5 Best Shimano Spinning Reels for 2016-2017

By John Andrews | Reels

best shimano spinning reels

Shimano reels have nearly a century of dedicated engineering behind them, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. In nearly every list of top-rated reels, Shimano reels are featured, and typically more than one model. As a company, the innovative engineering behind Shimano reels focuses on precision, quality, and performance.

For any fisherman, whether professional or otherwise, Shimano reels are an important tool to increase fishing performance and experience. Although they began by creating baitcasting reels, Shimano spinning reels have been growing in popularity, due to their superior engineering and performance.

While Shimano has certainly enhanced the mechanics and efficiency behind the spinning reel, there are a few essential characteristics to spinning reels that set them apart from baitcasting reels.

  • Shimano Stradic HG FK Spinning Reel
  • Hagane construction
  • X-Ship gearing
  • 35” line retrieval
  • 20 lb. drag force
  • Shimano Stradic CI4+3000 Spinning Reel
  • X-Ship gearing
  • Reinforced carbon material
  • Waterproof drag system
  • 6 S-ARB ball bearings
  • Shimano Stella STLC3000XGFI Spinning Reel
  • 19.8 lbs. maximum drag
  • 36.6” line retrieve
  • S-Direct drive system
  • 13 bearings
  • Shimano Syncopate 2500 FG
  • Propulsion spool lip
  • Graphite frame
  • Quickfire II system
  • Propulsion Line Management system
  • Shimano Sahara 3000 FE
  • Graphite frame, side plate, and rotor
  • Cold forged aluminum spool
  • 4 bearing system
  • Slow Oscillation system

Spinning reels are perhaps the most popular of all fishing reels. For light-weight lures and lines, and for enhanced finesse techniques, spinning reels are quickly becoming the reel of choice for many fishermen. When compared to baitcasting reels, there are some specific characteristics that set spinning reels apart. These so-called characteristics can also be seen as benefits, listed below:


Spinning reels can be used for multiple purposes, whether you are bass fishing or angling. They can also be used in conjunction with a variety of tackle options, including live bait and artificial lures. While they can sustain heavier bait, they work best with lighter weights.

Widespread use

One of the reasons that spinning reels are so popular is that they are ideally suited for the most common fishing applications. This includes fishing for small to medium-sized fish, like bass, redfish, and crappie.

Ease of use

Spinning reels are typically much easier to use than a baitcasting reel. There is less focus on accuracy and speed with a spinning reel, and the mechanics are much simpler.

Baitcasting reels tend to have a learning curve attached: that is, it takes time and patience to learn how to use one properly. Spinning reels, however, don't need extensive time to perfect form and performance.

Top Rated Shimano Spinning Reels

Over the years, Shimano has produced approximately 100 different reels, influencing and defining the way fishing equipment is manufactured. Shimano reels are globally recognized for their precision, durability, and lightweight construction.

To determine the best Shimano reels for 2016-2017, we have compiled a list of the top-rated Shimano spinning reels. These spinning reels have earned accolades from professionals and amateurs alike, making them the best Shimano reels to consider using this year. Our review will provide a detailed overview of what makes each model stand out above the competition, and what characteristics make Shimano reels into exceptional spinning reels.

1. Shimano Stradic HG FK Spinning Reel

This model introduces a brand new technological concept employed by Shimano, called Hagane. This term refers to the high-quality steel used to manufacture Samurai swords. The Shimano Stradic HG FK model is made entirely out of this high-quality metal component. From the body of the reel to the internal components, this model utilizes the Hagane concept to increase the strength and efficiency of the reel.

When dealing with additional pressure from weight, the X-Ship gearing performs incredibly well. This gearing configuration provides a smooth transfer of pressure, keeping gears working at high levels. The result is a stronger, smoother operation. It also preserves gear function, which promises to contribute towards long-term use.

Fishermen love the smooth drag, an undeniable feature of any Shimano reels. In fact, as one of the newest models, the Shimano Stradic HG FK is also lauded as being one of the best Shimano reels currently available.

Shimano Stradic HG FK Spinning Reel

2. Shimano Stradic CI4+3000 Spinning Reel

The Stradic series are some of the most popular and best Shimano reels available. The CI4+ 3000 is the third model in the series, and it has been praised in multiple reviews as being the best possible value on the market today. With a gear ratio of 6.0:1, it is one of the fasting spinning reels available.

Its large spool allows for increased distance and increased weight drag, with customer reviews reporting being able to catch fish over 25 lbs. with ease. The waterproof drag system and X-Ship gearing ensure that gears stay in alignment and operate smoothly, regardless of weight.

The CI4+ 3000, however, includes an additional element to enhance durability and performance. Cold forged aluminum is added to the drive gear, and hardened brass is added to the pinion gear. These two materials have been proven to last even longer than stainless steel.

Shimano Stradic CI4+3000

Shimano reels are known for smooth operation, and adding these two materials ensures that the Stradic CI4+ 3000 will remain as one of the most affordable and best Shimano reels.

