Best Shimano Spinning Reels 2023 – Buyers Guide

  • Date: January 2, 2023

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.

The wide range of Shimano spinning reels available now is impressive, with new and updated models being added on a regular basis!

But there are just so many reels to choose from, so where on earth do you even start?

Having done a lot of testing of their reels (plus owning several myself), I have put together a comprehensive list of what I feel are currently the best Shimano spinning reels.

This selection of reels will cover a wide range of specifications, prices, and functionality, so there should be something here for everyone.

Best Shimano Spinning Reels 2023

Shimano VanfordBest Overall Shimano Spinning Reel for 2023
Shimano Stradic FLExcellent Addition to the Stradic Range
Shimano Stella FJThe Ferrari of Shimano Spinning Reels
Shimano Ultegra FCGreat mid-range Shimano spinning reel
Shimano Spheros SWShimano Quality at a Great Price
Shimano NasciGreat Shimano Spinning Reel for around $100
Shimano Sedona FIGreat Budget Option
Shimano Sienna FGGreat for the Beginner

Table of Contents

Shimano Vanford

Best Overall Shimano Spinning Reel for 2023

Shimano Vanford

Product Features:

  • New release in 2020
  • Replaces the Stradic Ci4+
  • Magnumlight (MGL) Rotor
  • Enhanced CI4+ Body
  • Hagane Gear
  • Micro Module II Gear
  • SilentDrive
  • Cross Carbon Drag (C3000-C5000 models)
  • X-Protect
  • X-Ship
  • G-Free Body
  • Long Stroke Spool
  • Propulsion Line Management System
  • Aero Wrap II
  • Water-Resistant Drag
  • One-Piece Bail
  • S A-RB Bearings
  • IPX8 water-resistant line roller and roller clutch

Shimano has made a big move in retiring the iconic Stradic Ci4+ reel and replacing it with the new Vanford spinning reel.

The only way they could do this is by making the Vanford even better, by upgrading the components and delivering improved performance.

Well, Shimano has delivered!

The Shimano Vanford has been built using a lot of Shimano’s latest high-end technologies that have trickled down from their Stella range.

The result of this is a reel that runs incredibly smooth and fast.

Designed for finesse fishing, this reel is incredibly responsive and the subtle power it produces will give you even more of an edge when you do battle against the hard fighting fish.

The Hagane Micromodule Gear II, SilentDrive, and MGL rotor system all run in synergy to provide ultra-smooth performance.

The speed of the Shimano Vanford spinning reel is equally impressive. As soon as you twitch the handle you start reclaiming line at a rapid rate.

The Vanford is even lighter than the Ci4+ was, and the balance on the reel has been executed really well so you can flick lures all day with minimal fatigue.

I really like the T-bone-shaped handle, I personally find I have a lot more control over the reel when fighting a fish with this handle.

I also LOVE the aesthetics of this reel! The pictures online really do not do it justice, when I first saw it I was taken aback by the stunning looks it had. Not only is it a looker, but its performance matches its beauty as well.

Models and Sizes available:

  • VF500F (ideal for ice fishing)
  • VF1000F
  • VF2000HGF
  • VF2500HGF
  • VFC3000HGF
  • VF4000F
  • VFC5000XGF

Reel specs:

Model:Gear Ratio:Max Drag Power (lbs):Bearings:Weight (Oz):

Although the Ci4+ was an incredible reel, the Vanford is a legitimate upgrade and Shimano has really taken the bar to a new level in the mid-range spinning reel category with this reel.

The Good:

  • Light and strong
  • Very smooth operation
  • Super-responsive
  • Built with a multitude of Shimano’s premium technologies
  • Very durable
  • Extra casting ability
  • Designed for finesse lure fishing
  • A worthy replacement for the Ci4+

The Bad:

  • I am really struggling to find any negatives with this reel, it impresses me every time I use it

Read my full Shimano Vanford review

Shimano Stradic FL

Runner up

Product Features:

  • HaganeBody – reduces flex
  • Hagane Gear – provides more reliability
  • Shimano X-Ship – provides superior durability
  • SA-RB – improved bearings for better performance
  • G-FreeBody – new technology to reduce fatigue
  • Cross Carbon Drag – drag material provides the smooth drag performance
  • Micro Module Gear II – updated drive and pinion gear technology
  • X-Protect – provides high level of water resistance
  • Aluminum cold forged spool
  • Propulsion Line Management System
  • Dyna-Balance
  • Power Roller II
  • SR-Concept
  • Aero Wrap II
  • Power handle (5000 model)

Released at the end of 2019, the excellent new Stradic FL has surged high up on my list of best Shimano spinning reels list.

