The 5 Best Shimano Spinning Reels (In 2021)

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Shimano Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel
“It has great features like X-Ship gear train technology, corrosion-resistant SA-RB bearings, a CrossCarbon drag system, X Protect repellant, and a rigid Hagane body. It is the perfect choice if you are thinking of upgrading to a premium fishing reel with different functions and is more comfortable to use.”

Best High-End Reel: Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 Spinning Reel
“It has amazing features including the reel’s Fluidrive II System, X-Ship Technology, Dyna-Balance rotor, and cold-forged Hagane gearing. It uses the Propulsion Line Management System for ultra-smooth performance preventing line tangling while enhancing the overall reliability of the reel.”

Best Budget Reel: Shimano Syncopate Front Drag Reel
“An excellent high-quality spinning reel that won’t break the bank. It uses QuickFire II Technology so you can cast with just one hand and you can enjoy long hours on the water.”

Shimano has been known as one of the world’s best spinning reel manufacturers. Across the world, countless anglers depend on their Shimano reels to maximize their efficiency while on the water.

Shimano’s top spinning reels are set apart, because of their inclusion of various high-end features, such as X Ship Technology, the Propulsion Line Management System, and Hagane gearing. These reels also come treated with Shimano’s proprietary CoreProtect anti-corrosion treatment, which prevents such reels from being damaged by the elements.

Sources researched
13
Sources researched
Customer reviews
15,760
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
15
Hours spent testing
Products tested
5
Products tested

Best Shimano Spinning Reels In 2021

Shimano Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel

Best Overall Reel: A reel that does it all, and then some

Shimano Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • X-Ship Technology for streamlined operation
  • CrossCarbon Drag System for robust fighting power
  • Hagane body for increased rigidity

The Shimano Stradic FL spinning reel should make the perfect choice for those who are looking to upgrade from their standard fishing reel, opting instead for a premium grade option.

This reel is packed full of useful features that most anglers will find immense value in. Some of the most prominent of these features include X-Ship gear train technology, corrosion-resistant SA-RB bearings, a CrossCarbon drag system, X Protect repellant, and a rigid Hagane body.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Of these numerous features, anglers are likely to find immense favor in the Shimano Stradic FL’s X-Ship gear train design. This technology eliminates much of the “free-play” found between the gears in most reels.

This is accomplished by installing bearings at each end of the pinion gear, effectively eliminating any undesirable travel. This should eliminate spool shafts to gear friction, thereby providing an enhanced degree of casting efficiency.

The Shimano Stradic FL’s CrossCarbon Drag System is another feature that most anglers are likely to appreciate. This drag system uses a series of carbon fiber washers to evenly meter line distribution, even when placed under a significant load. This should also aid in providing smoother than average drag operation, free of any hang ups or uneven spots. As a result, an angler is likely to notice an increase in his or her effective casting distance. 

This Shimano spinning reel also has a G free body. This gives the angler hours more comfort while fishing as it moves the center of gravity closer to the angler’s hand position, thus reducing fatigue and increasing casting comfort.

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 Spinning Reel

Best High-End Reel: A fishing reel that is as rich in features, as it is performance

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 Spinning Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • X Ship Technology for unparalleled gear stability
  • Propulsion Line Management System for ultra-smooth performance
  • Hagane gear for significantly improved durability

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 reel should make the perfect spinning reel for any angler who is looking to upgrade from a fishing reel of basic design to a model with a host of premium features.

This reel comes loaded with numerous amenities that should enhance one’s enjoyment when on the water. Some of the most notable of these features include the reel’s Fluidrive II System, X-Ship Technology, Dyna-Balance rotor, and cold-forged Hagane gearing.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Many anglers are also likely to find favor in the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000’s Propulsion Line Management System. This system is engineered to prevent line twist and tangling, which should positively impact casting distance and retrieval efforts, while simultaneously enhancing the reel’s overall level of reliability. This system works by providing a more efficient degree of line guidance, upon dispersal from the Ci4+ 4000’s spool.  

The Shimano Stradic Ci4 also has a G free-body which moves the center of gravity closer to the angler’s hand position. This helps reduce fatigue and enhances casting comfort, improving an angler’s overall fishing experience.

The Stradic Ci4+ 4000 utilizes Shimano’s X Ship Technology, which eliminates excess free-play between each individual gear, and should provide improved gear durability, and eliminate spool shaft to gear friction. As a result, this reel should be extremely durable, and be significantly easier to cast than a number of today’s most widely distributed fishing reels. This will likely find favor among anglers who practice a “cast and wind” style approach, on a rather frequent basis.

