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Updated Mar 20, 2023 10:03 AM
Shimano has been making high-quality fishing reels for years. The company offers an array of well-made fishing reels, from affordable spinning reels to high-end baitcasters. These are some of the best Shimano reels for various types of fishing.
The Best Shimano Reels: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Spinning: Shimano Nasci Spinning Reel
- Cold forged Hagne gears
- 5+1 ball bearings
- Other models can give you more, but with higher price tags
Shimano’s best-selling products are its spinning reels. The company makes high-quality spinning reels at various price points, with the expensive reels featuring the utmost in durability and cranking power. However, all Shimano spinning reels are recognized for their reliability.
Shimano’s Nasci Spinning Reel (there’s additional stock at TackleWarehouse) combines performance with value. For a relatively low price, you get a high-quality fishing reel that features premium gearing and Shimano’s X-Ship gear support system. The reel is smooth, strong, and affordable. Plus, you get that classic Shimano reliability.
Best Inshore Spinning: Shimano Stradic FL
- Strong Hagane body
- X-Protect waterproofing system
- 6+1 ball bearings
- Surprisingly quiet
- Durable enough for saltwater
- Nice smooth control
- There are more durable saltwater reels, this one gets the edge on performance
If you fish in salty or brackish water, consider one of Shimano’s saltwater specific reels. What’s the difference between a saltwater spinning reel and a freshwater spinning reel? In short, corrosion resistance. Saltwater really takes a toll on your fishing gear, so you’ll almost always want something specialized, whether you’re fishing from the surf or a boat. Saltwater spinning reels are built with materials that better resists corrosion than freshwater reels. That said, you still need to rinse your reel after every saltwater outing—tighten the drag, gently rinse, let dry, and loosen the drag.
For a great saltwater option, the Shimano Stradic FL Spinning Reel is built on the brand’s rigid, flex-free all-metal Hagane body. It incorporates waterproofing technology that keeps the reel protected from corrosion after exposure to saltwater spray and splash. The reel comes in several sizes, but the Stradic ST4000 is ideal for all-around inshore saltwater fishing.
Best Baitcasting: Shimano Chronarch MGL Low-Profile Baitcast Reel
- High rigidity graphite frame and side plates
- 6.2:1, 7.1:1, or 8.1:1 gear ratios
- 8+1 ball bearings
- Lightweight for long days
- Silky smooth retrieve
- Solid drag
- Could get a higher gear ratio or more ball bearings from competitors
Turn on any bass fishing tournament and you’re going to see a ton of baitcasting reels. Honestly, it wouldn’t be abnormal if you only saw baitcasters. Why are baitcasters so effective when targeting bass? Baitcast reels give you better line control than any other type of fishing reel, allowing you to really perfect presentations. Baitcasters take some time to learn how to use, but with practice, you’ll be able to send a lure exactly where you want it, then pitch and flip it as you’d like. When you’re tournament fishing or where the fish are under a lot of pressure, that control is necessary. If you find yourself anywhere else, it’s just an extra weapon in your bass fishing arsenal.
As far as baitcasters go, the Shimano Chronarch MGL Low-Profile can hold it’s own with the best. The reel is made with an incredibly light proprietary carbon construction, and the spool is advertised to increase casting distance by up to 20% while requiring 10% less energy to crank the handle. The 8+1 S-ARB shielded ball-bearing system is durable, fast, and silky smooth.
Best Trolling: Shimano Tekota A Line Counter Reel
- All metal Hagane body
- 6.3:1 gear ratio
- 3+1 ball bearings
- Analog line counter
- Compact but powerful, with a rigid body
- Anti-fog lens on the line counter
- Smooth drag
- Right now, tough to find it in any sizes besides 500 and 600
With trolling reels, power is key. Your reel needs to not only be strong when fighting fish, but also handle all the resistance you get when dragging a lure and long length of line through the water. Even if you paddle your kayak around a reservoir in search of lake trout, your trolling reel needs to be strong for its weight.
For that, grab the Shimano Tekota A Line Counter Reel. It’s strong and durable, featuring anti-rust ball bearings and Shimano’s signature all-metal corrosion-resistant Hagane Body. The analog counter with an anti-fog lens helps ensure accurate reading during inclement weather, and has an extra-loud clicker to signal fish on!
