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Shimano Spheros SW Review

The Shimano Spheros SW is the newest version of the Spheros model and was first released in 2014.  In this review of the Shimano Spheros SW, we will take a look at how it compares to other reels from Shimano such as the Shimano Stella SW and the Shimano Saragosa SW spinning reel.  While Shimano does have an offering in its saltwater lineup that is less expensive, the Shimano Socorro SW it would not be my first choice for a full-sized saltwater spinning reel.  You can read the full review on the Socorro SW here.

The Spheros SW is not an inexpensive reel with street prices starting at about $199 at the time of this writing (8/17), but it is at the lower end of the price range for a quality saltwater spinning reel that can be used for your larger game fish.  The Spheros SW comes in 5 models ranging from a 5000 up to a 20000 and has a drag rating of between 22 and 41 lbs.

 

Features

Hagane Body – The high-quality Hagane body provides a level of durability and rigidity that is required to withstand the torque of larger fish species.  One of the main advantages of a body with more rigidity is that you do not loose any cranking power due to the body flexing.  High-quality materials and engineering like we see here in the Spheros SW are fairly common in your larger more expensive offshore spinning reels like the Shimano Stella Saltwater. I am glad to see that Shimano is applying the same quality to their less expensive models like the Spheros SW and the Saragosa SW.

Hagane cold-forged gearing – As with the majority of Shimano reels these days the Spheros SW is built with Hagane cold-forged gearing which produces an extremely smooth gearing system.  This is achieved by a cold-forging process which allows for a more precise gear to be manufactured consistently than a cutting process.  Not only does this process create a smooth gear but it also creates a very strong gear as the gears fit or mesh tightly together which makes it feel more solid and minimizes the wear on the gears.

X-Ship Technology for perfect gear alignment – Shimano uses two bearings, one on each end of the pinion gear to support it, which means that the gears stay in perfect alignment.  A typical challenge for many reels is that under a heavy load like a sailfish or large pelagic, the torque that is produced will have a tendency to twist the gears out of alignment.  When this happens, you can feel the reel bogging down or binding when you crank it and the gears are going to wear quicker.

X-Shield – Shimano has incorporated their X-Shield technology that previously has only been available on more expensive reels like the Stella into the Spheros SW reel.  X-Shield consists of placing a number of sealing gaskets and O-rings in critical areas of the reel to eliminate the penetration of water and sand into the reel.  This a fully sealed reel and you should feel confident that if you use it for wading, surf casting or from your kayak, that the reel is going to stand up to the harsh saltwater conditions.  As usual, don’t abuse this great design and still follow the rule of proper maintenance of your reels by cleaning thoroughly after each use with fresh water and something like SaltAway.

Cross-Carbon Drag system – Shimano uses a Cross-Carbon Drag washer in the Scorrow SW which provides a smooth drag from the time you get pressure on it – all the way through the fight.  The Cross-Carbon Drag is a registered trademark of Shimano.  Basically, the cross-carbon drag has a hatch pattern on it that provides for a strong and smooth drag that is needed when fighting larger pelagic species that love to run fast and hard.

Shielded A-RB® ball bearings – When saltwater fishing, keeping saltwater and sand out of your reel is paramount to a long lifespan. Shimano uses 3 shielded A-RB (anti-rust) bearings that are shielded on both sides with a special coating to minimize damage by saltwater and provide an extremely smooth retrieve.

Cold-forged aluminum spool – The cold-forged aluminum spool is designed for strength and is much stronger than either a die cast aluminum or graphite spool.

 Features at a Glance

  • Hagane Body
  • Hagane Gearing
  • X-Ship
  • X-Shield
  • Shielded Anti-rust Bearings
  • Cold Forged Aluminum Spool
  • CFGearing
  • Cross Carbon Drag

The handle stem of the Spheros SW is of the same material (machined aluminum) and build quality as that of the more expensive Saragosa SW. The main difference you will notice is that visually there is a slight bend in the stem which really serves no purpose, however, it is very similar to the more expensive Stella SW design from back in 2008.

