One thing that a lot of anglers struggle with when purchasing a reel is finding one that is functional in a wide variety of scenarios. For example, some of us fish saltwater while others fish freshwater.
Some anglers fish both, like myself. If you’re lucky enough to have access to both salt and freshwater, you’ll want a versatile reel that allows you the flexibility of catching what you want, when you want.
A great example of that reel is the Shimano Stradic FL. It’s a great all-around reel with the potential of catching everything from perch and bass to tarpon and redfish. Whatever you’ve got on your mind, the Stradic can handle it.
Bottom Line Up Front – The Shimano Stradic FL is one of the most versatile spinning reels on the market today. It works in both salt and freshwater and it has the guts you need to pull in large offshore fish but the smoothness and speed to finesse bass and trout. Best of all, it’s packaged up into a reel that is pretty affordable for most anglers.
About The Shimano Stradic FL
Shimano is a leading brand in the fishing world and if you know me, you know I stand by my brands when it comes to gear. They produce everything from rods, reels, lures, and more. Believe it or not, Shimano hasn’t been around for that long and their history only spans about 50 years.
Their first reel hit the market in 1971 and since then they’ve expanded into rods and lures as well. The Shimano Stella became their flagship product through the 90s and 2000s. The first Stradic hit the market in 2007 and it actually won an award at ICAST for the “best freshwater reel.”
The introduction of various features such as slow oscillation, X-Ship gearing, and the Hagane body have really put Shimano reels a step above the rest. You’ll see a lot of these features discussed below in this Shimano Stradic FL review.
Specifications Model Chart Comparison
The Stradic FL comes in five different models ranging from a 1000 size to a 5000 model size. As you increase in model number, you increase in weight, line capacity, and overall guts. Take a look at the chart below and use it to help you decide which model is right for your fishing strategy.
|Model||Mono Capacity||Braid Capacity||Gear Ratio||Inches Per Crank||Weight||Max Drag|
|1000HGFL||2/270, 4/160, 6/110||10/95, 15/75, 20/65||6.0:1||30||6.5 oz||7|
|2500HGFL||6/200, 8/140, 10/120||10/150, 15/145, 30/100||6.0:1||35||7.9 oz||20|
|4000XGFL||8/240, 10/200, 12/160||15/230, 30/180, 50/120||6.2:1||40||9.9 oz||24|
|C3000XGFL||6/230, 8/170, 10/140||10/200, 20/140, 40/105||6.4:1||37||7.9 oz||20|
|C5000XGFL||10/240, 12/195, 14/165||20/260, 30/235, 40/185||6.2:1||40||10.4 oz||24|
- Great bang for your buck
- Smooth as butter
- Strong but lightweight frame handles serious abuse
- Lifelong potential in freshwater and lightweight fishing
- Ideal 6:1 gear ratio for quick retrieval
- Complicated assembly can make cleaning and maintenance difficult
- The drag gets a little sticky
- No back reelings or anti-reverse
Where to Buy?
Key Features of the Shimano Stradic FL
The goal of the following sections is to help you understand some of the flagship features of the Shimano Stradic FL. Keep in mind that a lot of these components are available in various Shimano reels but all of this technology is presented in the Shimano Stradic FL.
Aero Wrap II
This is a two-speed oscillation system designed to reduce friction and lay line more evenly for easier and longer distance casting. As the spool releases the line, it does so in a criss-cross pattern. The line also sits on the spool in the same way so it falls easier off the spool which makes precise casting easier as well.
Cross Carbon Drag
The goal of cross carbon drag is to help improve the overall smoothness and ease of retrieving line when a fish is on your hook. It provides a larger array of drag settings which is another reason why the Stradic is so versatile and capable of use in a variety of situations be it salt or freshwater.
The G-Free design moves the center of the spool closer to the rod. If you look at the picture you see that there is only about an inch or two from seat to spool. This puts the center of gravity closer to your hands when you’re holding the rod. This feature reduces overall fatigue during long fishing sessions.
HAGANE Body and Gearing
You’ll hear the word “rigidity” used a lot to describe Shimano reels. What this means is that the body of the reel resists flexing when it’s put under pressure.
As a result you get better cranking power, increased strength, and more longevity out of the reel. When there isn’t any flexing, there’s also less friction on the spool and line which makes retrieving larger fish easier.
Long Stroke Spool
One interesting feature that you’ll notice right away about the Shimano Stradic is the long stroke spool.
The spool sits higher on the reel and has a longer stroke which means it extends higher above the bail reducing friction and presenting the angler with a longer cast. This is great for offshore and inshore saltwater fishing where casting distance is more important.
Propulsion Line Management System
As previously mentioned, the propulsion line management system is a flagship feature of Shimano and something you’ll find in all of their new generation reels.
This specifically prevents knots, backlash, and birds nests. The spool lip design of the Stradic FL helps the line sit properly and release naturally so when the lure hits the water the spool slows down to reduce tangling.
Silent Drive Technology
This feature is something you’ll only pick up on if you have a lot of experience breaking down and testing out reels. The goal of the silent drive is to do a lot more than simply quiet down the reel.
