Incredible craftsmanship and precision are only the beginning of what Shimano saltwater fishing reels have to offer. Shimano is a leader in fishing tackle technology development, and recent innovations such as CI4 design for lightweight durability, Hagane gears for the power to fight big game, and X-Ship for easier handle turning show they’re still at the forefront. Our Shimano saltwater reels incorporate these and many other features so you’ll always have the odds in your favor when you’re out on the water.
Why should you consider a Shimano reel?
A Shimano reel is one of many reel options on the market today. There are many different reel manufacturers, and it can be difficult to sort out which products you can trust…but Shimano reels are recognized by anglers as being very well made and reliable.
Shimano has been around for a long time. The Japanese company opened its doors in 1921 when Shozaburo Shimano established “Shimano Iron Works.” Back then, the company primarily produced bicycle gearing. In 1970, the company realized it could transfer the precision gearing that they used for bicycle equipment to produce fishing reels. In 1970, the company launched its first series of Shimano spinning reels.
Since then, Shimano has made a name for itself by producing versatile and innovative fishing reels. Regardless of what type of fishing reel you’re looking for, Shimano has a good option for you. This guide will help you sort through all the offerings and find the best Shimano reels for you.
Where Are Shimano Reels Manufactured?
Virtually all of Shimano’s premium fishing reels, including the Aero and Stella series, as well as most of their baitrunners, are made in Japan. Their second-tier reels are instead produced in other countries.
A surprising number of anglers think that Shimano reels are made in the US. I believed that myself until I found out that Shimano was founded in Japan.
In 1921, a young man named Shozaburo Shimano established a small company called Shimano Iron Works in the Japanese city of Sakai, where the company’s headquarters have remained to this day.
After transforming the business into one of the world’s largest cycling component manufacturers, Shimano Inc. launched a fishing tackle division in 1971 that was meant to become the company’s second central business pillar.
What to look for in Shimano Reels & Rods
Balance/Feel, Features, Construction, Versatility, and Portability were the five metrics we used during field testing. We lay out each below and highlight some top performers in each area.
Balance and Feel
A rod’s balance is a crucial component to consider. It not only helps with casting, but it also makes fishing a whole lot more comfortable. If the balance is off, the weight of the rod will be shifted to the rod tip or handle, and you’ll notice it. Feel is also an important metric here. Feel comes down to the sensitivity of the rod. If a rod has a great feel, you can sense the smallest bites and the action of a lure in the water. While telescoping rods don’t traditionally provide great balance and feel, the Daiwa Megaforce Telescopic was an exception. It was extremely comfortable to fish with and let us sense every little movement in the water.
This metric is sometimes overlooked when considering a fishing rod. Sure, you can get the job done without all the bells and whistles, but smart features can make the experience even better. What kind of features are we talking about? Things like a cork grip, hook holder, and oversize guides.
But having a lot of features doesn’t automatically make it a winner here. They have to be features that really work and add to the fishing experience. This category’s standout is the PLUSINNO Two-Piece Spinning, with an abundance of useful features. A couple of our favorites? The oversize ceramic guides helped guide the line smoothly for long casts, and the double locking structure on the reel seat held the reel tightly in place and never loosed up, even after bumpy boat rides.
While this isn’t the most exciting metric, it does make a big difference in how well a rod works. Depending on the material, you can get more sensitivity, strength, and fighting power. On top of that, the construction may be what determines if a rod lasts ten days or ten years.
Another important metric to consider is versatility. And in this category, not all rods are created equal. Some are specifically made for fishing off the bottom of a lake, while others are made just for casting in saltwater environments. The KastKing Blackhawk II Telescopic is the clear winner here. With its equally great performance in both fresh and saltwater, exceptional casting distance and sensitivity, and impressive fighting power, it can handle everything from small trout to large sea bass.
Best Shimano Reels & Rods of 2021:
Available in 8 size ranges (from 5,000 to a whopping 30,000), the Shimano Stella SW comes in three gearing ratios. Its power aluminum body along with an X-rigid rotor, handles, and body, work together to reduce power loss. Like other Shimano reels, it also features X-ship technology.
This includes two bearings that are situated at either end of the pinion gear remain in place under heavy load. The Stella makes fora high tuna and sailfish reel, which are robust and pull like mad.
We love the aesthetics of this Shimano spinning reel as well as how smooth it casts. However, be prepared to shell out some significant cash for this beauty. The only thing that will make you a bit aback is the price, which is steep. Ultimately, it’s a Stella…you get what you pay for.
The Shimano Stella FJ spinning reel boasts a smooth drivetrain as well as X-protect. This allows it to resist water damaged. The propulsion line management system offers long casting ability and prevents knots from forming in the reel.
The spool support of the main shaft has been strengthened in this model, ensuring smooth drag delivery under heavy loads.
The Shimano Ultegra XSD wouldn’t be considerd the best Shimano spinning reels you can find, but it’s not far off for the price. Its instant drag system allows you to switch between fight drag and free spool easily. The Super Stopper II feature also prevents back play and free movement on the handle for smooth line management.
The Ultegra XSD spinning fishing reel’s propulsion line management system features the AR-C spool and a patented angled spool lip, which reduces line friction. The technology reduces drag and increases casting distance.
We love how smoothly this reel casts, but we wish the brand had paid more attention to the aesthetics. The fishing reel looks a bit plasticky at first glance.
The Shimano Sedona FI spinning reel should make the perfect option for those that spend a tremendous amount of time on the water and require a fishing reel that can sustain rigorous use. This spinning reel features Hagane gear train components, precision cut for enhanced wear protection, and class-leading durability.
The Shimano spinning reel is suited for freshwater fishing as well as inshore saltwater fishing. For anglers who fish with any degree of regularity, there are likely few better reels currently available.
Shimano’s Saguaro series is every bit as versatile as the Ugly Stik GX2, but the guides are nowhere near as durable as Ugly Stik’s Ugly Tuff guides. While I found the rod itself to be more clunky and cumbersome overall—especially when casting lightweight artificial lures—that’s also what made me recognize and appreciate it as a dependable workhorse.
Compared with the similarly priced Ugly Stik models, the Shimano Saguaro is a stiffer graphite composite. While this design can be advantageous for casting plugs, it offers less “play” or give, which can hinder other applications like setting the hook while bottom fishing with bait and a heavy sinker, where some flex is advantageous.
Apart from the Saguaro’s less durable guides, the primarily graphite rod is more brittle, and less likely to survive a spill or a misplaced foot.
If you plan to fish with care (and not with children), the Saguaro can make an excellent rod for medium-weight jigging and topwater fishing, but it is less than ideal for lightweight artificial lures or bait fishing, and nowhere near as sturdy as an Ugly Stik.
Is Shimano fishing a good brand?
Yes, Shimano is a very good fishing brand. The company makes rods, reels, and a variety of accessories. The company, which also produces high-quality bicycle equipment, is most well-known for the best Shimano reels.
Do Shimano reels have a lifetime warranty?
Shimano reels have a limited lifetime warranty that protects against what Shimano calls “non-conformities in material and workmanship.” The higher-end reels offer a “Platinum Service,” for which reels will receive maintenance for a nominal fee.
Is Daiwa better than Shimano?
Whether or not Daiwa is better than Shimano, or vice versa, is a matter of personal fishing preference. Both companies make quality fishing equipment at reasonable prices.