Fishing ReelsShimano Reviews

Best Shimano Saltwater Spinning Reel

By June 18, 2020July 15th, 20202 Comments
Best Budget Reel
SHIMANO BAITRUNNER ST
5/5
Best Value Reel
SHIMANO TWIN POWER
5/5
Best Reel
SHIMANO STELLA FJ
5/5

In this guide we are going to be looking into the best Shimano spinning reels for saltwater. If you’re not set on Shimano or you only have a budget of 100 then check out our guide for the best spinning reels for saltwater fishing that cost under 100.

Shimano Inc started as a small ironworks in Japan and reaches its centennial in March 2021 and over the last 100 years has become one of the leading sporting goods manufacturers in the world.And over the last 20 years have produced some of the best reels in the world.

If you don’t have time to read through our guide then our choice for the best Shimano spinning reel for saltwater is the Shimano Stella FJ, if you have a large budget. Otherwise i would recommend the Shimano Twin Power.

If you want to find out what we consider important factors when choosing a saltwater reel then look through our buyers guide. This way you will have all the knowledge needed to pick the best reel for yourself.

Shimano Stella

There is a reason Shimano is one of the first names people come to when they are looking for reels. Die hard Shimano fans will, for the most part, only be able to dream of owning this reel. The Shimano Stella, with a starting price of around 500, is one of the most stunningly engineered spinning reels on the market. Any Shimano Stella retains a lot of its value as it’s such a fan favourite, so it’s a great investment if you have the money.

This reel is the pinnacle of Shimano engineering. Shimano claim this has their most efficient drivetrain and unique gear teeth and surface. In reality, it doesn’t matter what they have done behind the scenes. This is the smoothest reel I have ever had the pleasure to use.  I have no doubts that these reels could outlive me.

Like most innovative engineering, the Stella is manufactured in Japan. The Stella has one of the best casting distances and is a real joy to cast out. One thing to not is  this is a heavy rell. Dont expect to be casting like crazy all day. Something which you should always consider, which rod you pair, is extremely important. Like a lot of precise engineering, the stella can be a little highly strung. Some rods will kind of reduce how great this can be, but with that said, paired with the right rod, it becomes the best.

The upgrades from the 2013 Stella are really obvious. For the stella, Shimano has iterated upon its self proclaimed “unmatched” Hagane Gears. Whilst I would love to rank my favourite reel gear manufacturers, I’ll save you the boredom. This is buttery smooth to cast and reel in. 

This will not fail you when you are reeling in that sea monster. Not only does it start out smooth, if you take care of it, the water and corrosion resistant body and components will last you for many years. There are a few reels which come close to matching performance but there are only a handful which can survive as long with little to no degraded performance.

Unlike some of the close competition, Shimano has really worked on giving you a silent reeling experience which really does add something special. I would highly recommend this reel and it is my pick for best Shimano saltwater spinning reel.

Pros 

  • Highest Quality Manufacturing
  • Gorgeous Design
  • Guaranteed Corrosion Resistant
  • Buttery Smooth Reeling

Cons

  • Expensive

Shimano Twin Power

Shimano introduced the new Twin Power in 2020 and it instantly caught my eye. The improvements from the previous model comes from the new metal rotor. Previously they used graphite but have since adopted aluminum and magnesium. This increases the rigidity of the rotor by double from the 2015 model. 

The more rigid rotor also means less energy is wasted when casting, reeling and setting the hook. Paired with the long cast spool, basically a slightly longer spool for less resistance, you can cast this for a country mile. Tens of thousands of hours of research into the perfect angle and design of the lip of the spool in order to increase efficiency. If it wasn’t already clear how much care and attention this japanese based company invests into its products then this should be more than enough to help you buy into the company ethos.

If Shimano is known for classy lightweight reels, they have only partially met that standard. But that’s not a bad thing. The Shimano Twin Power is still lightweight but much bigger than previous models. This was really designed for going after bigger, more powerful fish.

