10 Best Shimano Spinning Reels [Ranked]

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Written By Russ Egan

Russ is a professional fisherman with over 20 years of experience. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ comprehensively tests and reviews all his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing he prefers than heading down to his local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test.


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Shimano spinning reels are some of the best fishing reels in existence. Shimano put in a huge amount of effort and precision in their designs, materials, and manufacturing techniques. This all translates into high quality, high performance, and durable fishing equipment.

Shimano is one of my personal favorite manufacturers and I use their reels whenever I go fishing.

It can be hard to determine the difference between all of Shimano’s fishing reels so I have put together this guide to help you differentiate between Shimano’s best spinning reels to help you make a buying decision.

I have also written individual reviews on most of these products, so you can click on the title to see more detailed information. I have also put together a comparison of the top spinning reels across all brands that you might enjoy.

Best Shimano Reel
Shimano Stella Spinning Reel

Shimano Stella Spinning Reel

  • Shimano's Premier Spinning Reel
  • Extremely Corrosion Resistant Materials
  • All of Shimano's Latest Technologies
  • Can Handle the Largest Saltwater Species
People's Favorite
Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

  • Lower Weight than its Predecessor
  • Extremely Durable
  • Long Casting Distance
  • Full of Shimano's Latest Technology
High Performance
Shimano Sustain Spinning Reel

Shimano Sustain Spinning Reel

  • Saltwater Ready
  • Ci4+ and MGL Rotor Reduced the Weight
  • 8+1 Ball Bearings for a Smooth Retrieve
  • Suitable for Bass to Billfish

Let’s have a look at Shimano’s best spinning reels.

1. Shimano Stella SW Spinning Reel

Shimano stella on a bench

The Stella is Shimano‘s premium spinning reel. With 12+1 ball bearings, this is the self-proclaimed ‘smoothest and most efficient drivetrain.’ As part of the MicroModule II it comes with the most advanced gear design and gear teeth surface.

Shimano also claims that the addition of X-Protect makes the Stella five times more corrosion resistant than their last model.

This reel is full of Shimano’s latest and greatest technology – give this reel a spin and you will notice the difference.

  • Aero Wrap II
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • Micro Module II
  • Long Stroke Spool
  • KGN Body
  • X-Protect
  • X-Ship
  • Silent Drive
  • Propulsion Line Management System
  • MGL Rotor

The SW is the saltwater version of this model that is only found in the 4000 and up sizes. An FK model is also available in 5000 and under for freshwater species.

The Stella is my recommendation as the top performing spinning reel on the market. As long as you have the budget, it offers exceptional fishing and cannot be beaten on technology and specifications.


  • This is Shimano’s premier spinning reel that can handle the largest saltwater fish species on the planet.
  • Extremely corrosion-resistant materials and design.
  • Full of Shimano’s latest technology – you will notice the smoothness in retrieve and the extra casting distance.


  • Try not to faint when you see the price tag.
  • There aren’t any high-speed gear ratio models available, however, the retrieve rate is still very high.
Shimano Stella Spinning Reels
  • Shimano's Premier Spinning Reel
  • Extremely Corrosion Resistant Materials
  • All of Shimano's Latest Technologies
  • Can Handle the Largest Saltwater Species


STL1000FJ2/270, 4/140, 6/110612+15.1:12510/95, 15/85, 20/657
STL2500HGFJ6/200, 8/140, 10/1207.212+16.0:13510/150, 15/145, 30/10020
STLC3000XGFJ6/230, 8/170, 10/1407.412+16.4:13710/200, 20/140, 40/10520
STL4000XGFJ8/240, 10/200, 12/160912+16.2:14015/230, 30/180, 50/12024
STLC5000XGFJ10/240, 12/195, 14/1659.212+16.2:14020/260, 30/235, 40/18524

2. Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

10 Best Shimano Spinning Reels [Ranked] 6

Vanford is the recently released replacement for the people’s favorite Stradic CI4+. This takes all the benefits from the Stradic and eliminates its few weaknesses.

