Best Shimano Spinning Reels | For all Anglers

Chosen Shimano to back you? Intelligent decision! But could you really decide on which one should you really go with? We guess a no and that’s where we came in. So, what you are going to get from this article is the best Shimano Spinning Reel that has all the latest technologies of Shimano, quality construction of its traditional reels, and specifications that you need to catch the fish of your dreams.

Best Shimano Spinning Reels

Things don’t end here. As we know Shimano is a Japanese brand with technicalities at max so we’ll also help you know the technologies behind their reels and how they work and a guide below is where you’ll find all these. Attached with the answered queries so you know what you are getting into without digging down the internet.


6 of the Best Shimano Spinning Reels

Shimano Vanford F
Shimano Vanford F
  • More Advanced Ci4+ Construction
  • Magnumlite Rotor
  • Long-Stroke Spool
  • Aerowrap Ii Technology
  • Built-In Micromodule Gear Ii
  • Hagane Gear And Hagane Body
  • Xship Gear And Xprotect Coating
  • Water-Resistant Cross Carbon Drags
  • 7+1 S A-RB Bearing System
  • Silent Drive Gear
Shimano Stella SW C
Shimano Stella SW C
  • Infinity Drive Gear
  • X-Rigid Bail
  • X-Tough Drag
  • X-Rigid Rotor
  • Ipx8 Water-Resistant Body
  • One-Piece Bai
  • Aerowrap Ii Technology
  • Heatsink Drag
  • Hagane Gear And Hagane Body
  • X-Rigid Handle
  • Rigid Support Drag
  • X-Protect And X- Shield Technology
  • Water-Resistant Cross Carbon Drags
  • Xship Gear Support
  • X-Rigid Gear
  • 13+1 S A-Rb Bearings
Shimano Stradic FL
Shimano Stradic FL
  • Ci4+ Construction
  • Long-Stroke Spool
  • Aerowrap Ii Technology
  • Built-In Micromodule Gear Ii
  • Sturdy Hagane Gear
  • Rigid Hagane Body
  • Xship Gears
  • Xprotect Coating
  • Cross Carbon Drags
  • 6+1 S A-RB Bearing System
  • Silent Drive Gear

Top-rated Shimano Spinning Reels

Shimano has a wide range of spinning reels in their lineup and as though all of them could confuse even the anglers with years of experience as to which one to go with. After a ton of research (or maybe more), we narrowed down one of the best spinning reels from Shimano at your convenience.

1. Shimano Vanford F Spinning Reel – Best Shimano Freshwater Spinning Reel

Shimano Vanford F
Shimano Vanford F

The Shimano Vanford F is a revolution to the Stradic Ci4+ that replaces the series with refurbished features and improvised specifications. The reel instantly became the center of attention with such a huge 360 change for the performance it provides. Let’s have a look at what we think are the most compelling features of the reel. 

What makes it Stand Out:

  • The reel is highly responsive which we think is the rarest feature we found in the reels of today. It has this MagnumLite (MGL) Rotor that does the job by enhancing rotational inertia.
  • It offers improvised Long Stroke Spool technology that impressively helps in casting as you’ll get more distance to try your baits.
  • The drags are exceptional that use Shimano’s Cross Carbon drag technology making it the best Shimano reel.
  • The durability and sturdiness are ensured by X-Protect technology and water-channeling construction that makes it saltwater friendly despite its carbon construction.
  • The reel upgraded the Ci4+ carbon body with up to 2.5x more rigidness than the entire Ci4+ series making the reel lightweight and compact.
  • The S-ARB bearing means you’ll get bearings double shielded that count to 8 with that one roller bearing included.
  • Paired with MicroModule Gear II results in a smooth reel performance.

Models Details:

There are 7 models in this lineup that goes handy for every angler on the sea. These range from 500 to 5000 (i.e. VF500F, VF1000F, VFC2000HGF, VF2500HGF, VFC3000XGF, VF4000XGF, VFC5000XGF). Out favorites in them are.

