Anglers Gear (10)

Best Shimano Spinning Reel for Freshwater

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Exactly 100 years ago, a business man and entrepreneur in Kansai, Japan, set out with a mission: to make his products the best in Japan and then the world thereafter. That man’s name – Shozaburo Shimano. His products featured his name then and continue to do so today as a leader in the spinning reel industry.

It makes sense that Shimano would be such a strong leader in fishing. The spinning reels are smooth, innovative, durable and most importantly, lightweight – making them ideal for long days on the water. The only thing better than this is the fact there is a Shimano spinning reel for every style of fishing from ultralight freshwater fishing to big pelagic fish.

There are plenty of options of Shimano reels available for the angler to choose from, and the amount of options can be overwhelming for the new angler. This is why Angler’s Gear has prepared a primer for understanding all of the details on a spinning reel. You can read that particular piece here.

The beauty of Shimano freshwater spinnings reels is their versatility. The company has a reel perfect for the freshwater angler all the way to the big, pelagic saltwater and all points in between. However, there are plenty of options for a Shimano reel available. To help bridge gaps, Angler’s Gear has found the top 10 Shimano freshwater spinning reels for you.

Here are our top 10 best Shimano spinning reels for Freshwater

Shimano Stradic HG

Sizes available: 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000

The Stradic is the current flagship model of the Shimano group and represents one of their best reels ever produced. The reel is a dream for those who seek the historic construction and quality matched to the new innovations available. The result is a reel that can hang with the best no matter the size of fish sought.

Depending on the size selected, anglers can feel confident of their choice for everything from small panfish to big offshore saltwater quarry Shimano Sedona FI Spinning Reel. The drag is as smooth as it comes and ideal for fish known for long, hard runs. The reel’s design makes line fall off the reel when cast, bringing extra distance for the angler. The Stradic is not for the angler with shallow pockets, but it is an investment in success for many years of happy angling.

Key points:

  • Most popular of the Shimano spinning line
  • Lightweight
  • The best angling experience available
  • Works for all fish species
  • Strong drag for large fish

Durable construction

SHIMANO Sedona Fi Spinning Reel

Sizes available: 1000, 2000, 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 8000

Sedona is one of Shimano’s main product lines and is also one of the most affordable for the angler. This model features all of the advantages of Shimano’s higher end models, including the full HAGANE gearing system from Shimano technology.


The spool is machine cut and not molded, has an increased line capacity and resists common errors with open face reels – wind knots and the occasional backlash. The Sedona is carries the largest number of options for Shimano – sizes of 1000 to 8000.


Key points:

  • High end characteristics – affordable pricing
  • High gear ratio
  • Smooth drag
  • Extra line capacity
  • Covers all water types
  • HAGANE design

Shimano Syncopate Spinning Reel

Sizes available : 1000, 2500, 4000


Not everyone can afford the cream of the crop when it comes to purchasing reels. However, as Angler’s Gear as pointed out previously, the fish is not particular about the sort of rod and reel an angler is using. Therefore, those who are looking for a quality Shimano spinning reel that will not break the bank entirely, the Syncopate is the solution.


The Syncopate uses the Quick-fire II system, allowing anglers to make one hand casts with ease. The reel has a smooth retrieve, uncommon in value priced reels, that keeps wobbling to an absolute minimum. Shimano’s Propulsion Line Management System makes the reel easy for all to cast.


Key points:

  • Excellent price
  • Quick-fire bail system
  • Wobble elimination
  • Front drag
  • Perfect for the novice
  • Lightweight for its size

Shimano IX Rear Drag Freshwater Spinning Reel

Sizes available: 1000, 2000, 4000


There is something to be said about the Quick-Fire II system for ease of use. Those who love one-handed casting will find this model ideal for that purpose. A generous portion of the reel is graphite construction for ultra light weight but exceptionally strong.


The gear ratio makes it great for fishing spoons and other fast moving baits in all sorts of water small to big. If you are an inshore angler, do not be afraid to use this reel there. It has Shimano’s history of tough behind it.


Key points:

  • Lightweight graphite
  • Quick-fire II system
  • Rear adjustable drag
  • Highly corrosion resistant
  • Budget friendly

Shimano Sienna FE Spinning Reel

Sizes available: 1000, 2500, 4000

We have a more detalied review of the Shimano Sienne 4000 that compare the front and back drag system.

One of the biggest complaints of open faced spinning reels is the angler’s tire easily after casting most of the day. The Sienna line helps ameliorate this issue with a better center of gravity for the angler for a prolonged fishing experience.

Sienna meets the needs of every angler with its variety of sizes. The Sienna uses the Propulsion Line Management System for accuracy and reduced backlash, Dyna-Balance for wobbles and Super Stopper II anti-reverse. These features make the reel sound like it is expensive beyond most means, but this is not the case.

Key points:

  • Freshwater, ice and inshore ready
  • Dyna-Balance means no wobble
  • Inexpensive but built as a more expensive model
  • M-Compact body

If you are thinking about the Sienna, we have a full Shimano Sienna 4000 Review

Shimano Nasci Compact Spinning Reel

Sizes: 1000, 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000


Shimano is well established for the high end angler and gear, but its budget line is certainly nothing to laugh at. The Nasci is one of those very models. The gears are HAGANE for years of exceptional use and has the X-Ship technology that reduces friction in the gears and spool shaft. The combination of these two technologies mean ultra smooth and distance in each and every cast made.


The compact body style puts the reel center close to the hand for balance and lessening fatigue. Ball bearings are shielded from effects of corrosion making the reel ideal for the saltwater angler. Grouper, snook, redfish and other species have entered a boat under the Nasci. What is keeping you from doing the same?


