The 5 Best Shimano Spinning Reels in 2021 [Ultimate Guide]

Shimano has always been one of the fishing world pioneers as it offers an incredible spectrum of products, and reels are undoubtedly amongst them.

Spinning reels in specific are the reel of choice for many anglers as they have a great variety of options and can work anywhere and for everyone. Today, we’ll discuss five of the best Shimano spinning reels on the market.

Comparison Table

ModelWeightMaximum DragBall BearingsSizes
Shimano Sedona FI7.6 oz7 lbs3BB + 1RB500-8000
Shimano Baitrunner D13.5 oz15 lbs3BB + 1RB4000-8000
Shimano Sienna9.2 oz9 lbs1BB + 1RB500-4000
Shimano Socorro15.05 oz22 lbs4BB + 1RB5000-10000
Shimano NASCI8.8 oz20 lbs4BB + 1RB1000-5000

The 5 Best Shimano Spinning Reels in 2021:

Now that we’re done with all the pure technicalities, let’s jump on to the detailed reviews of our five fantastic spinning reels.

1. Shimano Sedona FI – Best Overall

Shimano Sedona FI

The Shimano Sedona FI is the successive upgrade from the Shimano Sedona FG, and it can come in any size between 500 and 8000 and a maximum drag of 7 lbs.

As for the body of the reel itself, Shimano has implemented the G-Free technology to this model. The aim of this design is to push the center of gravity towards the rod. That helps relieve a ton of tension and pressure from the wrist, forearm, arm, and back of the angler.

Moreover, it helps reduce the weight of the reel along with the single paddled handle. The Shimano Sedona FI weighs only 7.6 oz, which is pretty lightweight in comparison to other reels in general and the four other Shimano spinning reels that we have on this list.

Moving on, let’s speak about the HEGANE gearing. The 3-D col-forged design, along with three ball bearings and one roller bearing, allow for smooth casts, smooth retrievals, and excellent flexibility; you’ll never come face-to-face with any stiffness.

As for the spool, let us first state that this is a double-anodized machine-cut spool that contributes to the saltwater compatibility, and it is a braid-ready spool, hence highly efficient with all types of fishing lines.

Now, combine that with the spool lip design, Varispeed oscillation system, and the propulsion line management system, and you’ll find that knots are a thing of the past. The first system allows the line to be laid evenly all across the spool, while the second one allows the line to go out and come back to the spool in the straightest form possible and with just the right amount of momentum.

The only feature that we can say is missing from the Shimano Sedona FI would have to be the anti-reverse option.

Pros:

  • G-Free body
  • Hegane gearing
  • Magnumlite rotor
  • Lightweight
  • Updated propulsion line management system
  • Varispeed oscillation system
  • Double anodized machine-cut spool

Cons:

  • No anti-reverse

Final Verdict

As you can see, the Shimano Sedona FI is a lightweight, robust and durable option that is compatible with any water surface.

Plus, with the Varispeed oscillation system and the propulsion line management system, you’ll find yourself facing very little trouble.

2. Shimano Baitrunner D – Runner-Up

Shimano Baitrunner D

Our next pick is the Shimano Baitrunner D, and it still has a few rather impressive tricks up its sleeve.

Let’s start with its build, which is mostly out of graphite with metallic finishing touches and a cold-forged spool. This build allows for strength, durability, and saltwater compatibility. Another thing that provides for saltwater compatibility is that the bearings, all four of them, are entirely covered, in addition to the waterproof double drag system.

Now, let’s speak about the drag system for a little bit. There is a primary and a secondary drag system that works interchangeably in order to relieve tension and score the catch every time. This system has Dartanium washers which could be named the only con in this reel since they aren’t very durable.

Moreover, this reel is incredibly smooth and easy to use whether you are fishing on-shore, off-shore, with live bait, or cut bait; all will be well, and that is provided with several factors.

Mainly, the Fluidrive II Gearing System uses the main gear that is oversized for the mechanism to be on point. That’s in addition to the Varispeed Oscillation and the Line Propulsion Management Systems.

The last two features that we’re going to talk about usually complement each other, and they work in parallel. Those are the Dyna Balance and the Super Stopper II anti-reverse systems. 