Shimano Syncopate Front Drag Reel

Best Budget Reel: Subdued in price, but not in performance

Shimano Syncopate Front Drag Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • Propulsion Line Management for improved casting potential
  • Quick Fire II Technology for next-level simplicity
  • Dyna-Balance capabilities for silky smooth operation

If you are currently looking for a high-quality ultralight spinning reel, that can be purchased at a budget-friendly price, then the Shimano Syncopate is likely to be your best bet.

This reel features Shimano’s Propulsion Line Management System, Quick Fire II technology, and Dyna-Balance capabilities. However, despite such premium features, the Shimano Syncopate can be purchased for less than most spinning reels on the market.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Many consumers are likely to find favor in the Shimano Syncopate’s Propulsion Line Management System, which controls the routing of lines onto and off of the reel’s spool. This system promotes a clean, crisp cast, free of tangles and backlash that typically limits a reel’s efficiency. As a result, an angler’s overall maximum casting distance should trend upward, with the use of the Syncopate by Shimano, and its Propulsion Line Management.

Also of note, is the Shimano Syncopate’s use of QuickFire II Technology. This advanced design presents anglers with a conveniently placed lever, that when flipped back, opens the bail without any additional movement. This feature should provide a wealth of additional convenience, and make it easier than ever for an angler to cast with only one hand. As a result, this should be a feature that is well-favored by those who spend long days on the water and make fishing with the utmost degree of efficiency a breeze.   

Shimano Sedona Fi Spinning Reel

Most Durable Reel: A reel that knows no limits

Shimano Sedona Fi Spinning Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • Hagane gear train components for reliable operation
  • Double-anodized machine-cut spool for greater line capacity
  • Propulsion Line Management System for enhanced casting capabilities

The Shimano Sedona Fi spinning reel should make the perfect option for those that spend a tremendous amount of time on the water, and require a fishing reel that can sustain rigorous use. This reel features Hagane gear train components, which are precision cut for enhanced wear protection and class-leading durability.

The Shimano Sedona Fi fishing reel is suited for freshwater fishing as well as inshore saltwater fishing.  For anglers who fish with any degree of regularity, there are likely few better reels currently available.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

The Shimano Sedona Fi spinning reel also features a double-anodized machine-cut spool, which substantially increases its line capacity, over the vast majority of similar market offerings. This feature should be of significant benefit when casting, as a greater length of the available line prevents coming up short when the distance is of the utmost importance. As a result, anglers are better able to direct their cast as needed, in order to reach isolated pockets of fish.

To further aid in casting, Shimano has outfitted their Sedona Fi series of spinning reels with their proprietary Propulsion Line Management system, which is renowned for its ability to promote smooth line dispersal. This system provides longer casting distances, by preventing tangling and backlash.

In order to accomplish this, the Propulsion Line Management system directs the outgoing dispersal of line in a more even manner. This feature should be appreciated by bass anglers, who primarily employ a cast and retrieve tactics.  

The Shimano Sedona Fi is also a G free-body which moves the center of gravity closer to the angler’s hand position for more comfort and overall better fishing experience.

Shimano Ultegra Spinning Reel

Best Corrosion Resistant Reel: Impervious to the elements, so that you can fish on without a worry

Shimano Ultegra Spinning Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • Rigid Hagane frame for amplified gear mesh
  • X-Ship technology for increased casting potential
  • CoreProtect technology for enhanced durability.

If you are currently looking to upgrade your fishing rig to a more premium setup, then the Shimano Ultegra spinning reel is likely to be worthy of your consideration.

This spinning reel is extremely versatile and is packed with a number of diverse features, many of which should be highly appreciated by most anglers. The most notable of these features include Hagane gearing, X-Ship Technology, and CoreProtect element resistance.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

The Shimano Ultegra spinning reel features CoreProtect element resistance, which keeps saltwater, sand, and dirt away from the unit’s vital components. This should effectively extend the Ultegra’s service life by resisting the onset of corrosion, even in the harshest of all environments.

Many anglers are also likely to find favor in the Shimano Ultegra’s X-Ship technology. This feature is designed to prevent excessive play between the reel’s gears, by placing ball bearings at each end of its pinion gear. In turn, this should reduce spool shaft to gear interference and promote more efficient casting. The G free body gives the angler hours more comfort for inshore fishing or saltwater fishing, whichever their pleasure might be.


