Skip to Content

Best Shimano Fishing Reel Reviews

Shimano has long been know as one of the leaders in the fishing tackle industry and has consistently produced quality reels for the mass market since 1978.

Shimano is best known for its wide offering in spinning reels and baitcasting reels.  If you were to ask 10 anglers what is the best ____ reel we are sure that you would have a handful of people say that it is the Shimano ____.

The reason for this is that Shimano is a big brand and they do manufacture quality reels that are known for being very smooth.

While Shimano does not offer a large selection of reels in what we would call the entry-level price range. They do offer a huge selection in the mid-level price range and a handful in the high-end price range.

Best Shimano Spinning Reel Reviews

ImageProductOur ScorePrice
Best Overall
Shimano Baitrunner D
Shimano Baitrunner D

The Baitrunner D combines todays technology with legendary performance and durability. Incoporating all the latest techonology such as the Propulsion Line Management System to S A-RB bearings, the new compact profile lineup of Baitrunners can handle nearly any live-bait application from the new small 4000 size for freshwater and inshore species to the large 12000 size for Bluewater.

10
Check Price at Tackle Direct
Best for Inshore Fishing
Shimano NASCI
Shimano NASCI
  • First reel under $100 with Hagane gears
  • X-Ship gear support system
  • Smooth, stable retrieves; strong and durable
9
Check Price at Basspro
Large Capacity
Shimano Saragosa SW
Shimano Saragosa SW
  • Purpose-built offshore saltwater spinning reel
  • Flex-free Hagane
  • IPX8 waterproof body
8
Check Price at Basspro
Best for Saltwater & Freshwater Fishing
Shimano Sedona FI
Shimano Sedona FI
  • Updated design and cold forged HAGANE gears
  • Double-anodized machine-cut spool
  • Equipped with a Propulsion Line Management System
9.5
Buy at Amazon
Best for Larger Species
Shimano Socorro SW
Shimano Socorro SW
  • Features Cross Carbon Drag
  • X-Ship technology provides improved gear durability
  • Incorporates Shimano's flagship HAGANE gearing
9
But at Amazon
Best Low Cost
Shimano Spheros SW
Shimano Spheros SW
  • Infinity Drive
  • HAGANE Gear
  • HAGANE Body
8
Check Price at Tackle Direct
The King of Saltwater Spinning Reels
Shimano Stella SW
Shimano Stella SW
  • X-Tough Drag
  • X-SHIP enhances power transmission through the gear
  • X-Shield and X-Protect combine to provide extreme water resistance in the harshest conditions
10
Check Price at Tackle Direct
Solid Inshore Reel
Shimano Stradic FK
Shimano Stradic FK
  • The stradic spinning reel utilizes Shimano's latest technology
  • X-ship technology provides improved gear durability
  • Incorporates Shimano's flagship Hagane gearing
9.4
Buy at Amazon
Shimano Stradic Ci4+Shimano Stradic Ci4+
  • Upgraded with the latest Shimano technology
  • Magnumlite Rotor is 25% lighter than previous styles
  • Superior balance with reduced inertia
9.2
Buy at Amazon
Best High-Quality
Shimano Sustain FI
Shimano Sustain FI
  • Refined performance for the serious angler
  • Enhanced smoothness and durability
  • X-Protect system safeguards internal components
9.5
Buy at Amazon
Best for Larger Species
Shimano Thunnus Ci4
Shimano Thunnus Ci4
  • Super lightweight CI4 frame and rotor
  • Paladin Gears, Propulsion Line Management System
  • SR one-piece bail wire
9.4
Check Price at Basspro
Shimano Twin Power SWShimano Twin Power SW
  • Hagane Body
  • IPX8 Waterproof Body
  • Hagane Gear
9.4
Buy at Amazon

Shimano Baitrunner D

Retail around $169

The Shimano Baitrunner D is one of the most sought after bait feeder or baitrunner reels on the market.  If you are fishing with either live or cut bait in a situation where you want the fish to be able to pick up the bait and run with it then you need this type of reel.  Read Baitrunner Fishing Reels Explained for more information.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
4000-12000 28 -374.4:1 - 4.8:115 - 203+113.5 - 30

