The proliferation of fishing reels makes buying a fishing reel one of the most challenging undertakings. But with any of the best Shimano fishing reels, you have an incredible chance of adding amazing gear into your tackle collection.
Shimano is a reputable brand when it comes to manufacturing high-quality spinning reels and baitcasting reels. The brand has a commanding presence in the market and remains a leader since 1978. Of course, among the most important things you need to consider when shopping for a fishing reel is the brand.
But even with the brand name in mind, buying a Shimano reel is not as straightforward. The company has several impressive models in the market, with new options coming regularly.
We make the work easier for you by reviewing some of the best Shimano fishing reels. Get yourself ready for the countdown.
Top 10 Shimano Fishing Reels
Best Overall Shimano Spinning Reel: Shimano Vanford
The Shimano Vanford is one of the latest releases from the market leader. Introduced in 2020, the Vanford is an upgrade and a replacement for the once-popular Stradic Ci4+. Of course, although the Stradic Ci4+ was difficult to fault, this new model is on another level.
Just like the Stradic CI4+, the Vanford is incredibly sleek. It features a black base with red and silver accents.
The company goes beyond improving its overall design to manufacturing a reel that comes with better performance and improved components. It is a perfect mid-range spinning reel if you are looking for one under this category.
Key Features and Benefits
Firstly, the Vanford continues the remarkable accolades of the Stradic CI4+. Unlike the retired version, this new model features a Micro Module II gearing design and a Long Stroke Spool technology. These two features are incredible in the performance of a spinning reel. They make casting your reel better and enhance smoother retrievals.
The cranking experience is equally smooth, thanks to the lighter Magnumlight (MGL) rotor that the company uses in this reel. Indeed, the rotor provides less resistance. The company also uses a standard Shimano bail rather than a one-piece bail attachment to the rotor.
While this spinning reel lacks an Aero Wrap technology in the rotor system, it comfortably makes up for it in the patented AR-C spool technology. The spool design features an angled lip which conveniently allows your fishing line to leave the spool with less or no friction. Besides, the line leaves in smaller coils resulting in longer, more efficient, and smoother casts. The AR spool design also ensures minimal chances of wind knots when you opt for a braided line.
With sizes ranging from 1000 to c5000, anglers have a versatile range to decide what is best for them. If you are fishing for fun and would want to enjoy light tackles, the 1000 and 2500 range is good for you. But if you need fishing gear for light offshore and inshore plugging duties, the c5000 will work well.
- It is lightweight but very sturdy.
- It guarantees a smooth casting and retrieval process.
- The company incorporates a range of its premium technologies into the spinning reel.
- It is highly responsive and ideal for finesse lure fishing.
- It does not have the Aero Wrap technology in its rotor system. However, the manufacturer perfectly compensates for this in the advanced spool technology.
The Vanford is undoubtedly a worthy successor of the legendary Stradic CI4+. It comes with a variety of features that both novice and seasoned fishers will find valuable. It is a spinning reel that you cannot go wrong with. And with reasonable pricing, the Shimano Vanford is worth every coin.
Best Bang for the Buck: Shimano Nasci
Ideally, fishing is not a reserve for those with extravagant shopping styles. Although there are high-end fishing reels out there, you can still enjoy fishing without spending your life savings. The Shimano Nasci is an example of an affordable fishing reel that you can acquire for under $100.
And while many people associate affordability with poor performance, the Nasci will surprise you. Firstly, it is a product from a reputable company and Shimano would not compromise its name for sales. Also, this product blends price, splendid features, and great price in an unbeatable way.
Key Features and Benefits
You will certainly fall in love with the Shimano Nasci for the available range of sizes the manufacturer has on offer. With sizes ranging from 1000 to 5000, you have all the options you would want for budget shopping. The smaller models are viable for lighter freshwater fishing while the larger models will come in handy for anyone enthusiastic about heavier inshore fishing.
Shimano uses the famous X-ship technology in this reel. And if you are familiar with this technology, you certainly know what to expect. It comes with more torque and power. Thus, the moment you hook into a large fish, reeling in your catch will be a breeze.
And despite the reasonable pricing, the Nasci can reliably stand the test of time. It features a Hugane gear system that is reliable and performance-oriented. The Hugane gear system comes with added strength and durability to ensure that it delivers optimally for several years.
