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Shimano Stradic FK Spinning Reel Review

Well, Shimano has done it again with the release of the new Stradic FK reel. For those of you familiar with the legendary Shimano quality, it will be no surprise that this reel is quite, durable and beautiful while providing an extremely smooth retrieve rate of between 31-41 inches.  The new Shimano Stradic FX comes in 5 models ranging from the 1000HGFX weighing in at just 6.9 oz up to the largest 5000XGFK with a weight of 11.3 oz.

There have been a few modifications to the legendary Stradic which make it a little bit better balanced in my opinion and more durable, including the addition of several new seals to keep water from penetrating this beauty.  This year the finish is a little more polished in a nice platinum color versus the traditional white.

At the foundation of this great reel is the Hangane precision technology that incorporates a cold forged drive gear coupled with the X-SHIP pinion gear to ensure a perfect smooth gear mesh at all times, even under heavy loads like a bull red. The Hagane body prevents flex during the fight while maintaining superb balance and keeps hand fatigue to a minimum after a long day on the water.

If you are looking to step up a bit in quality and performance from something like the Penn Battle II or the Pflueger Supreme XT, then the Shimano Stradic FK is an excellent choice that provides a very impressive combination of weight, strength and smoothness.  For the higher-end angler that wants a reel that can go from finessing the smaller species to holding up under the load of a large bull red or snookie, I can highly recommend purchasing this great reel.

The name Shimano and Quality go hand in hand when comes to fishing reels.  The new design is a bit more compact and angular which seems to playoff the key Hagane design.  The word “Hagane” actually originates back to the high-quality steel that was used to make samurai swords, which were legendary for their strength in battle.  What this means for you is that your new real is made of the highest quality metal components built to last the test of time.  Like anything, if it’s going to be around saltwater, you’re going to need to care for your reel.

Features

Hagane Body – The high quality Hagane body provides a level of durability and rigidity that is required to withstand unexpected shocks. While the entire body is not 100% metal, it is primarily metal allowing for precision engineering which leads to a smoother reel.  High quality materials and engineering is fairly common in your larger more expensive offshore spinning reels like the Shimano Stella Saltwater. Shimano seems to think it makes sense to apply this same quality to their smaller Stradic FK models as well, which is awesome.

Hagane Gears – The Hagane precision cold forged gears provide one of the smoothest retrieve experiences you will ever have, especially under a load.  X-SHIP provides a smoother and stronger precision gear system that places a bearing on the pinion.  While this difference does not make itself apparent when you are in the store under no load, the difference does become apparent rather quickly once adequate pressure has been applied (a big fish).

X-Ship – X-Ship is a combination of features that work together to create much greater efficiency. By positioning the pinion gear close to the centre line of the large diameter drive gear, more power is transferred from the handle to the rotor. The pinion gear is also supported by two Shimano A-RB roller bearings. This creates more stability and minimizes pinion gear twist and rotor deflection in extreme situations.

Coreprotect – Coreprotect provides you with 360 degree all-weather water resistance to make sure that this reel will last a lifetime if you take care of it.

G Free Body – The center of the mass of the reel has been moved closer to the rod to improve the weight and balance in your hand. What this means is that you can feel the strike better and that you can fight the fish better.  Additionally, you will not tire as easily after a long day on the water = no forearm fatigue.  This design was first utilized in the more expensive Shimano Stella.

Larger Stainless Steel Bail – The bail is something that can often be overlooked. The new Stradic FK uses a larger stainless steel bail with an increased opening vs a plastic lever and incorporates a heavy duty spring and metal bar which gives a solid snap sound and feeling when engaged.  At first this takes a little getting used to as it does require a little more pressure on the handle to re-engage the bail.  Personally, I like to flip the bail by hand and I think that it adds to the longevity of your reel.

Propulsion Line Management – Cast aside all of the marketing speak. The Stradic FK does a good job with line management due to a well-designed spool which they call the AR-C cold forged which incorporates a smooth lip design.  Personally, I have experienced very few line twists and wind knots.  I think you will find this reel to be as good if not better than most other spinning reels you’ve ever used when it comes to line management.

