K/10K/14K models to cover 90% of size-appropriate fishing.

No More Parallel Foot Design!

Let’s all rejoice! Shimano listened to anglers and got rid of the parallel foot design in this reel. If you never owned the old model, let me explain. Many longtime brand enthusiasts hated the parallel design. Since it led to line slapping vibration, on some non-Shimano rods due to the rod’s stripper guide position. Which in turn caused back-lashing, a huge nuisance. The new Saragosa SW-A gets back the favored angled foot design. Although, in your hand you might find it hard to spot because the tilt begins at the rotor.

Compact Body Shape

The reel kept the Hagane metal frame along with the silver and dark purple color of the older Saragosa SW. Compared to the old model, the SW-A is now more compact. One reason why, is due to the smaller ridged plastic gearbox.

A big new feature is the placement of the frame screws. In the old model, the screws were way back in the frame. So almost half of the front area and the entire flange had no support. Now, there are two protruding screw posts that extend out the front of the frame. Fitting inside the front flange of the new shaped gearbox. Changing this assembly delivers an increased amount of balanced support.


As always, it also has X-protect and X-shield technology. Both help reduce water intrusion. Via a series of interlocking lips, where the spool and rotor contact. As well as, adding grease at the very last innermost lip. It has an IPX8 waterproof rating, so you can dunk it and reel underwater for a short time.

Better Spool

For a spool, it gets some trickle-down technology from the Stella SW, with the AR-C spool. The angled lip allows fishing line to leave the spool with less friction and in smaller coils. As a result, delivering longer casts.

Like the previous Saragosa SW, the spring-loaded one-piece bail arm is chunky easy to use. It has an excellent rigidity to weight ratio. Next, looking at the roller it’s wide enough to seat heavy leaders without a problem. Plus, the roller bearing gets sealed as well, via 4 different seals. Which is great, as this was the location most affected by salt damage.

The redesigned steel handle of the SW-A has a fixed joint to reduce fiddling, and no longer is there a visible pin. In use its almost overbuilt, with a complete absence of thread creep or flex under stress. For a grip, you get the loved egg shaped rubber one, the same featured on the premium build Stella SW. Next if my favorite new feature.


This is hands-down the best 2023 all-rounder salt spinning reel from Shimano. It’s the value king because you get almost all the qualities of the Stella SW at a lower price. The only things missing is a metal rotor and dent resistant spool lip. Good deal right?!

Popular Ice Fishing & Inshore Saltwater Reel

Shimano Twin Power XD
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1 or 6.4:1
  • Use: Inshore Saltwater & Ice Fishing
  • Reel Weight Range: 7.1 to 8.6 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 37 – 40 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 10 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 20 to 24 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Cold-forged ALuminum Body & Spool With MGL Rotor
Pro's & Con's

Twin Power C5000XG Review

After Shimano introduced the FD version, I wasn’t sure we’d see a 2023 XD model. Then Shimano did in fact release another Twin Power XD, and it’s a little powerhouse of a reel. Introduced in 2017, it continues to a great made-in Japan reel for light inshore salt angling.

The “XD” stands for (extreme durable). As its name suggests, the gearing used in this spinning reel are 70% stronger than the older models. Think of it as a salt dedicated Stradic series.

This specific review covers the smallest model, the C5000XG. However, the Shimano provides 3000 and 4000 sizes too. Here are some quick specs of this particular reel:

C5000XG Specifications:

  • C = Compact, XG = Extra-high gear
  • Weight 8.6 ounces (243.80 g)
  • Max drag: 24 pounds
  • Average capacity mono (yds/lb) : 195/12
  • Retrieve 40 inches (101.60 cm)
  • Average capacity braid (yds/lb): 200/30
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1
  • Bearings: 10+1
  • Spool: Cold-forged aluminum, long stroke
  • Body: Aluminum hagane
  • Rotor: Magnumlite
  • Handle Know: EVA power ball

Added Waterproofing

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 as dunk proof as a Van Staal, but for most beach/surf anglers, it’s more than proficient.

