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Fishing Equipment | Fishing Reels | Reviews

Shimano Stella Fishing Reel – 2020 Buyers Guide

The Shimano Stella is the flagship of Shimano’s wide range of spinning reels.

It comes in two different versions, the Shimano Stella FJ, which is a smaller reel for lighter fishing, and then the Stella SW, which is the bigger offshore version.

To help you get a better understanding of each, we have written a detailed review for both Shimano Stella versions, so you can get the full rundown on the Stella FJ and the Stella SW to see if either of these versions fit your requirements.

[UPDATE 2020] Shimano has now released the new 2019 model of the Stella SW across the whole range (it was only three sizes previously).

Before we dive into each of these reels, it should be said that the Stella is at the very high-end range of Shimano’s spinning reels, so the price point for each version is pretty high.

If you are looking for a budget spinning reel, then the Stella is not for you. But if you are after a premium reel, with all the high-end features that Shimano provides, then the Stella could be the dream reel you have been looking for.


Shimano Stella FJ

The Shimano Stella FJ was introduced in 2018, and was the successor to the older Stella FI reels.

Shimano wanted to pack all of their premium features into a smaller freshwater / inshore spinning reel, and the resulting Stella FJ is packed full of quality and provides unrivalled performance.

Features and technology used in the Stella FJ reels

Below is the breakdown of the premium features and technologies used in the Stella reels, and a description of what each one is and what it does

Shimano uses its cold-forged technology to create a precision 3D design, that provides the strength and durability, along with the incredible smooth operation of the reel

Designed to reduce any flexing in the reel, even under extreme pressures. This ensures that all of the cranking power goes directly into the gear, thus providing a more powerful and efficient retrieve

X-Ship is designed to eliminate any rotor flex and twisting in the reel, and provides an incredibly smooth and powerful cranking action.

Shimano uses its exclusive manufactoring technology to design this state of the art gear tooth surface design

This technology shifts the center of gravity of the reel closer to the rod. This provides extra comfort when casting, and reduces fatigue when being used for longer sessions.

The Silentdrive technology is used to reduce any wobble on the reel and provide the smoothest and quietest operation you will find in any spinning reel.

Shimano has designed Coreprotect to provide water resistance to the reel’s roller clutch, the line roller and the body. It does this without creating a heavier rotational feeling

Through intensive testing, Shimano has created the optimal spool lip design, that produces longer casting distances. It also prevents any backlash and knots from forming when casting in windy conditions

The one piece bail reduces line friction and allows the line to move efficiently and unimpeded to the line roller

The anti-rusting bearings used in this reel are now shielded to provide the ultimate protection for them

Designed to eliminater spool wobble, no matter what your drag setting is. Even at the lightest of drag settings, there is zero spool wobble. This ensures and incredibly smooth drag system is achieved

Designed to work with the AR-C lip design, the Aero Wrap 2 is a worm gear oscillation system that uses a specially designed pitch to create optimal oscillation speeds

This enables you to be able to directly lubricate the inner workings of the reel without having to take it apart. There is a small oil lubricated port that can be found on the reel, which when removed allows you to apply a lubricant inside the mechanism

Once the anodization process is finished, a secondary layer of surface treatment is added. The treatment is forced into any of the minute surface impurities left after the first treatment. This ensures a perfectly smooth surface, so salt has no place to hide. This treatment more than doubles the corrosion resistance of the reel when compared to a standard anodized reel

As you can see from the above list, the Stella FJ is packed full of Shimano’s best premium technologies.

If you look at the descriptions above for each technology used you will see each serves a practical purpose in the performance of the reel.

Some technologies seem to do more than others, but they all work together perfectly to make the reel run as smoothly and efficiently as it does.

Are you in Australia? Check the current price of the Stella FJ here

Models and specs for the Stella FJ range

Model: STL1000FJ
Gear Ratio: 5.1:1
Inches Per Crank: 25
Mono/Fluoro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 2/270 | 4/140 | 6/110
Braid/PowerPro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 10/95 | 15/85 | 20/65
Max Drag (lbs): 7 lbs
No. of Bearings: 12+1
Weight (oz): 6.0oz

Model: STL2500HGFJ
Gear Ratio: 6.0:1
Inches Per Crank: 35
Mono/Fluoro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 8/140 | 10/120
Braid/PowerPro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 10/150 | 15/145 | 30/100
Max Drag (lbs): 20 lbs
No. of Bearings: 12+1
Weight (oz): 7.2oz

