Best Shimano Spinning Reels in 2023 – Buyer’s Guide

Shimano is well-known for making some of the world’s best spinning reels and they’ve been the favorites of many anglers for years.

The tricky part is that Shimano offers a wide range of products for different needs and budgets, which can make settling for one a bit confusing. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a list of the best Shimano spinning reels you can find on the market today.

Comparison Table:

Model Drag Power Bearings Gear Ratio Best For Weight (biggest model)
Shimano Stradic FL 24 lbs. max 6 BB +1 roller bearing 6.0:1 to 6.4:1 Freshwater fishing 10.4 oz
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB 20 lbs. max 6 BB +1 roller bearing 4.6:1 to 4.9:1 Freshwater & saltwater fishing 8.1 oz 
Shimano Sedona FI 24 lbs. max 3 BB +1 roller bearing 5.6:1 to 6.2:1 Freshwater & saltwater fishing 10.5 oz
Shimano Syncopate 13 lbs. max 4 BB +1 roller bearing 5.2:1 Freshwater fishing 12.4 oz
Shimano IX Rear Drag 15 lbs. max Bushing 4.1:1 Freshwater fishing 11.4 oz
Shimano Sienna FD 25 lbs. max 3 BB +1 roller bearing 4.7:1 Freshwater and saltwater fishing 9 oz
Shimano Sahara Fi 7 to 24 lbs. 4+1 bearing system 5.0:1 to 6.2:1 Freshwater and inshore fishing 10.5 oz

The 7 Best Shimano Spinning Reels in 2023

1. Shimano Stradic FL – Best Overall

Shimano Stradic FL

The Shimano Stradic FL is often considered to be Shimano’s most affordable high-end spinning reel that’s suitable for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. 

It features a Hagane full metal body that provides the reel with all the rigidity it needs while remaining lightweight. Furthermore, the premium Micro Module II gearing system that used to be exclusive to more expensive models is also here. Moreover, the G-Free Body technology moves the reel’s center of gravity closer to the rod, making it more comfortable for you to cast. 

The pinion gear is supported by bearings at both ends to ensure precise alignment with the drive gear, a technology Shimano calls “X-Ship.” By maintaining the position of the gears under heavy load, you get an enhanced casting performance, lighter lures, and longer casts. 

Additionally, the bearings are shielded to protect them from dust and sand particles that can inhibit their rotation. Moreover, with a gear ratio of 6.0:1, you can easily make quick retrievals with minimal effort.

The Carbon Drag technology lets you adjust the drag power by giving you a wide range of drag settings to play with. The biggest size provides a maximum drag of 24 lbs, which is pretty decent.

What We Like:

  • Excellent build quality & gearing system
  • Smooth performance
  • Lightweight
  • Shielded bearings
  • Good drag power
  • Comfortable long casting

What We Don’t Like:

  • Drag washers often need to be regreased

Final Verdict

The Shimano Stradic FL is a versatile spinning reel that combines strength and durability into a lightweight frame.

2. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ XG FB – Best Saltwater Spinning Reel

Shimano Stradic Ci4 XG FB

Comes second on our list is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+. With its sturdy CI4+ carbon body and cold-forged aluminum spool, this reel will handle anything you throw at it. Not to mention that it’s super lightweight thanks to the Magnumlite Rotor that’s 25% lighter than previous models.

Furthermore, the 6+1 bearing system is shielded against dust and sand particles to ensure consistent and smooth performance. Additionally, with a maximum drag force of 20 lbs, you should be able to catch a wide variety of fish species of small to medium sizes.

Another cool feature of the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ is the CoreProtect water-repellent coating that adds a layer of waterproofing to the line roller and roller clutch, which maximizes the reel’s lifespan.

Just like many of Shimano’s spinning reels, the Stradic Ci4 comes with the X-Ship technology that eliminates friction between the reel’s gears to improve performance. Additionally, the Dyna-Balance rotor, coupled with the Propulsion Line Management System, provides a smooth, wobble-free casting experience.

The Shimano Stradic Ci4 comes in multiple sizes, including 1000, 2500, 3000, and 4000. You’ll almost certainly find a configuration that’s suitable for you!

What We Like:

  • A maximum drag of 20lbs 
  • Lightweight and comfortable to use
  • Dyna-Balance rotor for stable rotation
  • Aluminum drive gear
  • Waterproof
  • Affordable price

What We Don’t Like:

  • Limited size options
  • Small anti-reverse switch

Final Verdict

The Stradic Ci4 is a highly functional spinning reel that’s smooth, lightweight, and comfortable to use.

3. Shimano Sedona Fl – Best Value for Money

Shimano Sedona Fl

The latest edition of Shimano’s Sedona lineup has a lot to offer without costing too much.

For starters, the Sedona Fl is the first spinning reel in Shimano’s lower end lineup to feature the remarkable cold-forged Hagane gears that provide strength and durability at a lightweight.