The Body

On first touch you’ll notice the lightweight Ci4+ carbon, G-free reel body. No matter how aggressive I cast and retrieve the body simply doesn’t flex. The single aluminum handle rotates smooth and the round EVA grip is comfortable. The non-slip EVA knob is great for instances like it gets wet.

Another feature I love is how the inner low inertia works via the toughest Magnumlite rotor yet. There is a distinct feeling of fluid movement combined with big cranking force. Match this with X-Ship pinion support system keep the internals tight and functioning. Add in the 10+1 S-ARB bearings too. As a result, it delivers massive improvements over older models.

On the top of the spool is the front drag 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.

Retrieve Performance

Stopping power comes via the durable cross carbon drag. 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. This is my go-to for light inshore fishing with lures.


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. Don’t let the weight of this one fool you though, it’s more than capable to target red fish.

The Spheros SW: Best Value To Performance Ratio

green and white colored budget friendly label
Shimano Spheros SW A
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 4.4:1, 4.9:1, 5.6:1, 5.7:1, or 6.2:1
  • Use: Inshore & Offshore Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 15.7 to 32.8 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 25 – 32 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 4 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 40 to 53 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Cold-forged Aluminum Body & Spool With X-Rigid Rotor
Pro's & Con's

Spheros SW-A 14000 Review

For 2023, is the redesigned Spheros SW-A series. It’s an amazing combination of performance and value. Due to the brand trickling down features from other flagship models. Think of it as a budget version of the 2019 Saragosa family.

Now coming in 7 different sizes, including 5000, 6000 and 8000 for inshore and nearshore use. Plus a 10000, 14000, 18000, and 20000 sizes for offshore fishing. Shimano added the 14000 and 18000 sizes to bridge the gap in heavy-duty offshore reels.

This specific review is for the SPSW14000XGA model. At this size and speed its perfect for jigging or popping for tuna. Below are some quick specifications.

  • XG = Extra-high gear
  • Weight 24 ounces (680.39 g)
  • Max drag: 26 pounds
  • Average capacity mono (yds/lb) : 260/20
  • Retrieve: 53 inches (134.62 cm)
  • Average capacity braid (yds/lb): 315/65
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1 (fastest of the series)
  • Bearings: 4+1
  • Body: Aluminum hagane
  • Spool: Cold-forged aluminum
  • Rotor: Aluminum X-rigid
  • Handle Knob: Egg-shaped EVA knob

Now With Infinity Drive

The Spheros SW-A now includes the feature called Infinity Drive, also found in the Stella. This is the same “friction-free” support for the main shaft. Preventing friction both increases winding torque to almost 30% more. It also allows for smooth and light rotation without rotor wobble. Now anglers get the quick retrieve of a HG ratio reel while also the torque a PG ratio reel.

Improved Water Resistance

Upgraded to feature X-Protect, a special coating and many channels in the reel to trap water. Along with X-Shield, 12 areas with gaskets to seal the body and rotor structure. Moreover, the proprietary three-lipped rubber seal system keeps low pressure water out. In total, its waterproof and corrosion resistant to a rating of IPX8. So, no issues with dunking or splashing during a fight.

All Metal Construction

First, the entire thing is all aluminum, including the frame, body, spool and rotor. For rotation, it has an oversized grip and machined aluminum handle shank.

Inside is the cold-forged aluminum Hagane gear and X-Ship pinion support. Combining both provides rugged durability when fighting hard-charging ocean fish. With 5 ball bearings, and fast 6.2:1 ratio, its perfect for nearshore or offshore fishing.

Cast & Retrieve Management

This comes from the “Propulsion spool” which uses an angled lip and long stroke design to enhance casting distance. With a drilled skirt to release any grit or water. Rated for use with mono, fluorocarbon and braid. Add to this, a large sealed roller bearing.

On top of the spool is the drag clicker which “clicks” with authority. The single-piece bail trip is mechanical and flips with ease.