Model: STLC3000XGFJ
Gear Ratio: 6.4:1
Inches Per Crank: 37
Mono/Fluoro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 6/230 | 8/170 | 10/140
Braid/PowerPro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 10/200 | 20/140 | 40/105
Max Drag (lbs): 20 lbs
No. of Bearings: 12+1
Weight (oz): 7.4oz

Model: STL4000XGFJ
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
Inches Per Crank: 40
Mono/Fluoro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 8/240 | 10/200 | 12/160
Braid/PowerPro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 15/280 | 30/170 | 50/150
Max Drag (lbs): 24 lbs
No. of Bearings: 12+1
Weight (oz): 9.0oz

Model: STLC5000XGFJ
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
Inches Per Crank: 40
Mono/Fluoro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 10/240 | 12/195 | 14/165
Braid/PowerPro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/220 | 30/200 | 40/160
Max Drag (lbs): 24 lbs
No. of Bearings: 12+1
Weight (oz): 9.2oz

Additional performance factors

It is such a responsive reel, and when combined with technology like X-Ship, you have the perfect solution for feeling even the lightest bites and setting the hook as soon as the fish takes the lure.

While the Stella FJ range is not the lightest of Shimano’s small spinning reel range (the new Vanford is lighter), it is still a very light reel that will allow you to throw lures effortlessly for hours at a time.

It is also incredibly smooth to use. Even when you hook into a big fish, the drag system and retrieval all feels perfectly in tune, and makes catching fish that much more fun.

The balance of the Stella FJ is something that Shimano wanted to perfect.

The center of gravity of the reel has been moved closer to the rod, which allows for easier casting for longer periods of time, without having your arm become fatigued.

The combination of technologies they have built into the reel, all produce the ultimate feel and balance, from casting to retrieval.

Perfect for the competition anglers that need to get in as many casts as possible.

The front drag on the Stella FJ is super responsive, and also very easy to adjust when required.

The range of drag gives you plenty of ability to play your fish as much as you need, and the changes between drag pressure are very smooth.

Points to note

The Stella FJ reel does not have a reverse lever, so you do not have the option of putting the spool into reverse.

It does use an anti-reverse bearing, that ensures there is zero slack in the spool, so as soon as you strike into a bite, you can be assured that the fish will not be given even a millimeter of line unless delivered via the drag.

Is the Shimano Stella FJ worth the money?

As I mentioned at the start of this article, the Shimano Stella reel (both versions) comes with a fairly hefty price tag attached to it.

But what you are getting with the Stella FJ is a reel packed with Shimano’s top technology.

The target market for this reel is the serious angler that understands what all of these technologies do, and want to use them to their fullest to give them that additional edge.

When you use the Shimano Stella FJ it is hard to find ay fault in it, and in fact you can see just how much it improves your fishing experience as soon as you start using it.

If you are a serious angler, and want to upgrade from your existing reel, then the Stella FJ will give you the best you can get in spinning reel technology and ability.

Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Totally!


Shimano Stella SW

Now we get to the ‘big daddy’ of the two versions of Stella reel, the Shimano Stella SW.

Made for saltwater and offshore fishing, the Stella SW is a robust reel that provides the power you need to handle big fish and heavy gear, and the technology to make the process of catching the retrieving the big fish that much more efficient.

Updated Stella SW 2019 version

In 2019 Shimano released the updated model of the Stella SW in the 8000, 10,000 and 14,000 size reels. And then in 2020, the new improved version was then rolled out across their entire range of Stella SW reels, and the range starts from a 4000 model all the way up to a 30,000 model.

Below are the new and improved features you will find in the 2019 SW reels, taken from the official Shimano AU page:

The new Stella SW employs ‘Infinity Drive’ where the pinion gear inner does not make contact with the main shaft, as a high-sliding bushing supports the main shaft. With this new structure, sliding resistance of the main shaft is drastically reduced.

In addition to this, a special skidding coating on the main shaft helps to further reduce sliding resistance. InfinityDrive cuts handle rotation torque by about 30 percent in comparison to the conventional system, and makes the reel more powerful.

The ‘Heat Sink Panel’, where the heat generated by drag is released, stops any decrease in drag performance, due to thermal sagging, by around 50 per cent.

The ‘Insulation Sheet’, which blocks heat transfer to the spool, prevents spool temperatures from increasing by around 30 percent. The evolution of the new drag system is easier on the line and more stable than ever. Featured in models 10,000 up to 30,000.

X-Protect was developed for stopper bearing protection in the previous model and provided high-level waterproofing. The new Stella SW employs X-Protect for its line roller as well and further improves its waterproofing performance.