This reel is extremely versatile and suitable for ice, saltwater game, bottom, or inshore fishing.

It comes with Shimano’s Long Stroke Spool technology which increases the casting distance and lays the line back onto the spool more evenly during retrieves.

The MagnumLite Rotor has up to 48% less rotational inertia giving it a quicker response.

I recommend the Vanford as a premium reel for bass angling, as it is extremely versatile and well design. If you only want to own a single reel, pick the Shimano Vanford.

10 Best Shimano Spinning Reels [Ranked] 8


  • The Vanford is one of my favorite reels. It has been upgraded from the Stradic Ci4+ and has eliminated all of its weaknesses.
  • Extremely versatile as it can be used in everything from freshwater to saltwater angling.
  • This lightweight reel is around 6 ounces for the most popular sizes.


  • It does come with a high price tag than its predecessor the Stradic Ci4+.
Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel
  • Lower Weight than its Predecessor
  • Extremely Durable
  • Long Casting Distance
  • Full of Shimano's Latest Technology


VF500F2/190, 4/100, 6/604.96+15.6:1275/135, 8/105, 10/656
VF1000F2/270, 4/160, 6/1105.37+15.1:12510/95, 15/75, 20/657
VFC2000HGF6/165, 8/105, 10/955.37+16.1:13210/140, 15/115, 20/957
VF2500HGF6/200, 8/140, 10/1206.37+16.0:13510/150, 15/145, 30/10020
VFC3000XGF6/230, 8/170, 10/1406.37+16.4:13710/200, 20/140, 40/10520
VF4000XGF8/240, 10/200, 12/1607.67+16.2:14015/230, 30/180, 50/12024
VFC5000XGF10/240, 12/195, 14/1657.87+16.2:14020/260, 30/235, 40/18524

3. Shimano Sustain Spinning Reel

The Shimano Sustain is packed with high-end features and is suitable for bass to small billfish.

It obtains its high performance from 8+1 ball bearings and a 6.0:1 to 6.2:1 gear ratio. The reel is also very lightweight with its largest model weighing 10.1 ounces. It has a reduced weight when compared with its predecessor.

It comes with a combination of X-Protect and X-Ship gives it excellent corrosion resistance.

The duo of CI4+ material and MGL Rotor gives the Sustain a lightweight design without giving up on performance.

Shimano sustain in my hand


  • Suitable for saltwater angling.
  • Upgraded technology has reduced the weight.


  • Not available in high-speed gear ratio models.
  • Doesn’t come in the larger sizes for saltwater gamefish.
Shimano Sustain Spinning Reel
  • Saltwater Ready
  • Ci4+ and MGL Rotor Reduced the Weight
  • 8+1 Ball Bearings for a Smooth Retrieve
  • Suitable for Bass to Billfish


SA2500HGFI6/200, 8/140, 10/1208.38+16.0:13510/150, 15/145, 30/10020
SAC3000HGFI6/230, 8/170, 10/1407.98+16.0:13510/200, 20/140, 40/10520
SA4000XGFI8/240, 10/200, 12/16010.18+16.2:13915/280, 30/170, 50/15024
SAC5000XGFI10/240, 12/195, 14/16510.18+16.2:14120/220, 30/200, 40/16024

4. Shimano Stradic Spinning Reel

Update July 2023 - At ICAST 2023 the Shimano Stradic FM was released. This model contains a lot of technology trickled down from the Shimano Stella. This includes InfinityXross gear durability, Hagane gearing, Duracross Drag, and an anti-twist fin.

For many years the Shimano Stradic was one of the most popular reels on the market. It gives so many features and high-level performance at a brilliant price. It is versatile, durable, and won’t let you down when that trophy fish strikes. I have one sitting in my garage, and I bet many anglers reading this can say the same. One activity I liked to do was go to my local fishing spot and found the number of Shimano Stradic’s I could see.

It comes with Shimano’s latest technology features like X-Ship, CoreProtect, Hagane Gears, and G-Free Body.

