Our overall rating:5
- Range of models for multiple fishing applications
- Superb casting
- Excellent line management
- Smooth drag
- Low start up inertia
- Excellent line capacity
- Great power for a spinning reel
- Phenomenal gear system
- Consistent and smooth rotor
- High line retrieval rates
- Easy to handle and not fatiguing
- Surprisingly affordable
- Little heavy compared to other similar sized reels
- Drag not as smooth on highest end of the drag range
Shimano has been a trusted producer of spinning reels for nearly fifty years. One of the most popular models ever produced by Shimano has been the Stradic, a workhorse spinning reel that is reliable and affordable.
The FK models take this concept to the next level of spinning reel performance, but interestingly enough, the price did not rise with the technology. What this means for you is that the Shimano Stradic FK is the best opportunity to enjoy high-end spinning reel performance to date.
In this article, we will take a look at an overview of the reels pros and cons, some of the key features of the Stradic FK models, and an in-depth look at how these features translate into fishing performance.
We’ve also got a few alternative recommendations for you to choose from in the bottom of this article.
Stradic FK Key Features
If you’re an owner of the previous Shimano Stradic models, you will immediately recognize some cosmetic differences between it and the newest model of the Stradic offered by Shimano.
Further from the surface is where the biggest differences are found in the new Stradic FK models.
The Stradic FK spinning reel offers the majority of Shimano’s patented spinning reel technology, and they shine through when the reel is working fish.
The Stradic FK is available in five size models that cover most fishing applications spinning reels can be employed.
The table below outlines the five different models and some key performance aspects:
Gear Ratios and Line Retrieval
The gear ratios of the Shimano Stradic models hover around the 6:1 range.
This is a typical ratio for a high-quality spinning reel and is versatile for a range for typical spinning reel fishing applications.
The line retrieval rates are a little higher than they typically would be for these gear ratios, but the larger diameter spools on the Stradic FK models kicks the line retrieval rate up and is fantastic for getting fish in the boat.
All Stradic FK models feature a 6+1 bearing system.
These include 6 of the best bearings on the spinning reel market, the S A-RB, which are shielded on both sides and are extremely corrosion resistant.
All models also feature a single Super Stopper II anti-reverse roller bearing that has absolutely no back play and allows instant hook setting ability even with a good deal of line in the water.
All Stradic FK models utilize a stacked front drag system.
Both felt and steel washers are used and can generate between 7 and 24lbs of drag pressure depending on the model.
With spinning reels, where a light line is often used, low start up inertia and consistent drag pressure are more important than the max drag, and the Stradic delivers in both of these categories.
This technology is not a simple gimmick used to sell reels.
The X-Ship technology uses key bearing placements within the gear system to supports and keeps aligned and running smoothly under extreme pressure when you are working large fish.
Hagane Body and Gear
The Hagane body and gears are made from cold forged, high-grade aluminum.
This provides the Stradic FK with a very rigid body that provides a secure housing for the gear system. This body design produces a reel that can resist torque and flexing that results in diminished power.
With the Hagane body and gear, all power is funneled efficiently into cranking making the reel much more efficient in working larger fish.
The spool on the Shimano Stradic FK is made from cold forged aluminum and will not warp or bend to normal pressures exerted on the reel.
For the size of the reel, it features a large spool that can hold more than enough line for fishing scenarios the reels were designed to meet.
Line Management Technology
The Stradic uses several new and previous technologies in their line management system, all of which contribute to the reels incredible casting capacity.
These technologies include Shimano’s Aero Wrap II oscillation system that lays the line in a way to reduce friction between wraps when coming back of the spool.
The Power Roller Ii and Propulsion line management system all help add a little distance to the cast and reduce the headaches associated with spool issues.
Stradic FK Ins and Outs
Looks and Handling: 5/5
This is a compact reel that offers a wide spool able to hold more than enough for line standard freshwater fishing.
There is nothing that stands out regarding looks, but we like the silver, all metal finish of the reel.
It handles well and has an excellent cold forged aluminum handle that is sturdy and will crank down when you need some extra power.
The 1000 and 2500 models feature a small barrel knob while the larger models use a large paddle knob with a little more surface area for increased handling.
We also like the bail system on the Stradic FK. It’s well designed and uses a heavy duty spring that resists inadvertent closing on the cast.
The overall feel and handling of this reel on the model is fantastic and will not fatigue you after long stays on the water.
The Drag: 4/5
The drag system on the Stradic FK models is not the greatest drag system ever seen on the water, but it rivals the upper echelon on spinning reels on the market.
There is more than enough max drag for each model to put the brakes on running fish.
What we are pleased with in this reel is the smoothness of the pressure exerted on the spool.
You might find a little jerkiness in the drag at the high-end drag settings on the high-end models, but that is only relative to the incredible smoothness from the rest of the drag range.
