8 Best Shimano Spinning Reels In 2020: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

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When it comes to picking a spinning reel, you are spoiled for choice. We all know that an angler's gear can make or break a day of fishing, so you always want to get the best equipment you can. If you are on the hunt for a quality spinning reel, then the well-respected Shimano brand is the way to go.

Preview

Product

Gear Ratio

Max Drag

Check Price

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 1000 FB Spinning Fishing...

Shimano Stradic

CI4+ 4000

4.8:1 - 6.2:1

7-24 lbs

Shimano Stradic 1000FK HG Freshwater Spinning...

Shimano

Stradic HG

6.0:1

7 lbs, 20 lbs

Shimano Syncopate 1000FG Front Drag...

Shimano

Syncopate 

5.2:1

7 - 13 lbs

Shimano Sahara 2500 FI Spinning Fishing Reel...

Shimano Sahara FI

5.0:1

20 lbs

Shimano Nasci C 3000 HG FB compact spinning...

Shimano Nasci Inshore

6.2:1

19.8 lbs

SHIMANO Sedona 1000FI, Freshwater Spinning...

Shimano

Sedona FI

4.7:1 - 6.2:1

7 - 24 lbs

SHIMANO THUNNUS CI4, Offshore Saltwater...

Shimano

Thunnus CI4

4.8:1

15 - 25 lbs

Shimano Sienna 1000FE Freshwater Spinning...

Shimano

Sienna FE

5.0:1 - 5.2:1

6.6 - 18.7 lbs


Why Choose a Shimano Spinning Reel

Shimano has been in the business of making sports equipment for nearly 100 years. They started with bicycle parts in 1921 and have only grown from there. It is actually their history of manufacturing high-quality bicycle parts that made it so easy for them to transition into making high-quality fishing gear.

Their world-renowned spinning reels benefit from high-efficiency gearing (HEG) and a continually evolving front drag reel design. There's almost no limit to the fish you can catch with a Shimano reel. Freshwater, saltwater, small and easy, or big fighters, you can hook them all. It is just a matter of finding the reel that suits your needs.


How to Choose a Quality Spinning Reel

Type of Fish & Environment

The first choice you have to make is whether you are planning to fish in saltwater or freshwater. Each environment presents different challenges and opportunities which certain reels are better suited for. Next, decide on what type of fish you are going for. The strongest Shimano spinning reel is made for relatively light inshore fishing for species like sea bass or bluefish. If you are going for anything bigger than Shimano has other reels that would be more appropriate.

Weight & Size

Decide what weight and size of reel is best for you. There are light and ultralight models, but as weight drops, price often goes up. You also need to consider the size. This determines your line capacity, weight, and also how well the reel will fit on to your rod. Small spinning reels are given a size designation that ranges from 1000 (10) to 3500 (35), while large spinning reels can go from 7000 (70) to over 9500 (95). 

Drag System

Spinning reels come with either a front or rear drag reel design. Usually, a front drag system offers a smoother drag, while a rear drag system is more comfortable to adjust when fighting a big fish and easier to change spools on. Which is better is mostly just a matter of preference.  

Ball Bearings

Make sure to check how many ball bearings the reel has. As a general rule, the more ball bearings you have, the smoother the reel will perform on the retrieve. At a minimum, you typically want at least four ball bearings to give the reel enough stability and support to make it bearable.

Spool Style (internal or skirted)

The spool can either come internal or skirted. Internal spools are becoming more outdated because they are more prone to problems with the line slipping and wrapping around the shaft. Skirted spools alleviate this problem and work much more easily. If you can opt for one over the other, go for the skirted spool.

Line Capacity

Line capacity is how much fishing line you can fit on to your reel. This is designated with two numbers usually, one for the length of the line and another for the weight or diameter of the line. For example, Shimano makes a reel with a line capacity (mm/m) of 0.25-165 / 0.30-110 / 0.35-80. That is, the reel can hold 165 meters of 0.25 mm line, 110 meters of 0.30 mm line, or 80 meters of 0.35 mm line. 

Reel Features

The other key features that you should always check are body construction, the gear ratio, the grip, and whether or not there are anti-reverse handles. Aluminum and graphite are often some of the best materials to make a reel out of, and you should avoid plastic parts when you can. The gear ratio works so lower ratios like 3.6:1 retrieve slower but with more torque while higher ratios are the opposite. A quality grip and anti-reverse handles are also excellent features to look for in a reel.