Additionally, it has a double-anodized, machine-cut spool that lets you perform long casts without common problems like wind knots and backlashes, thanks to the increased line capacity and the Propulsion Line Management System.

Furthermore, it has a gear ratio of 5.0:1, which is ideal for use in all situations. Moreover, the maximum drag power of 24 lbs allows you to fish for some big fish species.

The Sedona FI has a 3+1 bearing system that’ll keep the spinning reel intact and smooth even when subjected to moderately heavy loads.

The Sedona FI is available in various sizes that are suitable for casual freshwater fish and even for offshore fishing where the larger-sized fish are.

What We Like:

  • Very affordable
  • Durable gears with a medium gear ratio
  • Good for long casting
  • Comes in multiple sizes for different needs
  • Knot-proof

What We Don’t Like:

  • Small number of bearings

Final Verdict

The Shimano Sedona FI is an excellent choice for those who want an affordable spinning reel without compromising much on performance and durability.

4. Shimano Syncopate – Best Freshwater Spinning Reel

Shimano Syncopate

The Shimano Syncopate spinning reel has a ton of features at an incredibly low price point that makes it one of the strongest contenders on our list. 

It features a graphite build, with its frame, side plate, and rotor all being made of graphite. While graphite isn’t as good as metal builds, it’s still an excellent material for spinning reels due to its sturdy nature and lighter weight. This means you’ll get a reliable performance without sacrificing comfort in long fishing sessions. 

The overall build quality of the Shimano Syncopate is excellent and you won’t need to replace it for many years to come. Additionally, the QuickFire II technology allows you to make one-handed casts quickly and easily. It’s also equipped with Shimano’s Dyna-Balance Rotor that provides a smooth drive rotation and eliminates wobble. 

Furthermore, the Syncopate allows you to cast at long distances effortlessly without having to deal with backlashes and wind knots.

Moreover, it has a 5.2:1 gear ratio, which is the most versatile gear ratio for most fishing techniques. The maximum drag is 13 lbs, which is quite low compared to more expensive spinning reels, but it should be sufficient for freshwater fish.

What We Like:

  • Very affordable
  • Wobble-free design
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use

What We Don’t Like:

  • Lacks a metal body
  • Not suitable for saltwater fishing 
  • Limited drag

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a cheap Shimano spinning reel for casual freshwater fishing, the Syncopate would be your best bet.

5. Shimano IX Rear Drag – Budget Pick

Shimano IX Rear Drag

The Shimano IX is the company’s most budget-friendly spinning reel to date.

Just like the Shimano Syncopate, the Shimano IX’s frame, side plate, rotor, and spool are made of graphite, giving it a sturdy and lightweight feel, in addition to its high resistance against corrosion. 

One notable feature of the Shimano IX is the QuickFire II bail system. It allows you to make long-distance casts easily with one hand. The overall process of casting, reeling, and bait tripping is smooth and quiet. Furthermore, the rear drag system gives you the balance you need and it’s super easy to fine-tune.

Moreover, with a gear ratio of 4.1:1, you’ve got the torque you need to catch big fish species. The biggest drawback about the Shimano IX is that it lacks a ball-bearing system and relies on bushings instead.

What We Like:

  • Very affordable
  • Sturdy and lightweight design
  • Effortless ling long casts

What We Don’t Like:

  • No ball-bearing system

Final Verdict

While it lacks a ball-bearing system, the Shimano IX Rear Drag spinning reel is a good budget choice for casual freshwater fishing.

6. Shimano Sienna FD – Highest Drag Power

Shimano Sienna FD

The Shimano Sienna FD offers best-in-class performance with its smooth and quiet operation.

Thanks to the excellent Propulsion Line Management System, you get a longer and more accurate casting distance in addition to reduced backlashes and knots. 

Furthermore, the Super Stopper II technology means that the reel’s anti-reverse function will be enabled instantly to give you the maximum drag possible. The drag itself is very responsive, which, coupled with the Dyna-Balance technology, gives you a super-smooth, wobble-free retrieval. 

Moreover, the Sienna FD features the innovative M-Compact body design. This design ensures that there’s minimal space between the oscillation gear and the fishing pole, giving the reel a better-positioned center of gravity. The result is a spinning reel that’s easy to handle and cast for hours of fishing.

The maximum drag is 25 lbs, which is good enough to catch lots of big fish species. Additionally, the Shimano Sienna FD comes in multiple sizes for panfish, crappies, trout, perch, ice fishing, and even sizes that are large enough to handle inshore fishing.

What We Like:

  • Durable and lightweight
  • Allows you to make long casts
  • Suitable for saltwater and freshwater fishing

What We Don’t Like:

  • Line capacity is somewhat limited

Final Verdict

With its durability, smoothness, and versatility, the Sienna FD is an excellent choice for freshwater and saltwater anglers alike.

