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Shimano Vanford Review: Unleashed Precision and Power

Shimano Vanford Review: Unleashed Precision and Power

It goes without saying that Shimano is one of my favorite brands. I’ve fished many of their reels, including the Nasci, Stradic, and Sienna, and have currently been fishing the Sedona for the past few months.

The Shimano Vanford won “best of” at ICAST in 2020, and for good reason. This reel combines lightweight finesse operation with a durable backbone that can hold up in even the roughest of conditions.

I want this Shimano Vanford review to shine a light on the features that make this reel one of the best “middle of the road” spinning reels in terms of price and performance.

The Bottom Line 

The Shimano Vanford stands out as a choice for anglers who are looking to upgrade a low-range model or are searching for an everyday driver.

This reel offers a plethora of benefits that set it apart from other reels in its class, starting with its impeccably smooth drag system that ensures flawless performance when fighting big fish.

The strength of the Hagane body and MGL rotor make it a highly durable and powerful reel, despite its lightweight and low profile design. It features an array of top-of-the line Shimano technology, including Ci4+ carbon rigidity, X-Protect water resistance, and SilentDrive technology.

Folks, this is one of the best spinning reels you can buy that won’t break the bank but offers the premium feel that many anglers are looking for.

Shimano Vanford Specs

Gear Ratio: varies by model (5.1:1, 5.6:1, 6:1, 6.2:1)
Mono Capacity (yards/lbs): 165/14, 160/12, 140/8, 110/6, 105/8

Max Drag: 6-24lbs
Weight: 4.9-7.8lbs

Shop for the Shimano Vanford here!

shimano vanford water


Now let’s take a look at some of the specific features and new technology behind the Shimano Vanford:

Micro Module Gear II

The Micro Module Gear II uses smaller teeth on the gears, which allows for more contact points and overall smoother operation. This is the bread and butter behind that premium feel you get when you hold this reel in your hands.

But the benefits don’t stop at delivery and retrieval.

By using smaller gear teeth, the Micro Module Gear II system can distribute the load more evenly across the gears. This increases the strength and durability of the reel as well, reducing wear and tear over time and potentially extending the lifespan of the reel.

Cross Carbon Drag

Shimano uses carbon fiber drag washers, which offer improved friction resistance and heat dissipation. The result? Smoother operation and consistency when pulling a big fish into your boat.

Carbon fiber has excellent heat resistance properties, which is crucial when battling hard-fighting fish that generate a significant amount of heat through friction.

The Cross Carbon Drag system efficiently dissipates heat, thereby reducing the risk of drag performance degradation that overheating during prolonged fights can cause. You get the backbone of a Daiwa Saltist with the speed and finesse of a Shimano Stradic; you can’t beat it.

shimano vanford drag

S A-RB Bearings

S A-RB stands for “shielded anti-rust bearings,” and this is a proprietary Shimano technology developed to prevent corrosion and increase longevity.

The bearings are shielded or sealed to prevent water, dirt, and other contaminants from entering the bearing, which helps minimize rust and corrosion. This feature is particularly important for fishing reels that are frequently exposed to saltwater.


Sticking with the theme of protection, X-Protect is another proprietary technology designed to help with water resistance and repellent.

It employs a combination of sealing methods, such as labyrinth structures and water-repellent coatings, to prevent water intrusion into critical areas of the reel. This feature helps protect the internal components, such as gears and bearings, from water damage caused by splashes, rain, or submersion.

Hagane Gearing

Shimano uses cold-forged aluminum in their gears, which is designed to withstand heavy loads and resist bending and deformation. As you continue to put weight and pressure on a reel when battling fish, it can cause the gears to bend and rub against the reel body, which reduces smoothness and creates more friction.

Hagane technology is designed to prevent this, increase the lifespan of your reel, and enhance the overall experience of fishing with a Shimano reel.

Field Test

I decided to take the Shimano Vanford to Kizer’s Pond, about 10 miles south of me, because the pond is usually coated in lilies and dense vegetation. I wanted to test the accuracy of the gearing system to see how smoothly the line flew off the spool.

The reel’s Micro Module Gear system powered my lure as it zipped across the morning lake. This advanced design, with smaller and more teeth than traditional gears, provided an incredibly smooth and almost seamless retrieve.

The fluid connection between my hand and the water was about as close to sticking your hand beneath the surface as you can get.

At just over six ounces, the lightweight Ci4+ body feels comfortable in my hands but still possesses enough backbone to pull lunkers out from beneath the loose vegetation.

Overall, I think the Shimano Vanford is a huge upgrade from the Stradic in every way. This should be a reel that’s on the list for anglers of all ages and skill levels.

Model Breakdown

Model Number Gear Ratio Mono Capacity (yards/lbs) Max Drag (lbs) Weight (ounces)
VFC1000HG 5.1:1 275/2, 135/4, 105/6 7 6.3
VFC2500HG 6.0:1 200/6, 140/8, 120/10 20 6.7
VFC3000XGF 6.4:1 200/8, 140/10, 105/14 20 6.9
VFC4000XGF 6.2:1 270/8, 140/10, 105/14 24 7.4
VFC5000XGF 6.2:1 225/10, 175/12, 145/14 24 7.8
VFCC3000XGF 6.0:1 200/8, 140/10, 105/14 20 6.9
VFCC5000XGF 6.2:1 225/10, 175/12, 145/14 24 7.8


  • Lightweight but durable
  • Smooth and reliable drag technology
  • Great middle of the road in affordability
  • Upgraded features from the Stradic


  • Jealousy from other anglers (couldn’t think of a con here).

Final Thoughts 

When it all boils down, the Shimano Vanford is one of the best reels from the company at this point. It’s a versatile freshwater/saltwater hybrid spinning reel with a lightweight body and technology that gives it a heck of a backbone.

I highly recommend this spinning reel to anyone who may be looking to shell out for their first premium reel.

Shop for the Shimano Vanford here!