The Shimano Nasci is an entry-level reeling gear. But unlike most entry-level gears, you will find this precious equipment both freshwater and saltwater fishing. The Core Protect feature gives it a reliable water resistance ability. It can withstand saltwater conditions to last longer than options without this technology.
Another incredible feature of the fishing reel is its G Free Body. It features a unique body design that sees the center of the reel’s mass moved closer to the rod’s position. This technology improves the reel’s weight and balance. Besides, the feeling of the strike is better, and fighting your fish is more efficient.
- It comes at an amazing price for its performance and quality.
- The composite body guarantees durability.
- It is incredibly lightweight and balanced.
- The Hugane cold-forged gears guarantee precision and durability.
- The fishing real is half-open but this should not be a problem after a few hours of use.
The Shimano Nasci is an incredible fishing reel for under $100. It delivers a smooth and reliable performance. Moreover, this reel comes with features only associated with premium reels. Despite the favorable pricing, you will find it smooth and luxurious.
Best Shimano Live Bait Reel: Shimano Baitrunner D
Shimano is popular for its versatile range of spinning reels. However, the brand also has a remarkable range of baitcasting reels for anyone who wants to fish with live baits or cut baits. If you are looking for a reel for live baits, the Shimano Baitrunner D is your indisputable choice.
Interestingly, the Baitrunner D comes in various sizes to meet your needs depending on the size of fish species you want to target. The four models include the Baitrunner 400D which is the smallest and the Baitrunner 12000D which is the largest in the category. In between are the Baitrunner 6000D and the Baitrunner 8000D. you will certainly find a viable size for your fishing objectives.
Key Features and Benefits
Notably, the secondary drag system that Shimano deploys in this reel is one of its top-selling points. With this system, you can conveniently disengage the main drag by simply flipping a lever. The dual drag system also allows free spooling without necessarily opening the bail. Turning the handle or flipping the lever automatically disengages the secondary drag and re-engages the main drag to fight your catch.
If you are familiar with Shimano fishing reels, you probably know of the company’s Full S Concept. The concept is also known as the 3 S Concept and sometimes abbreviated as SSS. They stand for Smooth, Silent, and Strong. For this particular model, the manufacture makes this possible by giving the reel a dual drag system, a large spool, and a fluidrive gearing mechanism.
And unlike most reels that do not exhibit consistent spool speeds, the Varispeed Oscillation technology guarantees consistency for the Baitrunner D. the feature is a guarantee that your line will lay evenly on the spool. So, unlike ordinary oscillation systems, your line will not stack at the bottom and the top of your spool.
Finally, the Fluidrve II gearing mechanism that Shimano uses guarantees remarkable smoothness. The system utilizes an oversized master gear perfectly polished to make smooth and effortless retrievals.
- It uses a reliable and efficient dual drag system.
- You can use it both in saltwater and freshwater conditions.
- The bearing technology guarantees a smooth and effortless retrieval mechanism.
- While the retrieval is remarkably smooth, it is considered quite slow.
Also worth noting is the Shielded A-RB ball bearing design. The patented technology keeps sand and saltwater out of your reel. An anti-rust coating helps to shield the bearings and protects them from the adverse effects of sand and saltwater.
Best Saltwater Spinning Reel: Shimano Stella SW
Many fishing reels that claim to be ideal for saltwater fishing do not live up to the expectation. Instead, they will begin to decrease in performance after a couple of expeditions in saltwater. If you are in the market for saltwater or a big game fishing reel, the Shimano Stella SW is your ultimate gear.
The Shimano Stella Series got into the market in 1993 and continues to lead the market with consistent upgrades. The Stella SW is the latest in the series and stands out when it comes to performance, convenience, and efficiency. It is available in up to 8 different sizes. Notably, the smallest size is a 5000 fishing reel which the largest size is the cherished monster 30000 fishing reel.
Key Features and Benefits
The Stella SW costs over $1000. And true to what you would expect, it lives up to the expectation. The robust construction consisting of a power aluminum body, an X-rigid body, an X-rigid motor, and an X-rigid handle are all factors that prove that the fishing reel is ready for the beating.