Price & Warranty

Price is certainly a deciding factor when picking a reel, but make sure you consider it in light of all the other features mentioned. The cheapest reel isn't always the best value. The Shimano warranty is limited, and it is only effective in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and Africa. It lasts for two years and ensures that Shimano products are free from defects upon purchase.


8 Best Shimano Spinning Reels Reviewed

1. Shimano Stradic CI4+ 4000

Our Top Pick

Type

Freshwater

Weight

5.6 - 8.1 oz

Gear Ratio

4.8:1 - 6.2:1

Max Drag

7-24 lbs

Ball Bearings

6 BB + 1 RB

Line Capacity

powerpro line cap: 10/200; 20/140; 40/105

mono line cap: 6/230; 8/170;10/140

The Shimano Stradic CI4+ is packed with technology and innovation. It is our top pick for a reason. The carbon tetraiodide body and cold-forged aluminum spool make the reel unexpectedly light for the up to 24 lbs of max drag and continual use you can get out of it.

This model is built with CI4+, which is 2.5 times stiffer than regular CI4, making the reel more rigid and more efficient. Corrosion-resistant S ARB bearings and the design improvements of the G Free Body also come together to make a stronger and more effective reel.

The heart of the reel runs on Shimano’s cold forged Hagane drive gear, which maintains smoothness and strength even under heavy loads. One key hallmark of the Shimano Stradic is the Aero Wrap system.

This system feeds the line to the spool with a power roller that lays line evenly and tightly in parallel coils. This allows the line to exit the spool in a smooth, frictionless motion. The ARC patented spool design benefits this as well with its angled spool lip that helps with longer, more accurate casts. Combined with the MGL Rotor, which uses an asymmetrical rotor profile to improve balance, this reel moves how you need it to and doesn’t wear you down.     

Pros
  • Ultra-durable anti-corrosive body
  • Smooth cast and retrieve
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • No anti-reverse

2. Shimano Stradic HG

Best Shimano Freshwater Spinning reel

Type

Freshwater

Weight

7.1 oz, 8.3 oz 

Gear Ratio

6.0:1

Max Drag

7 lbs, 20 lbs

Ball Bearings

6 BB + 1 RB

Line Capacity

PowerPro Line Cap: 10/95; 15/85; 20/65 Mono Line Cap: 2/270; 4/140; 6/110

Although the Shimano Stradic CI4+ is the best reel overall, the Shimano Stradic HG is the best reel for freshwater fishing. The Shimano Stradic reels are similar in many ways, actually. The Shimano Stradic HG utilizes X-ship technology, which repositions the pinion gear in the reel to transfer more power from the handle to the rotor.

The whole assembly is more stable and efficient. The reel also uses the Hagane drive gear, which is cold-forged and more durable under heavy loads than traditional diecast gears. The Hagane body is also strong. It is stiff and impact resistant made from rigid aluminum.

An in-built Dynablance rotor and Fluidrive system combined with Shimano’s propulsion line management create a very smooth casting experience with minimal line issues. The Dynabalance rotor works by reducing wobble during the retrieve by counterbalancing the rotor.

The seven total ball bearings along with the 6.0:1 gear ratio make for a smooth retrieve as well. The Shimano Stradic HG casts and retrieves in a fluid, uninterrupted manner that allows you to fish more and wrestle with your gear less. Everything about this reel is smooth and quick, which makes it great for all types of freshwater fishing.      

Pros
  • Durable construction
  • Smooth cast and retrieve
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • The reel can be noisy out of the box and needs to be oiled

3. Shimano Syncopate Freshwater

Best Cheap Shimano Spinning Reel

Type

Freshwater

Weight

7.6 - 12.7 oz

Gear Ratio

5.2:1

Max Drag

7 - 13 lbs

Ball Bearings

4 BB + 1 RB

Line Capacity

PowerPro Line Cap: 10/95; 15/85; 20/65  Mono Line Cap: 2/270; 4/140; 6/110

If you are looking to save money and don't want to pay the full price for a Shimano reel, the Shimano Syncopate is a great budget-friendly option. This reel doesn't compromise on Shimano's reliability and efficiency despite the lower price tag. The Syncopate features Quickfire II technology, which allows for fast, easy, one-handed casting that beginners and experts alike enjoy. This works with a built-in trigger that makes casting extremely easy.

An integrated Dyna-balance system eliminates wobble during the retrieve by counterbalancing the rotor, and Varispeed technology provides consistent spool speeds making for a smooth fishing experience overall.

The reel also benefits from a propulsion line management system that allows for longer casting and prevents issues like entanglement and backlash on the line. In one review, an angler commented that "For an 'entry-level' reel, it has quickly become a favorite."

