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Reel Review

The Stradic FI spinning reel series for the complete range of applications (continued)


Durability cont'd: The bearings also held up well and while most of our tests were conducted in fresh and brackish water the bearings showed no signs of rust. The shielding on the bearings had done their job. The only area on the reel that showed any signs of damage was the rotor which had a few nicks, scratches and visible boat rash. All of this damage was strictly cosmetic but the graphite rotor clearly did not hold up as well as the aluminum based ones on some of the competing reels.


A excellent stopping system eliminates any backplay so sets are instant


When it comes to basic service the Stradic FI does come equipped with a maintenance port that makes it possible to apply small amounts of oil to the drivetrain but any real cleaning and detailed lubrication does require disassembly of the reel, which I found was extremely straightforward and literally took only five minutes. It is also good to note that the Stradic FI does come with a repairable drag clicker so that should the mechanism become damaged it can be restored.


A closer look at the one piece bail wire


Ergonomics: The Stradic FI 4000 is by no means a compact reel and is truly a midsized spinning reel. The smaller 2500 size weighs in at 9.5oz. which is 2.5oz. heavier than the reinforced carbon fiber based Stradic CI4 but is .7oz. less than the similarly priced Daiwa Advantage-A spinning reel. Move up to the 4000 size and the reel weighs in at 11.6oz. which isnít all that bad for a reel capable of holding 200 yards of 10lb. monofilament.


A maintenance port is proved for quick access


On most of the longer spinning rods I paired the reel with it actually balanced out reasonable well. Depending on what size Stradic FI you buy there are different ergonomically shaped Septon knobs ranging from a small barrel to a massive power grip. The knob on the 4000 size is more like a flat paddle and like other Shimano Septon grips remained tacky even when wet.  


A spare spool is a welcome addition and can often save a trip


Price & Applications: The smaller Stradic FI reels retail for 159.99 which is 40 dollars less than the Stradic CI4. The CI4 is the exact same retrieve ratio as the FI reels in the 1000 and 2500 sizes that it is offered in, but because the CI4 is designed primarily for ultra finesse applications it is not offered in any sizes above 2500. That is where the Stradic FI comes in, the series covers the complete range of applications and is available in sizes ranging from 1000 to 8000 sizes.


The oversized septon grip on our 4000 size reel


The seven reels in the series make it possible for anglers to turn to the FI for everything from ultralight trout fishing to targeting big game offshore. The prices for the reels increases with size, the 1000-3000 sizes are $159.99 and the 4000-5000 sizes are $179.99 while the very large 6000-8000 sizes retail for a still very reasonable $199.99.


Like the Stradic CI4 the FI is made in Malaysia


The Stradic FI 4000 reel that we tested is a good size for a lot of mid-sized species including striped bass, redfish, bigger trout and steelhead. With a line capacity of 200 yards of 10lb test this reel has plenty of capacity for these larger fish that strip line in an effort to escape. Like Shimano reels of the past the Stradic FI comes bundled with a spare aluminum spool that makes it possible to spool up with a different weight line, or simply have a backup ready should your line become damaged or break off.


The sun sets on this particular field test and even after two and a half seasons the Stradic FI continues to perform well


This came in very handy on the Smith River where a Salmon gave us a serious run and we had to follow it over multiple riffles during which the fish ran alongside some shallow rocks and sliced right through the line with over seventy yards out. Rather than risk fishing with significantly less capacity a quick spool swap helped save the trip.


Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Shimano Stradic FI 4000 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Stradic FI makes use of both aluminum and graphite and it is a good thing the guts of this reel is more robust than the copious use of graphite used on the sideplate and rotor 7.5
Performance The Stradic FI does everything it is designed to do. It may not be as exciting to fish as the newer CI4 but it is downright solid and reliable 8.5
Price Though the price of this reel series has edged up over time with Stradic FI you really are getting more reel for the money. The larger reels are a very good deal for sub 200 dollars and the Stradic FI is so good that it is hard to justify the 90 dollar price premium for the Sustain 8
Features All the usual Shimano including S-Concept, S A-RB bearings, Fluidrive II, Super Stopper II, Machined aluminum handle shank, AERO Wrap II, waterproof drag, maintenance port, and a repairable clicker. Plus this reel comes with a spare spool 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) Great overall ergonomics, not the lightest reel nor is it the heaviest. The Septon grip feels good in hand and the reel is compact and balances well with most rods designed for heavier applications 8
Application Great for fresh and saltwater, the Stradic FI 4000 reel that we tested is a good size for a lot of mid-sized species including striped bass, redfish, bigger trout and steelhead. It is good to know that Shimano offers this reel in a complete range of sizes 8

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Lot's of sizes to pick from in the Stradic FI series L Graphite rotor and sideplate take cosmetic damage easier than aluminum and are not as refined
J Good caster  
J Spare spool included  
J Excellent drag  
J Good long term durability  
J Reasonable price  


Conclusion: The Stradic FI is a great choice when youíre looking for a spinning reel that can be used in both fresh and saltwater applications. Reasonably priced at $159 for the smaller sizes the Stradic FI delivers a nice blend of both refinement and features that it is hard to justify the 90 dollar price premium of the Sustain FE. The Sustain FE while a little more refined is also significantly more expensive, the difference in price you will "feel" while the difference in retrieve smoothness and casting is not as obvious. Anglers that prefer a traditional look and feel will like the Stradic FI better than the Stradic CI4 when considering the smaller sizes but when it comes to 2500 and above the FI is the only choice. For targeting bigger species than bass like Salmon and Steelhead the Stradic FI not only gets the job done with a big fish on the line, it will do so for many seasons whether you are a weekend warrior or a professional guide. 


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