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Reel Review

Coming full Circle over a Decade, the Stradic is Back (continued)

Durability: The Stradic FJ has held up well throughout our tests and we will circle back a year from now to see just how well the reel performed up over the long term. In our accelerated durability tests we found the finish resists boat rash very well, and one of the great things about the pearl white finish is that small scratches won’t even show up. Shimano's Maintainance Port feature allows for quick and easy gearing lubes mid-season.

The frame protrudes outward on the right side to accommodate the pinion gear

Price & Applications: Price-wise the Stradic FJ 2500 retails for 20 dollars more than the previous generation Stradic 2500 FI and anglers will also notice that the series no longer comes with a spare aluminum spool, this is unfortunate as an extra spool is always welcome and enables anglers to switch between two types of line in the field when addressing varying applications. When it comes to the actual reel itself Shimano has upped the ante significantly, simply put this is the best aluminum based Stradic to date.

A look at the reel's slim profile

Not only does the new reel deliver in all the key performance metrics the increase in sheer winding feel and power is not only noticeable but it puts previous generation reels to shame. It is hard to appreciate just how good the X-Ship design is when casting and retrieving baits alone, and while the lightweight rotating handle feel is a definite plus, when you get a healthy fish on the line the direct translation of cranking on the handle into sheer winding power is especially impressive.

A washer under the drag adjustment knob makes the entire system waterproof

The Stradic 2500FJ is a great reel for bass fishing and has both the drag pressure and line capacity to handle even the biggest bass. If you really want to lighten your rig or fish with ultralight lines the 1000 size will also pair well with finesse bass rods, and this is the right size for backcountry trout fishing. I was really happy to see that Shimano continues to make the Stradic available in a wide range of sizes all the way up to the 8000 size, with a very reasonable price delta separating the larger reels from their smaller siblings.

The Stradic FJ brought me back. Ten years later this latest iteration really delivers but stays true to many of the key factors that made the Stradic FG so popular

The 1000 to 3000 sized reels all share the same 6.0:1 retrieve ratio and retail for the exact same price of $179.99, which is 65 dollars more than the Stradic FG from ten years ago. Adjust for inflation and the fact that the FJ offers so much more in terms of features and refinement and the FJ series is looking pretty solid and when compared with the competition the Stradic now seems to be positioned above the mainstream segment it once occupied and can be considered a more premium offering. While there is little in terms of competition right now at the $179 dollar mark there are a crop of new reels retailing at the $199 price point debuting now that are a serious threat including the ultralight Quantum EXO and Zaion based Daiwa Ballistic spinning reels. With strong competition like this there couldn’t be a better time for this all new Stradic to hit the channel.

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 FJ (ST2500FJ) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Stradic FJ is built with quality materials, and while there is use of graphite in the sideplate and rotor it is extremely hard to tell. Inside the reel the gearing is very well constructed and meshes well for a quality feel throughout 8
Performance The new FJ reel is truly worthy of the "Stradic" moniker and delivers on all the key performance metrics. In my opinion X-Ship is under-played and is a quality feature that really improves retrieve feel and winding power 9
Price Priced slightly higher than previous generation Stradic reels the new FJ is worth the money but there is competition from other manufacturers and as these new reels become available it is going to be a flat out brawl this season. The only other concern is that the Stradic FJ is priced so close to the Stradic CI4 that some freshwater anglers really will have a hard decision, for the larger reels the Stradic FJ has everyone covered 8
Features A long list of features 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. The lack of a spare spool is a bit of a bummer 8
Design (Ergonomics) Overall very good ergonomics, this reel is not the lightest but feels very balanced and solid. How cool would it be if there was an option for an ergonomically carved wooden handle? 8.5
Application Great for fresh and saltwater and with so many sizes available anglers can use the Stradic FJ series for everything from panfish to Tuna 9

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

+ Only available in white (if you dig it) - Only available in white (if you don't dig it)
+ Casts very well - No spare spool
+ Excellent waterproof drag is powerful and consistent  
+ X-Ship rocks, the implementation improves retrieve feel and winding power  
+ Successfully channels the original Stradic reels but comes loaded with the latest modern features  

Conclusion: Shimano has taken a lot of heat for the baitcasting reel repositioning strategy revealed last ICAST surrounding their Chronarch and Curado Series reels, just read the forums on the web and you can see the debate still rages on. This became a hot topic among many last ICAST, so much so that it actually distracted many attendees from the significant strides that Shimano made in their spinning reels. We can’t wait to see how the new Sustain FG reels perform when we finally get our hands on one, but if the Stradic FJ is any indication it too may be a very exciting new reel.

The FJ really delivers on refinement and winding power, the Stradic is Back!

The FJ series is everything that anglers were hoping for in a new “Stradic” series reel, and a decade later it is a repeat winner of our Editor’s Choice Award. These new reels leverage proven features from their more expensive siblings and Shimano manages to package it all within a reasonably priced contemporary platform that successfully captures some of the magic that made the original Stradic FI reels so popular. It is so much more than just the pearly white finish that ties this reel to the past, it is what is underneath, and it is the attention to detail and the refined construction that reminds us just how good a traditional aluminum and graphite based spinning reel can be. For Shimano fans or any angler looking for a smooth, highly refined, and powerful spinning reel, it is now official… the “Stradic” is back!

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