The Magnumlite Rotor also gives it a very lightweight reel while remaining durable in its construction.

For anyone looking for their first spinning reel, I always recommend a Shimano Stradic. It will not let you down.

shimano stradic ci4+ spinning rod on box during unboxing without line


  • Extremely lightweight design at under 7 ounces in the most popular sizes.
  • Affordable price tag with all the features you need to start catching fish.


  • The max drag in the 1000-sized model is only 7 lbs which is a little light for anything larger than a panfish.
  • It lacks the latest technologies that have been added to the Shimano Vanford.
Shimano Stradic CI4+ Spinning Reel
  • One of the Most Popular Reels
  • High Quality Workmanship
  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Saltwater Ready


STCI41000HGFB2/270, 4/140, 6/1105.66+16.0:13110/95, 15/85, 20/657
STCI42500HGFB6/200, 8/140, 10/1206.76+16.0:13510/150, 15/145, 30/10020
STCI4C3000HGFB6/230, 8/170, 10/1406.76+16.0:13510/200, 20/140, 40/10520
STCI44000XGFB8/240, 10/200, 12/1608.16+16.2:13915/280, 30/170, 50/15024

5. Shimano Sedona Spinning Reel

The Sedona allows you to chase any sized fish – with its model range from 500 to 8000 sizes you can pick a model that will suit your needs.

The G-Free body moves the center of gravity closer to the rod, making it more comfortable and lighter. This will result in less fatigue on your forearms and hands after a long day of fishing.

The Hagane cold-forged technology gives it exceptional durability and performance compared to other options.

The Sedona is my pick from the Shimano range if you have a limited budget.

Shimano sedona on its own


  • A wide range of sizes is available – pick one that suits your fish species and environment.
  • The propulsion line management system helps to prevent wind knots and backlashes.


  • With only 3+1 ball bearings, you will notice less smoothness in retrieve than the other options.
  • The 2500-sized model only has 9 lb of max drag which is less than I would like for bass fishing. You would be better selecting the 3000-sized model which comes with 20 lb of drag.
Shimano Sedona Spinning Reel
  • High Speed Option Available
  • Hagane Gearing
  • Resdesigned Rotor and Drag
  • 10 Year Warranty


SE500FI2/190, 4/100, 6/606.33+15.6:12715/135, 8/105, 10/657
SE1000FI2/270, 4/140, 6/1107.63+15.0:12610/95, 15/85, 20/657
SE2500HGFI6/200, 8/140, 10/1208.63+16.2:13615/145, 30/1009
SEC3000HGFI6/230, 8/170, 10/1408.83+16.2:13620/140, 40/10520
SE4000XGFI8/240, 10/200, 12/16010.43+16.2:13930/170, 50/15024
SEC5000XGFI10/240, 12/195, 14/16510.63+16.2:14130/200, 40/16024
SE6000FI12/265, 16/170, 20/120153+14.6:13330/290, 50/195, 65/14022
SE8000FI12/345, 16/250, 20/18521.73+14.9:13740/340, 50/265, 65/21524

6. Shimano Sienna Spinning Reel

The Sienna is a well-balanced and high-performing reel at a great price. I purchased mine from my local Tackle World and tested it extensively, doing some inshore fishing. It is surprisingly low cost for the performance and amount of features that Shimano have designed into it. For a budget entry-level spinning reel, it is one of the best value-for-money options out there.

It comes with Shimano’s Propulsion Line Management System, allowing longer casts and reduced wind knots. It also comes with a Super Stopper II anti-reverse feature.

Available in sizes from 500 to 4000, this is more suited for inshore fishing than deep-sea species.

I recommend the Sienna as an entry-level reel for those with a limited budget. It will do the job without any unnecessary features and technologies.

Russ testing Shimano Sienna Spinning Reel Inshore Fishing
Russ Testing Shimano Sierra


  • This is one of the best entry-level spinning reels on the market. It comes with plenty of Shimano’s latest technologies and is ideal for kids or beginners – although I suggest you upgrade relatively quickly if you get into the sport.