Considerations When Choosing A Shimano Spinning Reel

Water Type

One must decide whether they intend to fish in fresh or saltwater and purchase a reel that is best suited to the application at hand.

Reels differ in construction based upon their intended use, including whether a reel is meant for fresh or saltwater usage. While most saltwater reels can be used in freshwater, this fact is not reciprocal. If a freshwater reel is utilized in a saltwater application, corrosion-related issues will arise in short order.

A saltwater reel typically features shielded bearings, sealed drag systems, and anti-corrosive coatings, in order to minimize the effects of coastal water salt content.

Species Type

In order to make the most efficient use of your time on the water, it is always best to select a fishing reel that is best suited to the species of fish that is being pursued.

When selecting the perfect fishing reel for purchase, an angler must first consider their target species. The size of the spinning reel used when pursuing catfish, differs significantly from the reel used when pursuing bluegill or other panfish species. These reels vary not only in physical size but in the exact gear ratio which each feature.

Bearings

The quality and count of bearings featured by a particular fishing reel directly influence the unit’s operational efficiency.

Fishing reels of every type use ball bearings to minimize rolling friction, and to provide smooth operational characteristics. Premium fishing reels generally feature numerous bearings, of which all are extremely uniform in construction.

Construction

If a reel is constructed in a subpar fashion, a number of durability related concerns can quickly become evident.

The difference between a fishing reel that lasts a lifetime, and one that experiences issues in rapid succession, typically comes down to the integrity of its construction. A strong and durable reel will almost always outlast a reel that is built to a lesser standard. In the simplest of terms, not all reels are created equally.

Quality Machining

A reel’s reliability increases when constructed with the use of quality machining practices.

When a reel’s components are machined in a precise manner, smooth, seamless performance is to be expected. This stems from the fact that well-machined components provide more refined operational surfaces on which to function. In turn, this reduces friction and enhances efficiency.

Bails

A reel’s bail serves as a release for line dispersal, which imparts great importance upon this component’s functionality.

A reel’s bail engages and disengages in order to initiate and suppress line dispersal. Without proper bail function, casting can become difficult, if not impossible. Therefore a reel’s bail mechanism should be constructed in a robust fashion and should be capable of withstanding significant use.

Power vs. Speed

In order to choose the perfect reel for a particular application, an angler must determine the exact gear ratio that is right for them.

A reel’s gear ratio serves as the defining factor between power and speed. The higher a reel’s gear ratio, the faster its retrieve. However, this comes with a sacrifice in torque. When pursuing sizable species of fish, such as catfish, a reel with a lower gear ratio is often the best choice. On the contrary, higher gear ratio reels tend to be of an advantage when fishing for bass or panfish.

Drag

The quality of a reel’s drag system plays a key role in determining how well it will withstand an epic fight.

A reel’s fighting potential is rooted in the quality of its drag system. A reel’s drag system utilizes an arrangement of durable drag washers to impart friction. The exact amount of friction that is applied is metered by the unit’s drag adjustment. The tightening of a particular reel’s drag adjustment will present increased friction, while the loosening of this adjustment will allow a greater degree of slippage.

Line Capacity

A reel’s line capacity is often far more important than most angers are aware, and directly influences a unit’s casting range, as well as its fighting potential.

Reels of every design carry maximum line capacity rating. This number is of significance, as it determines the overall availability of line for distance casting, and for fighting hearty fish that are capable of stripping line from a reel in a fight.

Comfort

An uncomfortable reel is unlikely to experience much use, and is instead often left in an angler’s garage to gather dust.

As most anglers are well aware, an uncomfortable or cumbersome reel is quite the pain to contend with. A reel of this nature typically sees very little use and is often stored away, never to be fished again. On the contrary, a lightweight ergonomic fishing reel tends to be highly appreciated, especially by anglers who spend every free minute on the water. The use of such a reel prevents hand, arm, and back fatigue, making for a far more enjoyable fishing experience.


Questions & Answers

Do Shimano reels have a lifetime warranty?

Shimano reels do not feature a lifetime warranty. However, all reels offered by Shimano are backed by a 2-year warranty against material or manufacturing defects. This warranty policy is rather standard across much of the industry, and provides consumers with peace of mind that their newly purchased spinning reel will be covered, should any unfortunate circumstances arise.