VF500F: It is the lightest reel weighing just 4.9 ounces. Incorporated with a medium-speed gear ratio of 5.6:1 and 6 lbs drags make it is worthwhile for finesse fishing. However, it compromises on a bearing.
VFC2500HGF: 2500 is a fast reel that features a gear ratio of 6.0:1 with a massive drag of 20 pounds. The weight is 6.3 ounces which is similar to 3000 size. Though, 3000 has an extremely fast ratio which makes it extra sleek to handle bigger species at that speed.
VF4000XGF: If you had to choose between 4000 and 5000, go with the 4000 since it has relatively lighter with similar drag powers, gear ratio, and retrieve rate. But you will definitely be going to get more edge with this size for using medium-weight baits and lures.


The reel is protected with X-Protect technology, though, it is still not your first choice to have on saltwater due to its carbon construction. For an inshore, it can b yes but anything more than that, the steel starts to corrode. 

Our Verdict:

Vanford has a name in freshwater fishing and once you’ll get this reel, you’ll know why. The reel has a state-of-the-art built that performs as one expects it to. For all reasons, Vanford is the best Shimano freshwater spinning reel that is beautiful inside out.

2. Shimano Stella Sw C – Most Advanced Shimano Spinning Reels

Shimano Stella SW C
Shimano Stella SW C

Shimano Stella Sw C sets the bar high with its extreme addition on the technological side. The reel has 22 technologies that are combined to make Stella Sw C. According to a recent fishing trip on the beaches of the Outer Banks that resulted in this reel, here’s what we find out the amazing aspects of the reel.

What makes it Stand Out:

  • The rotation of the reel is smooth, thanks to the Infinity Drive that has resulted in a more improvised winding torque and rapid line retrieve.
  • The more powerful the drugs are, the wider are the settings for that, and Cross Carbon Drag technology is behind that. There is also a Heatsink drag installed at the bottom of the spool that works tremendously.
  • The Hagane body and Gears live up to the mark with maintained quality and performance.
  • The X-Rigid rotor additionally enhances strength when fighting a daring fish. Though, it is a rare feature in Shimano saltwater reels.
  • The bail on the reel is made of titanium alloy which keeps it lightweight and anti-corrosive. It also has a name you’ll hear as X-Rigid bail.
  • The drags are completely sealed which maintains the sturdiness by keeping away water and dust.
  • The reel is coated with X-Protect and X-Shield which gives an edge for using this reel for deep-sea fishing, surfing, and many saltwater activities with no harm.
  • The handles are also upgraded in this reel with an aluminum outer and stainless-steel core.
  • The spool movement is worth watching. It rapidly goes upward while getting back down at slightly a slow pace that ultimately enhances the casting distance smoothness and that is because of the Aero Wrap II technology.
  • It has ball bearings in abundance i.e 13+1 that shares the S-ARB technology making the reel an absolute beast. 
  • It is also rated by IPX7 for its water-proof properties.

Models Details:

There are ten models in this lineup. The 3 typical models follow 4000 to 6000. 8000 size has two variants in HG and PG. While there is a lineup of 5 extra big reels sizing from 10000 to 30000.

STLSW4000XGC: 4000 is a fast reel incorporated with a gear ratio of 6.2:1 that makes it an entry for the top-notch Shimano saltwater spinning reels 4000. You can have all your luck retrieving a 24-pound fish with this reel. Though it is slightly heavier than other Shimano’s 4000 models being at 12.5 ounces the features pretty much justify it.
STLSW5000HGC: 5.7:1 gear ratio combined with 38” retrieve rate and 29 lbs drag marks up this reel at 14.8 oz. Have a closer look and you’ll find “all you need” for an excellent trout and marlin fishing.
STLSW6000HGC: This 15 ounces in your hand is a steal that is built with a 5.7:1 gear power. The 41” cranking speed is quite actually speedy that saves you time for multiple casts with powerful drags of 29 lbs.
STLSW8000HGC and STLSW8000PGC: The 8000 model can be used with the braided line only with similar ratings of 40/340, 50/265, and 65/215. Both weigh in at 22 oz and share the same drag power of 55 lbs. However, the HG model has a gear ratio of 5.6:1 and provides the cranking power of 42” per handle crank. In contrast, the PG has a slower gear ratio of 4.9:1 which helps in retrieving more efficiently with a consistent cranking rate of 37 inches.