7. Shimano Sahara FI – Best Performance for the Money

Shimano Sahara FI

The Shimano Sahara FI promises to deliver satisfactory performance without breaking the bank.

It features a G-Free body design that moves the reel’s center of gravity closer to your hands, making it more comfortable to use and handle. Additionally, the Sahara FL is super lightweight and comfortable, making it a good choice for extended fishing trips.

Moreover, It has four ball bearings and one roller bearing, in addition to the X-Ship technology, giving you the smooth performance you desire from casting to retrieval. 

And while the Sahara FI is primarily designed for freshwater fishing, it can still be used for saltwater fishing to some extent. The Hangane gearing system provides the needed rigidity to resist pulling by moderately large fish. Additionally, the reel is sealed against water intrusion to protect it from rust and erosion. 

Furthermore, the Sahara FI has a sheer amount of drag that goes up to 24 lbs on bigger models. The 4+1 bearing system ensures high load-carrying capacity and maximum durability. The gear ratio is anywhere from 5.0:1 to 6.2:1, depending on the model.

What We Like: 

  • Comfortable handling
  • Lightweight
  • Rigid Hagane gears
  • Sealed waterproof design
  • Sheer drag force of 24 lbs

What We Don’t Like:

  • Small number of bearings

Final Verdict

The Shimano Sahara FI is a midrange spinning reel that offers the best tradeoff between performance and cost.

How to Pick a Shimano Spinning Reel

1. Max Drag

The maximum drag indicates the type of fish you’ll be able to stop with your reel. If you’ll be fishing for small or medium fish, a moderate maximum drag will get the job done. For bigger fish like saltwater fish, you’ll likely need a Shimano fishing reel with high maximum drag.

2. Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are a crucial parameter when it comes to a fishing reel’s quality. More ball bearings result in a smoother and more reliable reel. The number of bearings isn’t the only thing that matters; their quality is also essential. Stainless steel bearings provide the best quality that ensures a buttery-smooth performance.

Furthermore, the addition of a Super Stopper II roller bearing would be highly appreciated as it provides you with smooth hook sets.

3. Gear Ratio

The optimum gear ratio to utilize depends on the type of bait and fish species. If you need quick retrieve, go for a high gear ratio of 6:1. For using heavy baits, you need a gear ratio of 4.1:1. This lower gear ratio gives you the torque you need to present heavy bait. A medium gear ratio of 5:1 would be your best bet if you want something that works in all scenarios.

4. Available Sizes

Another thing to take into consideration is reel size. Just like the maximum drag, your spinning reel’s size depends on the type of fish you’re targeting. For small and medium freshwater fish, a smaller-sized Shimano spinning reel would do a good job. On the other hand, larger offshore fish require a bigger spinning reel.

5. Materials and Weight

Weight is a crucial factor for comfortable fishing, especially if you go on long fishing sessions. The primary determinant of a fishing reel’s weight is the material choice. The reel’s material should be durable while also being lightweight. 

Some of the materials that Shimano uses in their lineup of fishing reels include graphite, aluminum, and carbon fiber. These materials are corrosion-resistant, tough, and lightweight. Thankfully, all of Shimano’s are considered to be light, with weights that generally don’t exceed 15 ounces.

6. Line Capacity

The reel’s line capacity depends on the type and size of your fishing line. Make sure that you pick the right model that’ll accommodate your fishing line. 

You can find this info in the specs sheet provided by the manufacturer for each model. Look for the pounds test and yards rating so you can match it with your fishing line. You’ll also need to check which size of the model would fit your line.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where are Shimano Reels Made?

Shimano’s premium spinning reels are crafted in Japan, while the more budget-friendly ones are made in Malaysia. Both families of spinning reels will offer you excellent performance for the price.

How Big is a Size 4000 Reel?

A size 4000 reel is considered medium-sized. It’s suitable for angling in lakes, rivers, harbors, and offshore boat fishing. Some of the fish species you can catch with this reel size include Snapper, Morwong, Tailor, Mangrove Jack, Cod, Barramundi, Drummer, and Mulloway.

Can I Use any Shimano Spinning Reel in Saltwater?

Not all Shimano spinning reels are good for saltwater fishing. Shimano’s saltwater spinning reels are specially designed so that the reel resists corrosion. Moreover, saltwater fishing requires a higher drag power because saltwater fish is usually bigger than freshwater fish.

Final Thoughts 

Our favorite pick as the best Shimano spinning reel is the Stradic Ci4. With its high drag power, comfortable design, and smooth performance, it’s just hard not to recommend this reel.

Another good choice for those on a budget is the Shimano Sedona FI. It’s lightweight and has the same durable Hagane gears found in higher-end Shimano models.

Finally, if you want a spinning reel that gives you the best value for money, go for the Shimano Stradic FL. You get a durable, lightweight full metal body in addition to an excellent drive system and multiple size options for freshwater and saltwater fishing.

Categories Fishing Reels