It features an X-Tough Drag. This drag system is reliable and delivers between 29 to 66 pounds of drag depending on the Stella SW type you choose. Notably, this is by far the toughest drag Shimano offers. You can rest assured that this drag is reliable for any hard-fighting fish like Amberjacks and strong tuna species.
Another interesting characteristic of the Shimano Stella SW is the inclusion of the patented Propulsion Line Management System. In this system, the spool features a longer stroke design with a special spool lip to allow the line to peel off the spool without backlashes or wind knots during casting.
And with the unique Super Stopper II roller bearing mechanism, you can conveniently set your hook when you want. The one-way roller bearing system allows you to hook without reel playbacks. It is a stopper-less design with an anti-reverse gear always on standby. You do not have to use a switch to engage the anti-reverse gear before hooking.
- It is waterproof fishing gear that you will find the ideal for saltwater and freshwater fishing.
- You will like the high-end construction deployed in this fishing reel.
- It delivers smooth performance with great reliability over the years.
- The manufacturer incorporates all the premium Shimano technologies into the fishing tool.
- While the high price tag may be a turn-off, this is a reel you should invest in if you have the money.
- It is slightly heavier than the previous version but this may be an advantage when targeting big games.
The Stella SW is undoubtedly the king of saltwater fishing reels, and it perfectly lives up to the tag. It is an excellent reel for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. Besides, it is pretty reliable and delivers a smooth, strong, and consistent performance. Honestly, this is your type of reel if you have the money.
Best Balanced Shimano Spinning Reel: Shimano Ultegra FB Spinning Reel
If you are looking for an unbeatable balance between price, durability, and performance of a fishing reel, Shimano Ultegra FB Spinning Reel is what you should consider. It comes with most of Shimano’s high-end design, performance, and reliability features. yet, you will find it at just a fraction of the price of what most spinning reels in the category cost.
And beyond the price, reliability, and performance balance, the pinnacle of it all lies in the balance on the feel. The spinning reel feels awesome on your hands, with a good hand to rod balance. Of course, the Ultegra FB features most of Shimano’s high-end features, and you will feel them the moment you hold them in your hands.
Key Features and Benefits
Firstly, this spinning reel utilizes Shimano’s reliable Hugane bearing mechanism. And if you are not new to this technology, you understand that it comes with exceptional smoothness. Casting and reeling in are perfectly smooth and efficient. The gearing system is reliable and your reel will not skip a beat during use.
While this is considered a start-up spinning reel, Shimano does incredibly well in making it highly responsive. With just a little pressure on the reel’s handle, you will feel the remarkable power it can deliver. It also gives you remarkable control and power when you successfully hook your catch.
Undoubtedly, this is a light reel, and it comes in handy for light fishing applications. But with a drag power of between 7 pounds and 24 pounds, you will also find it viable for mid-range fishing duties. the power, quality, and strength that you feel when using this equipment is exceptional.
Finally, this is one of the most durable spinning reels you will find for the price. Shimano puts great technology into this fishing machine. So, you will find it to be a top performer. The icing on the cake is that most of its components are amazingly protected. The protection mechanism puts most of the components out of reach of debris, sand, and water.
- The company includes most of its high-end technologies in the gear without hiking the price.
- It takes pride in great balance and sits perfectly well on the fishing rod.
- Both the casting and reeling-in processes are very smooth.
- It is perfectly lightweight and novice anglers will find it convenient.
- It does not have an anti-reverse lever. However, this should not be a challenge once you master how to use it.
If you are a big fan of the Shimano Stradic line of fishing reels, the Ultegra FB provides you with a more cost-friendly alternative. It comes with the same performance and reliability that you will find in the Stradic models. However, the price is more friendly. Indeed, you definitely would love to spend more for less.
Best Entry Level Spinning Reel: Shimano Sedona FI Spinning Reel
Look, if you are looking for an entry-level reel for freshwater fishing, the Sedona FI is your ultimate choice. The fishing equipment combines remarkable strength and premium Shimano features for an incredibly affordable price tag.
The Sedona FI is an upgrade of the old Sedona FE. And as you would expect, it comes with incredible upgrades to make a wonderful fishing reel. The FI is faster, more efficient, stronger, yet unbeatably lighter than your ordinary spinning reel. And besides the change in design, there is equally a lot of improvements on the technical aspect of the fishing reel.