It exists to improve tolerances which means that the reel can sit tighter, weigh less, function better, and ultimately deliver a smoother experience. The Stradic FL succeeds at doing this and is one of the smoothest reels I’ve ever used.
X-Protect and X-Ship
When you’re dealing with saltwater, it’s especially important that you’re careful about how much exposure you put on the reel. Keep in mind that everytime you add something to a reel, it adds weight and takes away from the functionality. X-Protect refers to the body design and coating added to the reel to make it water repellent.
X-Ship on the other hand refers to the gearing and bearing design that adds more rigidity to prevent excess pressure on the bearings. This will extend the life of the reel and also provide consistent performance and casting distance over time.
Buying Criteria: Choosing a Spinning Reel
Choosing the right reel is always a challenge no matter how much experience you have. I’ve used well over 25 different fishing reels in my life and I’ll tell you the most important thing I’ve learned.
Don’t think too hard about it.
Even though I love writing these reviews and picking apart every little minute detail about a reel, most of these factors won’t be significant enough for the typical angler to even notice. Of course, there’s a big difference between a $300 reel and a $20 reel from Walmart. But most reels within the same price range will offer many of the same benefits.
That said, I want to break down some of the most important factors that I think about before I pick up a reel off the shelf.
The weight and size of a reel will absolutely impact your ability to fish with it. Part of the reason why the same reel comes in multiple sizes is because there are different people in different areas of the country fishing for different species.
With that said, not every reel will work for you. If you’re fishing small ponds and rivers for panfish and trout, you’ll want to go with the 1000FL model because you don’t need a lot of drag and you need something lightweight to present your lures properly.
If you’re fishing inshore saltwater canals for peacock bass and tarpon you’ll want something in the realm of 3000-4000. For offshore saltwater anglers in search of marlin, tuna, or mahi-mahi, the 5000 model size might be the right choice for you.
All-in-all, there’s no right or wrong reel to choose, you must simply understand the differences between the models and why it impacts your fishing.
Gear ratio is important and a lot of people who have been fishing for decades don’t understand what it is. The gear ratio refers to how many revolutions the spool will turn per crank on the reel. So, if you see a gear ratio of 6.0:1, it means that each time you crank that handle one time around, the spool has spun six times.
A higher gear ratio means that you’ll be able to retrieve fish faster as long as they’re not exceeding your drag. A lower gear ratio may require more cranking on the handle but your chances of stressing out the drag will be less because you’re not putting as much pressure on it.
Generally, reels in the 6-6.5:1 ratio should be good enough for most situations. Anything too high or low isn’t necessary.
If you Google me and read any of my gear reviews, you’ll realize that I’m a big believer in brands when it comes to fishing gear. Groceries, medications, and whatever else I don’t care about. Fishing gear is a different story.
I believe that shopping familiar brands such as Shimano, Daiwa, and Penn helps you purchase gear that the company will stand by and represent if anything goes wrong. I also think you have a better chance of purchasing a high-quality product simply because they’re producing these at scale.
One of the best ways to figure out if a reel is the right choice is to compare it to something similar. Let’s take a look at some options and compare the features of these other reels and their brands.
The FK has the HAGANE body, X-Ship, 6+1 bearings, propulsion line, and Aero Wrap II. The lack of an anti-reverse switch is a problem that is clearly here to stay for a while and if it’s something that bothers you, you might want to omit the Shimano reels altogether.
Overall, the difference between these two reels is almost unnoticeable besides the fact that the Stradic weighs a little more and offers a bit less drag capacity at higher weights. I’d personally take the Stradic FL over the FK.
If you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly, the Penn Battle II is a great option that you can find for around $100 depending on where you look. It’s buttery smooth with a carbon fiber drag and a full metal body.
This reel is also a bigtime frontrunner in offshore fishing with sizes ranging up to an 8000 model weighing 30.2 ounces and line capacity in the 400s. If the FL doesn’t offer enough brute power and you need something designed specifically for saltwater, this is the reel.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Shimano Stradic FL:
Answer: Shimano has a ton of different acronyms to describe things, but FL doesn’t actually stand for anything. F refers to their line of European models and they hop and skip around the alphabet for the second letter. The XG and HG refer to the high or extra high gearing on the models.
Answer: The biggest difference is that the FK does not have the silent drive, long spool, or carbon cross drag washers. These features reduce the overall smoothness and castability of the reel. Not to mention the fact that the FK still isn’t any cheaper than the FL.
Answer: All saltwater reels need to be sealed to prevent saltwater from getting into the internals of the reel. This is one hf toe most salt-resistant reels on the market in this price range and it is fully sealed.
I love the Shimano Stradic FL and I think anyone who appreciates quality reels will love it too. There’s really nothing not to like and as long as you’re in the market for a premium salt/freshwater reel in the price range of $200-300, this is the reel you want.
Shop around, take a look at some of the comparisons, and see if you can find anything that stacks up to it. If you do, feel free to let me know what reel you prefer in the comments. Good luck and have fun out there!