Now starts the model that makes Stella the King of Saltwater Fishing.

STLSW10000PGC: The reel comprises of 4.9:1 gear ratio. The drags are 55 lbs and the retrieve rate is 40 inches. Packed in a 23.6 weight, it is a good option for pier fishing.
STLSW14000XGC: The 23.8 feels the same as the 10000. It has the highest gear ratio at 6.2:1 in this lineup. The drags are pretty impressive that provide a dragging power of 55 lbs.
STLSW18000HGC: This model is also a high gear that is packed with a 5.7:1 ratio. It has a deadly combo of a 51” retrieve rate and 62 lbs drag to catch out any fish out of the sea.
STLSW20000PGC:20000 is the one we used and tested. Though we didn’t use the 62 lbs drag i.e we kept it at 50 lbs and it was more than enough. The gears at 4.4:1 absolutely work amazingly. Plus, the retrieving is great and it does its work at 41 inches.
STLSW30000C: this is a nightmare for saltwater species with 55 lbs drag. The reel at 34.4 is still lighter than the Kastking’s 5000 size at 40 oz. It offers a similar gear speed as the 20000 model at 4.4:1.


The 22 features mean the price goes a bit high from 3 digits. So far, the price is the only drawback with the reel otherwise it’s a workhorse that could serve you years of quality fishing.

Our Verdict:

If you are an angler with fishing as a profession then you should definitely give yourself a favor and get this reel. Stella Sw C is a beast of a reel that always lives up to the expectation for any water condition.

3. Shimano Stradic FL – Best Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel

Shimano Stradic FL
Shimano Stradic FL

Well, Stradic Ci4+ was discontinued but still have our maximum luck with Stradic FL, which is the latest model in the lineup. It is one of the best Shimano reels of all time. Again, you are going to dive into the river of features and quality components that you may love to know! 

What makes it Stand Out:

  • The best thing is the reel’s positioning on the rod. Its center is the magnitude of the rod which is the outcome of one of its features called G-FREE BODY. 
  • The 6+1 ball bearings are composed of S-ARB bearing technology which is double-shielded and functions frictionlessly. 
  • All of the models in this lineup have fast gear ratios which make fishing speedy yet thrilling. 
  • The hagane body + Hagane gears turn out to be the back support of the reel that keeps it sturdy and robust, plus makes sure it stays durable for years to come with smooth performance. 
  • The reel has excellent long-stroke spools plus it allows greater line flowing and management. It also helps in casting a little longer while you’d love to know the technology behind this is the Propulsion Line Management. 
  • It is incorporated with water-resistant drags that make it a sturdy and perfect Shimano inshore reel. 

Models Details:

There are five sizes available in this lineup which we have summarized hereunder.

ST1000HGFL: The smallest with a 6.5oz weight. It has a gear ratio of  6.0:1 with maximum drag pressure of 7 lbs which makes it ideal for bass fishing.
ST2500HGFL: 2500 has a similar gear ratio as 1000 i.e 6.0:1. However, the drag is quite attractive and heavy at 20 lbs. The monoline capacity ratings are 6/200, 8/140, 10/120 and the braid goes with 7.9 10/150, 15/145, 30/100 allowing greater spooling.
STC3000XGFL: Let’s go a little fast with a faster gear ratio at 6.4:1 in this Shimano 3000 spinning reel. The size is ideal for finesse fishing as well as casting at inshore with a pulling power of 20 lbs.
ST4000XGFL: 9.9 oz with a 24 lbs drag is simply making it a hit for catching that tuna and marlin with ease. Not just comfortable, but you can also fasten up to the speed with its 6.2:1 gear ratio and retrieve at 40 inches per handle crank.
STC5000XGFL: That is the big one with similar drag power of 24 and a gear ratio of 6.2:1. Though, the line ratings and the performance for offshore fishing are what sets it apart from the 4000 model.