Upon inspection, we can see that the pinion/clutch seal which is the most critical area for water intrusion on any saltwater reel uses all of the newest technology and engineering as Shimano’s top reels such as the Stella SW, which means that the water, sand, and dirt should stay out of your beloved reel.  The main shaft seal is the same as that of the Saragosa SW — are you starting to see a pattern here?  The continuation of shared parts between the more expensive Saragosa SW and the Spheros SW continues with the graphite rotor.  It should be noted that all of the Spheros SW reels have a graphite rotor where the predecessor Spheros FB had a metal rotor on the 14000 and up models.  While the graphite is a strong material, it is going to be susceptible to flexing particularly in the larger sizes when under a heavy load.

For those of you who want all the details I have provided the chart below.

ModelLine Retrieve (in)Mono Cap(lbs/yd)Braid Cap(lbs/yd)Max Drag (lb)S-ARB Ball BearingsRoller BearingsGear RatioWeight (oz)
SP5000SW 38.210/240
12/195
14/165
20/245
30/225
40/175
22414.6:116
SP6000SW3312/265
16/170
20/120
30/290
50/195
65/140
22414.6:116.2
SP8000SW 42.214/345
16/250
20/185
40/340
50/265
65/215
27414.9:124.7
SP10000SW 4012/500
16/320
20/220
50/360
65/260
80/215
27414.9:125.2
SP20000SW4120/460
25/380
30/320
65/490
80/400
100/340
41414.4:132.8

Overall the Shimano Spheros SW is a well-constructed reel that has many of the exact same components as the more expensive Saragosa SW reel.  When it comes to an SW branded reel the thing that is most important is how well sealed it is from the elements.  After looking carefully at the Spheros, it is interesting to see that the waterproofness is on par with that of the Stela SW which is 4x the cost. In fact, if you look at the specifications from Shimano they state that the Spheros is as waterproof as the Stella SW.

One significant upgrade of the new Spheros SW over the previous Spheros FB is the use of the locomotive oscillation system on all models that provides a very even line lay when retrieving.

So as you can tell so far there does not seem to really be any major differences between the Shimano Saragosa SW and the Shimano Spheros SW reels with one major exception, the drag system.  The Spheros SW reel uses a top stack drag system while the bigger and more expensive Saragosa SW uses a drag system that applies drag pressure to both the top and the bottom of the spool.  The difference in the drag pressure is minimal and the smoothness and reliability are comparable.

Pros

  • Waterproof Design
  • Price Point
  • Smooth gearing and drag

Cons

  • Not a full metal body

Alternatives

The obvious comparison after this review is the Shimano Saragosa SW but I think that you will conclude as I have that unless you really need the slightly larger drag or the 25000 sized spool then the Spheros SW is a better deal.

Staying with the Shimano brand but not in the same price category would be the Shimano Stella but be prepared to drop a wad of cash. Read about the Shimano Stella HERE.  A full review is coming soon.

Staying in the same price range, I would have you take a look at the  Penn Slammer III which is a heavier reel but is fully sealed.  Read the full review of the Penn Slammer III HERE.

 

In Conclusion

The Shimano Spheros SW is a less expensive version of the Shimano Saragosa SW that shares almost all of the same components.  As is so typical these days especially with the larger manufacturers like Shimano, there are several reels that are so close in terms of specs and components that you ask yourself why would they have that reel.   The simple answer is plain old marketing.  In the case of the Shimano Saragosa SW vs. the Shimano Spheros SW, I would personally save about 20% and go with the Spheros SW over the Saragosa SW.

The Shimano Spheros SW is one of the lowest priced fully sealed reels on the market today and other than a few features like a full metal body is so similar to the flagship Shimano Stella SW that I think it deserves to be given a solid 4.5 out of 5 possible stars.

For the money, the Shimano Spheros SW is probably the best bang for the buck if you are looking for a great reel for surfcasting or offshore fishing that won’t break the bank.

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