Best Shimano Spinning Reels

Last Updated: October 22nd, 2019

We fishermen and women have most likely heard of Shimano before and they are known as one of the best manufacturers in the fishing world. Shimano makes a variety of reels for use in many different environments. Here I have put together a review of all the best and most popular Shimano reels that covers a range of situations. The review includes freshwater, saltwater, and offshore spinning reels, to hopefully help you find the best Shimano spinning reel for you and the way you fish. 

OUR TOP PICKS

Shimano Nexave 4000 HG FE, Spinning Fishing Reel, NEX4000HGFE
Shimano Nexave Spinning Fishing Reel
  • Smooth retrieve
  • Good value
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SHIMANO Sedona 1000FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
Shinano Sedona FI
  • Smooth retrieve
  • Strong drag
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Shimano Ultegra 2500FB XG; Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
SHIMANO ULTEGRA Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
  • Lightweight
  • Strong drag
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Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB Spinning Fishing Reel With Front Drag, STCI42500FB
Shimano Stradic Ci4+
  • Super light
  • Smooth to cast
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Shimano Nasci 4000 FB spinning fishing reel with front drag, NAS4000FB
Shimano Nasci 4000 FB
  • Smooth to cast
  • Strong drag
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Shimano Stradic GTM 4000 SRC Spinning Fishing Reel With Fighting Drag, STR4000SGTMRC
SHIMANO Stradic GTM RC Spinning Reel
  • Great cast
  • Excellent retrieve
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Shimano Saragosa SW Spinning Reel, Colour 5.6:1, Size 20000
Shimano Saragosa 20000F Saltwater Offshore Spinning Reel
  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
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Shimano Socorro 5000F SW Offshore Spinning Fishing Reel
SHIMANO Socorro SW, Offshore Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel
  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
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Shimano Baitrunner 6000D, Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel
Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Powerful drag
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Shimano Nexave Spinning Fishing Reel

Shimano Nexave 4000 HG FE, Spinning Fishing Reel, NEX4000HGFE

This reel has been made for both freshwater and light inshore saltwater fishing. It’s made with a smooth and strong drag, meaning you can put pressure on fish when you need to whilst still being lightweight. It’s light for easy, all-day casting and includes shimanos Propulsion Line Management system that helps you cast further.

It has a high gear ratio for an excellent and smooth retrieve. If you are lure fishermen, this reel is going to get your lure in nice and quickly. The reel is a little flimsy but it does come at an amazing price, quality and price go hand in hand in this game.

The drag on the reel is not sealed and when using it in saltwater you are going to have to do a lot of maintenance on it to keep it alive.

 

 

Pros

  • Smooth retrieve
  • Good value
  • Strong Drag
  • For fresh and saltwater
  • Good for casting

Cons

  • Not very durable
  • Not sealed
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Shinano Sedona FI

SHIMANO Sedona 1000FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

This reel comes in a lot of models, perfect for light freshwater all the way through to heavy offshore fishing. It’s made up of an aluminum body, rotor and side plates, great for corrosion and durability.

The gears are cold-forged with Shimano’s HAGANE sysetm, making them long-lasting and durable while providing a smooth retrieve.

The drag is strong and powerful, it will handle any fish you are after as long as you buy the right model. The line capacities available also match this, meaning you can target giants if you want to.

The spool is braid-ready for easy filling and is made of double-anodized machine-cut aluminum for even more durability and includes the Propulsion Line Management System helping you cast further and avoid wind knots and backlashes. 

The reel isn’t sealed and will require maintenance to keep it going. It does stiffen up when wet but this is most likely due to users not looking after their reels properly. The reel comes in at amazing value but does not include anti-reverse.

Pros

  • Smooth retrieve
  • Strong drag
  • Casts well
  • Good value
  • Good line capacity
  • Range of models for most situations

Cons

  • Not sealed
  • Stiffens up when wet
  • No anti-reverse
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SHIMANO ULTEGRA Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

Shimano Ultegra 2500FB XG; Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

This reel also comes in a range of models for both fresh and saltwater fishing. I wouldn’t go offshore with the biggest model as it’s not quite big enough but it would handle being used in the surf.

The reel includes the HAGANE gear system we discussed before, making the gears very durable. It also includes Shimano’s X-Ship technology that helps the reel function more efficiently under pressure, elimination friction between the gear and the spool. This makes for longer casts, handy when you’re in the surf.

The drag is strong and smooth. The max drag setting is not quite high enough for monsters but the drag and line capacity will manage a solid fish.

It comes with core protect to stop water from getting inside the reel. This will help with maintenance but again it’s not fully sealed so you will still have to look after it.

The retrieve rate is good but it’s known not to be that smooth and the reel body can have a bit of give on it when you get going.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Strong drag
  • Good line capacity
  • Water intrusion protection system
  • Cast smooth

Cons

  • Not the smoothest retrieve
  • A bit of give on the body
  • Not fully sealed
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Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB Spinning Fishing Reel With Front Drag, STCI42500FB

The Stradic Ci4+ is one of the most advanced reels Shimano makes and if you like to cast all day you’ll want to pay attention to this one. The reel is super light thanks to the carbon fiber body for easy all-day casting. The drag is also made up of carbon fiber, keeping it light while being smooth and powerful.