3. Shimano Stella STLC3000XGFI Spinning Reel

Shimano’s Stella series has largely been regarded as one of the most iconic and best Shimano reels. This Stella model includes a MicroModule gear system, which adds little micro-teeth to gears in order to increase power and torque. This results in firmer lure contact and fewer vibrations, making for a much more efficient and comfortable experience.

The patented S-Direct drive system connects directly to the drive gear, making power transfers much more efficient and reducing overall wear and tear of the most critical gear components. When compared to previous models, the Stella 3000XGFI spinning reel employs advanced engineering technology meant to decrease unnecessary movement and increase overall smoothness and control.

At 7.8 ounces, Shimano manages to increase durability and efficiency without drastically increasing weight, making this model one of the best Shimano reels for spinning reel use.

Shimano Stella Review

4. Shimano Syncopate 2500 FG

The Shimano Syncopate model is perfect for fishermen who are looking to enhance speed and efficiency. With a combination of the Propulsion Line Management system and a propulsion spool lip, this spinning reel is made specifically to improve speed and force when casting. The Quickfire II trigger system is easy to use and is much more balanced than other similar brands.

Along with speed, distance is also improved. The line management system and spool lip work together to allow for greater distances with less effort, even with natural interference like the wind. Customers love that this spinning reel is smooth, quick, and durable, easily lasting throughout years of fishing.

By combining affordability with enhanced speed and durability, the Shimano Syncopate 2500 FG is one of the best Shimano reels to invest in.

Syncopate 2500 FG Spinning Reel Review

5. Shimano Sahara 3000 FE

This spinning reel is one of the best Shimano reels, due partly to its expert graphite construction. At 7.2 ounces, the Shimano Sahara 3000 FE is one of the most lightweight spinning reels available. This is a substantial benefit for fishermen looking to spend extended time on the water without irritating joint pain. The graphite and cold forged aluminum both increase durability while maintaining a comfortable, lightweight form.

As with all Shimano models, you can expect a consistently smooth experience with Shimano reels. This model is no different: the waterproof drag system ensures that stray water won't get in the way of your fishing. Additionally, the Slow Oscillation system works to make sure that casts are as long as possible without getting tangled up.

The Shimano Sahara 3000 FE is both lightweight and incredibly durable, making it one of the top-rated Shimano reels.

Shimano Sahara Review

Buying Guide For the Best Shimano Reels

Although Shimano has a long history of creating top-quality spinning reels, it can be difficult to figure out which spinning reel is best for your needs. The best Shimano reels come with common characteristics that affect performance, durability, and efficiency. When looking for Shimano reels, here are some qualities to look closely at in order to get the best Shimano reels for your needs:

Weight and Durability

Weight is important, as heavier reels can result in joint pain, increasing stress to the wrist and the forearm. For fishermen who like to spend longer periods of time on the water, stress and fatigue can be huge factors in their fishing performance. Lighter reels will decrease joint pain due to heavy or bulky reels.

The reel body should also be durable. Finding a durable reel body without sacrificing lightweight construction is important. While aluminum is stronger, graphite is much lighter. A combination of the two might be your best bet when looking for improved weight and durability.

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio for spinning reels is much different than with baitcasting reels. For spinning reels, the spool itself is fixed and does not revolve. Instead, a bail will wrap the line along the spool as the handle is turned. As a result, the gear ratio describes the number of times the bail wraps along the spool on each turn of the handle.

A low, medium, or high-speed retrieve (gear ratio) depends largely upon what type of fishing you are planning to. For versatility, the best gear ratio might be a middle speed, typically considered as a gear ratio of 5:1. Still, depending on whether torque is necessary or speed is important, the gear ratio of a spinning reel will play a huge factor.

Drag System

The drag system determines the application of pressure onto a hooked fish, and for that reason, having a good drag system is crucial when using spinning reels. Without a smooth, steady drag system, lines can break, and fish can escape.

There are two types of drag systems that a spinning reel might have: front drag and rear drag. Front drag systems typically have enhanced durability and performance when compared to rear drag. The benefit to rear drag systems, however, is that the controls are much easier to access, so they may be easier to manipulate. Depending on what type of control you need, it is important to ensure that your spinning reel comes with the right drag system.


When looking for a spinning reel, it is hard to deny the inherent value and efficiency that comes with Shimano reels. As one of the top-rated brands in the fishing market, Shimano reels have continued to defy expectation and define the manufacture of high-quality spinning reels.

In looking at top-rated Shimano reels, any fisherman will find themselves well-equipped to enhance their fishing experience through some of the best Shimano reels available on the market.

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About the Author

John is the wisest member of our team since he's the oldest person here. He has gathered lots of tips and tricks throughout his 35-year angling career. His love for angling has led him to join our team because he wants to share his wisdom with others. Back in the day, he had to visit locations around the country and speak to many anglers to get more information about angling and now he wants to share it online. He doesn't fish as much as he used to, but his passion for angling is ever present.

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