Next for massive hook-setting, it uses the Super Stopper 2. Which is a one-way, stainless steel roller bearing that stops back play. For fighting fish, you get the cross-hatch designed carbon washers. Providing a wider range of settings, along with the smoothest performance available.


This is the one for salty anglers on a budget, it’s the absolute best value for price reel in this category. Think of the Spheros SW-A as one less bearing and a bit of different internal materials than a Saragosa! I know you will see a lot of these on offshore guide boats this year and for good reasons.

The Flagship Freshwater Spin Reel in 2023

purple and gold colored label showing trophy and editor's choice text
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
Pro's & Con's

Stella FJ (STL2500HGFJ) Review:

My pick for the best freshwater spinning reel in 2023, continues to be the Stella FJ. Although this could change when I get my hands the newest FK version due out later this year. For now though, based on long term use, the FJ model is amazing for freshwater jigging. It’s the pinnacle of matching refinement with performance for a spinning reel.

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

Today I’m talking about the STL2500HGFJ model, here are some quick specifications.

  • HG = High gear
  • Weight: 7.2 ounces (204.11 g)
  • Max drag: 20 pounds
  • Average capacity mono (yds/lb) : 140/8
  • Retrieve: 35 inches (88.90 cm)
  • Average capacity braid (yds/lb): 145/15
  • Gear ratio: 6.0:1
  • Bearings: 12+1
  • Spool: Aluminum long stroke
  • Body: Aluminum hagane
  • Rotor: Tangle-proof design
  • Handle Knob: Compact barrel knob

“Reel Feel”

Using the FJ model 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. Like any high-end Shimano reel, the body to the rotor and spool are in total balance.

The Hagane body is a metal reel body with high rigidity. A stiff and impact resistance metal eliminates flexing and increases cranking force. Next, the designers shifted 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. Doing so reduces fatigue and enhance casting comfort.

Another versatile feature is the reversible handle for right or left-handed anglers. Add to this the S-Direct drive system lets the handle to screw right into the drive gear. Resulting in pure power transfer and preventing all back play.

Ultimate Waterproofing

Next, you get the X-Protect and “E.I.” for waterproofing. The latter being Shimano’s proprietary surface coating of the spool and body. This creates more than double the corrosion resistance than a conventional surface treatment.

Best-In-Class Drivetrain

To get the smoothest, lightweight and strong gearing possible the FJ uses only the best. Such as the Hagane gear with the pinion getting dual bearing support on either end. Then add the 12 shielded anti-rust bearings and one roller bearing. To deliver lightning fast casts and retrievals.

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 delivers 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. To reduce twists, the FJ has an internal bearing for the roller. By placing the bearing inside, the roller is less susceptible to getting stuck.

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.

Stopping force comes via carbon washers and the rigid support drag enhancement for fighting strong species. This means a strengthening of the spool support on the main shaft. Therefore, it helps suppress the play and fluctuation of the spool during hard reeling fights.

Any Downsides?

I found one main downside for this Shimano spinning reel, the cost of 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.


If you are an angler who can afford to, buy this reel, the FJ model 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, a Stella delivers the smoothest fishing experience.

Best Budget-Friendly Stradic CI4+ Replacement

green and white colored budget friendly label
Shimano Vanford F
  • Retrieve: Left/Right
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1:1, 5.6:1, 6.0:1, 6.1:1, 6.2:1, 6.4:1
  • Use: Freshwater & Inshore Saltwater
  • Reel Weight Range: 4.9 to 7.8 ounces
  • Line Recovery: 25 - 40 inches per turn
  • Bearings: 6 + 1 or 7 + 1
  • Drag System: Front
  • Max Drag: 6 to 24 pounds
  • Frame Construction: Carbon/Polyamide Inter-fused Body & MGL Rotor, Plus Cold-Forged Aluminum Spool
Pro's & Con's

Vanford F (VF2500HGF) Review

The Vanford F is Shimano’s affordable replacement for the Stradic Ci4+ reel. It keeps the carbon body from the Ci4+ but also moves the center of gravity closer to the rod. Another difference, is it adds the awesome MGL rotor. The plus for using carbon/polyamide on the rotor is to reduce startup inertia. Lower inertia means its faster and lighter to rotate the handle.