From the 1000 to 5000 model, you have access to the full range of drag settings that can be easily adjusted with the drag adjustment knob located at the top of the spool.
There is virtually no start up inertia, and when the drag is adjusted properly, you shouldn’t have to worry about line breaks from big hits.
Gear System: 5/5
Where the Stradic stands out is the gear system.
While all of the aesthetics, line management, and casting are important, the gear system is the heart of spinning reels and is the major determinant of a reels performance and longevity.
The rugged cold forged Hagane gears are going to perform as well after years of use as they will right out of the box.
The digitally optimized gear design provides gears that fit perfectly and will remain in line, in contact with each other, and turning smoothly when pressure is applied.
The Hagane body contributes as well providing a sturdy base for the gears. These gears contribute highly to this reels ability to work and land fish much more efficiently than other reels in the same price range.
Another aspect the Stradic FK models excel at is line management.
The bane of using a spinning reel is line twist, which will eventually hinder casting performance and finally turn into knots and tangles sometimes deep within the spool that can take a lot of time trying to undo.
No reel is going to eliminate line twist, but the Aero Wrap II and Power Roller II do a fantastic job at minimizing twist.
Casting on the Stradic FK is a joy on the water.
Obviously, you are restricted regarding distance compared to a baitcaster, but when compared to other spinning reels the Stradic shines in distance and smoothness.
A lot of the Shimano technology goes into the casting performance including the Propulsion line system as well as the line management technology.
All of it functions to reduce friction between the line and spool lip which slows down and reduces the amount of line that will leave the spool during the cast.
Cranking Power: 5/5
Perhaps the biggest jump the Stradic FK has over previous models and even high end spinning reels is the power.
While power is not often a strength of most spinning reels, the Stradic pleasantly provides a lot of it. This is contributed to the compact Hagane body and gear system.
You’re going to be able to tell the difference when you get into some bigger fish on these reels that you have no problem working and retrieving line. It also adds to the durability of this reel.
For the amount of use you are going to get for the price, it might be one of the best reel investments on the market.
Line retrieval speeds are decent for the Stradic. They are more suited for finesse fishing techniques, but you could easily use these reels for lures requiring faster retrieval speeds.
What you will also find is that the retrieval is extremely smooth whether you are simply retrieving your lure or when you have a huge smallmouth tugging on the other end.
What you will also notice when the pressure is on is the smoothness of the rotor. Shimano uses a Dyna-Balance system on its rotor that keeps a consistent and smooth rotation on the rotor as it lays line on the spool.
This counterbalance functions extremely well at eliminating wobble that reduces retrieval efficiency.
Who Is the Shimano Stradic FK for?
Older models of the Stradic were considered work horse reels.
What the new model offers is a reel that is rugged but at the same time an elegant and offers performance that matches the high end spinning reels without the high-end price.
For beginners it’s an incredible reel that might spoil you quite a bit.
It’s also a great option for spinning reel aficionados, and we are confident they will be highly impressed with this reels performance for the price.
When to use it?
The majority of the models are better suited for freshwater species, though the larger 4000 and 5000 models are more than capable of fishing for smaller saltwater species.
These reels are pretty corrosion resistant but are not sealed as well as (similarly to Penn Clash spinning reel) spinning reels specifically designed for saltwater applications, so they will require a little more upkeep when used in the salt.
The 1000 model makes an excellent trout and panfish spinning reel while the 2500 and 3000 models are incredible spinning reels for bass fishing and finesse fishing techniques.
While spinning reels are thought of as finesse fishing tools, the line retrieval and power can be generated with this compact reel give it the ability for more power fishing techniques other reels might not be able to achieve.
Shimano Stradic FK Alternatives
Quantum Cabo Spin Reel
Though Shimano reels are undoubtedly reliable, another brand is giving the Stradic FK heavy competition – Quantum with the Cabo spinning reel.
Quantum reels are known for their high-quality – even so that one reel can safely last 10 years without letting you down. This model features sealed magnum CSC drag, PT technology gears, titanium fail-proof bail and many other features that make this a perfect companion for big game fishing.
If you’ve checked our review of the best saltwater spinning reels, you’ve seen the Daiwa Saltist on the number one spot and there’s a good reason for it: it’s designed to outperform any other reel when it comes to saltwater fishing.
Daiwa Saltist is lightweight but you shouldn’t mistake the weight for lack of power. On the contrary – it has all the cranking power you will need. That together with amazingly smooth Digigear system makes Daiwa one of our all-time favourite reels.
Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel
If you ask any saltwater fishing enthusiast about which reel they consider to be the best for their needs, Penn Battle comes to mind for many. Penn’s durable reel with a fitting name is made to conquer big game fish on those salty waters.
To cover your needs, the reel features full metal body, strong bearings and HT-100 carbon fiber drag system which all contribute to a powerful fishing experience.