The 10 oz weight can be a turn-off for this reel when compared with the Vanford. However, for a saltwater application that still is considerable as some other brands mark reels at 40 oz that intend to perform for saltwater.

Our Verdict:

Stradic FL sits very close to Vanford in terms of features except that the reel also opens doors for you for saltwater fishing. This is the characteristic that makes it attract the attention of most bass and trout anglers who loves exploring the ocean and casting at the shoreline.

Best Shimano Spinning Reels for the Money

Shimano Sahara FI
Shimano Sahara FI
  • Features X-ship gear technology
  • Incorporated with Hagane gear
  • Lightweight models
  • G-free body
  • High-speed gear ratios
Shimano Sedona FL
Shimano Sedona FL
  • G-free body
  • Incorporated with Hagane gear
  • Built-in Cross carbon Drags
  • Offers Multiple gear ratios
  • Saltwater friendly
Shimano Thunnus CI4+
Shimano Thunnus CI4+
  • Has 6+1 S-ARB bearings
  • Incorporated with Hagane gear
  • Solid Carbon-Fiber body
  • Features one-piece bail
  • Has a baitrunner drag

4. Shimano Sahara FI – Best Cheap Shimano Spinning Reel

Shimano Sahara FI
Shimano Sahara FI

Shimano Sahara is undeniably the most consistent reel that not only works in freshwater rivers, lakes, and ponds but gives winning performance for shoreline fishing. The size lineup is quite similar to the Vanford except that it doesn’t have a 2000 size option. Well, it is the best cheap Shimano spinning reel, however, the overall components and power it offers are totally a bargain at this price point.

What makes it Stand Out:

  • The frictionless X-ship gear technology along with Hagane gear keeps the reel working smooth and fine for even the extended hours.
  • The propulsion line management takes care of the smooth line flow and eliminates backlashes.
  • The reel can handle lures pretty nicely and is easy to control with a few controls.
  • As per our personal analysis, we found the 5-bearing system quite smooth and robust that can easily outperform reels having a massive 10-bearing system.
  • Has ergonomic handles that keep comfortable on your hand.
  • A hybrid reel i.e works well with fresh water as well saltwater.

Models Details:

The six models in this lineup are SH500FI, SH1000FI, SH2500FI, SHC3000HGFI, SH4000XGFI, and SHC5000XGFI with sizes ranging from 500 to 5000. The lineup could easily complement any angler who looks for compactness or vigorousness in their reels.

SH500FI: That is the lightest reel with a 6.2 oz weight. The gears are medium-speed while the dags can handle lbs. This reel with a braid line capacity of 5/135, 8/105, and 10/65 is the perfect reel for juniors and new anglers for practicing.
SH1000FI: The reel has a similar drag power as of 500 size. However, it is slightly heavier at 7.6 oz while the drags are slower as well 5.0:1. Though, this is our least favorite model in the series because of its less-efficient controls and not-so-wow gears and drags.
SH2500FI: Then comes the medium size in which the 5.0:1 works wonder when retrieving the big fish of under 20 lbs. The weight is 8.8 oz and it can also retrieve fast with a cranking speed of 20” per handle crank. Similar is the 3000 size with a fast gear ratio of 6.2:1 and cranking of 36 inches per turn.
SH4000XGFI: 6.2:1 gear ratio in the 10.4 oz reel is quite a deal. We found the drags compelling in that hold 24 lbs of power. We have also tested the line ratings of 39 15/280, 30/170, and 50/150 with 150 yards of 10-pound mono, and it, so far, lived to impress us with how it performs and works with the specifications.
SHC5000XGFI: Weighing in at 10.6 with a 24 lbs drag makes it the best Shimano inshore spinning reel, let alone compact and powerful. The gear does a great job with a 6.2:1 ratio combined with an amazing 41” cranking.