  • With only 3+1 ball bearings, there is a significant difference in the smoothness of retrieve than the more expensive options.
  • The gear ratio is on the low side at 5.0:1 in a lot of models. This is best suited for slow-moving lures like a deep-diving crankbait.
Shimano Sienna Spinning Reel
  • I Have Tested This Extensively in Saltwater
  • Extremely Affordable and Great Value for Money
  • Propulsion Line Management System
  • Graphite Reel, Frame, and Side Plate


SN500FG2/190, 4/100, 6/606.33+15.6:1275/135, 8/105, 10/654
SN1000FG2/270, 4/140, 6/1107.23+15.0:12410/95, 15/85, 20/657
SN2000FG6/165, 8/105, 10/958.83+15.0:12810/140, 15/115, 20/959
SN2500FG6/200, 8/140, 10/1208.83+15.0:12810/150, 15/145, 30/1009
SN2500HGFG6/200, 8/140, 10/1208.83+16.2:13510/150, 15/145, 30/1009
SNC3000FG6/230, 8/170, 10/1408.83+15.0:12810/200, 20/140, 40/10519
SNc3000FG6/230, 8/170, 10/1408.83+15.0:12810/200, 20/140, 40/10519
SN4000FG8/240, 10/200, 12/16011.33+15.2:13215/230, 30/180, 50/12019

7. Shimano IX Spinning Reel

The Shimano IX is the only rear drag model that has made this list. This allows the angler to make drag adjustments during a fight without needing to reach over the top of the spool.

It comes with Shimano’s QuickFire II system which is a more traditional design that allows for one handed casting by putting everything without reach of the casting hand.

This reel also has a lower gear-ratio of 4.1:1, better suited for slower retrieving lures like a deep diving crankbait or a spinnerbait with very large blades.

10 Best Shimano Spinning Reels [Ranked] 21


  • The low gear ratio is ideally suited for slow lures.
  • It is designed for one-handed casting which is great when you have a drink in the other hand.


  • I personally don’t like the rear drag design, simply because I haven’t grown up using one. Plenty of anglers prefer it because they don’t need to get their hands in the line during a fight to adjust the drag.
  • The low gear ratio means that this reel isn’t particularly versatile in the types of lures it can use. With a retrieve rate of 20 inches per crank or lower, you will be tired by the end of the day.
Shimano IX Rear Drag Spinning Reel
  • Solid Aluminum Frame and Handle
  • Propulsion Line Management System
  • Shielded Ball Bearings
  • Rear Drag is Easier to Adjust During a Fight


IX1000R2/270, 4/140, 6/1108.404.1:11910/95, 15/85, 20/657
IX2000R6/170, 8/120, 10/1008.604.1:12110/130, 15/100, 20/857
IX4000R8/240, 10/200, 12/16011.404.1:12415/265, 30/175, 50/14515

8. Shimano Ultegra Spinning Reel

The Ultegra is one of Shimano’s premium, high-end spinning reels. It is ruggedly designed but still looks great. It is lightweight but also boasts high performance. It also has high maximum drag options given its small stature.

Some of the many technologies included within this reel include:

  • Aero Wrap II
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • G Free Body
  • KGN Gear
  • Long Stroke Spool
  • Micro Module II
  • One-Piece Bail
  • Propulsion Line Management System
  • Silent Drive
  • X-Protect
  • X-Ship

The Ultegra is a powerhouse reel available in 1000 to 5000 sizes. It has improved corrosion resistance compared with most alternate reels.

The smooth retrieve of this system is second to none and will last for years without a decline in performance.

If you are looking for a surf fishing reel for inshore angling, the Shimano Ultregra is my recommendation.



  • This is one of the best surfcasting reels on the market. Make sure you match it with a similarly suited surf rod.
  • This is a very lightweight design where even the 4000-sized model is under 10 ounces in weight.
  • Well suited for saltwater angling.


  • This reel comes with a premium price tag.