It was released as an updated version of the already impressive and successful Stradic FK. It has been upgraded in several areas in the design and uses a lot of Shimano’s high-end technologies.

This reel is super-smooth!

The drag is impressive. Extremely powerful, it really does give you the confidence to play hard fighting fish with the knowledge that you can give them line, and also apply the breaks whenever you need to.

Read my Shimano Sradic FL review

SHIMANO Stradic 2500FL HG Spinning Fishing Reel, Left/Right Hand Retrieve

Reel specs:

Model:Gear Ratio:Max Drag Power (lbs):Bearings:Weight (Oz):
ST1000HGFL6.0:16.6 lbs6+16.9 oz
ST2500HGFL6.0:119.8 lbs6+17.9 oz
STC3000XGFL6.4:119.8 lbs6+17.9 oz
ST4000XGFL6.2:124.3 lbs6+19.2 oz
STC5000XGFL6.2:124.3 lbs6+19.3 oz

The Good:

  • Light and strong
  • Silky-smooth performance
  • Excellent drag system
  • Light and well balanced
  • Casts well
  • Solid upgrade to the old Stradic FK
  • Very versatile reel

The Bad:

  • No negative aspects noted yet

Compare price and check size availability

Shimano Stella FJ

Product Features:

  • Micro Module II
  • X Protect
  • SilentDrive
  • Hagane Gear
  • Hagane Body
  • X-Ship
  • G Free Body
  • Anti-Tangle Rotor
  • Long-stroke Spool
  • Extra-High Cast Rating
  • Shielded Anti-rust Bearings
  • High Crank Power Rating
  • 10 year warranty

The Stella FJ is the pinnacle of Shimano’s light spinning reel range.

Shimano has said that whenever they launch a new reel in the Stella range, their goal is to make it the best spinning reel that was ever made.

With this pursuit of perfection comes a lofty price tag, but the resulting Stella FJ reel is an incredible piece of machinery that performs to the highest levels in every operational aspect.

Packed full of Shimano’s premium technologies, the Stella FJ reel has had some enhancements since it took over from its predecessor, the Stella FI.

The Micro Module II with improved gear teeth and surface design has this FJ running silky-smooth, and the X-protect design ensures that the Stella FJ is well protected from the elements and gives it that longevity that will have the reel running to its optimal levels for many years.

Yes, the Shimano Stella FJ spinning reel is an expensive piece of equipment.

But the old saying of ‘you get what you pay for’ is clearly evident here, as you are getting the results of all of Shimano’s knowledge, experience, and design and engineering expertise packed into this one reel.

Reel specs:

Model:Gear Ratio:Max Drag Power (lbs):Bearings:Weight (Oz):
STL1000FJ5.1:17.0 lbs12+16.0 oz
STL2500HGFJ6.0:120.0 lbs12+17.2 oz
STLC3000XGFJ6.4:120.0 lbs12+17.4 oz
STL4000XGFJ6.2:124.0 lbs12+19.0 oz
STLC5000XGFJ6.2:124.0 lbs12+19.2 oz

The Good:

  • Built with Shimano’s premium technologies and materials
  • Light and strong
  • Superior performance levels
  • Very smooth operation
  • Strong drag system
  • Very strong and durable reel
  • Packed full of power
  • The best light spinning reel Shimano has made

The Bad:

  • The premium price of the reel will put it out of some people’s budget range.

Shimano Ultegra FC (2021 updated model)

Product Features:

  • 5+1 SA-RB bearings
  • Ci4+ composite frame
  • Shielded Anti-rust Bearings
  • Moderate to high crank power rating
  • Hagane Gear
  • MicroModule II
  • Long stroke spool
  • SilentDrive technology
  • X-Protect technology
  • X-Ship
  • Aero Wrap II Oscillation
  • CoreProtect for water resistance
  • G Free Body
  • Waterproof drag

The updated 2021 Shimano Ultegra FC spinning reel has seen a decent upgrade to this massively popular reel with anglers around the world, which is due to its incredible performance and durability.

The Ultegra FC has a lot of Shimano’s premium technologies, and this becomes clearly evident when you start using it. It is pleasing to see this high-end technology from Shimano being made available at such an affordable price.

Read my comprehensive Shimano Ultegra FC review

The operation of the reel is exceptionally smooth, and the Hagane gearing really does its job well and ensures the reel doesn’t skip a beat. The drag is also silky smooth and gives you real confidence when you hook into a decent fish.