This Shimano spinning reel has compromised a few of the advanced features that the other models offer.

Our Verdict:

Whether you are trying your first bait on the sea or casting for the 101st time, Sahara FL is not going to disappoint you. It is quite manufactured with all the Shimano’s performance-oriented technologies that aim to work for you while not breaking your bank.

5. Shimano Sedona FL – Best Spinning Reel for Trolling

Shimano Sedona FL
Shimano Sedona FL

There are just a few reels that feature a good amount of their technological components while not increasing the price point. Fortunately, Sedona FI is one of them with the following features.

What makes it Stand Out:

  • The Cross carbon Drag makes it incredibly valuable for holding the drag pressure and providing it impressively with easy settings.
  • Provides excellent performance with its 3+1 bearing system.
  • The reel is easy to control and manage. It implies specialized G-Free technology that makes it quite a hit for handling bigger catches.
  • It has drag powers and gear ratios for every fishing condition.
  • The reel is supported by Hagane Gear which makes it work effortlessly on the water.
  • The casting distance is enhanced and improvised with the Propulsion Line Management.

Models Details:

500 to 8000 sizes – there are 8 models in the lineup. However, we’d suggest going with the bigger sizes that give you better drag as we experienced fish retrieving of the ability in the smaller reels quite not up to the mark.

Though, if you are really into smaller sizes, then we think the best bargain is SEC3000HGFI. It has 20 lbs drags which is enough for a medium-heavy fish on the wading stream. This Shimano 3000 reel has a high power gear ratio of 6.2:1 that works fine as well and the 8.8 oz weight will be okay too when paired with the lightweight rod.


The reel needs continuous maintenance and lubrication to keep it working on the saltwater.

Our Verdict:

If you are looking for a bigger spinning reel to meet your bass, trout, and marlin fishing needs at ease and within budget, then congratulations you have just got the right pick for you. Shimano Sedona FL with great performance is definitely going to be the wisest decision you’ll ever going to make.

6. Shimano Thunnus CI4+ – Best Shimano Inshore Spinning Reel

Shimano Thunnus CI4+
Shimano Thunnus CI4+

Thunnus because of its Ci4+ construction makes its entry into the best Shimano spinning reels. Though, it is basically the reel to use live baits with installed settings and impressive drag powers.

What makes it Stand Out:

  • The Ci4+ body has embedded Hagane Gear which ensures the gear’s working and durability.
  • One of the top-notch features is the 6+1 bearing system and not just any bearing, they are built with S-ARB technology which is what makes the reel highly compatible with saltwater.
  • Like the rest of Shimano reels, there is Propulsion Line Management technology that adds value to the casting and jigging.
  • The entire model lineup has a slower gear ratio making the reel consistent and reliable for retrieving the bigger ca5tches with a success.
  • The drags are heavy duty that allows the reel to use live baits with efficiency.

Models Details:

Few models – but decency! These 4 models with bigger sizes ranging from 4000 to 12000 are designed to match anglers’ needs when they aim to bring a bigger catch home. Among TU4000CI4, TU6000CI4, TU8000CI4, and TU12000CI4, we think these two are built with the best spec combinations.

TU6000CI4: The weight of the reel is 18 oz and at that weight, you’ll get a 4.8:1 gear ratio along with 20 lbs drag. Similar gears and drags are in the 8000 size with just an inch more retrieve rate. Besides, it is more lightweight and gives you an edge to stay comfortable and use your live baits.
TU12000CI4: 12000 is a bigger model with greater line capacities ratings as 50/505, 65/310, 80/230. It is a kind of reel that you may best use for trolling as the weight of 27.7 oz would be handled better with installing at a boat.


There aren’t just enough models that they built for lightweight fishing. People looking for 500 to 3000 sizes, have to check out any of the above options.

Our Verdict:

Thunnus Ci4+ Shimano spin reel is incredibly robust and heavy-duty and it works remarkably on the demanding oceans of Florida. If you ever looked for a reel that gives a true 100% without breaking the bank, then pay close attention to Thunnus Ci4+, and we can bet, you won’t look past it.