The Dyna Balance eliminates the chance of any wobbling carrying over through the reel and the rod, making the fishers’ grip much firmer; hence, protecting the catch as it tries to run away. The Super Stopper II, on the other hand, makes sure that your catch is hooked.

Lastly, this Shimano reel weighs 13.5 oz partially thanks to its carbon handle. It also comes in many sizes between 4000 and 8000 for the sake of variety.

Pros:

  • 15 lbs waterproof double drag system
  • Varispeed oscillation
  • Cold-forged spool
  • Hypergear
  • Saltwater compatible
  • Propulsion line management system
  • Super Stopper Instant anti-reverse

Cons:

  • Dartanium washers

Final Verdict

If you’re in the market for a bait-runner, then the Shimano Baitrunner D will make an excellent choice. It has many sizes to offer and a ton of features that qualify it to be your main fishing reel. Precisely the fact that it’s suitable for saltwater and its 15-lb double drag system.

3. Shimano Sienna – Budget Pick

Shimano Sienna

Although the Shimano Sienna is our budget pick, and it’s incredibly affordable, it still brings impressive competition to the table.

First of all, this reel is incredibly balanced and stable; even if your casting distance is 150 ft, you won’t find it wobbling in your hand. Moreover, the line itself can hardly ever miss its target, thanks to the propulsion technology, which gives it the needed energy to stay as straight as possible.

The entire reel is protected by a hard case that doesn’t only add to its durability but also its compatibility, making it saltwater-friendly. Another thing that helps with that aspect will be the ball bearings. We only have two of them, which is not our best option; nevertheless, they are made out of stainless steel and covered with graphite. Hence, they do provide a lot of value and lifespan for their money.

As for the smoothness of this reel, it comes from the 9-lb drag system, the Varispeed oscillation, and the Super Stopper II instant anti-reverse systems, which all work together to make casts and retrievals hiccup-free.

Last but certainly not least, this reel weighs only 9.2 oz, and it comes in various sizes between 500 and 4000. That is all thanks to its M-Compact body, which makes handling the reel a piece of cake.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Graphite covered stainless steel ball bearings
  • M-Compact body
  • Propulsion technology
  • Varispeed oscillation

Cons:

  • Only two ball bearings

Final Verdict

If you’re a beginner angler and don’t wish to pay a backbreaking price for a reel and still get a ton of features plus saltwater compatibility, then the Shimano Sienna will be the perfect choice for you.

4. Shimano Socorro – Premium Pick

Shimano Socorro

Premium means that something is top-notch quality from the inside out, and that is exactly the case with the Shimano Socorro. Let’s dissect this exceptional reel outside to inside.

The first thing that you’re going to spot is its stylish gold/black design all around its lightweight graphite body, along with an oversized handle for easy handling. Plus, it weighs 15.05 oz and comes in a variety of sizes between 5000 and 10000.

On the inside, you’ll find 4+1 ball bearings along with the X-Ship technology, which makes for an unprecedentedly sleek performance. The two ball bearings on the pinion gear’s ends maintain stability no matter the weight and the pressure that the reel is facing.

Next, you’ll find the HEGANE gearing system, which is cold-forged so that the gears are aligned at all times, again, no matter the pressure that they are under. The next spot will have to be the 22-lb CrossCarbon drag system.

This arrangement isn’t only capable of dealing with any kind of fish, but it’s also smooth as it fights with your future catch. That is all thanks to the CrossCarbon washers that are designed with specific interlace patterns so that friction is minimized as much as possible.

The only deficit that comes with the Shimano Socorro is the unsealed ball bearing design, although the reel is advertised as a saltwater reel.

Last but certainly not least, this reel is rather famous on the market; hence, spare parts are available and not at all hard to find, which is always a plus.

Pros:

  • 22-lb CrossCarbon drag system
  • HEAGNE aluminum gearing
  • X-Ship technology
  • Available spare parts
  • Ergonomic, stylish design
  • Lightweight 
  • Graphite body

Cons:

  • Unsealed ball bearings

Final Verdict

If you want to go for a reel that the entire family can use with any level of expertise and still get the experience of a lifetime out of it, then the Shimano Sapporo is an excellent choice. The learning curve is plain, and the 22-lb CrossCarbon drag system will make matters a piece of cake.

5. Shimano NASCI – Most Advanced

Shimano NASCI

The Shimano NASCI is a highly advanced reel that has managed to gather 99.9% of the technologies that we have spoken about, plus a few new ones all into a small compact G-Free body.

