The 10 Best Shimano Spinning Reels for 2021

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Photo: Shimano

Shimano is a Japanese company that is known for making cycling, rowing and fishing equipment.

The corporation has a reputation for making high-quality products and this has made their spinning reels very popular with many anglers. Additionally, their reels are available in multiple varieties for saltwater, freshwater, large and small fish.

That said, if you are looking for spinning reels, the review below looks at 10 of the best Shimano spinning reels that you can buy and fit on your rod.

Review of the 10 Best Shimano Spinning Reels

1. Shimano Saragosa SW – Best for Saltwater

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If you like to fish offshore, Shimano’s Saragosa SW is the best spinning reel to consider because it is specifically designed for use on saltwater.

Its roller bearings are shielded on both sides, which reduces the chances of salt or sand from penetrating through to the rollers to block their rotation. The drag is also fitted with rubber gaskets for waterproofing and to keep salt and sand from going in.

Other than that, the reel is powerful enough to tackle large, tough fish because it has a drag power of 22 lbs. This is enhanced by its 6 bearings (5 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing), which ensure smooth running.

You also get X-ship technology that eliminates friction between the gear and spool shaft for maximizing durability and casting performance, a propulsion line management system for enhanced casting performance with no backlash and wind knots.

However, the product is quite expensive and heavy.

Pros:

  • Shielded drag and roller bearings
  • High 22-lb drag weight
  • 6 bearings for smooth running
  • X-ship technology
  • Propulsion line management system

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

2. Shimano Syncopate – Best for Beginners

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Shimano’s Syncopate is ideal for use by beginners because of its QuickFire 2 technology, which allows for one-handed casting. This makes it easy for newbies to use open-faced reels while also giving experienced anglers an easier time when casting.

Apart from that, the unit is equipped with a propulsion line management system, which gives a longer casting distance while eliminating wind knot formation and preventing backlash. You also get Varispeed technology that gives a consistent spool speed.

Other features include Dyna-balance, which counterbalances the rotor during retrieval, and this stabilizes the reel against wobbling while enhancing sensitivity and smoothness.

The product is also quite affordable but it has a low drag power of 7 lbs., which means it can only be used to tackle small fish. It is also not recommended for saltwater angling.

Pros:

  • One-hand casting Quick Fire II technology
  • Propulsion line management system
  • Varispeed technology
  • Dyna-balance for stabilization
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Low drag power
  • Not recommended for saltwater use

3. Shimano Sienna FE – Best for the Money

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If you are on a tight budget, Shimano’s Sienna FE is the best option to consider because it is very affordable. Despite this, it is well equipped for the job, with features such as a super stopper for instant anti-reverse without back play.

The reel also features Dyna balance that stabilizes the rotor to eliminate wobbling, enhance sensitivity and smoothness when retrieving.

There are multiple size options but all have a propulsion line management system that gives a longer casting distance with no backlashes and wind knots.

Other features include an m-compact housing that places the oscillation gear closer to the rod, which greatly improves the reel balancing to reduce fatigue and a line retrieve of 24”.

On the downside, the product only has 2 bearings, which are not as effective at smoothening out its operations.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Anti-reverse super stopper
  • Dyna balance stabilization
  • Propulsion line management system
  • Compact housing

Cons:

  • Few bearings

4. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB – Most Lightweight

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Weighing in at only 6.7 oz., this Stradic Ci4+ is the most lightweight Shimano spinning reel, which implies reduced user fatigue. The product is available in different sizes and all of them are relatively lightweight for their size.

Aside from that, this reel features X-ship technology that reduces friction between the gear and spool shaft, thereby enhancing its durability. This also improves the casting performance, which makes it possible to cast at longer distances.

The brand’s Hagane body and gearing are incorporated into this reel’s design, making it smoother to handle. This also enhances the unit’s strength and durability at both freshwater and offshore fishing and gives it a drag power of 20 lbs., which is ideal for tackling large fish.

Other features include Dyna balance for stabilization, fluid drive II for smooth casting and a propulsion line management system for enhancing the unit’s casting capabilities. However, the product is quite expensive to buy.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • X-ship technology
  • Durable Hagane body and gearing
  • Relatively high drag power
  • Dyna balance

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

5. Shimano Stradic HG – Smooth

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With its 7 bearings (6 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing), Shimano’s Stradic HG is designed to run very smoothly with minimal friction.