So much so, that I purchased a second one a couple of months ago." That's how good it is. The reel is considered entry-level by some because of its simplicity and ease of use, but it is well suited for a wide range of skill levels. It is that cheap trusty reel you’ll turn to again and again.    

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Effortless casting with Quickfire II
  • Propulsion line management
  • Built-in Dyna-balance
Cons
  • Only 4 BB + 1 RB

4. Shimano Sahara FI

Best Shimano Bass Spinning Reels

Type

Freshwater

Weight

8.8 oz

Gear Ratio

5.0:1

Max Drag

20 lbs

Ball Bearings

4 BB + 1 RB

Line Capacity

PowerPro line capacity: 10/150, 15/145, 30/100

Mono Line Capacity: 6/200, 8/140, 10/120

For all the bass fishing aficionados out there, the Shimano Sahara FI is the reel for you. This spinning reel is remarkably strong and durable for its size and price point. The reel itself is made up of a lightweight and robust composite material called XT-7while the spool is made of high-quality cold-forged aluminum.

The body constriction has been engineered to optimize the weight and balance of the reel as well. X-ship design features move the pinion gear close to the centerline of the large diameter drive gear, which allows more power to be transferred from the handle to the rotor.

That pinion gear is also supported by two Shimano ARB bearings, which create more stability. The drive gear itself is made with the cold-forged Hagane technology, which makes it lighter, smoother, stronger, and better performing under heavy loads. In a fight with a largemouth bass, the bass won't know what hit it.

The reel is designed with a G-Free body, which shifts the center of gravity in the reel closer to the rod by moving the worm shaft oscillation mechanism. Overall this makes repetitive casting more comfortable and less tiresome. This reel also comes equipped with super stopper II technology, which eliminates free play in the handle when the reel is set in anti-reverse.        

Pros
  • Solid anti-reverse
  • Durable anti-corrosive construction
  • Optimized weight and balance
Cons
  • Some anglers feel the handle of the reel is too close to the foot

5. Shimano Nasci Inshore

Best Shimano Surf Spinning Reels

Type

Inshore

Weight

8.8 oz

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Max Drag

19.8 lbs

Ball Bearings

4 BB + 1 RB

Line Capacity

6/230, 8/17, 10/140

The Shimano Nasci inshore spinning reel is one of the few reels on this list that can stand up to the harsh conditions of saltwater fishing. It is packed full of the technology that Shimano is known for, but it is the Coreprotect technology specifically that makes this such a versatile reel.

Coreprotect prevents water from entering the body of the roller as well as the roller bearing unit, which allows the reel to be used in corrosive saltwater conditions. The body of the reel is made of the lightweight and robust composite material called XT-7, while the spool is made of high-quality cold-forged aluminum.

The construction also makes use of Shimano’s X-ship design features that move the pinion gear close to the centerline of the large diameter drive gear allowing more power to be transferred from the handle to the rotor. The drive gear is the Hagane drive gear, which is cold-forged to make it more durable than traditional diecast machined gears.

This reel is the first to combine the Hagane gear assembly with Coreprotect technology. That means the reel can stand up to freshwater and saltwater fishing and still perform. For the versatile inshore fisherman, this is the reel for you.   

Pros
  • Coreprotect prevents saltwater corrosion
  • Strong, durable construction
  • Varispeed II allows for longer casting
Cons
  • No anti-reverse switch

6. Shimano Sedona FI

Best Shimano Spinning Reel Under $100

Type

Freshwater

Weight

7.5 - 21.7 oz

Gear Ratio

4.7:1 - 6.2:1

Max Drag

7 - 24 lbs

Ball Bearings

3 BB + 1 RB

Line Capacity

4-115/6-75/8-55 - 12-345/16-250/20-185

Shimano spinning reels can be a little expensive for some budgets, but it is possible to get comparable quality and ability within the brand for under $100. The Shimano Sedona FI is definitely the reel to go for in that case.

The price point usually pushes the upper end of the price range closer to $100, but the reel packs more value than that into its compact frame. One of the more unique traits of the reel is PowerRoller technology, which uses a specially designed groove to reduce line twists. This works exceptionally well with thin mono and braid. 

The line itself is laid down with the Varispeed II oscillation system, which moves at variable speeds to lay the line flat and smooth on to the reel. This allows for smoother, snag-free, longer casts. The ARC Spool with an angled spool lip also helps with this.