Most of this reel is made out of cold-forged aluminum, including the spool, the bail, and of course, the HEGANE gearing mechanism. That is along with the oversized handle that has been equipped with a rubber band. This piece of rubber strengthens the fishers’ grip and gives them the maximum level of control.

As for the inside of the reel, you’ll find 4+1 anti-corrosion ball bearings and a 20-lb drag system, with washers that can either be felt or CrossCarbon, according to the size. Speaking of size, this reel weighs 8.8 oz and can come in various sizes, starting at 1000 and ending at 5000.

Moreover, you would find two bearings at the pinion gear ends to keep everything balanced and in place, which is known as the X-Ship technology. Plus, although the reel isn’t completely sealed, it’s sealed at all of the key locations. This is known as the CoreProtect technology.

Furthermore, the Shimano NASCI comes with both an automatic bail and an instant anti-reverse. Sadly though, the spool isn’t braid-ready.

Pros:

  • CoreProtect
  • HEGANE Cold-forged aluminum gear
  • G-Free body
  • X-Ship technology
  • Oversized cold-forged aluminum handle
  • Lightweight
  • Felt/CrossCarbon drag washers
  • Corrosion-resistant ball bearings

Cons:

  • Spool isn’t braid-ready
  • Isn’t totally sealed

Final Verdict

The Shimano NASCI truly does pack an impressive bunch with all of these technologies and its 20-lb drag system. You can easily take it out onto the saltwater and enjoy yourself.

How to Pick the Best Shimano Spinning Reel?

This upcoming section will cover the primary criteria that go into the selection of any spinning reel, not just the Shimano brand. These are the features that any spinning-reel-seeker must keep at the forefront of their minds:

Weight

Anglers must always know the average time that they want to spend out on the water surface as that will be a determining factor in a lot of features, and weight is one of those features. If you spend a lot of time fishing, you will gravitate towards a reel on the lighter side.

Nevertheless, you’ll always want to balance weight and capabilities. Don’t go too low with weight, as you might end up with a useless reel.

Handle

The handle is one of the most critical parts of the reel. You must go for something that is:

  • Ergonomically designed so that it does not hurt your hand
  • Lightweight as to not add unnecessary heaviness to the reel
  • Waterproof so that it does not jeopardize the rest of the device
  • Ambidextrous 

Drag System

The drag system is, in simple words, the tension placed on your line when you’re trying to reel in your catch. Put too much pressure on your line, and it’ll snap; put too little pressure, and your catch will have its way.

Hence, an easily adjustable drag system is always the best choice. Another aspect that you must never forget when exploring your drag system is that it must be completely sealed so that it can be waterproof; therefore, saltwater compatible.

Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are the core of the mechanism moving inside the reel in order to make it work. To be completely honest, we think that you shouldn’t go anywhere below four ball bearings, although there are some exceptions when other gearing systems are supporting the reel.

Nevertheless, the best option to go for is stainless steel ball bearings. If they are covered with graphite or any other anti-rust material, that would be perfect.

Efficiency Features

Efficiency features are all the technologies placed by brands into the reels to reduce the effort needed by the fishers to cast and retrieve. They include things that eliminate line knots and trouble in general.

For instance, Varispeed oscillation, or Instant anti-reverse, prevents the reel from reeling backward, hence destroying your line and spool. The list goes on and on, so try as much as possible to explore all of your options thoroughly.

Final Thoughts

Shimano does boast an envious collection of products, which is why we chose to review our picks for the best Shimano spinning reels. Before we say farewell, let’s refresh with our top picks.

Our first recommendation is, without a doubt, the Shimano Sedona Fi as it comes with HEGANE gearing, saltwater compatibility, G-Free body, and Varispeed oscillation.

Next, we have our runner-up, the Shimano Baitrunner D. This is by far the best reel for everything and everywhere. It’s strong, durable, lightweight, balanced, and ergonomically designed to fit easily in your hand. Also, let’s not forget the Fluidrive II.

Budget picks are always winners, so here’s ours: the Shimano Sienna. This one is all about giving as many options as possible without making a hole in your wallet. It’s completely waterproof with graphite-covered stainless steel ball bearings, in addition to an M-compact body.

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