This is enhanced by a Hagane body and gearing, which ensures long-lasting smoothness and enhanced performance for both inshore and offshore angling.

You also get X-ship technology that eliminates friction between the gear and spool shaft. This results in smooth running, enhanced durability and better casting performance.

More features include a built-in Dyna-balance rotor for stabilization, a G-free body with better weight balance to minimize fatigue and a propulsion line management system with fluid drive II for improved casting performance.

The only problem is that the reel has a low drag power of 7 lbs., which means it is not suitable for tackling heavy fish.

Pros:

  • Smooth 7 bearing design
  • High-performance Hagane body and gearing
  • X-ship technology
  • G-free body with better weight balance
  • Propulsion line management system

Cons:

  • Low drag power

6. Shimano Socorro 5000F SW – Powerful

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With a maximum drag of 22 lbs., Shimano’s Socorro 5000F is very powerful because it can pull in heavy fish with ease. This makes it ideal for catching pelagic fish and other large inshore species.

Additionally, it has a low gear ratio of 4.6:1. Though this makes it slower during retrieval, it gives more torque and this is ideal for heavy bait and fish.

That said, the piece is equipped with cross carbon drag that ensures smoothness when tackling these heavy fish.

X-ship technology is built-in for maximizing durability and it does so by eliminating friction between the gear and spool shaft. This also makes the reel smoother to use.

Other features are durable Hagane gearing, which provides the robustness required for offshore angling and 5 bearings (4 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing) for smooth running. However, the unit is quite heavy.

Pros:

  • Powerful 22-lb maximum drag
  • High torque gear ratio
  • Smooth cross carbon drag
  • Durable Hagane gearing
  • 5 bearings for smooth angling

Cons:

  • Heavy

7. Shimano SN1000RD – Compact

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Just like the Sienna FE, Shimano’s SN1000RD is encased in an m-compact body that is very small in size. This housing moves the oscillation gear closer to the rod, resulting in a balanced design that reduces arm fatigue.

Apart from that, the reel features super stopper technology with no back play for instant anti-reverse as you pull in the catch.

You also get Dyna balance for stabilization when retrieving the catch, a propulsion line management system that elongates the casting distance while eliminating backlashes and wind knots, and 4 bearings for smooth running (3bb, 1rb).

The only problem is that the unit has a low drag power of 7 lbs., which is not suitable for retrieving strong, heavy fish.

Pros:

  • M-compact housing
  • Anti-reverse super stopper technology
  • Dyna balance for stabilization
  • Propulsion line management system

Cons:

  • Low drag power

8. Shimano Thunnus CI4 – Carbon Fiber

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This Thunnus CI4 is unique because it is built using carbon fiber. This gives it a couple of benefits such as being strong enough to stop large fish (15-lb drag power) while maintaining a rustproof and lightweight design for its size.

The unit is fitted with 7 bearings, which ensure smooth running while varispeed technology ensures consistent spool speeds.

Other features include Dyna balance rotor stabilization, which enhances smoothness and sensitivity while eliminating wobbling during retrieval. You also get a propulsion line management system that elongates the casting distance without backlash or wind knot formation.

On the downside, this piece is relatively expensive as compared to the rest.

Pros:

  • Strong and rustproof carbon fiber construction
  • 7 bearings for smooth running
  • Varispeed technology
  • Dyna balance rotor stabilization
  • Propulsion line management system

Cons:

  • Quite costly

9. Shimano BTR6000D-P – with an Oval Oscillation Gear

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Shimano’s BTR6000D-P incorporates the use of an oval oscillation gear for providing a consistent spool speed. This simplifies casting and retrieval because the line is laid evenly.

Other than that, the reel has a secondary drag system, which allows for free spooling with the bail closed. This ensures the bait moves naturally when cast to attract fish quickly.

You also get a counterbalanced rotor using Dyna-balance technology, which eliminates wobbling while also enhancing improving sensitivity and smoothness during retrieval.

More features include 4 bearings (3bb and 1rb) for smooth reeling, a maximum drag of 15 lbs. and a high torque gear ratio of 4.8:1. The only problem is that the unit is quite heavy because it weighs 13.5 oz.