When using braid, these spools are proven to reduce backlash and wind knots. The reel itself is made up of a lightweight and robust composite material called XT-7, while the spool is made of high-quality cold-forged aluminum. The Hagane gear drive and G-Free body are also present in this reel as they are nearly standard across all the best Shimano reels.    

Pros
  • Priced under $100
  • Seamless casting experience
  • Durable body construction
Cons
  • No toggle switch to release the spool
  • The reel can lock up if not maintained

7. Shimano Thunnus CI4

Best Shimano Saltwater Spinning Reel

Type

Offshore Saltwater

Weight

12.7 - 27.7 oz

Gear Ratio

4.8:1

Max Drag

15 - 25 lbs

Ball Bearings

6 BB + 1 RB

Line Capacity

PowerPro Line Cap: 15/270, 20/190, 40/145 – Mono Line Cap: 8/240, 10/200, 12/160

According to one angler’s field test, “After two seasons fishing this reel, I can easily say it is one of the most versatile spinning reels I have ever owned.” The Shimano Thunnus CI4 is an excellent reel built to perform in even the toughest conditions. It is lightweight yet powerful enough to stop big fish in their tracks.

This is because it was built with that in mind. Shimano took their decades of experience in manufacturing high-quality race-ready bicycle parts and applied it to this reel. The reel is made out of Shimano's CI4 compound, which lends greater strength at a lighter weight than other comparable materials.

One key feature of the reel is the unique bait runner system that was originally designed and named by Shimano. This now popular system allows you to fish live-lined bait without having to adjust your main drag or flip the bail.

The fish can just run with the bait, and then, when you're ready, just turn the handle to disengage the system and catch the fish. Other features like the propulsion line management, one-piece bail, and Hagane gear drive add to the overall efficiency and durability of the reel, which makes it so useful in even the most rugged environments.        

Pros
  • Excellent body construction
  • Baitrunner system
  • Smooth cast and retrieve
Cons
  • Heavier than other reels

8. Shimano Sienna FE

Best Shimano For Beginners

Type

Freshwater

Weight

7.9 - 12.5 oz

Gear Ratio

5.0:1 - 5.2:1

Max Drag

6.6 - 18.7 lbs

Ball Bearings

1 BB + 1 RB

Line Capacity

2-270 / 4-140 / 6-110

6-200 / 8-140 / 10-120

 8-240 / 10-200 / 12-160

The Shimano Sienna FE is where new anglers should start learning to fish. The reel is versatile, so it can be used in most fishing situations, including freshwater and inshore fishing.  It is built from Shimano's XGT7, which is an improved version of the XT7 composite material that gives strength to many Shimano reels.

This keeps the reel lightweight but rigid. The spool material is a diecast aluminum, which adds to the overall strength of the structure. The spool itself is actually made with ARC technology that gives the spool an angled lip allowing the line to leave the spool with less friction and in smaller coils. This makes longer casts possible. 

The built-in Varispeed II and Power Roller technologies also help keep the line straight and smooth so you can achieve longer, more accurate casts. The whole design is about the most seamless casting experience possible.

The reel is very well balanced, too, with Dyna Balance reducing wobble during the retrieve by counterbalancing the rotor. The super stopper is another key feature that eliminates backward movement and free play in the handle when the reel is set in anti-reverse. When everything comes together, you have one of the most readily usable reels available. This makes it perfect for any beginner.  

Pros
  • Easy casting and retrieve
  • Durable anti-corrosive construction
  • Super stopper for anti-reverse
Cons
  • Only 1 BB + 1 RB

About the Shimano Company

Shimano was founded in 1921 with a borrowed machine and rented space. Since then, the company grew to specialize in precision bicycle parts and eventually, fishing gear and other outdoor equipment. Now Shimano is a globally recognized and respected brand based out of Osaka, Japan.

They live by their mission statement, which is "To promote health and happiness through the enjoyment of nature and the world around us." They pursue this mission with quality front and center in their minds. This is why the spinning reels they make are so well crafted.


Comparing Shimano Reels to Other Brands

Anglers love Shimano reels and continually mention them as the way to go.

One review stacked Shimano against another leading brand, Penn, and they had this to say, “IMO Shimano is the better choice. I won’t ever buy anything from Penn except the old internationals.

Penn used to be good a long time ago and now lack their old quality.” Field & Stream also single out Shimano as a leader when stacked up against the likes of Daiwa and Pflueger. Plain and simple, Shimano regularly make reels that outperform others in the market. They are usually comparably priced, but the value is greater.


