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Best Shimano Saltwater Reels

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Top Eight Best Shimano Saltwater Reels

There are but a few hobbies that people can enjoy well into their twilight years, and fishing is one of them.  

This is why Angler’s Gear provides you with the best options in fishing gear available – we want you to enjoy the fishing experience as long as possible.  

Of course, it is a hope that you pass down that love to the next generation.  Let’s keep the love and spirit of the outdoors alive for many more generations.

Fishing is a skill as old as humanity, and it is a skill that is in constant reflection and revision.  From the first hooks of bone to today’s ultra sharp titanium, fishing continues to advance with technologies.  

There are more rods, reels and lures available than ever before, and the number continues to grow annually.

The one product that seems to have more customers than any other is the spinning reel.  

Easy to cast, easy to reel and a great step up from the spin cast reel for young anglers, the spinning reel will catch anything from small panfish to trophy saltwater prey.  

We at Angler’s Gear stand beside Shimano as a leader in the spinning reel industry.

Shimano spinning reels are perfect for the angler graduating from spin cast gear and for good reason.  

The reel handle is easily switched from left hand, the standard for a spinning reel, to right hand for those comfortable with that setup.  

The drag mechanism, additional line capacity and other features just make spinning reels work and work well while Shimano leads the pack.

Most, if not all, Shimano spinning reels on our list will feature anti-reverse that keeps the handle from spinning after flipping the bail spring.  

Best of all, Shimano spinning reels run a full gambit of prices from the budget minded intro line to its flagship Stella, the reel for professional anglers, guides and those who take their fishing very seriously.

Shimano takes their customer base very seriously and offers an impressive line of products.  

Their view on equipment is simple – they build reels to fish and fish hard.

For the saltwater angler, Shimano has a full line of reels.  Shimano is built for the saltwater.  

After all, Japan, where Shimano is headquartered, has a rich history with the sea.  Therefore, this only makes sense the reels are saltwater tough. 

Also, if it is tough enough for the salt, there is little to no problem with freshwater.

Shimano reels number from 1000 to 20000 going from ultralight all the way to heavy duty saltwater.

It is the Shimano saltwater reels we want to discuss specifically this time around.  

Keep in mind as you read and consider your choices in reels – some of the reels featured in this piece do have a steep sticker price. 

The gears have a very high range as well, and we will be discussing each ratio for each reel as a part of the review.  

The first number, the decimal digit on the left side, is the amount of line per turn.  The single number on the right is the reel handle turn.  

The top quality models will have the faster ratios.  Does this matter in the grand scheme of fishing?  Doubtful.

One of the many things you will need to remember when purchasing a new reel is there will always be compromises to make.

You may get a burning retrieve rate but a moderate casting rating. You may have a front or rear drag. 

Basically, no matter how you look at it, you will make compromises across the board.

Except one thing.


Shimano is close to entering its second century of service and manufacturing.  Each year the company makes small steps in improvement, primarily in the raw materials used in construction.  

There is not many giant leaps forward in reel technology and engineering.

Remember, however, as you begin to use your Shimano spinning reels in the saltwater.  Saltwater will corrode almost anything given enough time.  

Your Shimano often comes with a 10 year warranty, enough for many anglers to be more than satisfied, but this does not excuse you from basic, routine maintenance and care.  

However, in the case of a catastrophic accident, you are well covered by the warranty. (Dropping your reel into 80 feet of water is catastrophic but sadly not under warranty)



What to look for in the best Shimano saltwater reel

There are plenty of reels to choose from in the Shimano line, so many in fact some people struggle with making a decision on what is best for their needs.  

Depending on your specific targeted area will help determine your reel model and size.

Here are the best features to consider:

  • Number of ball bearings
  • Quality of ball bearings
  • Drag – measured in lbs
  • Materials
  • Weight

There is much, much more to it, but Angler’s Gear has compiled the top 10 best Shimano spinning reels for the saltwater angler.

Before we begin, there are two more important facts we want to cover – be sure to follow all state rules and regulations on size and number limits, and use good techniques for catch and release.

Lastly – why eight?

We have covered many of these reels in other pieces on here.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Shimano Stella SWB Saltwater Reel

Designed for: The serious angler, professional, guide and other angler on the bay and offshore.