Everything you need to know about Shimano Spinning Reel Technologies:

As we promised to aid you to understand those complicated technologies and features, so here’s the service. Though Shimano has a vast range of features and is constantly upgrading reels with new and impressive technologies. So, here we covered the most common ones that we explore in almost all the best Shimano Spinning reels to help you understand them.


X-ship is basically the gear support that is composed of two bearings located on both sides of the pinion gear. These maintain the alignment and keep the gear position tough and sturdy in their place. In addition, X-ship also reduces friction to a great extent. Almost all the reels of Shimano shares this technology except Thunnus CI4 and Sedona FI.

S A-Rb Bearing System:

The double-shielded bearing system is given the name of S-Arb by the Shimano. These are similar to ARB bearing which was on-sided shielded only. The one competes with the performance of 2-3 bearing in other reels that’s how it speaks of the quality.

This bearing system is incorporated in Vanford F, Stradic FL, Stella SW C, and Thunnus CI4.

G-Free Body:

G-Free body is enforcement of the gravitation work on the reel. The technology results in the reel center of gravity being perfectly magnitude to the angler’s hand. Though, it works like a sensor and enhances comfort with an excessive reduction in fatigue. Reels with such technology are Vanford F, Stradic FL, Stella Sw C, Sedona FI, and Sahara FI.

X Protect:

X-Protect is the technology that makes Shimano reel friendly for saltwater. The technology implies a great many coatings on the reel with water channeling and labyrinth construction that make sure your reel will stay sturdy underwater and full of corrosiveness.

Reels with X-protect technology are Vanford F, Stradic FL, Stella Sw C, and Sahara FI.

Cross Carbon Drag:

The drags in the Shimano reel are made of carbon that cuts off the weight on the reel. It also provides easier settings and doesn’t lag when keeping the pressure high. Vanford F, Stradic FL, Stella Sw C, Thunnus CI4, and Sedona FI feature cross carbon drag.

Hagane Body:

Hagane body is a combination of aluminum and magnesium. Both the metals combined give the reel high rigidity and stabilize the weight. It also reduces impact resistance and flex. You may find Vanford F, Stradic FL, and Stella Sw C with Hagane body.

Hagane Gear:

All the reels of Shimano have this Hagane gear technology which is forged metal gear. The gear has been undergone and upgraded with Shimano’s latest technologies to assure the smoothness in the reel. The design is 3D that furthermore eliminates the tooth cutting of the gear, resulting in more strength of the reel.

Propulsion Line Management:

Propulsion Line Management is yet another common technology in all the Shimano’s. This technology works closely with the spool control and line flow. As a result, it provides a relatively frictionless line flow, with backlashes nipped in the mud already and enhanced casting distance.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Shimano reels have model names in alphabetical orders with an F i.e FA, FB, FC, FD, etc. As a rule of thumb, FL is the latest model because it is the last letter in the series. However, Ci4 is an exception to the series.

HG in Shimano reels stands for High Gearing. There are other acronyms that the brand utilizes such as PG for Power Gear and XG for Extra High Gear.

Stradic Ci4 series has been entirely replaced by Vanford F which we also have covered in the article. From 2020, there’s no factory-manufactured Ci4.

What is the Best Shimano Spinning Reel?

Well, the answer can be as comprehensive as tough the question is. Though, it really depends upon the angler’s fishing style and preferred environment. You fish in the freshwater, the definition of best changes while one may rate best a different reel based on his saltwater experiences.

The answer also affects the budget and performance as well, so here we think the best Shimano spinning reel is Vanford Spinning Reel. However, that reel we think is best for freshwater only.

Stella SW C is our favorite one as it brings you unthinkable advancements and features. A step ahead for saltwater, and we think the best you can get equipped with is Stradic FL while the budget-minded anglers can find Sahara FL a really compelling one.

Thank you for stopping by!

Clinton Shannon

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