Best Budget: Shimano FX Spinning Reel
- 2+1 ball bearings
- Reinforced graphite and aluminum spool
- Anti-Reverse reel
- Outperforms some of its lackluster specs
- At this price point? None
You shouldn’t expect to get any bells and whistles in a budget reel. Instead, you’ll get a solid, functional reel. It won’t crank as smoothly as a higher end reel, and it probably won’t last as long. That said, if you’re on a budget, Shimano has several great options for you. Believe it or not, at $30 (with shipping) you can get a perfectly capable Shimano reel that won’t break down on you after a couple of seasons, which is saying something. The Shimano IX Spinning Reel is a solid spinning reel available at a shockingly low price point. It’s a very basic reel, but well made and solid. Sure it’s not going to be silky smooth, cast for miles, or give you total control over a fish … but that’s not what you need it for. This can be your beater, your new angler teacher, or your “I’ll pack it just in case,” reel. With sizes between 1000 and 4000, an outperforming 2+1 bearing, and a solid drag, there’s not a whole lot to complain about.
What to Consider When Choosing a Shimano Reel
A Shimano reel is one of many reel options on the market today. There are many different reel manufacturers, and it can be difficult to sort out which products you can trust … but Shimano reels are recognized by anglers as being very well made and reliable.
Shimano has been around for a long time. The Japanese company opened its doors in 1921 when Shozaburo Shimano established “Shimano Iron Works.” Back then, the company primarily produced bicycle gearing. In 1970, the company realized it could transfer the precision gearing that they used for bicycle equipment to produce fishing reels. In 1970, the company launched its first series of Shimano spinning reels.
Since then, Shimano has made a name for itself by producing versatile and innovative fishing reels. Regardless of what type of fishing reel you’re looking for, Shimano has a good option for you. This guide will help you sort through all the offerings and find the best Shimano reels for you.
Spinning Reels are Shimano’s Bread and Butter
Spinning reels differ in “smoothness,” which is a term that describes the reel’s retrieve. A smooth reel has a handle that won’t stick when you turn it. Generally, the more you pay, the smoother the reel will be. Spinning reels are made with bearings. The more bearings the reel has, the smoother it operates—if the bearings’ performance remains constant. You want to look for a reel with a good ratio of bearings that are also high quality. This consideration will also apply to baitcast reels, which are featured later in the guide.
Why go with a spinning reel? Spinning reels are versatile and relatively easy to operate. The beginner angler is less likely to get tangles and crow’s nests than they are with a baitcaster. Spinning reels are good for bouncing lures off the surface of the water without generating any backlash. They are popular for all types of freshwater and saltwater fisherman. Just make sure that you get the correct reel size to match with your rod and the type of fishing line you’re planning to run.
But Do You Need a Saltwater Reel?
Shimano makes spinning reels for inshore and offshore pursuits. The main difference for fishing in either scenario is size. To pursue big-game fish offshore, look for a burly oversized spinning reel. For smaller saltwater species, look for lightweight reels similar to what you would use for freshwater game fish. Keep in mind that saltwater spinning reels are designed for casting, not trolling. If you’re looking for a trolling reel, get one made specifically for that style of fishing.
How About a Baitcaster?
Besides superb line control, baitcasting reels are also particularly strong. You’ll be able to stop big fish from running into weed beds, where they can get tangled or throw the hook. You can also use heavy, high-drag lures, such as spinnerbaits, with ease. Baitcasters are well equipped to handle heavy lines while maintaining low profiles.
Are You Trolling?
With trolling reels, you need strength. Your reel’s gotta handle not just fish, but the stress of all that line you’re pulling behind the boat. Even if you paddle your kayak around a reservoir in search of lake trout, your trolling reel needs to be strong for its weight. Shimano trolling reels are strong and durable enough to take what you throw at them, and if you want any sort of counting system, they’ve got fool-proof options.
Maybe the biggest determining factor in what you buy: What can you afford? Shimano has fishing reels to match any price range with high-end reels that are expensive but worth it, as well as value options that’ll ease the stress on your wallet. If you’ve got a flagship budget, you’ll get Shimano’s latest innovations in reels that, if properly maintained, should last you a lifetime. If you’re looking to stretch a dollar, Shimano has plenty of well-made options with reasonable price tags.
Q: Is Shimano a good brand?
Yes, Shimano is a very good fishing brand. The company makes high-quality rods, reels, and a variety of accessories.
Q: Do Shimano reels have a lifetime warranty?
Shimano reels have a limited lifetime warranty that protects against what Shimano calls “non-conformities in material and workmanship.” The higher-end reels offer a “Platinum Service,” for which reels can receive maintenance for a nominal fee.
Q: Is Daiwa better than Shimano?
Whether or not Daiwa is better than Shimano, or vice versa, is a matter of personal preference. Both companies make quality fishing equipment and offer rods and reels for every angling situation.
Final Thoughts on the Best Shimano Reels
Shimano reels are reliable and effective. The fishing tackle company has been an innovator in fishing reel design since the mid 1900s. When you buy a new Shimano reel, you can trust that it’s put together well and will last you a long time with the proper reel maintenance.
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