This year’s Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) show saw the release of Shimano’s latest Stradic. It’s the fourth release of the Stradic in what is a pretty short time span. I’ve owned and used all of them, from the very popular white Stradic FJ through to the original CI4, CI4+ and the FK. It has always been a very well-priced workhorse of a reel with a great following.
Shimano recently sent down the latest version for me to review in the 2500 size and I took it out on Port Phillip Bay to target snapper on slow pitch jigs as I knew this would give a great indication of all aspects of its performance.
Features and Cosmetics
Shimano has stuck with the black/grey and red/maroon colour scheme that all the CI4 Stradics have had since their inception. This is a nice throwback to the previous models and it’s a striking colour scheme that looks classy and pretty tough.
As soon as you pick the Stradic up it has that extremely lightweight feel that the CI4+ body and rotor provides. At 190 grams it’s a very light reel but doesn’t feel weak. Like all new Shimano reels the Stradic is equipped with the G Free Body, which was at first a shocking design feature that was the topic of much debate amongst reel enthusiasts. It’s now just the standard Shimano look to me – I like it and while I can’t say I’ve noticed its benefits, I haven’t noticed any negative effects so I assume it’s beneficial.
The 2500 is actually a high-gear model so it gets the HG added to the end of the name. With a 6.0:1 gear ratio it’s the perfect reel for working plastics, surface lures, squid jigs and high-speed slugs.
Whether you’re winding it in store or under pressure from a lure or a fish, this is a very smooth reel in all facets of its operation. It’s very free-winding and an absolute pleasure to use, with the feel and quality of a far more expensive reel.
Casting is effortless and line peels off the spool with ease. Importantly, line management is just as good and it goes back on the spool beautifully. This is a high-quality Shimano reel and the basic functions of casting, line management and general duties are all outstanding.
The drag knob is an excellent design and maybe one of the best in the business for a reel this size. It’s quite long and spans almost the width of the top of the spool. This is a great design as it allows you to easily grab it and make drag adjustments during the pressure of a fight.
Cranking a slow jig is heavily reliant on the reel and the Stradic had no issues working 40 and 60 gram jigs on a long day’s fishing. It’s got more crank power than you’ll need on a reel of this size. The handle design is the perfect length and balances with the size of the reel that suits both retrieving and fighting. The only gripe I have, and I had the same issue with the FK, is that the handle is too small. While it’s fine in scenarios where you’re targeting fish with light line and a finessed approach, I found it to be that bit too small even when fighting a 2kg snapper and too small when jigging or high-speed spinning. This reel packs a huge 9kg of drag and has the gearing, body strength and size to handle much larger fish than bream and bass so it deserves a larger EVA power handle or at least a larger T-style handle. While you’ll never use anywhere near that much drag on this reel, it’s nice to know that you can apply a lot of pressure on the drag stack long before you’re anywhere near locking it up.
As you’d expect from Shimano the drag was extremely smooth and there was no flex evident in the reel whatsoever. While I would have appreciated a slightly larger handle knob, it didn’t cause me any dramas to a point where I may have lost a fish or felt I didn’t want to use the reel anymore.
The all-round size of this new 2500 sits in what I’d call a compact body, yet it has a great spool capacity and a lot of power in all facets of its operation so it’s a very versatile reel. You could use it for anything from trout and bream through to snapper and mulloway. The CI4+ body and rotor provide a light reel that will complement any rod and the Hagane cold forged gearing and G Free Body provide ultra-smooth operation. It’s a great price for the quality of reel you’re getting and is available in sizes 1000, 2500, 3000 and 4000.