Shimano NASCI

Retail around $99

The Shimano NASCI is an entry level saltwater spinning reel that is well suited for inshore fishing.  Here is your opportunity to get a Shimano reel without breaking the bank.  Some of the quality features you will get are Cold Forged Gearing, Composite body, X-Ship Technology, and Shimanos Coreprotect Water Resistance.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
1000-500026-415.0:1-6.2-17-244+17.6-10.6

Shimano Saragosa SW

Retail around $269

The Shimano Saragosa has been part of the main stable of Shimano saltwater reels for over a decade with the Saragosa SW being released in 2013, it is one of our favorite saltwater reels.  This is Shimano’s mainstay for the mid-tier saltwater market or larger spinning reels.  If your looking for a large capacity spinning reel that has what it takes to land your pelagic species then this is a good choice as it contains many of the same components of some of the more expensive Shimano reels.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
5000-2500038-454.4:1-5.7:122-445+116-34.2

Shimano Sedona FI

Retail around $69

The Shimano Sedona FI is the latest version of the very popular Sedona FI spinning reel.  This is a great entry level reel from Shimano and has many features found in more expensive reels. Whiule Shimano states that the reel is sutiable for saltwater as well as freshwater, I would do this sparingly as there is little protection from the elements.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
SE500FI - SE8000FI27 - 374.6:1 - 6.2:17 - 243+16.3 - 21.7

Shimano Socorro SW

Retail around $129

The Shimano Socorro SW is a no-frills saltwater spinning reel designed for your larger species such as Bull Reds, Big Snook, Tarpon and Sailfish. If you are looking to get a Shimano reel that won’t set your bank account back to much and will still deliver the goods for your larger 5000-10000 sized reels then this would be a good pick. READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
5000-1000031-404.6:1-4.9:122-274+115.5-23.5

Shimano Spheros SW

Retail around $199

First released in 2014 the Shimano Spheros SW is a larger saltwater spinning reel and fits in between the Shimano Socorro SW and the Shimano Saragosa SW when it comes to price and features.  This is a lower cost Shimano reel that is specifically designed for your larger saltwater gamefish available in sizes 5000-20000.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
5000-2500033-414.4:1-4.9:122-414+116-32.8

Shimano Stella SW

Retail around $1,059

Some have been known to call the Shimano Stella SW “The King of Saltwater Spinning Reels” and with good reason.  First is the quality of the reel with its high-end components and attention to manufacturing quality.  If you are seeking to own the Mercedes of big game spinning reels then this is it, however it comes at a hefty price, the question is, is it worth it?.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
5000-3000031-534.4:1-6.2:129-6214+115.3-34.9

Shimano Stradic FK

Retail around $199

TRhe Shimano Stradic FK is the most recent revision of the infamous Stradic lineup from Shimano.  With precision Hagane gears surrounded by a Hagane body, Fluid Drive and a solid Front Drive the new Stradic FK is a winner.  This is a solid inshore reel that is both lightweight as well as durable for all day saltwater fishing.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
1000-500031-416.0:1-6.2:17-206+16.9-11.3

Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Retail around $229

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ spinning reel was released in April of 2016 and has a few upgrades over its predecessor the Shimano Stradic Ci4 spinning reel. The most noticeable being the addition of Shimano’s X-Ship technology that has a double bearing supported pinion gear that leads to a much smoother retrieve especially when cranking under heavy loads.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
1000 - 400031 - 396.0:1 - 6.2:17 - 246+15.6 - 8.1

Shimano Sustain FI

Retail around $299

There is a reason that the Shimano Sustain FI won the “Best of Category – New Saltwater Reel” at ICAST in 2017.  This is an awesome reel that finds it home between the high-quality lightweight Shimano Stradic Ci4+ and the very high-end Shimano Stella SW which has a bit more weight to it but is the king of saltwater spinning reels.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
2500-500035-416.0:1-6.2:120-248+18.3-10.1