Key points:

  • High-end features
  • HAGANE gears
  • X-Ship technology
  • CoreProtect corrosion resistance
  • Freshwater and saltwater appropriate

Shimano Ultegra Spinning Reel

Sizes: 1000, 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000


The Ultegra has a name similar to ‘ultra’ and for good reason. The reel is designed for use across the board for all sorts of fishing from freshwater to inshore saltwater. The 3000 to 5000 series will handle any of the bigger inshore species including tarpon and cobia while the smaller models are good for panfish to common inshore species.


The Ultegra is on the higher end of Shimano’s reel spectrum but certainly worth the value and longevity an angler can expect from the make and model. There are five ball bearings and a single roller bearing contained inside for a retrieve that feels silken in both durability and feel. Shimano’s CoreProtect keeps the reel safe as well.


Key points:

  • Beauty of high end angling experiences
  • HAGANE gears
  • X-Ship technology
  • CoreProtect corrosion resistance
  • Smooth cast, retrieve and drag

Shimano Thunnus CI4 Offshore Saltwater Spinning Reel

Sizes: 4000, 6000, 8000, 12000


The Thunnus is saltwater fishing personified. It is the reel by which all other saltwater reels should be measured and for good reason. The entire reel is carbon fiber construction – designed for the harshest of saltwater experiences. The reel is designed with a baitrunner drag that can tire anything from a huge striper to a shark. The gear ratio is designed to power big catches up from the depths or distances, and the spools are oversized for the deep or distant runs.


One thing that many freshwater anglers forget is Japan is an island. Fishing in Japan is steeped in deep history, and the sea in particular is important. This is why there are so many Shimano products designed around saltwater fishing. However, these stout reels are quite at home for big freshwater game including Columbia River Sturgeon, steelhead, salmon, muskies, catfish and big alligator gar. You can be sure if the reel is good for saltwater that you will have decades of success in the freshwater.


The Thunnus has the Propulsion Line Management System coupled to the Varispeed technology for long distance casts on the open ocean or shore. Do not concern yourself with wobbles, either. Dyna-Balance has that under control.


Key points:

  • The leader for saltwater fishing
  • Carbon fiber
  • Long casting capabilities
  • Huge line capacity
  • Perfect for live bait
  • Corrosion resistance leader

Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reels

Sizes: 1000, 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000


Sahara FL is another of the Shimano products that are good for the angler who does not have significant amounts of cash for quality reels. The Sahara has all the features of the Shimano line: HAGANE, X-Ship and CoreProtection.


The reel is sealed tightly against water, so it is safe for saltwater fishing. The body design makes long fishing days a breeze, and the reel works well in the hands of the experienced and novice equally well.

Key points:

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Inshore saltwater ready
  • G-Free body design

Shimano Spirex RG Spinning Reel

Sizes: 1000, 2500, 4000


There are few people who do not appreciate the Quick-fire II trigger, and those who do not like it have not used it enough to appreciate the effectiveness of the system. Graphite construction, rubber handle and novice friendly, the Spirex RG is one of the best for the new angler introduces to open faced spinning.


There are five ball bearings, the Propulsion Line Management System and a high gear ratio for fast retrieves. The materials used in its construction mean the Spirex is battle tested in the water against the toughest opponent fish and has won out every time.


Key points:

  • One hand cast – Quick-fire II
  • Rear drag – easy to adjust on the run
  • High speed retrieves
  • Tested under rough conditions

Do pros use spinning reels?

There is a very common question about professional anglers of all sorts – Do pros use spinning reels?

The answer is a resounding yes. A large number of professional anglers, particularly cold, freshwater and most saltwater anglers elect to use spinning reels for their go-to choices. The reasoning is simple: large reels hold an exceptional amount of line, and the drag is designed to tire fish so they can be landed easier.

Shimano reels has been around for a century, and its founder would be proud of the advancements the company has made in the angling sphere. The best thing about Shimano products is each reel is designed to be used on the water. It is not a delicate piece of equipment but a hard fighting tool against the most fresh and saltwater have to throw at it.

Regardless of your chosen water to fish, remember to use the best practices of quality catch and release fishing. Use barbless hooks for fishing , keep only what you will use, return the rest and always follow state and federal laws concerning lengths and bag limits.

Angler’s Gear will continue to provide the best of the best for you in quality fishing gear, but we also want to hear from you. What are some products you feel we should feature for our readers and friends? Drop us a comment in the comment section. We love to hear from our customers, visitors and friends.


Which Shimano reel is the best?

Due to its widespread success, many people wonder if anyone Shimano model outperforms the rest. In other words, which Shimano reel is the best?

The short answer is Shimano Stella SW Spinning Reel, for the long answer read our review 🙂


What is the best spinning reel to buy?

There are many different brands of spinning reels. Many people ask me what is the best spinning reel to buy. We @ anglers gear are big fans of Shimano, so our top choice would be the Shimano Stella SW Spinning Reel, but to keep our recommendation fair, we do love the Abu Garcia Revo Premier Spinning Reel, too!


What does FG mean in Shimano reels?

The G-Free Body reduces fatigue and improves casting comfort by moving the center of gravity closer to the angler’s hand. The Propulsion Line Management System employs a Propulsion Spool Lip that is less obtrusive.


Is Shimano Stella worth?

The Shimano Stella SW is a fantastic reel for the price. With the new version, there have been several technological advancements, such as the coil wave spring that allows dialing in the drag much more accurately, especially under heavier drag settings.

See you on the water!