A Rough Guide To Shimano Reels

One thing that can be quite hard/confusing for newcomers and experienced anglers alike is the myriad of letters and numbers in the name of fishing reels. This short blog attempts to explain what those letters and numbers mean.

Shimano reels use the following format for their reels: FAMILY : MODEL : SIZE : GEAR RATIO : SPOOL DEPTH

As an example: Stradic FB 3000 XGM

Family = Stradic
Model = FB
Size = 3000
Gear Ratio = XG (eXtra high Gear)
Spool Depth = Medium

In theory, that is it, but the reality is it is occasionally a little bit more complex, so let us have a look at each element of the name.

Family – this is the name of the reel that most people know the reel by. A few of the commonly known ones are Stella, Exsence, Vanquish, Twin Power, Sustain and Stradic. There are many variants of each reel within each family.

Model – this is the specific model within a family, usually it signifies how long a reel has been on the market. Typically, this is formed of two letters, the first letter is R or F, which signifies that the model is a rear, or front drag respectively (I have seen it said that F signifies European market, but that is because rear drags are typically only used in Europe).

The second letter usually signifies the chronology of the model, and follows the alphabet, if we look at Stradics there have been FA, FB, FC, FD, FE, FF, FG, FJ, FK, FL and ci4. The keen readers amongst you will notice the last one does not actually follow the alphabet! This is one of those cases where Shimano have digressed – they introduced a ci4 Stradic to sit alongside the FJ, FK, and FL. There have actually been 2 generations of ci4 and these are somewhere labelled as ci4 FA and FB, not to be confused with the much earlier FA and FB standard Stradics. The ci4 reels have a different body material to the standard F-lines and are typically a little bit lighter.

There are a few other examples of model variants within a family. The examples of this that I am aware are; the Stella comes in a SW (Saltwater) version, the Twin Power comes in a standard, XD (eXtra Durable) and SW version and finally the Exsence range comes in several different versions, and the confusion here is expounded by some JDM (Japan Domestic Market) versions which have found their way to the UK. I’ve tried to list as many variants as possible within the table at the end, but I would warn any potentially purchaser of this line of reels that the spec varies a LOT between the early versions and the later versions – so it’s worth checking the specs in detail before parting with hard earned cash.

Size – this is one of the more simple things to understand, the number represents the size of the reel, and the size of reels we might use for bass are 1000, 2000, 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000. These are based on how much line fits on the reel roughly, with 1000 size having a capacity for 150m of PE1, 2000 150m of PE2 and so on. There is one caveat to sizing, and that is where the number is prefixed by a small letter c – which implies a “Compact” reel. Effectively this means that the reel body size is one lower – for example, a c5000 is the same size as a 4000 reel, but with the spool capacity of a 5000 reel.

Gear Ratio – this is also a simple one to remember, but it also seems to be the letters that confuse people the most. Shimano have 3 ratios PG, HG and XG, the lowest gear ratio is usually known as standard gear or Power Gear (PG), next is High Gear (HG) and finally eXtra high Gear (XG). For information, these gear ratios are usual 4.8:1, 5.8:1 and 6.2:1 respectively but there can be variations.

Spool Depth – you can often see the final letters on a reel code being M, MS, S or SS. These are worth looking at for braid users, avoiding the need to use lots and lots of backing. M stands for Medium with the other codes meaning Medium-Shallow, Shallow and finally Super-Shallow.

Other letters – finally, there are occasionally some other letters used, the one I have come across occasionally is DH, which signifies that the model has a double handle.

I’ve included a few tables showing the variation in a few of the models below – note that these are non-exhaustive and there may be other variants not covered, but hopefully this will give an idea of how the much variation there is. It is worth noting that not all models are available in all countries. The data below was sourced from a Japanese supplier – there is a reel (pun intended) tendency to sell higher geared models in the UK, but for some lure fishing applications it is well worth seeking out the slower standard retrieve ratio models.

