Is This The Best Spinning Reel Every Made? Shimano Stella SW Review

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Written By Donny Karr

Donny Karr is a Tournament Angler with more than 20 years of fishing experience and a writer whose work has been featured in magazines for over a decade. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the south-eastern United States. He also fishes for trout in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, Paddling Space, Man Can Outdoors, Alabama Outdoor News, and Bassmaster.


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Serious saltwater anglers require the best possible gear and equipment on the water. In many cases, professional anglers, guides and charter captains must rely on their tackle and gear to make a living, so they often don’t cut corners and are more willing to invest a bit more on their fishing reels to get the best possible product. The Shimano Stella has been named among the best for saltwater spinning reels. 

The Stella is packed with premium features and capabilities, making it an obvious choice for anglers who want the best possible gear to bring in their catch. Many saltwater fishing magazines have called the Shimano Stella the premier saltwater spinning reel today. 

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

In this article, I will explore why the Shimano Stella SW has received such high praise and look at each feature to help you understand why it’s considered the best of any other reel model in the fishing industry today. 

If you want to compare it to Shimano’s alternative options, please read through this comparison guide.

Shimano Stella Overview 

One of the first things the average angler will likely notice about the Shimano Stella is its hefty price tag. This might drive most anglers away, but those seeking the best spinning reel on the market already know that the best products are always worth a much more significant investment. 

The Stella has been around for nearly 30 years as it was first introduced in 1993 by Shimano. Since then, the brand has used customer feedback and testing to hone in different areas and features on the reel so that it functions much higher and can give you the best opportunity to bring in your catch than ever before. 

The reel comes in 8 different size options that let you select the one that’s just right for your needs, whether you’re just doing some inshore fishing, or you need a larger, heavy-duty offshore reel that is capable of bringing in mako sharks and marlin. The sizes range from the standard 5000 model up to the massive 30,000. You can also order the Shimano Stella in three specialized versions that include the PG (power jigging), the HG (high gear), and the XG (extreme gear). 

The Shimano Stella Spinning Reel I used in this test


As you might expect with a reel that’s anything close to the same caliber as the Shimano Stella, the housing and side plates are made of extremely tough metal known as the Power Aluminum Body. This heavy aluminum body increases the reel’s overall weight, which might take a bit for some anglers to get used to, but most will quickly find that it is just right for going after the monster size saltwater game fish species that trophy fishing is all about. 

Drag System 

The Shimano Stella offers the widely-praised X-Tough Drag system, which can give you the power you need to handle the largest sized fish in the ocean. The different reel sizes offer drag weights that start at 29 pounds in the 5000 model and move up to as much as 66 pounds with the Shimano Stella’s 30,000 size reel. 

This drag is exceptionally tough and will make fighting the hardest-pulling fish in the ocean like amberjacks, sharks, and tuna much easier. Instead of allowing the fish to rip off massive sections of line as they dart and dive away from your boat, you can maintain greater control over them and bring them in much faster than ever before thanks to the X-Tough Drag System. 

Gear System 

The Shimano Stella offers the brand’s X-Ship gear system, designed to allow you to confidently go after the biggest and meanest fish in the ocean without fear of having your reel’s gears stripped out by a fish that’s too large. The X-Ship technology system utilizes two bearings on either end of the pinion gear. 

These two bearings give a much greater level of support to the reel’s overall toughness and you’ll be able to reel in massive fish that might otherwise be too large for lesser-quality reels. These extra bearings help keep the reel’s pinion gear and other internal components in alignment, so your reel won’t bog down when you’re fighting a monster tuna or other species of fish. 

Other Notable Features 

The Shimano Stella also offers Paladin gear durability enhancement, which is aimed toward providing a greater level of smoothness to casting and reeling your catch in thanks to a cold-forged aluminum drive gear made of hardened brass material. This means that the Shimano Stella still has the same classic smoothness that this brand has long been known for. 

Shimano has also fitted their Stella reel with a Super Stopper II roller bearing system that functions in a way that lets you instantly set the hook on your catch without having to deal with the same amount of looseness in the reel that other brands are notorious for having.

Simply put, the one-way roller bearing addition helps to stop the gears inside the reel and give you the instant ability to get the hook deep into the fish’s mouth so that it won’t pull free, resulting in you losing your catch. 

The Shimano Stella’s designers went above and beyond when waterproofing the reel’s internal components. This reel features the brand’s patented X-Shield and X-Protect technologies, which are both designed from a series of O-rings and sealing gaskets that are guaranteed to lock out water, grime, sand, and other elements that often seep into the reel’s internal components and significantly lessen the overall lifespan of your reel. 

Shimano Stella SW vs FK

The Shimano Stella SW stands for Saltwater, and is essentially the big game reel. It only comes in the largest sizes from 4000 and up, and has huge drag power. This is the premium reel for tuna or kingfish

The Shimano Stella FK is for Finesse fishing. It best suits smaller species like bream, whiting, and snapper. It is only available in sizes up to 5000.

They are essentially the same technology but in different sizes, targeting a different type of angler.


STLSW10000PGC12/500, 16/320, 20/22023.613+14.9:14050/360, 65/290, 80/21555
STLSW14000XGC12/555, 16/360, 20/26023.813+16.2:15350/400, 65/315, 80/24055
STLSW18000HGC20/415, 25/340, 30/28030.913+15.7:15150/600, 65/440, 80/36062
STLSW20000PGC20/460, 25/380, 30/32031.213+14.4:14165/490, 80/400, 100/34062
STLSW30000C40/370, 50/300, 60/25034.413+14.4:15265/900, 80/700, 100/57055
STLSW4000XGC8/240, 10/200, 12/16012.512+16.2:14015/230, 30/180, 50/12024
STLSW5000HGC10/240, 12/195, 14/16514.813+15.7:13820/245, 30/225, 40/17529
STLSW6000HGC12/265, 16/170, 20/1201513+15.7:14130/290, 50/195, 65/14029
STLSW8000HGCBraid Only2213+15.6:14240/340, 50/265, 65/21555
STLSW8000PGCBraid Only2213+14.9:13740/340, 50/265, 65/21555
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

Final Verdict 

What makes the Shimano Stella so much better than most of the other brands and models on the market today is the company’s attention to detail regarding the smallest factors related to the overall function of the reel.

The reel is made to stack up quite well against the largest of ocean game fish species and offers plenty of bonus features designed to help ensure that you don’t lose your catch, or that the fish doesn’t pull the internal gear system loose and bog down the line. 

While the Shimano Stella is significantly more expensive than most other reels in the fishing industry today, I believe this model offers everything you need for success on the water. 

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