The metal body is completely corrosion resistant as long as you take care of the reel. The inner mechanisms are also totally sealed and water tight. I wouldn’t be surprised if this reel lasted almost as long as the Shimano Stella. 

Comparing this to the Penn Spinfisher is tough. Both of these reels are great and both have a similar role in an anglers arsenal. But the Twinpower is totally worth the extra 100-150. It just feels slightly higher quality and would win in a competition of endurance.  

This is my favourite saltwater reel for fishing from a boat. I would go for the 5000 unless you are going after massive fish. I would recommend this reel for anyone who is a Shimano fan, wants to step up their game but doesn’t want to shell out for the Stella. This is a capable reel which is a pleasure to cast and even more fun to crank in. This is my pick for the best value Shimano saltwater reel.

Pros 

  • Completely Watertight
  • Corrosion Resistant
  • Smooth Reeling
  • Long Casts

Cons 

  • None in my opinion

SHIMANO Stradic FL

What can i say about the FL. This is one of the best reels in the sub 200 price point. The improvements from the previous models and the models of the older but more expensive stella models are numerous. 

The spool is designed impeccably. The spool is taller than the previous model thanks to borrowing the spool technology from the Stella, which was one of the best casting reels. The line comes off smoother than nearly, if not all reels in this price point. Allowing you to cast longer and more accurately.

The drag is nearly identical to the previous and current models so there is not much to note, other than it’s still the same great quality we expect from Shimano. However, the Stradic FL has a much better method of keeping water out of the body and mechanisms. So points in the durability column.

The corrosion resistance has also an upgrade from the sustain models which is a more expensive Shimano reel. Overall this is a great saltwater reel and one of the best in its price point. And better than the other Shimano models between this and the Twin Power.

Pros 

  • Classy Design
  • High Quality Materials
  • Corrosion Resistance Materials
  • Excellent Value For Money

Cons 

  • Can get a little noisy

SHIMANO STRADIC CI4+

The Shimano Stradic Ci4 is one of the more popular shimano reels on the market. This lightweight reel comes with a gorgeous design and at the most popular price point for reels of this size. However people’s opinion of this reel have changed since its release.

The CI4+ comes with all of Shimano’s latest tech. G-Free body for smoother rotations. Coreprotect for water repellent and corrosion resistance and Shimano Hagane cold forged steel. Whilst the CI4+ comes with all these marketing buzzwords, it doesn’t feel quality.  

The reel is lightweight, has great saltwater resistance and is really nice to fish with, especially for longer fishing trips. My issue is the value. The ball bearings in this reel, at least in my experience, have been wearing out faster than i would expect from a reel at this price. 

If you are set on a Shimano then at this price you should go for the SHIMANO Stradic FL. If you aren’t set on a Shimano then check out our other guides based on your price point.

Pros 

  • Smooth Reeling
  • Sleek Design
  • Lightweight
  • Corrosion Resistant

Cons 

  • Price to performance
  • Lifespan

Shimano Baitrunner ST RB

This one is for the anglers who want the quality and durability of a Shimano but are working with a smaller budget. The Shimano baitrunner series has become somewhat of a favourite amongst carp anglers. 

The reel body is made from a carbon composite material allowing the body to be strong and rigid yet remain lightweight. The spool is designed with an angled lip to ensure the line coils more evenly. This is important as it really helps with your casting accuracy and distance. 

The Shimano baitrunner series utilises the similarly named baitrunner system which is located at the rear of the reel. It’s a sort of second drag system. This allows you to let your bait take line and drift downstream whilst keeping the line tight. This also allows fish to freely run away with your line. This is especially useful when fishing multiple rods. Allowing the fish to take some line instead of pulling a rod you are not holding into the water.

The 6000 size is perfect for both saltwater and inshore fishing. Predator fish and medium sized carp are no match. This is my pick for the best budget Shimano saltwater reel. If you’re not set on owning a Shimano then you should take a look at my guide on the best saltwater spinning reels under 100 as there are a number of good reels in this price point.