ULT1000FC2/270, 4/160, 6/1106.35+15.1:12510/95, 15/75, 20/657
ULT2500HGFC6/200, 8/140, 10/1207.95+16.0:13510/150, 15/145, 30/10020
ULTC3000HGFC6/230, 8/170, 10/1407.95+16.0:13510/200, 20/140, 40/10520
ULT4000XGFC10/200, 12/1609.55+16.2:14015/230, 30/180, 50/12024
ULTC5000XGFC12/195, 14/16510.15+16.2:14020/260, 30/235, 40/18524

9. Shimano Saragosa Spinning Reel

The Shimano Saragosa has been released with new features in 2020 including enhanced capabilities and features focusing on improved saltwater performance.

It comes with higher winding torque under load compared to its predecessor. This in combination with its Hagane Gear and Body gives it more strength.

The Saragosa is very versatile and is suitable from freshwater to inshore and deep sea species.

The IPX8 Waterproof body means that saltwater will never enter the gears so you don’t need to worry about corrosion in the long term.

Available in sizes up to 18000 models, this reel is a monster hunter and is perfect for Tuna or larger fish species. It also has a very high retrieval rate, which helps fight some of the fastest species in the ocean.

I recommend the Saragosa for offshore anglers looking to target deep sea species.

Shimano saragosa spinning reel in a rack


  • Upgraded power from its older iteration. The largest models have over 40 lb of max drag.
  • This reel is purpose-designed for large big game saltwater fish species.
  • There is a wide range of gear ratios from 4.4:1 to 6.2:1 so make sure you pick one that matches the angling you will be doing.


  • This is not a lightweight reel. The lightest model is over 15 ounces in weight up to 33 ounces for the largest.
  • Although the gear ratio looks on the low side, it still comes with a high retrieve rate because of the large spool diameter.
Shimano Saragosa Spinning Reel
  • IPX8 Waterproof Body
  • Available Up to 18000 Size
  • High Retrieve Rate for Fast Pelagic Species Like Tuna
  • Upgraded Winding Torque


SRG5000SWAXG10/240, 12/195, 14/16515.95+16.2:14120/245, 30/225, 40/17522
SRG6000SWAHG12/265, 16/170, 20/120165+15.7:14130/295, 50/195, 65/14022
SRG10000SWAPG16/320, 20/220, 25/17524.35+14.9:14050/360, 65/290, 80/21533
SRG14000SWAXG16/360, 20/260, 25/19024.75+16.2:15350/400, 65/315, 80/24033
SRG8000SWAHG14/300, 16/250, 20/18523.85+15.6:14240/340, 50/265, 65/21535
SRG18000SWAHG20/415, 25/340, 30/28032.36+15.7:15150/600, 65/440, 80/36044
SRG20000SWAPG20/460, 25/380, 30/320336+14.4:14165/90, 80/400, 100/34044
SRG25000SWA20/570, 25/490, 30/36033.96+14.4:14565/630, 80/520, 100/44044

10. Shimano Sahara Spinning Reel

The Shimano Sahara is a balance between performance and price. It comes with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty and Shimano claims it is “unparalleled in its durability.”

This reel comes with Shimano’s G Free Body, KGN Gear, Propulsion Line Management System, and X-Ship.

This reel is suitable for novices and experienced anglers.

The Sahara is also available in the rear drag option.

The Sahara is the most durable Shimano reel I have seen, with an extremely robust design and long warranty.

shimano sahara on ground


  • Extremely durable design with unrivaled workmanship.
  • Lightweight design with the 3000-sized model under 9 ounces in weight.
  • This is a very affordable product with a good combination of value for money, durability, and performance.