Pros:

  • Oval oscillation gear system
  • Secondary drag system for bail-closed free spooling
  • Dyna-balance technology
  • 4 bearings for smooth reeling
  • High torque gear ratio

Cons:

  • Quite heavy

10. Shimano Sedona FI – with Hagane Gears

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Lastly, this Sedona FI has an updated design from its predecessor and it features cold-forged Hagane gears. These are very strong and durable, and they ensure smooth performance, which is ideal for inshore and offshore angling.

This performance is further enhanced by machine-cut double-anodized spools, which increase the line’s capacity while maintaining a compact housing.

The reel weighs 7.6 oz., which is quite lightweight. This reduces arm fatigue when in use. Other features include a propulsion line management system for elongating the casting distance while preventing the formation of wind knots and backlash and 4 bearings for smooth reeling.

On the downside, the unit has a low drag power of 7 lbs., which is not ideal for reeling in large fish.

Pros:

  • Durable cold forged Hagane gears
  • Compact machine-cut double-anodized spools
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Propulsion line management system

Cons:

  • Low drag power

How to Buy the Best Shimano Spinning Reel

Photo: Shimano

1. Gear Ratio

The first thing to check before buying a Shimano spinning reel is its gear ratio. Higher gear ratios, such as the 6.0:1 in the Stradic Ci4+ and Stradic HG, enable fast retrieval because each handle turn spins the reel 6 times. However, this is done at low torque.

On the other hand, a low gear ratio results in slow retrieval with high torque, which is ideal for reeling in large, heavy fish. For instance, the 4.6:1 gear ratio in Shimano’s Socorro 5000F results in slow retrieval but makes it very powerful, giving it a drag power of up to 22 lbs.

To put this into perspective, think of these gears like the ones in a car’s transmission. Low gears give very high torque but slow speed while high gears give high speed, low torque performance.

2. Drag Power

Given in pounds (lbs.), drag power is the resistance or pull that the fish feels once it is hooked and starts to fight back. Reels with a high drag power are ideal for large, heavy fish because these are strong and resist with more power.

Ideally, the higher the drag power, the better because this enables you to tackle a wider variety of fish. This gives the Saragosa SW and Socorro 5000F an edge above the rest.

3. Bearings

There are two types of bearings used in Shimano spinning reels. These are ball bearings and roller bearings. For smooth reeling, it is recommended to get a unit that has the highest number of bearings. Such reels are also very durable due to reduced friction inside.

Therefore, the Thunnus CI4, Stradic Ci4+, and Stradic HG take the top spot on this because they have 7 bearings: 1 roller and 6 ball bearings.

4. Spools

There are lots of technical terms used around the spool such as X-ship technology and Varispeed technology, all of which describe how the spool’s performance is enhanced.

All these are recommended because spools hold the line and therefore, they determine the smoothness and casting distance of the reel.

Other than that, the spool should be built using a durable material such as graphite or anodized aluminum for long-lasting use.

5. Durability

Apart from checking the construction material, it is imperative to check the technologies used to minimize friction on the spinning reel’s moving parts. This is because minimizing wear and tear has a positive impact on the unit’s lifespan.

For instance, Shimano’s Saragosa SW has shielded bearings that reduce the chances of corrosive salt or sand from getting to the balls/rollers. X-ship technology is also recommended because it minimizes friction between the gear and spool shaft.

6. Weight

Weight is considered for one reason, which is angler fatigue. Since the reel adds on weight to the rod, if it is too heavy, it might cause your arm to get tired faster, especially if going for long fishing excursions.

Therefore, light reels such as Stradic Ci4+ are recommended for fatigue-free use or minimal fatigue.

7. Reel Handle

Shimano reel handles come in different shapes and sizes. Different anglers have different preferences and therefore, selection should be done based on personal preference.

Conclusion

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In conclusion, Shimano has a very diverse lineup of spinning reels that have different features. For instance, if you like fishing offshore, the Saragosa SW is the best option due to its shielded bearings and high 22-lb drag weight.

If you are a beginner, the Syncopate is the best Shimano spinning reel to buy because it features Quick Fire II technology for one-handed casting.

If you are on a tight budget, Shimano’s Sienna FE is the most affordable option and still has very useful features such as instant anti-reverse and Dyna balance for stabilization.

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Jack Bollinger
Born in Massachusetts, Jack is an avid fisherman most of his life. He is currently a fishing guide in the bay of California. He has been fishing for more than 40 years and fly-fishing for more than 30. His favorite fish to catch is the rainbow trout and small-mouth bass. He has earned many top places in different lake fishing competitions.

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