This particular spin reel is great for mono-line. Yet even better for fluorocarbon with light lures. Due to the carbon body and X-Protect, it’s capable for inshore salt environments. Like ice fishing and drop-shot fishing, or stalking tailing fish in the flats. It achieves this through a labyrinth of water channels and water repellent grease. As a result, the internals, roller clutch and line roller have a rating of IPX8. Dunk it without any worry!

The series has models for most finesse applications by offering seven models. Offering speeds from 5.1:1 up to 6.4:1 and max drag from 6-24 pounds. Today I review the 2500 model.

VF2500HGF Specifications

  • HG = High gear
  • Weight: 6.3 ounces (178.60 g)
  • Max drag: 20 pounds
  • Average capacity mono (yds/lb) : 140/8
  • Retrieve: 35 inches (88.90 cm)
  • Average capacity braid (yds/lb): 145/15
  • Gear ratio: 6.0:1
  • Bearings: 7+1
  • Spool: Long stroke
  • Rotor: Magnesium
  • Handle: Compact barrel knob

Featherlight Body

Style wise, it has a stealthy matte black body with red accents Much different from the flashy finish of the CI4+ version. Its compact body that weighs 4 oz (151.2 g) less than the already lightweight Stradic CI4+ 2500 reel. In fact, its 1.6 oz (60.48 g) lighter than the FL version too.

It has a single bail which allows the line to travel unimpeded to the line roller. On the water both friction and tangles are absent.

Another bonus of the Vanford is using the compact barrel knob, instead of the old Ci4+ models T-knob. This grip provides enough tactile surface, and further lowers weight. One feature to note, the there is no longer a manual reverse switch. If you prefer this feature, it’s something to be mindful of.

Precision Performance Features

Inside the Vanford F is the Hagane gear, X-ship pinion support and Micromodule II. These combined help increase the precise reel response to angler input. Then Shimano threw in Silent drive to upgrade the drivetrain to be even quieter than before.

For bearings, it has 7 bearings and one roller bearing, all shielded anti-rust types. This is one more bearing than the older CI4+ it replaces.**

** Note: The VF500F model is the exception, it has 6 bearings and one roller bearing.

Upgraded Spool

New for this reel is the long stroke spool design and a two-speed oscillation system. Using this lays the line onto the spool in a crisscross pattern. The goal of these new features is to deliver longer casting and smoother retrieving.

For drag, you can rely on the sealed waterproof carbon washers. These special washers feature a cross-hatch design to improve strength and smoothness. They also keep out water, salt and other debris.


For 2023, the Vanford F is a natural successor to the Stradic CI4+ reel. It’s definitely an upgrade as its lighter, has more bearings and gets the MGL rotor. Although for casting the gains are marginal, where it excels is for retrieval. These Shimano spinning reels are perfect for ultra light finesse fishing and even for inshore salt/ice fishing.

Top Mid-Range Finesse Reel Under $300

blue and gold colored label showing check mark and top marks text
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
Pro's & Con's

Stradic FL (STC3000XGFL) Review

This is the replacement for the previous FK model and wow is it an upgrade! Excluding the Stella FJ this is my pick for the top freshwater Shimano spinning reel under $300.

It’s without a doubt the top medium finesse applications model in 2023. Now with even more trickle down features you can even do some light surf casting. I swapped out an old Ultegra reel for this without any issues.

For this review I use the “C3000XG” size. Below are some quick specs.