Pros 

  • Lightweight
  • Corrosion-resistant graphite composite
  • Baitrunner system
  • Good budget reel

Cons 

  • Only comes in 2 sizes
  • Lifespan (expected at this price)

Conclusion

Now i have shown you the top 5 best Shimano saltwater spinning reels you should be able to pick what you think suits your budget and fishing goals best. I would always remember that each of these reels is great. And you mostly get longevity with the more expensive reels.

The best Shimano reel for saltwater fishing is the Shimano Stella FJ. While this is an expensive reel, it’s one of the best you can get. 

For most anglers this is out of their budget. If that’s the case but you want a professional reel then you should go for the Shimano Twin Power which is the best value Shimano spinning reel for saltwater.

The Shimano Baitrunner ST is the best budget saltwater reel that Shimano produces and it’s a very good reel for under 100.  For more options at this price point take a look at the best under 100 saltwater spinning reels guide.

Saltwater Fishing Reel Buying Guide

Fishing in saltwater has a few more challenges than fishing in freshwater. The biggest being corrosion from the salt and other mechanical failures from sand too. Saltwater fish tend to be bigger and put up more of a fight so saltwater reels need to be designed to handle these strains. If you rush into a purchase you might find yourself regretting your choice. 

Luckily any of the reels on this list have been used and loved by many anglers new and experienced. So any are really a safe choice. Keep your budget in mind when looking through our guides and after an hour or so you will be informed enough to make your decision.

Here are the most important factors to keep in mind when you are browsing for a saltwater reel.

Corrosion Resistance

The saltwater reels we have chosen are all qualified to deal with the torture saltwater fishing can bring. Hours on end of salt and possibly sand would break a lot of highly designed machines. After all a reel is a machine and you should remember to treat them that way. Keeping your reel in good condition is fairly easy though.

This will ensure your reel won’t degrade over time and its performance wont drop when you most need it. Saltwater is corrosive to metals and the other small mechanisms inside the reels body. Because of this the reels need to be specially designed to be corrosion resistant and water tight so water doesn’t enter, dry and leave salt particles behind. This would clog up the mechanisms and break the reel. Or atleast stop you from cranking in that big fish.

Shimano use metal alloys or graphite to ensure the body and handle are corrosion resistant whilst using tight rubber seals and high quality building materials. This is one of the reasons they are so reliable. Corrosion resistant metals and coating area a minimum when buying a saltwater reel.

One of the first components to fail are the ball bearings, these are what keep the gears, spool and handle turning. Shimano has a track record for using quality ball bearings. So you are covered there. Each price point brings higher quality materials and more ball bearings so keep this in mind. It’s often better to buy more expensive than buy twice as often.

Strong Drag

Freshwater fish with the exception of large carp and pike won’t prepare you or your equipment for the monsters you can pull from the salty waters. Drag is what allows your reel to hold onto its line. If you pull a heavy fish with a low drag reel then your fish will just empty your spool and be on its way.

I would go for a reel with 10-20 lb drag if you are fishing from the shore. With this you will be able to catch heavy fish and tire them out before cranking them home. 

Shimano Nasci and Shimano Baitunner are both in this category and come in under the 100 price point.

If you are preparing to fish for larger species then I would aim for around 25lb drag. This is achieved by the Stella and Twinpower.   

The key point to take away is, the higher the model size, the larger the fish you will be able to reel in.

Line Capacity

When these powerful saltwater fish fight, they can make long runs on your line. This means that you need lots of extra line on your spool. So if and when they do run, you can let them tire themselves out. 

Typically, most reels are sold in 150-yard and 300-yard spools. For saltwater spinning reels you would aim for sizes between 2500-4000. These sizes will generally have the 150 yards with 20-30 pound braided line that you require. Larger models come with 300-yard spools with even heavier braids.

Kyle Davies

Kyle Davies

Having angled for over 15 years some would say i’m something of an expert. The trouble with learning from experience is, it never stops. Come read along as i review some of the most (and least) popular fishing tackle that you can buy. And join me on my journeys to catch some beautiful fish.

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