The reel comes with all the bells and whistles including the HAGANE gear system, X-ship, and core-protect we discussed before. This means the gears are strong, it helps you cast further and it stops water from getting inside the reel. You will still need to look after it though, as water will still get in somewhere.

The retrieve rate is high and very smooth but the bail arm is a bit stiff. It’s not designed to flip over on the wind and needs to be done manually. There is no anti-reverse and the line roller bearing does seem to go quite often and is easily replaced. Shimano will send you a new one for free.

It comes in a range of sizes suitable for fresh and saltwater, the biggest version, however, is not made for giants. If you fish for sharks from the beach or big offshore species, this isn’t the one for you.

Pros

  • Super light
  • Smooth to cast
  • Strong drag
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Sealed for saltwater
  • Great retrieve

Cons

  • Stiff bail arm
  • Line roller bearing can go after a while
  • No anti-reverse
  • Expensive
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Shimano Nasci 4000 FB

Shimano Nasci 4000 FB spinning fishing reel with front drag, NAS4000FB

This is a lovely reel to look at from Shimano and is designed with just freshwater in mind. It’s pretty good value for money while still having some of Shimano’s best features including Core-Protect, X-ship and the HAGANE gear system. The reel is made up fo an aluminum body, rotor, side plate, and braid ready spool. It’ll be easy to fill with braid and is made to be durable and corrosion-resistant.

It’s got a silky smooth retrieve, is great for casting and has a smooth and powerful drag. It comes in a range of models and it’s said that it’s just a freshwater reel but with the right care, I think light tackle fishing in saltwater would also be manageable. The drag on the largest model is high enough but the line capacity is where you might struggle in the saltwater.

The reel is also not fully sealed and will need a lot of looking after in the saltwater.

Pros

  • Smooth to cast
  • Strong drag
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Great retrieve
  • Water intrusion system
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not sealed
  • Only for freshwater use
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SHIMANO Stradic GTM RC Spinning Reel

Shimano Stradic GTM 4000 SRC Spinning Fishing Reel With Fighting Drag, STR4000SGTMRC

This is a match reel designed for lightline fishing that’s been made with a lot of thought. If you’re a serious light line fisherman, this is one for you.

The reel is super lightweight for easy casting and comes with a lot of features. For match fishing the Super Stopper II gives zero play in anti-reverse mode, allowing you to set micro increments on quiver tips and bite indicators for easy and efficient hook setting. The drag is made from carbon fiber making it smooth while durable. There is  a front and a rear drag on the reel. The rear drag is for easy access,  making it easy to set the drag instantly for hookups and change it up quickly during a fight.

When you’re lightline fishing, there’s a worry about the line twisting and not lying correctly on the reel. This reel includes a power roller to reduces twists on the retrieve and Aero Wrap II to make sure the line sits on the reel perfectly. If you hook a fish, your line is not going to break due to a line management issues and all this perfection also makes for great casting.

There is a lot more about this reel that makes it a lightline specialist but at the same time, that’s all it’s good for. You won’t want to take this reel near saltwater or big fish.

Pros

  • Great cast
  • Excellent retrieve
  • Strong and dual drag
  • Durable
  • Light
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Water intrusion system
  • Spare spool included

Cons

  • Only for freshwater
  • Only for lightline
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Shimano Saragosa 20000F Saltwater Offshore Spinning Reel

Shimano Saragosa SW Spinning Reel, Colour 5.6:1, Size 20000

This reel is serious and is designed for fishing offshore in the harshest of environments against the most powerful fish around.

It comes with a fully sealed carbon fiber drag system that is immensely powerful with 44lbs of max drag. It will stop a freight train and it’s also got the line capacity to do it. The drag is fully sealed as mentioned, making for easy maintenance and long life. You may have to replace a bearing or two after a few years but that’s it.

The frame is made up of aluminum and the rotor is graphite, making it super strong and corrosion-resistant. The spool is also aluminum and braid-ready for easy filling

The retrieve is super fast and the gears are strong, both benefitting from the X-ship technology. The reel is heavy but it needs to be to handle big fish and it’s a bit expensive but it will last a lifetime.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Sealed
  • Powerful drag
  • Big line capacity
  • Smooth retrieve
  • Great for casting

Cons

  • Expensive
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SHIMANO Socorro SW, Offshore Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel

Shimano Socorro 5000F SW Offshore Spinning Fishing Reel

Another great saltwater reel from Shimano but it’s a step down from the Saragosa in terms of what it can handle but also in price which is a positive. It’s a great reel for the surf as it’s built with durability and corrosion resistance in mind.

The drag is made up of a carbon fiber multi-disc system. This makes it strong, durable and smooth. The body is made from aluminum, for durability and the gears are too using Shimano’s HAGANE gear system.