STC3000XGFL Specifications

  • C = Compact (same body as 2500 with larger spool!)
  • XG = Extra-high gear
  • Weight: 7.9 ounces (223.96 g)
  • Max drag: 20 pounds
  • Average capacity mono (yds/lb) : 170/8
  • Retrieve: 37 inches (93.98 cm)
  • Average capacity braid (yds/lb): 140/20
  • Gear ratio: 6.0:1
  • Bearings: 6+1
  • Body: Aluminum hagane
  • Spool: Long stroke cold-forged aluminum
  • Rotor: Aluminum
  • Handle Knob: Septon single knob (sub 2500 sizes) or T-paddle

All Aluminum Construction

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 this series is even lighter. It only weighs between 6.5 to 10.4 ounces (393.11 g), 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 bail closes fast and the single folding aluminum handle with a t-shaped paddle knob. It snaps back easy and holds its position throughout the cast.

3 Main Stella Trickle Down Improvements

First, it gets the long stroke spool. Using this taller spool design with angled lip makes every cast as long and accurate as possible.

Second, they added the lauded Micromodule II. This tooth design delivers rotational smoothness and big power transfer. Along with the Hagane cold forged gear and X-ship pinion support system.

Third is improving the water and salt intrusion protection with the superior X-Protect system. It achieves this with a labyrinth of water channels and water repellent grease.

Another bonus to help cut vibration and noise from inside the reel is the use of Silent Drive. A fine-tuning of 11 internal parts, including the drive gear and worm shaft. The result is silent and fluid retrieval without a hint of rotor wobble.

Extra Features

Worth mentioning, only the 3000-5000 models come with cross carbon drag washers. Expect felt material for the smaller size reels. The 3000 and over, are best if you intend to use the reel for inshore salt. Plus the 5000 model has the “power-handle” to further aid in fighting larger targets.


These are the best Shimano spinning reels for anglers who can’t or won’t shell out the cash for the other Shimano flagship models. With this reel you will have a solid performer due to all the goodies inside. For an angler wanting a light reel that is an absolute workhorse, this is the definitive choice.

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.

Spool 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 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. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a monster coming in at 14000 in size.

Freshwater & Inshore Salt

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

2500 – 3000 This size reel is for jumping up to 6 to 15-pound test. A 2500 size reel is the most versatile size, but the 3000 size tend to get less 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 to 17-pound test of mono or fluorocarbon. Use these sizes for big freshwater predators and lighter inshore salt fishing.

Salt – Offshore

8000-10,000 These are bigger reels both in physical size and capacity. Their function is to target big fish such as species that hit the 20 to 30 pounds mark. 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 to 50-pound test of mono or fluorocarbon! You hunt sharks with this size of spinning reel.


It’s important that the reel size you choose matches the type and line size you fish with. Shimano prints capacity numbers on the side of the reel. The numbers denote the average range like this: pound-test weight/length in yards.

For example: a reel stamped with 8/140 equals 8 pound-test /at 140 yards. Which means this reel can use 6 and 10 pound weights too.

Drag System

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

  • Front: Located on top of the spool. It features several drag washers for increased durability and performance. Used in moderate to expensive spinning reels.
  • Rear: 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 system.

Max Drag

The maximum rating indicates the stopping potential a reel has. In this article the Shimano spinning reels have maximum drags ranging from 7 to 44 pounds (19.96 kg).

  • Finesse Freshwater – Look for 7 to 15-pounds.
  • Inshore Salt – Pick 15 to 20-pounds.
  • Offshore Salt – Need 20+ pounds

Gear Ratio

These are the internal parts that transmits rotational force from the handle to the spool. If you want fast retrieves a reaction strikes, opt for ratios of 6.1:1 or higher. Whereas if you are using crank baits, spinner baits for heavy cranking, opt for a lower ratio like 4.1:1. If you are in the middle and want a versatile targeting try a 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 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 II and X-Ship pinion support system. These ensure unflinching smooth control and exceptional durability despite heavy loads.

Using  the Propulsion Management System ensures perfect fishing line management. As well as, 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. Shimano salt-style 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.


Its 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 The Best Shimano Spinning Reels

As shown above, finding the right Shimano spinning reels 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 6 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 2023-06-01

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