One thing that Shimano does very well is with the start-up of their spinning reels. As soon as you apply pressure on the handle you can feel the power kicking in, and this is very apparent with the Ultegra FC reel.

The reel is very responsive, and when you hook into a fish you feel you have instant control and power to get the upper hand over it.

Reel specs:

Model:Gear Ratio:Max Drag Power (lbs):Bearings:Weight (Oz):
ULT1000FC5.1:17.0 lbs5+16.3 oz
ULT2500HGFC6.0:120.0 lbs5+17.9 oz
ULTC3000HGFC6.0:120.0 lbs5+17.9 oz
ULT4000XGFC6.2:124.0 lbs5+19.5 oz
ULTC5000XGFC6.2:124.0 lbs5+110.1 oz

The Shimano Ultegra is a light reel, but you can feel the quality and strength when you are using it. With all of the technology and protection of components used in the Ultegra, you are going to get a lot of usage from the reel.

If you don’t want to spend Stradic kind of prices for a Shimano spinning reel, but you want similar performance, then the Ultegra FC is a great option for you.

The Good:

  • Uses a lot of Shimano’s higher end technologies
  • Decent line capacity
  • Quite light
  • Well balanced, sits nicely on the rod
  • Comfortable to flicks lure with for longer periods
  • Casts well
  • You get a lot of Shimano’s better technologies at a very affordable price

The Bad:

  • No anti-reverse lever (although i personally don’t miss this feature, but i know a lot of people do)

Shimano Spheros SW

Product Features:

  • Hagane Gear
  • Hagane Body
  • X-Ship pinion gear support system
  • CoreProtect water repulsion technology
  • Waterproof Cross Carbon Drag
  • S A-RB Shielded Anti-Rust Bearings

The Shimano Spheros SW Inshore spinning reel is a great example of being able to get a very good quality reel at an affordable price

The Spheros has some of Shimano’s premium technology and design features. It runs smoothly and efficiently, and I have been really impressed with just how well this reel performs.

Anyone that uses any of Shimano’s spinning reels will now expect to have a reel with a very smooth drag. The Shimano Spheros is certainly no exception.

The Cross Carbon drag system is exceptional and gives you confidence when playing a hard-fighting fish due to its reliable and responsive capabilities.

While the Shimano Spheros is not the lightest of spinning reels around, it is certainly not heavy and I love the balance of the reel when sitting on the rod.

Reel specs:

Model:Gear Ratio:Max Drag Power (lbs):Bearings:Weight (Oz):
SPC3000HGSW6.0:120.0 lbs3+18.6 oz
SP3000XGSW6.2:120.0 lbs3+19.0 oz
SP4000XGSW6.2:124.0 lbs3+19.9 oz

The reel is well protected with Shimano’s CoreProtect water repulsion technology being used. This is a very effective system and will ensure that your reel keeps running at its optimal level for a very long time.

Another thing I was impressed with on this Spheros spinning reel was its casting ability. It was surprisingly good, even with lighter lures. The line seemed to peel off the spool with minimal resistance.

One thing to note about the Shimano Spheros SW Inshore reel is that it is only available in two different sizes, 3000 and 4000.

The Good:

  • Incorporates some of Shimano’s higher end technologies
  • Strong and durable reel
  • Solid cranking power
  • Smooth and strong drag system
  • A lot of quality at an affordable price

The Bad:

  • Only available in two sizes, 3000 and 4000

Shimano Nasci

Product Features:

  • Built with Hagane gear
  • X-ship
  • G Free Body
  • Varispeed II
  • Coreprotect for added protection
  • AR-C Spool for smoother casting
  • Moderate to high crank power rating
  • Ideal for light freshwater and saltwater fishing
  • Saltwater ready
  • 10 year warranty

Do you have a budget of around the $100 mark, and want a good quality Shimano spinning reel?

The Shimano Nasci is a great option if this is your price range for a new spinning reel. I personally own a Nasci 4000 model, use it regularly and it does its job well.

There is a good range in sizes available, from the smallest 1000 size up to the largest 5000 size. This gives you options for both lighter freshwater fishing to heavier inshore fishing.

The X-ship technology used on the Nasci provides the torque and power that is clearly evident as soon as you hook into a decent fish.

Including the excellent Hagane gear system in a reel in this price range is a great deal for us, the consumer. This added strength and durability provided by Hagane gear is going to ensure your Nasci reel runs at its optimal levels for a very long time.