Choosing the Right Gear Ratio for a Shimano Spinning Reel

The gear ratio of a reel tells you how many times the spool turns for each turn of the handle. So, a gear ratio of 5.4:1 would mean the spool turns exactly 5.4 times for every one turn of the handle. This means that a reel with a gear ratio of 3.6:1 will be slower than one with a higher gear ratio, like 8.1:1. Despite being slower though the lower gear ratios provide more torque to bring in those massive fish. 

This means that lower gear ratios (5.4:1 and lower) are perfect for the likes of deep crankbaits and big swimbaits. This is perfect for hauling in heavier fish, using heavier baits, and maintaining a slower presentation.

A more medium gear ratio (6.1:1 - 6.4:1) is more versatile, providing a delicate balance of strength and speed. These can be used with shallower medium-depth crankbaits and spinnerbaits. The highest and fastest gear ratio ( 7.1:1 - 8.1:1) is perfect for any lure you primarily work with your rod, like jigs or jerkbaits.


Shimano Spinning Reel Sizing Guide

Spinning reels come in small, medium, and large sizes, and each one is best suited for specific conditions. Small sizes from 1000 (10) up to 3500 (35) are best for light fishing in lakes, rivers, or bays where you might catch something like bass or bream. For medium-size reels from 4000 (40) to 5500 (55), you'll be better prepared for medium fishing for light offshore fishing as well as lakes, rivers, and bays.

Snapper and Morwong are the types of fish you might catch. The largest sizes of spinning reels range from 6000 (60) to over 10,000 (100). These are meant for boat fishing or shore fishing when you might catch small sharks or tuna. Generally, the bigger the fish you are going after, the bigger the reel you are going to need. There are guides available to help you choose the fishing line and rod size as well, so everything works together.     


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a Shimano spinning reel for crankbaits?

Absolutely, you can use just about any lure with Shimano spinning reels. Some reels are better suited for certain types of lures, but Shimano reels are versatile. A baitcaster is usually better suited for a crankbait, though.  Smaller sizes of Shimano spinning reels seem to work best with crankbaits. 

Are there any special care and maintenance steps for Shimano spinning reels?

The care and maintenance of Shimano spinning reels are relatively simple and very important. As an example, let's go over how to clean a Shimano Stradic spinning reel.

  1. 1
    Remove the spool assembly and check for any damage, especially around the spool lip.
  2. 2
    Clean the exterior of the reel with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs.
  3. 3
    Inspect and clean the line roller assembly. Make sure the bearing or bushing is still good and moveable.
  4. 4
    Lightly oil the roller assembly using Shimano Bantam Oil.
  5. 5
    Remove the handle assembly and oil the drive gear bearings.
  6. 6
    Oil the bail arm assembly.

After following these steps, you can then reassemble the reel. Regularly performing this maintenance will earn you additional years out of your Shimano reel.

Spinning vs. Baitcasters - which one is better to use?

A basic rule of thumb is to fish with spinning reels when you use a lighter line and baitcasters when you use a heavier line. Baitcasters provide higher gear ratios than spinning reels, so they are ideal for faster presentations. They are great for power fishing techniques like pitching and flipping as well. This means that the lighter line and relatively slower presentation of a spinning reel make them a better choice for beginner anglers. 

Do Shimano spinning reels have a lifetime warranty?

Shimano provides a limited two-year warranty effective only in Europe, Russia, Middle East, and Africa, which covers manufacturer defects. It is effective from the date of purchase, and you will need the original receipt for any warranty requests. It might be possible to find a better warranty or return policy through a third-party vendor selling Shimano equipment. Still, more often than not, with regular cleaning and maintenance, a Shimano reel holds up just fine. 

How do I contact Shimano for reel warranty repairs?

Shimano’s recommendation for handling reel warranty repairs is to take your reel with the original dated invoice or receipt to an authorized Shimano dealer. You need to include a description of the problem. If the Shimano dealer decides the problem matches the warranty policy, then they will return it to Shimano and replace the item free of charge.  

Where can I buy these Shimano spinning reels?

There are certified Shimano dealers, but the best place to find the largest assortment of Shimano products is Amazon. Inventory and pricing are usually better there, and you can read all the reviews from previous buyers. All warranties and return policies still apply as well. In this guide, we've made sure to include Amazon links to each of the reels we recommended, so it is easy for you to find what you want.


Conclusion

Shimano spinning reels are top of the line, and any serious angler can tell you the same. Shimano's history of producing precision bicycle parts translated perfectly to making high-quality fishing equipment. The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB is then the best of the best. It is lightweight, powerful, and can make all the difference on your next catch.