Shimano Thunnus Ci4

Retail around $269

The Shimano Thunnus Ci4 is a higher-end baitcasting reel that is designed to target your larger species such as Snook, Redfish, Tarpon, Shark and Flounder.  If you are seeking out a large baitcasting reel and have a mid-sized budget then you can not go wrong with the Shimano Thunnus Ci4.  If you have a smaller budget then check out the Shimano Baitrunner D. READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
4000-1200030-374.4:1-4.8:115-256+112.7-27.7

Shimano Twin Power SW

Retail around $479

For those of you looking for a very high-quality saltwater spinning reel that does not have the $1,000+ budget required for the Shimano Stella SW take a look at the Shimano Twin Power SW.  This reel is nearly waterproof and has many of the same components as the more than twice the price Shimano Stella SW.  It is not a Stella but I think I would take two of these over one Stella SW.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
4000-1400037-534.9:1-6.2:124-6211+112.5-22.9

Best Shimano Baitcasting Reel Reviews

Shimano Tranx 500
Shimano Tranx 500
  • Design and shape of the Tranx 500 provides the comfort
  • X-ship & HEG technologies combine to provide massive cranking power
  • Constructed of metal frames that keep all of the moving parts in precise alignment
Shimano SLX
Shimano SLX
  • Hagane Body
  • VBS Braking
  • Affordable price
Shimano Curado 70
Shimano Curado 70
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • MicroModule Gear
  • HAGANE Body
Shimano SLX XT
Shimano SLX XT
  • Hagane body
  • S3D spool technology
  • SVS infinity breaking system
SHIMANO SLX DC
SHIMANO SLX DC
  • HaganeBody
  • SVS Infinity Breaking System
  • Super Free Spool 
Shimano Curado K
Shimano Curado K
  • Built tournament tough
  • Featuring Shimano’s latest technology
  • Employs SVS Infinity braking system
Shimano Tranx Baitcasting Reels - 200, 300, & 400
Shimano Tranx Baitcasting Reels - 200, 300, & 400
  • New Coreprotect water resistance feature
  • HAGANE Body
  • X-Ship and HEG Gearing

Shimano Curado I

Retail around $149

The Shimano Curado I has been replaced by the Shimano Curado K.  We like to call the Shimano Curado I the value segment of low profile baitcasting reels from Shimano.  The frame is made of aluminum but is still lightweight at just 7.4 oz. and strong enough to not flex even under a good load.  The X-Ship technology combined with the shielded anti-rust stainless steel ball bearings assures that the reel is smooth.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
523-305.5:1-7.2:1125S-ARB+1RB7.4

Shimano Curado K

SHIMANO Curado K Baitcast Reel | Amazon
$179.00

Now featuring the latest in Shimano technology, such as super smooth, efficient, durable MicroModule gearing, and offered in multiple gear ratios up to 8.5:1, Curado builds on its legacy as the "go-to" baitcasting reel for both fresh and saltwater action.

Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
12/03/2021 12:30 pm GMT

Retail around $179

The Shimano Curado K replaces the Curado I in the lineup of low profile baitcasting reels from Shimano.  The frame is made of aluminum but is still lightweight at just 7.6 oz. SVS infinite braking, MicroModule gearing shielded A-RB bearings assures that the reel is strong and smooth.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
626-366.2:1 - 8.5:1116 ARB+1RB7.6 - 7.8

Shimano Curado 70

Retail around $199

The Shimano Curado 70 is a very lightweight baitcasting reel at just 6.5 oz and shares similar features of the Curado I but adds the rigidity of the Hagane body.  What most people notice first about this reel is the small form factor and how easy it is to just cup on the palm of your hand.  If you fish all day then this will make it easier and yes Shimano rates this reel for saltwater.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
428-327.2:1-8.2:1105+16.5

Shimano SLX / Shimano SLX XT / Shimano SLX DC

Retail around $99+

The Shimano SLX series of reels start with the entrylevel SLX which is a great reel and then they start to modify the braking systems to provide you with more adjustments with the SLX XT.  The final reel in the series, the SLX DC which has a digitally controled braking system was the winner of the 2019 ICAST Best of Show in the freshwater category.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