Reel specs:

Model:Gear Ratio:Max Drag Power (lbs):Bearings:Weight (Oz):
NAS500FB5.6:17.0 lbs4+16.2 oz
NAS1000FB5.0:17.0 lbs4+17.6 oz
NAS2500FB5.0:120.0 lbs4+18.8 oz
NASC3000HGFB6.2:120.0 lbs4+18.8 oz
NAS4000XGFB6.2:124.0 lbs4+110.4 oz
NASC5000XGFB6.2:124.0 lbs4+110.4 oz

For those of you that still like to use an anti-reverse lever, beware as the Nasci does not have one. Shimano has removed this from a lot of their reels now, and I have to say that I have never missed it.

You have plenty of drag to work with on this reel (up to 24 lbs / 11kg depending on which model you have). With the good range of sizes available in the Nasci FB range, it ensures that there is the ideal size here for anyone looking for a light spinning reel.

Overall, you are getting a lot of reel for the price with the Shimano Nasci. A great option spinning reel for around the $100 price range

The Good:

  • Good range in sizes available
  • Several high end Shimano technologies used
  • Smooth and responsive retrieval
  • Powerful drag
  • lightweight
  • Well balanced reel
  • Great value for money

The Bad:

  • No anti-reverse lever

Shimano Sedona FI

Great Budget Option

Product Features:

  • Hagane Gear
  • Varispeed II Oscillation
  • G Free Body Technology
  • X Ship
  • 3+1 Bearings
  • Moderate Crank Power Rating
  • Front Drag
  • Moderate Cast Rating
  • 3-11 Drag Power Range (KG)

If you are on a budget and want to take advantage of Shimano quality in a low-cost reel, then the Sedona FI range is an excellent option.

Great for those just starting out, or for anyone that just doesn’t feel comfortable spending over 3 figures on a reel.

Obviously, you will not be getting the high-end specs that you will find on some of the more expensive ranges of Shimano spinning reels, but the Sedona range is not just a reel that offers nothing other than a cheap price, it does have some very good features built into it.

With the Sedona spinning reel being available from 1000 up to 4000, there is a lot of room for all kinds of fishing here.

Freshwater or saltwater fishing, boat or shore fishing are all possible with the models that Shimano offers in their Sedona range.

Features of the Shimano Sedona spinning reel

The Sedona uses Shimano’s AR-C spool design, which has been designed to improve casting distance.

The top lip of the spool allows the line to come off more easily, reducing resistance and thus allowing it further distance on the cast.

Now, I have no comparative data to say if the AR-C design does indeed provide extra casting distance against a reel that does not use AR-C.

But I can say that it does cast good distances without any excessive effort.

Reel specs:

Model:Gear Ratio:Max Drag Power (lbs):Bearings:Weight (Oz):
SE500FI5.6:17.0 lbs3+16.3 oz
SE1000FI5.0:17.0 lbs3+17.6 oz
SE2500HGFI6.2:19.0 lbs3+18.6 oz
SEC3000HGFI6.2:120.0 lbs3+18.8 oz
SE4000XGFI6.2:124.0 lbs3+110.4 oz
SEC5000XGFI6.2:124.0 lbs3+110.6 oz
SE6000FI4.6:122.0 lbs3+115.0 oz
SE8000FI4.9:124.0 lbs3+121.7 oz

The compact body design of the Sedona makes it easier to use than larger more bulky reels.

It is also designed to reduce weight as well, and for a reel in this price range, it certainly does not feel as heavy as a lot of other reels around the same price point.

To make the Sedona reel as light as possible, Shimano has used some plastic components such as the drag knob and the T-knob at the end of the handle.

But it is also made with Shimano’s composite HGT 7 M-compact body, which the main purpose is to provide strength in a lightweight design.

The combination of the Power Roller II and Propulsion line management systems ensures that line comes on and off the spool with extreme precision.

The Power Roller II feature also helps to reduce any twisting in the line.

The Good:

  • Surprisingly smooth operation
  • Very versatile reel
  • Suitable for braid or mono line
  • Casts really well
  • Great drag system
  • Good range of sizes available
  • Great value for money

The Bad:

  • No anti-reverse lever
  • Plastic handle knob is not as comfortable as foam handles, and more slippery when wet

Shimano Sienna FG

Great for the beginner

Product Features:

  • Uses Propulsion Line Management system for longer casts
  • Super Stopper II for a 100% instant anti-reverse
  • Oversized handle for improved cranking power
  • P3 body for strength and durability
  • Smooth operation
  • 10 year warranty

If you’re a beginner, or you just don’t want to spend the higher prices that many of these reels sell at, then the Shimano Sienna FG is a great option for you.

Of course you’re not going to get all of Shimano’s higher-end technologies, but what you are getting is a very solid reel that does the job it is supposed to do.

