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ICAST 2023 Coverage


 

Shimano’s Stradic Moves Closer to Stella in Major Refresh

 

Date: 7/24/23
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: Zander








Introduction: The Shimano Stradic has long been the workhorse reel in Shimano’s spinning lineup and this season the series gets a major refresh with features that debuted on the Stella FK. The new Stella FM is designed to be smoother, more powerful, and offer enhanced durability over its predecessor, yet it remains the same price.

 


Shimano launched the Stradic FM this ICAST

Stella trickle-down: Shimano always likes to pack all their newest and most advanced features into their flagship reels, and the Stella FK is more than just a halo reel, but a platform where the company’s engineers can debut designs, regardless of the cost. Like the role that F1 or GT3 racing plays for auto manufacturers, what Shimano’s engineers learn from the Stella design and deployment eventually trickles down to mainstream products.


The Stradic FM looks quite similar to the FL Series reel it replaces but look closer and there are many new features that previously debuted on the much more expensive Stella FK

This season the Stella FM benefits from this practice and gets a significant feature bump with the addition of Shimano’s InfinityXross technology which enhances the gear durability and synergy by extending the gear tooth horizontally to distribute load across the tooth more evenly. For additional refinement the Stradic FM also gets a cold-forged MicroModule II gearing for durability and a smoother reeling feel under load.


I paired the Stella FK with Shimano's new Jackall Poison Ultima rods for a day fishing in Florida

The Stradic FM also gets InfinityDrive which creates lighter rotation feel without sacrificing cranking power. How Shimano does this is by adding a low friction bushing to the main shaft, which was previously supported by the pinion gear. This implementation is designed to significantly reduce friction resistance. In addition to this the Stradic FM’s main shaft is treated with a proprietary surface treatment and processing method that reduces rotational torque, which adds to the light feeling when cranked under load.


The new reel feels more refined in almost every way

Shimano knows that the Stradic series is favored by both freshwater and saltwater anglers so enhancing the drag system was also important in this refresh. The new reel gets the “Duracross Drag” system which is designed to provide the smooth performance of felt with up to 10 times the durability. We have looked at this drag material under magnification, and it looks like one of the design attributes of the material that impacts this performance is the way in which the material is woven. The intertwined fiber is reinforced but not flat so that it is able to generate stopping power and still dissipate heat quickly. It will be interesting to see how this drag performs versus the company’s Cross Carbon drag design. To better withstand the elements the Stradic FM also gets Shimano’s “X-Protect” water-repellent coating and a new water-channeling system that enhances dependability by stopping water penetration in key areas without adding a heavy rotational feel.


First fish with the new Stradic FM. What I noticed most about the reel is how much smoother it feels under load

A final interesting addition is the Anti-Twist Fin located on the rotor, a design which also debuted on the Stella. This tiny flexible polymer fin is designed to enhance line management by helping to maintain line tension to reduce sagging and prevent the line from falling off the bottom of the spool, or wrapping around the spool in an uneven manner. I like this design on the Stella when fishing straight fluorocarbon, or extra-long leaders, but when fishing braid to leader setups have found that the fin can impact the connection knot. The good news is that it can easily be removed in these setups.


The new Stradic FM gets a major feature boost but the price remains the same at $199-$229 dollars and will come in 1000 to 5000 sizes, making this the sweet spot in Shimano's lineup for both fresh and saltwater anglers looking for a performance oriented spinning reel

Our Quick Take: At quick glance the new Stradic FM looks very similar to the FL Series that it replaces. Both reels feature a clean looking silver frame with a dark blue spool, the bearing counts are the same at 6+1, and even the weights are almost identical (the FM 2500 size is .1oz lighter at 7.8 ounces.), and it would be easy to wonder just what is new with the refreshed FM Series.

With this reel it really is what is inside that makes the difference. While some nostalgic anglers wish that Shimano brought back some of that pearl white cosmetics from the classic Stradics, myself included, what makes the new FM Series so interesting is that it brings so much of what we like about the Stella FK to the masses.

InfinityXross, InfinityDrive, Duracross drag, and X-Protect features all help make this a very compelling reel at the $200 price point. While it might be a stretch to call the new Stradic FM a mini-Stella it wouldn’t be a leap to declare this new FM Series the sweet-spot in the Shimano spinning lineup when it comes to features and performance for the dollar.

 

   

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