Angler’s Gear has covered the Shimano Stella spinning reels line previously.  The Stella is the pinnacle of the Shimano line and is quite possibly one of the finest reels made ever.  

All it takes is one time using the Stella, and you will be hooked – pun intended.  There is a drag lever on the SWB offering extra control for the big fish you will encounter in the bay and offshore.


  • An incredible 55 lbs of drag for long fights
  • 15 ball bearings
  • X-Ship gears
  • A-RC spool casts without problem
  • Aero Wrap has line lay flat
  • 4: 1 gear ratio – necessary for grinding fish down


  • Serious sticker shock
  • Only for the die hard angler with a deep pocket

Angler’s Gear Opinion: If you have the extra cash, absolutely.  If you are a regular weekender or recreational angler, choose a different Shimano model.  

This is not to say the reel will not provide you with years of great service.  The price is more than many find necessary.

Shimano STC3000XGFL Stradic C3000 FL Spinning Reel

Designed for: Inshore saltwater

Versatility defines the Stradic. It has all of the features, prices and looks that you want in a quality reel for anyone who lives to fish in the saltwater.  

There are six ball bearings with a single roller bearing for the ultimate in control.  Shimano’s proprietary Core-Protect is used on this model. 

It is a coating that protects the line roller, the small part that spools the line back onto the spool, and roller clutch, the piece that locks the bail into place when retrieving the line.

This, plus quality maintenance, will keep your Stradic working like new for decades.


  • 20 lbs of drag – good for any fish
  • Light weight
  • Aluminum drive gear
  • Plenty of sizes
  • Excellent price


  • Limited number of sizes
  • A bit higher than reels of comparable type
  • Small anti-reverse

Angler’s Gear Opinion: Quality.  Versatility.  Freshwater or saltwater.  This reel will work and work well.  That is all that needs to be said.

Shimano Ultegra Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

Designed for: Inshore saltwater

Saltwater is very deadly on fishing gear.  It is vitally important to keep your gear rinsed, cleaned and regreased at the conclusion of each saltwater fishing trip.  

The Ultegra may say ‘Freshwater’ but will function well in the saltwater with a bit of TLC after fishing.

The reason – the HAGANE gear system of Shimano.  This promises durability and long lasting quality since it is built for the fresh and salt environments.

The Ultegra also has the Core-Protect feature that keeps the bearings and gears dry – mostly.  

Again, there is no excuse not to take care of your gear after fishing.  Aero Wrap Oscillation lets you get your lures out and away – necessary for some of the better fishing in the inshore saltwater environs.

This product’s Aero Wrap Oscillation lets you achieve longer casts. 

It also allows for ideal line winding, which minimizes twists and knots in your line.  

The X-Ship expands the life of the reel and has reduced friction between the gear and spool shaft.  Again, distance in your casts.


  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy to use
  • Designed well
  • HAGANE gears
  • Core-Protect
  • 24 lbs. of drag


  • Plastic body
  • Not great for lighter lures
  • Lacks anti-reverse

Angler’s Gear Opinion: The plastic body is a turn off, and if you are looking for smaller lures, you are better off with a different Shimano product.

Shimano Stradic HG Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

Designed for: Inshore saltwater

The Stradic is probably the best Shimano reel you can get under the Stella, and it’s the best Shimano reel for the money.  There are plenty of sizes for the angler, and the 5000 has the power handle – ideal for the saltwater angler.

The Stradic has all of the technology the up to date angler would appreciate without the features that make the Stradic so attractive.  

The element Angler’s Gear likes the most is the balance of the reel – made so it can eliminate fatigue after a full day on the water.  

You can also find the Fluidrive II and Dyna-Balance rotor.  Both align to the Propulsion Line Management System for the better casting experience.

This reel works.  It is not a fancy shelf piece that will collect dust.  Unpack it, get it on a rool, spool it up and go fishing.


  • 24 lbs. of drag
  • Light
  • Reasonably prices
  • One anti-reverse bearing
  • Dyna-Balance
  • Fluidrive II


  • There are reports of a faint sound during use

Angler’s Gear Opinion: A faint sound during use.  Think about that as a disadvantage.  Then, buy one.

Shimano Saragosa SW Offshore Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel

Designed for: Advanced anglers and offshore

Anglers after small fish or staying away from the deep water need not apply.  This reel is made for the big boys – tune and marlin.

