Best Shimano Spinning Reels for 2020

1. Shimano Stradic FL
Best Overall Shimano Spinning Reel
2. Shimano Stradic CI4
Best Light Shimano Spinning Reel
Shimano Stella XGFI
3. Shimano Stella XGFI
Best Shimano Saltwater Spinning Reel

Shimano reels have nearly a century of dedicated engineering behind them. The results have been overwhelmingly positive.

In nearly every list of top-rated reels, Shimano reels are featured, and typically more than one model.

The innovative engineering behind Shimano reels focuses on precision, quality, and fishing performance.

For any angler, Shimano reels can help improve fishing performance. Professionals anglers rely on them for their livelihood.

At first they were known for baitcasting reels, but recently, Shimano spinning reels have been growing in popularity. This is due to their superior engineering and performance.

Shimano has certainly enhanced the mechanics and efficiency behind the spinning reel. Let's take a look at the top of the line spinning models.

  • Shimano Stradic FL 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 the reel of choice.

Spinning reels and baitcasting reels are very different. We'll go over some of the differences here.


Spinning reels can handle many different lure weights. Whether you are bass fishing going after catfish there's a spinning reel for that. They're also easy to cast and don't have backlash problems.

This makes them good for beginners or causal anglers.While they can cast heavier baits, they work best with lighter weights.

Widespread use

Spinning reels are popular with freshwater and saltwater anglers alike. This includes fishing for fish, like bass, redfish, and crappie in both salt and freshwater.

Ease of use

Baitcasting reels can make it hard to cast in a headwind.  You can use much lighter baits and lures as well as cast in high winds more easily with a spinning reel.

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.

Best Shimano Spinning Reels

Over the years, Shimano has produced approximately 100 different reels. Shimano reels are globally recognized for their precision, durability, and lightweight construction.

We have compiled a list of the best Shimano spinning reels. These spinning reels have earned accolades from professionals and amateurs alike.

Our review will provide a detailed overview of what makes each model stand out above the competition.  We'll also cover the best use for each.

1. Shimano Stradic FL - Best Shimano Spinning Reel

This model introduced in 2019 is a replacement for the popular Stradic FK. It includes many improvments over its predecessor. 

Many existing Shimano technologies are still part of the Stradic FL including Hagane.

This term refers to the high-quality process that involves cold forging. The Shimano Stradic HG FL model is made entirely out of this high-quality metal component.

The Stradic comes in multiple sizes. This means there's a size that's right for your target species. You can find a Stradic suitable for ice fishing. The larger sizes can easily be used for inshore saltwater fishing.

From the body of the reel to the internal components, this model utilizes the Hagane. The goal concept to increase the strength and durability of the reel.

When dealing with large fish, the X-Ship gearing performs incredibly well. This gearing configuration provides a smooth transfer of pressure. This keeping gears working under high stress levels.

The result is a stronger, smoother operation. It also preserves gear function, which promises to contribute towards long-term use.

Shimano Stradic FL

Fishermen love the smooth drag, an undeniable feature of any Shimano reel. The Shimano Stradic FL is also lauded as being one of the best Shimano reels currently available.


  • Strong Aluminum Reel.
  • Very Smooth Drag
  • Balances very well.


  • No anti-reverse.
  • Auto bail closure is tight.

2. Shimano Stradic CI4+3000 - Best Lightweight Shimano Spinning Reel

The Stradic series are some of the most popular and best Shimano reels available.

The stradic CI4 is different from the Stradic FK in one key aspect. It's much lighter.

This is due to the use of Shimano's CI 4 carbon composite. The spool is made of this light material. By contrast, the Stradic FK spool is made of aluminum. The new Magnumlite (MGL) rotor is 22% lighter than the previous model, and also produces 22% less inertia. This means it will take less force to get the reel started.

The CI4+ is the third model in the series, and it has been praised as being the best value on the market today. With a gear ratio of 6.0:1, it is one of the fastest spinning reels available.

Its large spool allows for increased distance and increased weight drag. 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. The reel is also lauded for operating smoothly, regardless of weight.

The CI4+ 3000,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

The CI4 is available is 4 sizes. The 1000 series is meant for very light applications.  Monofilament lines up to 6 lb. test are best for his reel.

It would be ideal for small fish such as panfish, ice fishing or small trout streams.The 2500 series is a step up in size. Pairing it up with a line about the same thickness as 8 lb. test monofilament would be a good choice. This reel would be good for light bass fishing and finesse applications.

The size 3000 version is pretty close to the 2500. It can be used for the same species. This reel will also work well for light inshore fishing. You can pair this reel up with 140 yards of 20 lb. test braided line.

Finally, the 4000 series is the largest available. 150 yards of 50 lb.braid. It also has  24 lbs. of drag force and a 6.2:1 gear ratio. This makes it suitable for heavier species such as snook in saltwater and catfish in freshwater.


  • Super Lightweight Reel.
  • Very Smooth Drag
  • Low fatigue after long hours


  • No anti-reverse.
  • So light it may be hard to balance well.

3. Shimano Stella STLC3000XGFI - Best Saltwater Shimano Spinning Reel

Shimano’s Stella series has largely been regarded as one of the best Shimano saltwater reels. When is comes to saltwater reels, smooth operation and corrosion resistance are key.

The Stella features x-ship pinion support, rigid support drag and cross carbon drag. These technologies work together to help make the Stella a smooth and efficient reel.

This Stella model includes a MicroModule gear system, which features very small gear teeth. This results in firmer feel and fewer vibrations. Leading to a much more efficient and comfortable experience.