Drag Quality – The Shimano Stradic FK uses a combination of both felt and steel washers to provide ample drag.  While you may not notice the difference right away with a smaller fish, once you hook into something that is sizable you’ll instantly notice how smooth the pressure is throughout the entire drag range with no jerking or stuttering that is so common is less quality reels.

 Features at a Glance

  • G Free Hagane Body
  • Hagane drive gear
  • X-Ship
  • AR-C cold forged spool
  • 6 Shielded A-RB & 1 anti-reverse roller bearing
  • Front drag
  • Propulsion line management
  • Dyna-Balance
  • Fluidrive II
  • Power Roller II
  • SR-Concept
  • Aero Wrap II

 

 

A few of the other minor features that have been incorporated into the new Shimano Stradic FK are:

  • Newly designed line clip to make it easier to attach your line when not rigged.
  • Larger diameter drag knob which makes it easier to adjust your drag, particularly if it is a cold morning and you have gloves on.

One of the things that people have been talking about (complaining about) is that Shimano removed the anti-reverse switch.  While I agree that not being able to back spool in tight situations can be an inconvenience, this change was not done without any thought going into it.  The anti-reverse bearing design has been completely reworked and in the process, friction has been reduced by over 25%. According to some, this new rotor design is actually 200% more rigid than in the FJ model which provides you with greater power when fighting larger fish.

At first it seems that Stradic FK may be similar to a number of other reels in its price class, especially if you’re simply comparing it in your favor tackle shop. Once you get it out on the water and get a fish on the other end you will very quickly see that under a load, the X-Ship makes a huge difference by helping to isolate the shaft and gearing which reduces the overall stress. This results in just an incredibly silky smooth feel both when retrieving a jerk bait through your favorite grassy flat water to reeling in your biggest catch of the day.

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

 

ModelLine Retrieve (in)Mon Cap
(yds/lb)
Braid Cap
(yds/lb)
BearingsMax Drag
(lbs)
Gear RatioWeight (oz)
1000HGFK31"2/270
4/140
6/110
0/95
15/85
20/65
676.0:16.9
2500HGFK35"6/200
8/140
10/120
10/150
15/145
40/105
6206.0:18.3
3000HGFK35"6/230
8/170
10/140
10/200
20/140
40/105
6206.2:18.3
4000XGFK39"8/240
10/200
12/160
15/280
30/170
50/150
6206.2:19.9
5000XGFK41"10/240
12/195
14/165
20/220
30/200
40/160
6206.2:111.3

Pros

  • Hagane Technology – No flex
  • Hagane precision cold forged gear drives
  • X-SHIP gear system – Super smooth
  • X-Shield – 12 gaskets to keep water and grime out
  • Propulsion line management
  • High rigidity rotor

Cons

  • No anti-reverse switch
  • Some plastic parts
  • Can not back reel
  • New bail system

Alternatives

If you are looking for something a bit less expensive then I would recommend that you check out the Penn Battle II which is still a quality reel but can be had for about half the price (typically $99) of the Shimano Stradic FK.  Read the full review of the Penn Battle II HERE.

For a reel that is in between the Penn Battle II and the Stradic FK, I would recommend taking a look at the Pflueger Supreme XT which is a high quality reel that does not cost a fortune.  The reel is made of high quality materials such as magnesium and even incorporates carbon fiber into the handle keeping the reel strong and lightweight.  Read the full review of the Pfleuger Supreme XT HERE.

In Conclusion

The Shimano Stradic FK is a proven performer in this price class for everyone from the serious hobbyist to the charter captain. This reel is sure not to let you down.   If you’re looking for a quality reel that will last you for many years to come and perform well with everything from your smaller species such as trout all the way up to the bull reds, snookies and even larger species such as Tarpon with the 5000 series, then you can’t go wrong with the Shimano Stradic FK.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Shimano Stradic FK Spinning Reel Review
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