The Shimano Saragosa is built for the worst of the saltwater conditions.  Rubber gaskets keep the water and sand from coming in.

There are 12 different points where the reel is sealed against corrosion.  The roller bearing as dual shielded as well.

There is the Propulsion Line Management System and X-Ship technology for the absolute finest fishing experience you can have.

Be warned.  This is a heavy reel.  It is necessary also.  You are after the biggest fish you can find.  You need the big reel to wrestle them.  However, the reel is ergonomic and ideal for those with arthritis.


  • Comfortable to hold
  • 44 lbs. of drag
  • HAGANE body
  • Prop Line Management System


  • Cost is second to the Stella
  • Stiff as a start
  • Not designed for live bait
  • Heavy

Angler’s Gear Opinion: This is not for the new angler or charter boat anglers.  The reel is simply too much to use and use well.

Shimano Sedona FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

Designed for: The first timer

If you are looking to start with any sort of spinning reel, here is the one to begin your journey. 

There are plenty of styles and options for the new angler from a shallow spool to a double handle.  There is flexibility not offered by many reels in the Sedona.

The reel is ideal for youth because it is so intuitive to use and learn.  There is less time spent teaching how to fish, and more time catching fish.


  • Machine cut spools
  • Light
  • Inexpensive


  • No anti-reverse
  • No second spool


Angler’s Gear Opinion: Don’t let the Freshwater moniker fool you.  This reel works in the saltwater just fine.

Shimano Twin Power Saltwater Fishing Reel

Designed for: Hard fightings, short durations

This reel packs a heavy drag in a small package.  It has the IPX8 submersible waterproofing, 11+1 ball bearings and metal body.  The drag is the X-tough cross carbon, so let those big pelagic fish run and run hard.

Vertical jigging is the best method with this reel.  It is great for smaller pelagic species – snapper, grouper, mahi-mahi and jack.


Angler’s Gear Opinion: This is a good option for recreational reef anglers and charter captains.  The vertical jigging is great for customers and inexperienced anglers.

Shimano Thunnus Baitrunner Spinning Reel

Designed for: Piers and surf casters

The Thunnus has the Bait-runner drag capacity and is of a carbon fiber base.  The carbon fiber will not rust in the saltwater.  This is an advantage.

Like most high yardage spools, back this one with some standard, inexpensive monofilament before running the better line onto the front.  

You will be able to deal with most fish you find from the shore and pier with enough line capacity and drag for the job.


  • Durable
  • Smooth
  • Minimal backlashes


  • Not ready for a full spool of braid
  • Low drag and line capacity

Angler’s Gear Opinion: Boats are expensive and a great thing for someone else to have.  Get this reel, stick to the shore and fish all the same.

Which Shimano reel is best for saltwater?

This is a broad question because the answer for it is influenced by many factors, such as whether you are a fish from the shore or a boat, what is your budget, and more.

If you are on a tight budget, we recommend the SHIMANO Socorro SW Heavy Duty Saltwater Fishing Reel or, the SHIMANO Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel. But if you are in the open sea, you need to consider the Shimano TLD 2-Speed Conventional Reel, the CHRONARCH G or, the Shimano Tiagra Reels.

Are Shimano reels good for saltwater?

Shimano’s reels are generally among the best on the market, some would say the best, and the same goes for saltwater reels!

It doesn’t matter if you’re on a high or low budget, the durability, and technology Shimano offers are priceless.

What size reel is best for saltwater fishing?

For simpler inshore operations, a size 2500 or 3500 is ideal, while heavier offshore reels can be as big as a size 15000 or 25000.

Is Shimano Sienna a saltwater reel?

Yes, If you are fishing inshore for relatively small species, The Shimano Sienna would do the work. You can read more about it in our Shimano Sienna 4000 review



Although we love Shimano, we do believe you can benefit in knowing other brands. We have a deep sea fishing reels review that you might find useful. 

Angler’s Gear has covered quite a bit of spinning gear.  It is time to shift our review to something new and different.  What would you like to see us cover?  Let us know in the comments below.  Remember: Keep only what you plan to enjoy, and return the rest to posterity.  The future generations will appreciate you.

You might find our Shimano Stella SW Spinning Reel Review