Key Features and Features
One of the most interesting features of the Sedona FE is its special spool system. It features a double anodized machine cut spool that can handle a bigger line capacity. The system also works well with a reliable oval oscillation gear system. Of course, the double anodization protects the spool from the corrosive effects.
The spinning reel comes in various sizes and you will certainly find a model that meets your needs. Both the SE1000FI and SE2500HGFI feature single paddle handles. The single paddle handle system ensures that the equipment cuts down on weight without cutting down on durability, efficiency, and performance.
But what handle systems do the remaining models have? Well, since larger models are your typical fishing gear for mid-range and large aquatic games, Shimano does remarkably well to equip them with a power handle. As the model increases, the power handle increases in size to improve comfort. This feature ensures that you enjoy the utmost convenience and comfort when handling larger fish.
Interestingly, the Shimona Sedona FI comes in various sizes ranging from 500 to 8000. The sizing of spinning reels refers to the size of the reel’s spool. A larger spool means the spool can handle a bigger line and in turn a larger fish in terms of size. Fishing in rivers or ponds will mean going for reels rated between 500 and 3000. Consider larger models for inshore situations where you expect larger fish.
- Shimano incorporates a Hugane gearing for maximum flexibility when it comes to fishing applications.
- The gadget consistently delivers smooth casting and retrieving.
- The line management system eliminates knots and tangles.
- It features a G-Free body which maximizes durability.
- It does not have a reverse direction switch.
The Shimona Sedona FI is your choice of gear if you are looking for a lightweight freshwater spinning reel. You can also use this equipment in low or mild saltwater situations. And when it comes to models, you can choose what will work for you. Smaller sizes are ideal for fishing in rivers and ponds while larger sizes are ideal for deep-sea fishing.
Best Lightweight Baitcasting Reel: Shimano Curado 70
Shimano is popular for producing spinning reels. But the brand also has an interesting ling of baitcasting reels for those who prefer that. The Curado series falls under this category.
Introduced in 2016, the Shimano Curado 70 is the latest in the series, succeeding the Curado I and the Curado K, respectively. It is a gem for enthusiasts of lightweight tackle since it weighs a paltry 6.5 oz. So, this fishing equipment is lighter than the previous versions.
You will find it incredible for pitching lightweight jigs and lures. However, you cannot rule out this precious fishing gear for hunting sizeable Trout, Red Fish, and Snook.
Key Features and Benefits
Shimano gives the Curado 70 a Hugane body. The all-metal body provides high rigidity and prevents flex during a fight. It also helps to maintain balance. The result is that you can conveniently fight your fish and also minimize hand fatigue for a long day of fishing.
Another interesting feature of the Curado 70 is the SVS Infinity Brake System that it uses. Unlike the previous breaking SVS systems that were limited to 6 breaking settings, this new system provides between 4 and 6 settings as well as an adjustable brake dial. The dial offers more precision and a wider range for top-notch controls and infinite adjustability for all casting applications.
It also uses a modern S3D Spool design which is a gem for lightweight casting. Popularly known as the Shimano Stable Spool Design, this mechanism reduces the vibrations associated with baitcasters to deliver a smooth casting experience. it also improves balance, uniformity, and stability.
Lastly, the super-free spool system, specifically designed for the pinion gear, reduces friction. The spool delivers unimaginable smoothness and ensures that you make longer and more accurate casts. Still, on the spool, it features an accessible Escape Hatch Design which you will find pretty convenient. The design allows you easily access both the braking mechanism and the spool by simply flicking a switch.
- It is an extremely lightweight reel for casting light baits and lures.
- The manufacturing quality is topnotch, giving the system unbeatable durability.
- The pinion gear and roller bearing system give it a smooth operation.
- The spool is easily accessible.
- Does not have the power for very deep dives.
The Curado 70 is your typical baitcaster for lightweight casting. So, you will find it ideal for smaller fish species. It is also an excellent tool for anyone who wants to make fast and effortless cranks. It is pretty compact and easier to enclose in your hand than any other reel you will find on the market.
Best Baitcasting Reel for Larger Fish: Shimano Tranx 500
The Shimano Tranx 500 is another incredible baitcaster that you may consider. It is a tool for anglers who cherish using baitcasting reels. It is also a piece of incredible fishing equipment for big game hunters who prefer letting the fish swim a bit once they make a hook.
