DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission.
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] Shimano has 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
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.
Models and specs for the Stella FJ range
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.