First of all, the operation of the Sienna FG is surprisingly smooth. I did not expect a reel at this price to run so well.

The maximum drag you have on the Sienna FG is not as strong as more expensive reels, but you are getting a drag system that works very well and will give you the confidence to do battle with a hard-fighting fish.

The size range of the Sienna FG starts at a small 500 reel, all the way up to a 4000 model. This will give you options for lighter freshwater fishing up to light inshore fishing.

Reel specs:

Model:Gear Ratio:Max Drag Power (lbs):Bearings:Weight (Oz):
SN500FG5.6:14.0 lbs3+16.3 oz
SN1000FG5.0:17.0 lbs3+17.2 oz
SN2000FG5.0:19.0 lbs3+18.8 oz
SN2500HGFG6.2:19.0 lbs3+18.8 oz
SNC3000FG5.0:119.0 lbs3+18.8 oz
SN4000FG5.2:119.0 lbs3+111.3 oz

Even though the price of this reel is exceptionally low, you do not get the feeling that the reel is ‘cheap’. It has been well made, is a solid reel and the efficient and smooth operation greatly exceeds its price tag.

If you are just starting out with your fishing, or you just want a low-cost spare reel to keep in the bag, then the Shimano Sienna FG is an excellent option.

The Good:

  • Runs very smoothly
  • Good range in sizes available
  • Suitable for freshwater to light inshore fishing
  • Well built, a very sturdy reel
  • Exceptional value for money

The Bad:

  • No anti-reverse lever

There are a lot of really good Shimano spinning reels detailed on this page, that cover the entire spectrum of budgets, so there should be something here for everyone.

  1. Great reviews mate, I’ve been using a Sienna for a couple of years now, caught some big fish with it coupled with 20 pound fireline braid. The drag works very well under preasure including big runs from Spaniards and levering bottom hugging snapper to the boat. I’m definitely going to buy another Sienna soon.

  2. I just received a Shimano Sedona 4000GX, and although its owner’s manual shows an antireverse lever, mine does not have one. I have lots of other reels, and they all have tha antireverse lever, but I never use that feature, as allowing the reel to spin backwards almost always causes birds’ nests. So I am not complaining–just wondering about the owner’s manual.

    1. Hi,

      I can only assume that the manual you got with the Sedona is for an older model. The latest model does not have the anti-reverse lever, so I can’t see any other reason why they would show it in the manual, unless it was for an older model.

      But yes, I totally agree with you that the anti-reverse lever is more trouble than it is worth, so definitely not a miss on any spinning reel. Shimano is doing away with it on most of their reels now, to help make room for more useful technology

  3. The reason some reels has no anti reverse is simply to make it more waterproof. You may have noticed the screw-in handle as well instead of one with a rod that goes through the opposite side with a screw knob. These adds in to the reel being water resistant.

  4. “Mistake” no antireverse call me a purist but I use it religiously. Shimano dropped it off the baitcasters and I’ve been looking for one ever sense, and now spinning trend is no anti also,, will take Shimano spinning off the short list. My 2cents

    1. By all accounts it is a very good reel. But I haven’t tested it yet, so don’t want to add it to the list until I have. I am hoping to be able to give it a decent test in the next couple of months, so will update then if it warrants being included in this list

  5. Good products, except you can not get parts for your older ones. I have to throw away my Stradic 6000 FH
    because they don’t have any friction rings for them.
    I have forty year old Penn reels that I can get parts for.

  6. Execllent reviews. I’ll be back – there’s so much infirmation. Thanks. Could include line capacity so we can work out whether mono backing for braid needed, or not.

    1. Hi, thanks for the comments. Yes, line capacity is an important part of the equation when figuring out how much line you need, so I will look to get those added for all reels.

  7. hello, is the shimano fx c3000fc still a good reel? i will be doing sterlet and small bullhead fishing, but don’t have the budget for even the sienna as it costs 60 usd here, and my budget is 100 usd. I want to get a good rod aswell as a reel, and the fx c3000fc is the only shimano reel that fits with the rod. it costs 30$ here.

    1. Hi Lukas, any reel that costs $30 is going to have some deficiencies. The Shimano FX reel is okay, it will do the job for you and will enable you to get out and do some fishing, which is the main thing. Have fun, and tight lines

      1. Hello! I ended up finding a cheaper website, from which i ordered the shimano sienna. I’ve tried it out and it feels much better than my old cheap reel.

        1. That’s good to hear Lukas, the Sienna is a good little reel. All the best with your fishing and your new reel, i’d love to hear what you think of the reel once you have caught a few fish on it.

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