The Tranx 500 is a versatile gear designed for inshore saltwater fishing. But that also means there is no harm in using it in freshwater conditions. Unlike traditional baitcasting reels, this equipment holds enough line. It also has sufficient drag to help wrestle stubborn species such as stripers, tuna, grouper, billfish, and many others.
Key Features and Benefits
One of the most exclusive characteristics of this bait caster is the comfort that you will enjoy when using it. It features an ergonomic power handle with a grip made from non-slip rubber and fits perfectly in your hand. It guarantees comfort and allows you to apply a sufficient amount of torque when fighting your catch.
And if you are looking for a reel with the smoothest drag, you have your answer in the Tranx 500. It utilizes the premium Dartanium Drag Washer which provides remarkable smoothness and allows for various drag settings. The feature comes in handy when fighting larger species as you can easily attain the reel’s limits without losing your catch.
The baitcasting reel is a true saltwater fishing gear. The manufacture uses the reliable E. I surface treatment to eliminate any chances of corrosion on the spool and essential parts. Also, this feature ensures that your braided line does not get too soaked.
Ideally, this is one of the few reels from Shimano’s lucrative line with nearly all the company’s premium features. Apart from unbeatable inshore fishing performance, this system also delivers unimaginable flexibility and comfort. It is an exciting reel for anyone looking for premium fishing gear.
- It is a perfect baitcaster for large top-water lures and baits.
- It is smooth, exhibits an incredible drag system, and good overall performance.
- A combination of pinion gears and oversized drives gives it maximum durability.
- It features a large line capacity.
- At about $500, it is one of the most premium brands in this review.
Launching large baits and lures in top-water fishing is a complex undertaking. But with the Shimano Tranx 500, doing this is a breeze. It guarantees a fast retrieval rate with an interestingly strong and smooth feel. And unlike reels that will wear out after a few fishing expeditions, this is a fishing gear that will serve you for years.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for A Shimano Fishing Reel
It would not be fair to end this elaborate Shimano fishing reel review without mentioning some of the factors we considered to arrive at the options that made it to this review. We now look at what you need to know before you make the coveted choice.
Baitcasting or Spinning Reel
The first consideration that you will need to look at when you decide to go the Shimano way is whether to choose a spinning reel or a bait caster. Of course, Shimano has an exciting line of both reel types. Choose a bait caster if you are the type of angler who likes to allow their catch to run with the bait or lure before hooking.
Saltwater or Freshwater
Although nearly all fishing reels are perfect for freshwater fishing, not all of them can sustain the corrosive effects of salty waters. Thus, choose your fishing reel carefully if you plan to venture into salty waters. Good fishing equipment should have a special coating or some protective surface treatment.
Size and Weight
Of course, Shimano reels come in a variety of sizes. But since not any size will work for any application, your fishing target should guide your choice of fishing gear. Notably, go for small sizes if your target is small-sized fish. And if you want to go for the large fish, consider a large reel that can handle larger lines.
A small gear ratio like 5s:1 or 6s:1 is slower and perfect for heavier loads. On the flip side, larger gear ratios such as 7s:1 and above are faster and work well for smaller targets. Your selection of a fishing reel will undoubtedly depend on your fishing targets.
All reels have drag systems controlled by a drag adjustment knob or some kind of a lever. It controls the ease with which your catch can pull out your line from the spool. A week drag system is useless against a big fish as you cannot control and tire your catch before getting it out of the water. Besides, a good drag system has remarkable smoothness and stopping power.
The outdoors is very trying. Therefore, you need a fishing reel that can withstand extreme abuse and frequent use. Choose a reel manufactured from durable materials. The kind of technologies used will also determine the durability of your fishing gear.
It is a wrap! Shimano is a market leader when it comes to churning out performance-oriented fishing gear. Other notable brands include Penn and Daiwa. While Shimano has an illustrious line of fishing reels, we only managed to include 8 models in this review. Ideally, we would have wished to include more based on the number of amazing options still available.
Any of the above options will make an incredible choice. But before you pick a piece of equipment from our review of the best Shimano fishing reels, you should read through the brief buying guide.
Anthony has been an angler for the past 15 years. His experience makes him an invaluable asset to FISHING GEN and writes on fishing expeditions as well as fishing gear.