Family Model Year Full model Name Gear Ratio Compact Spool
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FA 2016 2500HGS High Shallow
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FA 2016 2500HGSDH High Shallow
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FA 2016 2500S Standard Shallow
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FA 2016 3000XGM Extra High Medium
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FA 2016 C2000HGS High * Shallow
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FA 2016 c2000S Standard * Shallow
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FA 2016 C2500HGS High * Shallow
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FA 2016 C2500S Standard * Shallow
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FA 2016 C3000HG High * Normal
Stradic Stradic ci4+ FB 2018 Variants not listed
Stradic Stradic FK 2015 Variants not listed
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 1000S Standard Shallow
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 2500S Standard Shallow
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 2500SHG High Shallow
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 3000MHG High Medium
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 4000 Standard Medium
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 4000MHG High Medium
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 4000XGM Extra High Medium
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 C2000S Standard * Shallow
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 C2000SHG High * Shallow
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 C3000 Standard * Normal
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 C3000HG High * Normal
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 C3000XG Extra High * Normal
Stradic Stradic FL 2019 C5000XG Extra High * Normal
Exsence EXSENCE CI4+ 2012 4000S Standard Shallow
Exsence EXSENCE CI4+ 2012 4000XGS Extra High Shallow
Exsence EXSENCE CI4+ 2012 C3000HGM High * Medium
Exsence EXSENCE CI4+ 2012 C3000M High * Medium
Exsence EXSENCE 2017 3000MHG High Medium
Exsence EXSENCE 2017 4000MXG Extra High Medium
Exsence EXSENCE 2017 C3000M Standard * Medium
Exsence EXSENCE 2017 C3000MHG High * Medium
Exsence EXSENCE CI4+ 2018 3000MHG High Medium
Exsence EXSENCE CI4+ 2018 4000MXG Extra High Medium
Twin Power Twinpower XD 2017 4000XG Extra High Normal
Twin Power Twinpower XD 2017 C3000HG High * Normal
Twin Power Twinpower XD 2017 C3000XG Extra High * Normal
Twin Power Twinpower XD 2017 C5000XG Extra High * Normal
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 C2000S Standard * Shallow
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 2500S Standard Shallow
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 2500SHG High Shallow
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 3000MHG High Medium
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 4000 Standard Normal
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 4000MHG High Medium
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 4000PG Standard/Power Normal
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 4000XG Extra High Normal
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 C2000SHG High * Shallow
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 3000 Standard Normal
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 3000MHG High Medium
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 3000XG Extra High Normal
Twin Power Twinpower FD 2020 C5000XG Extra High * Normal
Twin Power Twinpower SW 2021 4000XG Extra High Normal
Twin Power Twinpower SW 2021 5000HG High Normal
Twin Power Twinpower SW 2021 5000XG Extra High Normal
Twin Power Twinpower SW 2021 4000HG High Normal
Stella Stella FJ 2018 1000SSDH Standard Super Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 1000SSPG Standard/Power Super Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 2500S Standard Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 2500SHG High Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 3000MHG High Medium
Stella Stella FJ 2018 4000 Standard Normal
Stella Stella FJ 2018 4000MHG High Medium
Stella Stella FJ 2018 4000XG Extra High Normal
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C2000S Standard * Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C2000SHG High * Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C2500SHG High * Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C2500SXG Extra High * Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C3000 Standard * Normal
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C3000MHG High * Medium
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C3000SDH Standard * Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C3000SDHHG High * Shallow
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C3000XG Extra High * Normal
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C5000HG High * Normal
Stella Stella FJ 2018 C5000XG Extra High * Normal
Stella Stella SW 2019 4000HG High Normal
Stella Stella SW 2019 4000XG Extra High Normal

Author: Andy Davies

Photos: Henry Gilbey

© Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society 2021

 

3 Comments
  1. An interesting feature that will be useful to many – not to me, alas, since I don’t recognise any of the reel models mentioned, so I assume they’re fixed-spool reels which I practically never use and never really liked. (I have two nice 1980s ABU Cardinals, a 52 and a 154 -haven’t used the latter in decades, use my lovely 52 very intermittently for superlight lure fishing for chub.)
    Shimano make excellent casting reels, some of them horribly expensive but probably worth the money. I just have an identical pair of 1000 XT Scorpions, beautiful, small, jewel-like modern low-profile designs – this might be a model restricted to Japan, not sure, but I bought them used/mint on Ebay from Japan for around £100 each; they’re fitted with aftermarket skeletonised super-light spools and other custom bits, and I use them for my kayak fishing in France (seeking mainly largemouth bass, though there are also pike, zander and catfish) mounted on my self-built rods with Fuji straight-through reel-seats such as the ACS & PMTSMPS. They might just have the edge, re quality, engineering, design sophistication, over my two remaining ABU casting reels – the vintage Mag-1 Plus I’ve had since the ’80s, and a lovely Morrum SX1600C-Mag. Latter was never imported to UK AFAIK, got mine on Ebay from a pawnshop in San Diego!
    The Shimano casting reel family is at least as complicated and diverse as the fixed-spools, so perhaps Andy or someone else could do a second useful breakdown.

  2. Suffice to say that a 3000 size from one manufacturer dost equal a 3000 in another. It’s all very well quoting all these various models and countless numbers but you will not find them on the shelf or online. Retailers only stock the popular models.

  3. My old-faithful Technum 4000 (the one with the blue end to the spool) isn’t in the table, but Andy’s list wasn’t meant to be exhaustive. My model is FB, which is a USA designation. It came new from a tackle shop in New York, and with postage & insurance cost me only 2/3 of the UK price at the time. The box had a warning that said “This product may contain carciogenic materials and is not intended for use in California”. Hey Ho..

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