Luckily, if your Shimano reel were to experience issues outside of the above-mentioned warranty period, replacement parts of a near-endless variety are readily available for purchase on the internet. In many cases, the replacement of these individual parts is quite simple and can be conducted with basic hand tools.

What do the numbers mean on Shimano reels?

The numerical designations found on Shimano reels serve as size indicators. More specifically, these numbers provide an angler with information regarding a reel’s spool size, which can be compared to other Shimano models as a matter of reference. This assists anglers in selecting a fishing reel that is optimally sized for the application in which it is to be used.

As a general rule, the larger the number, the larger a specific Shimano reel is. For example, a 4000 series Shimano reel is far larger than a 1000 series reel. Therefore, a 4000 series reel is far better equipped to wage battle against large fish species, than a 1000 series reel.

Does Shimano repair reels?

Shimano does indeed offer reel repair services. However, these repairs, when possible, should be directed through the nearest authorized Shimano authorized service center. Each service center has staff members on hand who are trained in the repair of Shimano spinning reels, both new and old. This ensures that your Shimano reel is handled by knowledgeable individuals, who are capable of making all necessary repairs in a thorough fashion.

Anglers can determine the whereabouts of their closest authorized service center by checking out Shimano’s website. Most states have multiple locations of this nature, making it easier than ever to have your spinning reel restored to its former glory.

Which Shimano Stradic is best?

The Shimano Ci4 is widely known as Shimano’s highest-quality reel within the Stradic series, and for good reason. This reel features the manufacturer’s X Ship Technology for enhanced durability and effortless casting, Propulsion Line Management System for smooth, even line dispersal, and Hagane gearing for precise operation and better gear mesh.

The presence of these features, along with this unit’s highly refined construction make the Shimano Stradic Ci4 a winner in the eyes of most anglers. For this reason, the Stradic Ci4 remains one of the company’s best selling spinning reels to date. No matter the application that it is to be used, the Ci4 is more than capable of getting the job done in a highly efficient manner.

What is Shimano CoreProtect?

CoreProtect is the name used to signify Shimano’s premium-tier water repellent treatment. This proprietary surface treatment stops invasive moisture in its tracks, thereby reducing corrosion related concerns. This is of significant value, as corrosion of any type can quickly render a spinning reel useless. This is especially true when dealing with untreated units, which are prone to damage at the hands of the elements.

Shimano’s CoreProtect is also noteworthy for its ability to provide superior corrosion resistance without adding any extra heft to a reel’s spool or body. As a result, a reel treated with CoreProtect should perform in a smoother fashion, than those treated with an alternative substance and make it a superior saltwater spinning reel.

What is a front drag spinning reel?

A front drag spinning reel utilizes larger than average drag washers. These lager washers present a friction surface of far greater dimensions, which in turn provides a high-degree of integrity, and heat dissipation. This reduction in heat minimizes the occurrence of sticking when placed under a significant load, such as that which occurs when fighting a sizable fish.

In many regards, front drag reels are deemed as being superior to their rear drag alternatives, These drag systems typically provide more reliable operation, and are better equipped to meter line under periods of stress. Because of this, front drag reels tend to be the preferred option for those pursuing trophy size fish.

Why are Shimano the best spinning reels?

Shimano has long been heralded as the premier manufacturer of high-end spinning reels, and for good reason. The vast majority of spinning reels offered by Shimano feature a wealth of technologically advanced features, such as Propulsion Line Management, Hagane gearing, and X-Ship technology. Each of these features are exemplary in nature, and enhance the capabilities of each reel on which they are found.

Another key to Shimano’s success is their use of premium material throughout the manufacturing process, which bolster their products’ durability. As a result, anglers are provided with spinning reels that they can rely upon, from one year to the next.

Where are Shimano spinning reels made?

Shimano carries out the manufacturing of their reels in two separate locations. All premium-grade reel’s ar constructed at the company’s Japanese facility, while all other reels are built in Malaysia. Each of these manufacturing facilities are state of the art, and operate under stringent production guidelines in order to produce the highest quality products imaginable.

The manufacturer’s tradition of basing its production in Japan is long-standing in nature. Shimano is a Japanese based company, having been founded by Shozoburo Shimano in 1921. Shimano’s company was originally known as the Shimano Iron Works Company but expanded into the production of specialty fishing gear soon thereafter.