The reel also comes with X-ship technology to support the gear system on both casting and retrieving. The retrieve rate is high and so is the line capacity, meaning the reel will handle most of the fish the ocean can throw at it.  It is a little expensive but it’s going to last.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Smooth, strong drag
  • Good line capacity
  • Smooth retrieve
  • Great for casting

Cons

  • Expensive but not too bad
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Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel

Shimano Baitrunner 6000D, Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel

This is a quality offshore reel that includes anti-reverse and a bait-running mode for easy hookups when you need to free spool. This is a feature a lot of offshore reels don’t have.

The reel is made with high-quality materials for life in the salt and comes with enough stopping power plus line capacity to handle large pelagics. The drag is made of carbon fiber system making it smooth and strong but it is not fully sealed and will need looking after.

The line propulsion management system makes for great casting and reduces backlashes while the gears provide a smooth retrieve. The gear ratio is a little low and you may have to wind fast to get your bait in quickly. The spool is aluminum and braid-ready for easy filling.

The reel overall is a bit heavy for casting with all day and is a bit expensive but you are paying for quality.

Pros

  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Powerful drag
  • Big line capacity
  • Smooth retrieve
  • Great for casting

Cons

  • Heavy reel
  • Slowish retrieve rate
  • Not fully sealed
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What to Look for

These are all the things to consider when you’re looking to buy a surf spinning reel.

What are you fishing for?

Your reel needs to be able to land the fish you’re looking to catch. Some anglers are dedicated to a single species. If you love shark fishing, you’re going to need a serious reel but if you like to target stripers in the summer, you’re not going to need something that hardcore. Think about the purpose of your reel before you buy it.

Line Capacity

When you fish in the surf, you find your spot and usually stick to it. If you hook a monster, you can’t chase it down and you’ll depend on your line capacity to handle the runs of the fish. Make sure the reel you choose holds enough line so you can be confident you’ll land a giant if it decides to eat.

Using Braid

Most surf anglers use braid and for good reason. It lasts longer, increases your line capacity and helps you cast further. You’ll probably be spooling your reel with it, so make sure your reel is made for it. Most reels come braid-ready these days but just check first.

How Heavy Is The Reel

The weight of your reel is directly related to how easy it’ll be to cast with and often how strong it is. Surf fishing involves a lot of casting and a heavy reel is going to get tiring. That being said, you may want the heaviness so you can land a big fish. Try a find a balance between the two, personally, I’d rather get tired casting and land a huge fish than the other way around.

Corrosion & Durability

The surf is a mean place for reels. They’re constantly being attacked by the elements and it can cause them to fail very quickly. You’ll want a reel that’s made from high-quality corrosion-resistant materials and is sealed or has some kind of water protection system to keep the salt out. This’ll give the reel the best chance of surviving in the harsh conditions.

Drag, Strong and Smooth

We’ve already mentioned that when fishing in the surf you have a chance of hooking a fish of a lifetime. The last thing you want is for your drag to fail. The reel needs to have a strong, smooth and reliable drag that can handle a serious fish. It should be sealed and made from corrosion-resistant materials.

Gear Ratio

Your retrieve rate is dictated by your gear ratio. The higher the ratio the faster your retrieve will be. If the reel states a ratio of 7.0:1, the reel will spin 7 times per full turn of the handle. If you want a fast retrieve, think about and check the ratio of the reel you’re looking at.

The Favorites

These are the favorites from the review, each one chosen for a different purpose.

The allrounder prize goes out to the Shimano Sedona F1. This reel can be used in every environment, is well made and it won’t put a big dent in your wallet. There are numerous models, be sure to pick the right one for what you want to fish for.

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SHIMANO Sedona 1000FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
  • With its updated design and cold forged HAGANE gears, the Shimano Sedona spinning reel offers a number of significant performance upgrades at an affordable value
  • Incorporates Shimano’s flagship HAGANE gearing that provides long-lasting, strong, and durable performance and smoothness giving anglers the strength for both inshore and offshore action

The best saltwater reel in the line up is the Shimano Saragosa. This reel is designed to last and fight any fish that comes along. That’s exactly what you need when you’re offshore. Yes, it is expensive but it’s worth it.

Shimano Saragosa SW Spinning Reel, Colour 5.6:1, Size 20000
  • Tackle the toughest species and conditions with elegance and power using the saragosa saltwater spinning reel
  • Equipped with a propulsion line management system that provides longer casting distances while preventing backlashes and wind knots from forming

The best lightline reel goes to the Stradic GTM RC. If you like catching fish on light lines and feeling every little touch without worrying if your reel has got you back, then this is the guy for you. Shimano has put so much thought into this and you won’t look back once you have tried it.

Shimano Stradic GTM 4000 SRC Spinning Fishing Reel With Fighting Drag, STR4000SGTMRC
  • Gear Ratio: 5.8:1, Equipped with double handle, colour: white
  • Line Capacity lb/yds: 6/180, 8/120, 10/100