The new structure protects bearings inside the line roller from the harsh saltwater environment, and bearing durability is ten times greater than conventional designs. As a result of comparison tests by Shimano.

Shimano Stella SW Technology

Here is a list of all the technologies used in the Stella SW reel. The latest SW version incorporates what Shimano calls the SW-X Concept, which is a combination of new features that provides improved performance.

Are you in Australia? Check the current price of the Stella SWC here

Shimano uses its cold-forged technology to create a precision 3D design, that provides the strength and durability, along with the incredible smooth operation of the reel

Designed to reduce any flexing in the reel, even under extreme pressures. This ensures that all of the cranking power goes directly into the gear, thus providing a more powerful and efficient retrieve

X-Ship is designed to eliminate any rotor flex and twisting in the reel, and provides an incredibly smooth and powerful cranking action

Along with X-Protect, the X-Shield system provides extreme water resistance in the harshest of weather and water conditions

This system repels water, and combined with the water-channelling construction, it ensures the highest level of water resistance without sacrificing light gear and rotor rotation

This system provides a dramatically enhanced smoothness, level of control and a toughness that anticipates and deals with the high speeds and power of fish like the blue-fin and giant tuna

Designed to last, this spool design provides increased strength and durability when compared to die-cast aluminum or graphite spools

After purchasing this reel and submitting your Warranty Registration card points, you will receive coupons for discounts on cleaning lubes. It also includes Priority Shipping Labels that guarantee a 48 hour turnaround time from Shimano, or participating Shimano authorized warranty centers

This anti-reverse system uses a one-way rollers bearing that completely eliminates and back play. This provides the angler with instant hook setting power

Combining with the other X-Rigid features on this reel, the X-Rigid bail helps to provide optimal rigidity and eliminate any reel flex, which causes a loss of power

The X-Rigid gear was introduced into the heart of the Stella SW’s aluminum body, and it supports the incredible power and rigidity of the reel

Another element that combines with the other X-Rigid features to provide the ultimate rigidity and eliminate any loss of power caused by reel flex

Another element that combines with the other X-Rigid features to provide the ultimate rigidity and eliminate any loss of power caused by reel flex

One of the most impressive things that Shimano has done with the Stella SW is they have made the reel even stronger than before, but also lighter.

The materials used ensure that sturdiness and durability are both achieved.

Before I get into the different sizes and models of the Shimano Stella SW reels, I should clear up some potential confusion before I list the various versions available.

You will see below that there are sometimes more than one version available in the same size, especially in the smaller models.

The STL SWB PG, STL SWB HG and STL SWB XG models are available in some sizes, so here is a quick explanation of the differences between these:

  • PG = Power Gear (a lower gear ratio, which is better suited to jigging)
  • HG = High Gear (higher gear ratio, can be used for jigging or spinning and surface stickbaits and poppers)
  • XG = eXtra Gear (highest gear ratio, ideal for heavy spinning, surface stickbaits and poppers)

Now here’s a look at the different models available, and some of the specs for each model:

Model: STLSW4000XGC
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
Line Retrieve Per Crank: 40 inches
Mono Capacity (lbs / yds): 8/240 | 10/200 | 12/160
Braid Capacity (lbs / yds): 15/230 | 30/180 | 50/120
Bearings: 12+1
Max Drag: 24 lbs
Weight: 12.5oz

Model: STLSW5000HGC
Gear Ratio: 5.7:1
Line Retrieve Per Crank: 38 inches
Mono Capacity (lbs / yds): 10/240 | 12/195 | 14/165
Braid Capacity (lbs / yds): 20/245 | 30/225 | 40/175
Bearings: 13+1
Max Drag: 29 lbs
Weight: 14.8oz

Model: STLSW6000HGC
Gear Ratio: 5.7:1
Line Retrieve Per Crank: 41 inches
Mono Capacity (lbs / yds): 12/265 | 16/170 | 20/120
Braid Capacity (lbs / yds): 30/290 | 50/195 | 65/140
Bearings: 13+1
Max Drag: 29 lbs
Weight: 15oz

Model: STLSW8000HGC
Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
Line Retrieve Per Crank: 42 inches
Braid Capacity (lbs / yds): 40/340 | 50/265 | 65/215
Bearings: 13+1
Max Drag: 55 lbs
Weight: 22oz

Model: STLSW10000PGC
Gear Ratio: 4.9:1
Line Retrieve Per Crank: 40 inches
Mono Capacity (lbs / yds): 12/500 | 16/320 | 20/220
Braid Capacity (lbs / yds): 50/360 | 65/290 | 80/215
Bearings: 13+1
Max Drag: 55 lbs
Weight: 23.6oz

