I was teaching my night college class (a man's gotta make money somehow) when Tugboatdude texted me, "You a-hole! You get to review the Shimano Stradic reel!" Hee hee hee. I almost never win anything, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise to get this Gear Review opportunity - for the light tackle Shimano Stradic 2500FI - from the Outdoor Blogger Network. Even more pleasant was that it showed up in the mail about two hours before we left on a trip to the North Carolina border. I was really hopeful that I could catch some fish with it and report back to the
In the Mid-Atlantic piedmont and coastal plain in March, the fishing opportunities are pretty much limited to catch-and-release striped bass fishing for very big fish (i.e. 40-50" fish) and the occasional warm day and warming water combo for smallmouth and/or largemouth bass. Not sure that the reel was designed for the former, I opted for the latter. I rigged up the gorgeous Shimano Stradic 2500 with light line - 6lb Sufix mono - and was instantly struck by the reel's beautiful appearance, and its interesting balance between fairly light weight and very solid construction. There's almost no plastic in the reel. Shimano claims that the drag gears are waterproof. I mounted it on a fairly stiff rod, my BPS Pro Qualifier, and figured we'd give it a go.
Ugly fish, ugly fisherman, beautiful reel.
The reel casts like magic. Just amazing, flawless, long, straight casts. I do a lot of finesse fishing in heavy cover, and while no reel can prevent my poor aim into a beaver lodge, or my jerky hook-set which wraps a lure around a branch, this reel came close to it. I was sold on the Stradic's value based on increased casting distance alone.
As I mentioned, fishing can be slow and it certainly was during my first outting with this reel. We were casting from a boat and into structure - concrete boxes, pilings, stumps, you name it. Finally, on the dropoff right below a warm, sunny peat bed, I caught my first bass on the reel, an "adolescent" largemouth. He never ran truly deep, but worked the dropoff well. I really wanted an opportunity to test the limits of this reel's drag system, but the drag is so smooth that I hardly noticed, or heard, it zinging out line for me. The retrieve of this reel is unbelievably silent and smooth. I almost dread to keep using it because I'm sure the first dunk in the sand/mud/salt is around the corner, and I just can't imagine that the reel can stay this quiet forever! The water was still cold and fishing was still slow, so after about four hours of near-perfect casting (my brothers might differ in their recollection), I cased the reel. Luckily, the weather stayed mild and I got a chance to take the reel out again, a little more than a week later.
My long lunchbreak fishing, which you can read about here, gave me a step up in the "catching fish" department, as I landed about 30 fish in an hour using the Shimano Stradic on my same BPS spinning rod. Again, the reel ran true and allowed for very long, very straight casts - important since I was fishing around beaver lodges and felled trees. None of the fish I caught gave me the "umph" on drag that I really wanted to test, but I ran the drag out on a few largemouth and it ran flawlessly. Cast after cast was awesome. The only odd thing about this reel, at all, is that the bail feels extremely light - almost like it's not part of the reel. It didn't hang up at all, and I didn't end up with any bird's nests, but it didn't feel as sturdy and confident as every other part of the reel.
All in all, this is an outstanding reel. The Stradic ranges anywhere from $120 to $189 in this configuration (2500fi). For true ultralight fishing, I could be convinced to go to the smaller model, which I believe is the 1000, and about $40 less in price (and indeed, I'm in the market for such a reel). While the price range is about $50-75 above what I normally pay for a reel, I can actually see and feel that price difference with this reel. Absolutely solid construction. Pretty lightweight. Very little plastic. It has the makings of a reel that might last for a really long time. If you are shopping for a spinning reel in the $80-$120 range, I highly recommend that you consider stepping up to a reel like the Shimano Stradic.
River Mud Gear Grade:
Durability: 5/5 - bombproof.
Spooling/Bearings 5/5 - smoothest ever.
Weight: 4/5 - Just a bit heavy. See "durability."
Cost - 3/5 - Tough to swallow. Worth every penny.
Overall Grade: 5/5 - buy it.
Disclaimer: Courtesy of the Outdoor Blogger Network, I received, at no cost to me, a Shimano Stradic 2500 reel to try out and review. However, this review contains no bias.
If you know me, you know that I'd tell you if it was a stinker.