The Shimano Stradic has built a deserved reputation as a stalwart of light tackle angling – the range are refined, tough and have always been at a price that experienced enthusiasts and intermediate anglers respected. They are a go-anywhere, do-anything reel, and each new series has offered a practical size range and great features. I have owned each Stradic, including all the Ci4 versions since the FI, and I have used and abused each one to only have it perform faultlessly time and time again. They are a workhorse of a reel and all around Australia thousands of anglers have found a place for them.
This is the fourth Stradic I have had the pleasure of reviewing and I always find it exciting when we get to take new models of iconic reels in the field and test them. While there have been some significant developments with each new series of Stradic, none have been as major as this new FL offers; it is without doubt the best Stradic yet and has brought the Stradic name into a new level of quality and features. We’ve had the C3000HGL and the 1000HGL out in the field for around three months now, so we’ve given them a good run.
Aesthetics & Features
Much like the Stella FJ, the new Stradic has simplified the colour pallete to a simple and elegant silver and chrome aesthetic that looks amazing. It’s the kind of reel you want to own just because it looks great. Shimano has relaxed the aggressive G-Free body design that many had taken issue with when it came out, so it’s now more akin to the Shimano of old, which is straighter and more symmetrical – which many will appreciate. We were sent very early samples that were strictly under embargo; there was no box or paperwork, just two reels secured in bubble wrap. A quick chat with Shimano had me impressed with the features offered in the new FL. It features X-Ship, X-Protect, Silent Drive, Micro Module II Gearing, Hagane Gear, Hagane Body, SA-RB (bearings), AR-C Spool and the newest and my favourite, Long Stroke Spool, a longer spool design that offers superior casting distance.
Most of these features are what you’ll find offered on the flagship Stella and, aside from the fact you’re missing out on a few little features and about six bearings, you’re essentially purchasing a stripped-back Stella for about a third of the price. The FJ is retailing at a maximum of $390, so on spec it offers excellent bang for buck.
The first test was with the 1000HG on the trout streams; the 1000 is the perfect size for stream trout and with the high gear ratio it’s ideal for working jerkbaits in fast-running water. I paired it with the Shimano Revolution 1-3kg, which was a great match for this application. The FJ is ultra-smooth and markedly smoother than the preceding FK or the Ci4. It also feels better engineered, with zero movement or play in the handle or body, so it offers a sense of security and strength that makes it a joy to work lures with over hundreds of casts. The handle and body design can’t be faulted, it’s all in perfect proportion, and coupled with its light weight of 195gm it’s only marginally heavier than the Ci4 but feels significantly superior in all facets of its operation. The Long Stroke Spool is a definite advantage, offering noticeably superior casting distance while maintaining accuracy with short pin-point casts or long-distance casts where I was shooting my lure right across wider sections of the river. The alloy Hagane Body offers excellent sensitivity, which kept me in good contact with how my lure was performing, and the drag was silky-smooth from the first hit through to landing the fish. The 1000HG is an excellent little trout, bream or even bass reel and at this price there isn’t a lot – if anything – on the market that can compare.
The C3000HG is a highly versatile size offering the body of a 2500 with the spool size of a 3000. This allows you to use it for a huge range of species. It’s perfect for chasing snapper, bass, mulloway, flathead and squid, which is what we used it for during the test period. If you want a high-quality reel that can be a jack of all trades, this is a hard option to go past.
The high gear ratio makes it perfect for squid as you need the fast retrieve when aggressively working squid jigs, and the proven and ultra-tough Hagane Gear can take the constant cranking on the gears. Much like the 1000, it’s a joy to use on a full day’s fishing. It’s rigid, extremely smooth, well-proportioned and ergonomic.
Bang For Buck
I own a lot of reels and a lot of Shimano reels, and experience gives me complete confidence in their durability in a saltwater environment. The new FL offers all the best features at a very affordable price for the quality offered. This is without doubt the best Stradic yet, Shimano’s best mid-range spin reel and possibly the best spin reel on the market at this price point. It’s going to be an extremely popular reel.