  • It doesn’t come with all the performance from Shimano’s latest technology in its more premium spinning reels.
Shimano Sahara Spinning Reel
  • Decent Quality Reel at an Affordable Price
  • G-Free Body
  • Hagane Gears
  • Graphite Frame, Rotor, and Side Plate


SH500FI2/190, 4/100, 6/606.23+15.6:1275/135, 8/105, 10/657
SH1000FI2/270, 4/140, 6/1107.64+15.0:12610/95, 15/85, 20/657
SH2500FI6/200, 8/140, 10/1208.84+15.0:12910/150, 15/145, 30/10020
SHC3000HGFI6/230, 8/170, 10/1408.84+16.2:13610/200, 20/140, 40/10520
SH4000XGFI8/240, 10/200, 12/16010.44+16.2:13915/280, 30/170, 50/15024
SHC5000XGFI10/240, 12/195, 14/16510.64+16.2:14120/220, 30/200, 40/16024

How We Rate Products

Russ Egan and Donny Karr have over 40 years of combined fishing experience. We know the difference between a high-quality reel and a poor alternative.

I thoroughly review all products to measure their performance, durability, and value for money. I conduct bench and field testing to check how the product performs. Each reel is tested for at least 8 hours, with a full test taking 2 weeks. This testing results in an overall score that I give to all products. All metrics are scored out of 5.


The performance score is how well this product fulfills its primary purpose. Does it have all the features and optional extras you need to catch the target species? I also interview expert anglers on their experience to build a more comprehensive view of the performance under multiple conditions.

I take all reels down to my local freshwater lake for bass, or inshore fishing off the beach for redfish.

  • Test 1: I confirm that the max drag meets the manufacturer’s specifications using a calibrated scale.
  • Test 2: I test the maximum casting distance using a 1.0-ounce lure.
  • Test 3: I test the accuracy by casting 10 times into a 3 ft diameter circle at 30 yards.
  • Test 4: I check the versatility and the ability to handle multiple uses by field testing with 3 different lures and baits, by actually going fishing.


Durability refers to how long the product will continue functioning. I twist, bend, and break all the products to check their longevity. This score is for the construction materials, the workmanship quality, and the servicing requirements. There are also bonus points for manufacturers’ warranty.

For products I can’t test for long enough, I also consult experts who have been using them for decades to judge their longevity.

  • Test 5: I pull it apart to check the grease and oil levels, how difficult it is to maintain, and whether sand or salt has deposited after use in saltwater.

Value for Money

The final aspect of the scoring system is the price or, more specifically, the value for money. Value for money is a comparison against the closest alternative products, both by the same manufacturer and other brands.

Overall Score

Finally, I average the three scores of performance, durability, and value for money to give the overall score of each product reviewed.

To see more details, please read the complete guide on how I test and evaluate fishing products.

Shimano Technology Comparison

Considering the thousands of models and sizes available, it is always difficult to see through Shimano’s marketing hype and compare different reels. I have put together this table showing the 10 shimano reels above and the key Shimano technological advancements that are built into each:

Shimano Technologies IncludedStellaVanfordSustainStradicSedonaSiennaIXUltegraSaragosaSahara
Hagane GearYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYes
Super Free SpoolNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Micro Module IINoYesYesNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Hagane BodyYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoYesNo
QuickFire IINoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNo
G-Free BodyNoYesYesNoYesNoNoYesNoYes
Silent DriveYesYesYesNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Infinity DriveYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesNo
Ci4+ MaterialNoYesYesNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Cross Carbon DragNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNoYesNo
Heat Sink DragYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Long Stroke SpoolNoYesYesNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
X Tough DragYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
AR-C SpoolYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesNo
EI Surface TreatmentYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Rigid Support DragYesNoYesYesNoNoNoNoYesNo
S A-RBYesYesYesYesNoNoNoYesYesNo
One-Piece BailYesNoYesYesNoNoNoYesYesNo
Table of Shimano Features Included with each reel


Shimano is one of the world’s premier manufacturers – I would be happy to recommend or use any of their designs. I am a big fan of most people’s favorite reel the Shimano Stradic and its descendent the Shimano Vanford.

If you are looking for more information have a read through Shimano’s official website.

If you have used any of these reels yourself then please leave a comment below so that we can all learn from your wisdom and experience. I love to interact with our readers. I hope you have enjoyed this list of the best Shimano spinning reels.

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