Model: STLSW14000XGC
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
Line Retrieve Per Crank: 53 inches
Mono Capacity (lbs / yds): 12/555 | 16/360 | 20/260
Braid Capacity (lbs / yds): 50/400 | 65/315 | 80/240
Bearings: 13+1
Max Drag: 55 lbs
Weight: 23.8oz

Model: STLSW18000HGC
Gear Ratio: 5.7:1
Line Retrieve Per Crank: 51 inches
Mono Capacity (lbs / yds): 20/415 | 25/340 | 30/280
Braid Capacity (lbs / yds): 50/600 | 65/440 | 80/360
Bearings: 13+1
Max Drag: 62 lbs
Weight: 30.9oz

Model: STLSW20000PGC
Gear Ratio: 4.4:1
Line Retrieve Per Crank: 41 inches
Mono Capacity (lbs / yds): 20/460 | 25/380 | 30/320
Braid Capacity (lbs / yds): 65/490 | 80/400 | 100/340
Bearings: 13+1
Max Drag: 62 lbs
Weight: 31.2oz

Model: STLSW30000C
Gear Ratio: 4.4:1
Line Retrieve Per Crank: 52 inches
Mono Capacity (lbs / yds): 40/370 | 50/300 | 60/250
Braid Capacity (lbs / yds): 65/900 | 80/700 | 100/570
Bearings: 13+1
Max Drag: 55 lbs
Weight: 34.4oz

Should you spend the money on the Shimano Stella SW?

Ultimately only you can answer that question. But here are a few things to consider…

The fact that you have made it this far down the page I am going to assume that you are an experienced angler and take your fishing very seriously.

The reality is that when you hook into a big hard-fighting fish (think a large blue-fin tuna or a lively striped marlin), then you want a reel that gives you the ability to control the fish for what could potentially be a long fight.

You also want a reel that can stand up to the pressures of regular fights with these brutally tough fish too.

shimano stella sw

The bottom line that reels that are not built to the exceptional quality of the Stella SW will be found out after just one or two runs from a big fish.

The Stella has the design quality, and technical ability to handle big fish during the hardest battles, time after time.

It is a reel that will quickly earn your complete trust once you have hooked into some decent specimens.

If you are serious about your fishing (and I will again assume you are), then you absolutely should have the reel that will meet your high standards, and this is exactly what the Stella will do.

The reel is built to last, so you will be able to fully utilize the exceptional ability of the Stella SW time after time.

Yes, the Shimano Stella SW is an expensive reel. But you are getting the very best for your money.

And you will soon understand that it is an investment well made once you start using it, and also years down the line when the reel is still going strong and serving you well.

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  • Looking for a little advice. I have a conventional reel for yellowtail covered – accurate 500 boss paired with a phenix black diamond rod. I am looking for a rod reel combo for casting lures, irons and for fly lining live bait. Ready to invest in a reel that I can use under a few different platforms. Im thinking xg and am unsure whether to go with 20000 or 25000. Tuna is an eventuality but Im still exploring the warmer water species. Here in NCal its ling cod salmon halibut and rock cod. Which reel do you recommend for getting into the yellowtail tuna dorado. Thank you

    • Hi Jim, personally i wouldn’t go bigger than the 20000 for the species you mentioned. the 20k will give you plenty of drag to work with, and will provide with a lot of fun when you hook into a decent ling cod, halibut etc. It will also give you the performance you need when you go after the warmer water species such as the yellowtail and Dorado. Sounds like you have some fun fishing planned! 🙂

  • One of the best explaination on the various of reels and it’s uses. That I now know what Stella reel I want to get on my next purchase

  • Any ideas if and when Shimano releases the rest of 2019 Stella SW reels, particularly interested in 4000HG version.

    Thanks!

    • Unfortunately not. I’m not sure why they only released the new 2019 version over 3 three versions, maybe they are testing the market before rolling out through their entire range. I have just sent them an email to ask them, so will update this comment and my article as well if they reply

    • Quick update on this Slava – I received an email reply from a rep’ at Shimano (Australia), and he said there are no plans this year to release the new 2019 Stella model in any of the other sizes other than the current three. He did also say “never say never”, but nothing to indicate that they had plans to release it in other sizes any time soon.

  • Hello, just want to know why are the 2019 stellar are less expensive then the 2013. Would it because they used cheap material?. I saved up some money to buy one then the price is way less than what I expected. So I hold back to see how the reviews turn out. What your take on this sir?