Shimano SLX Specs

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
525 - 326.3:1 - 8.2:111 - 123+16.9

Shimano SLX XT Specs

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
525 - 326.3:1 - 8.2:111 - 124+17.2

Shimano SLX DC Specs

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
626 - 35 6.3:1 - 8.2:111 - 124+17.6

Shimano Tranx 200 / Shimano Tranx 300 / Shimano Tranx 400

Retail around $199+

If you are targeting larger species in either fresh or saltwater and want to throw those larger baits and lures then this is a great choice.  The Trans 200 is the smallest and is perfect for inshore fishing, then there is the Tranx 300 and its bigger brother the Tranx 400 give you plenty of stopping power and leverage using the Power Handle knob.  The 200 came to market in 2018 and the 300/400 came to market in 2017 after people who had fallen in love with the original Tranx 500 and requested smaller models.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
1226-405.8:1-8.5:112-223+1 - 200
5+1 - 300/400
8.3-12

Shimano Tranx 500

Retail around $499

If you are a baitcasting reel aficionado and love to chase the larger hard fighting fish such as Snook, Bull Reds, Tuna and striped bass then the Tranx 500 should be on your list of reels to consider.  The entire reel is designed around what Shimano calls the HEG technology or High Efficiency Gearing. 25 lbs of drag and a large power handle make this a reel that can bring the big boys back to the boat.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
230-434.6:1-6.6:1257+120

Best Shimano Conventional Reel Reviews

Shimano Calcutta Conquest
Shimano Calcutta Conquest

Calcutta Conquest 300 and 400 offers angler's the paramount rigidity and precision that the previous generation was known for, now with a synchronized levelwind, HG gear ratio and 8 pin VBS braking system.

Shimano Tekota A Levelwind 500 / 600
Shimano Tekota A Levelwind 500 / 600

Shimano Tekota Levelwind Reels have been designed with Coreprotect water resistance for the ultimate increase in corrosion resistance. These reels are a trollers dream and the perfect cross-over reel for both freshwater and saltwater species, from walleye to tuna.

Shimano Torium Star Drag
Shimano Torium Star Drag

Catch mackerel, tuna and other big game with the lightweight power and solid construction of these star-drag conventional reels. Shimano Torium Star Drag Reels are new to Shimano's Torium series reels. They are compact, rigid and powerful saltwater conventional reels with excellent castability and durability - a must for saltwater. Many top anglers use them bottom fishing or live-bait fishing as they are built for these extreme applications.

Shimano Calcutta Conquest

Retail around $579

If you are looking for the top of the line round conventional reel then you have found it.  The Shimano Calcutta Conquest is designed specifically for Spin, Chatter and Crank baits.  Inside you will find the Micro Module Gearing that is super smooth. If you like fine watches then you will be impressed with this impressive reel.  READ THE FULL REVIEW

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
1000-400023.2-304.8:1-5.6:19-1512 S-ARB+1RB7.5-11.7

Shimano Tekota A Levelwind 500 / 600

Retail around $209

The Shimano Tekota A levelwind is the newest version of the Tekota reels and has several nice upgrades that include; Coreprotect water protection especially good for saltwater, Hagane body and a 20% smaller frame that fits easily in your hand. If you are looking for a good reel that won’t break the bank for fishing offshore take a look at the Shimano Tekota A Levelwind 500/600. READ THE FULL REVIEW.

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
8386.3:1243+115.5-17.1

Shimano Torium Star Drag

Retail around $219

The Shimano Torium Star Drag reel is an excellent quality mid-tier open faced conventional reel.  If you are looking for a small to medium sized conventional reel for jigging and bottom fishing that can handle the larger fish then this is an excellent choice.  With features like a full metal body, heavier gearing and a strong drag system you will not be dissapointed. READ THE FULL REVIEW.

ModelsRetrieve (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
TOR14HGA - TOR5034 - 464.6:1 - 6.3:117 - 333 + 115 - 33.2

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe For Deal Alerts & Reviews

Subscribe to our mailing list and receive updates about new gear and special deal alerts.

You have Successfully Subscribed!