The patented S-Direct drive system connects directly to the drive gear. Making power transfers much efficient and reducing wear and tear of gear components.​

As for corrosion protection, x-protect technology features water repelling parts. It also includes water channeling that pulls water away from internal components. This means various components are coated with a water repelling layer.

Shimano Stella Review

Then you have Shimano's EI technology which double coats external parts including the spool and body.

Interstingly, the Stella comes in 5 sizes. You can get an ultralight version that holds 100 yards of 6 lb. test. Or at the larger end you can get the 5000. The 5000 will hold 185 yards of 40 lb. braid and features a 24 lb. max drag. It weighs only 9.2 ounces which isn't bad for a reel of this size.


  • Top of the line saltwater reel.
  • Very Smooth Drag
  • Excellent corrosion resistance


  • Tolerances could be a tad better.
  • Expensive

4. Shimano Nasci FB - Spinning Reel

The Shimano Nasci FB is perfect for anglers who are looking for a reel with high end features at an affordable price.

Shimano has packed many high end features on this reel. These are features that you'd expect to find in much higher end reels.

This reel comes with a Hagane gear, X-Ship technology and core protect.

This translates into a reel that offers tough reliable gears. X-Ship adds support to the pinion gear making it stable and smooth.

Core protect helps prevent water intrusion and corrosion.

The Nasci comes in 6 sizes so you should be able to find the right size for your needs.

The 1000 is perfect for ultralight applications needing very light lines.

At the top end, the 5000 size can handle 160 yards of 40lb. braid. This should be suitable for some light offshore angling.

Shimano Nasci Spinning Reel

By combining affordability with enhanced speed and durability, the Shimano Nasci is one of the best Shimano reels.


  • Great reel for the money.
  • Very Smooth Drag
  • Includes some high end corrosion resistance features.


  • No Anti-Reverse.

5. Shimano Syncopate 2500 FG - Best Quickfire Shimano Spinning Reel

The Shimano Syncopate is perfect for anglers who are looking to enhance efficiency. The Propulsion Line Management system and a propulsion spool lip improves casting distance.

The Quickfire II trigger system is easy to use and is much more balanced than other similar brands.The line management system and spool lip work together to allow for greater distances with less effort.

Users love that this spinning reel is smooth, quick, and durable. It will easily last throughout years of fishing.

The Syncopate also comes with Quickfire 2. This is a trigger for the index finger that allows you to open the bail by pulling it. It allows you to cast without having to loop the line over your index finger first. This ends up saving you time.It comes in 3 sizes.

You can opt for a 1000, 2500 or 4000 size. This will allow you to target species ranging from light panfish to larger inshore fish such as snook.

Syncopate 2500 FG Spinning Reel Review

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


  • Outstanding Reviews.
  • Quickfire trigger casting.
  • Has an anti reverse.


  • Some users report that the anti reverse engages late.

5. Shimano Sahara 3000 FI - Spinning Reel

This spinning reel is one of the best Shimano reels, due partly to its  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. The graphite and aluminum construction both increase durability while maintaining a lightweight form.

As with all Shimano models, you can expect a consistently smooth casting with the Saharas.

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.

The Shimano Sahara 3000 FE is both lightweight and incredibly durable. This makes it a leader if you're looking for an affordable, top-rated Shimano spinning reel.

Shimano Sahara Review


  • Popular with ultralight anglers.
  • Very Smooth Drag.
  • Great reel for the money.


  • Some users complain about excessive looseness in the reel.

What do you think of our top 5? 
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Buying Guide For the Best Shimano Spinning Reels

It can be difficult to figure out which reel is best for your needs. Reels share many overlapping characteristics.

Fortunately, most Shimano reels are built to high quality standards. Additionally, over the years Shimano has incorporated some of their top of the line features into entry level reels.

When looking for Shimano reels, here are some qualities to look for.

Weight and Durability

Weight is important, as heavier reels can result in joint pain, as well as increasing stress to the wrist and the forearm. For anglers who like to spend longer periods of time on the water, stress and fatigue can be huge factors. Lighter reels will decrease joint pain after a long day on the water.

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 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 rotor turns. As a result, the gear ratio describes the number of times the bail wraps along the spool on each turn of the handle.

For versatility, the best gear ratio might be a middle speed, typically considered as a gear ratio of 5:1. Still, this will be influenced by the types of baits you will be using.

If you use lures that require a fast retrieve you may want to opt for a faster gear ratio. Some Shimano reels feature gear ratios of over 6:1 and can retrieve over 40 inches of line per crank.

Drag System

The drag system determines the application of pressure onto a hooked fish. 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.

Shimano's carbon fiber drag systems are very smooth. They very seldom fail or operate in a jerky way.

There are two types of drag systems that a spinning reel might have: front drag and rear drag. Front drag systems are more durable and perform better than rear drag setups. The benefit to rear drag systems is that the controls are much easier to access, so they may be easier to adjust. All the reels in this list use a front drag system.


When looking for a spinning reel, it is hard to deny the inherent value and efficiency in Shimano reels. As one of the top-rated brands in the fishing market, Shimano continues to manufacture high-quality spinning reels.

3 thoughts on “Best Shimano Spinning Reels for 2020”

    • Hi Jack,

      The Stella is a high end Shimano Spinning Reel. One key difference is that it has x-shield and x-protect features. They help make the internals of the reel water resistant. This helps keep saltwater away from the internal parts. Reels that don’t have this could be penetrated by saltwater more easily. This could lead to corrosion.

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