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Reel Review

 

Shimano Stradic FK – A Solid Design (continued)

Real World Tests: I was finally time to see just how the new Stradic FK performs on the water and get a few questions answered. Would it echo the nostalgia of the older generation white versions, or would the performance and refinement be more along the lines of the recent CI4+ models? We spooled the test reels up with a variety of fluorocarbon and mono lines from Berkley and Sunline, as well as tested the reel with PowerPro and fluorocarbon leaders from Seaguar. I paired the reel with a variety of different rods to fish a number of applications ranging from finesse fishing to working smaller jerkbaits and topwater pencils.


The Stradic FK paired very nicely with our 13 Fishing Archangel spinning rod

Retrieve: The first indication that we had something potentially quite special with this latest Stradic iteration was just how smooth the reel felt under load. Quality bearings are a key component but what sets the reel apart is also the position and usage of these bearings. Some people think that the X-Ship is a gimmick, after all how can a bearing on the pinion make that much of a difference? I’ve fished with a lot of spinning reels, from Shimano’s own lineup and beyond, some that both employ this design and others that do not, and can attest that it is very difficult to “feel” the difference until there is adequate pressure on the line.


Our test reel outfitted with PowerPro line and a fluorocarbon leader

While it is easy to say that the Stradic FK “feels” like many other reels at this price point when turning the handle a few times side by side in a tackle shop, it is under load X-Ship absolutely makes a difference and not only helps isolate the shaft and gearing but helps reduce overall stress and keeps everything aligned to better transfer the cranking power. The result is not just a smoother reel during the battle, but one that feels more undeniably more powerful as well.


The drag module

Performance Ratings for Shimano Stradic FK

Retrieve
(1–5)

Drag
(1–5)

Power
(1–5)

Bail Operation (1–5)

Line Twist
(1–5)

Total

Possible

Rating (= Tot/Pos *10)

5

4

5

4

4

22

25

8.8


The Stradic FK's drag consists of both steel and felt washers

Drag: The Shimano Stradic FK makes use of a combination stack of felt and steel washers that combine to dole out upwards of 14lbs. of drag pressure. But don’t get hung up on the max numbers, especially when it comes to spinning reels. Smooth and consistent pressure to protect lighter lines is more important in most spinning applications, and in this regard the Stradic FK really delivers across the continuum.


Fig 1. The Sweet Drag Performance chart above shows the consistency in drag performance of our Shimano Stradic K 2500HG.

Small fish do little to pull the drag but when I finally hooked into so good sized fish on the Northern California Delta I got to hear the drag sing, and the drag delivers very smooth pressure throughout the range with no stutter. This was made even more important as I was fishing with fluorocarbon leaders connected to PowerPro which had no stretch. The drag did a very good job protecting the light leader at the end of the line, enabling me to land just about every fish that I hooked into.

Sweet Drag Performance for Shimano Stradic K 2500HG

Turns backed off from locked drag >>>>
1.5
1.25
1
.75
.5
Avg % Change
 
 
 
Start Up
6.4
9.3
6.3
6.7
5.7
Sustained
7.1
8.8
8.7
11.1
14.1
Lowest Value
6.3
7.2
6.1
6.6
5.7
Change in Startup vs Sustained
10%
19.3%
37.1%
66.8%
149.9%
56.6%
Biggest Drop from Sustained
11.4%
18.2%
30%
41%
13.1%
60%


It is hard to feel just how effective X-Ship is until the reel is under load

Power: Power isn’t something that always comes to mind right away when you think spinning reels but it is exactly what the Stradic bountifully provides. It is hard to fully appreciate just how powerful the Stradic FK is until you get a 4 plus pounder on the line and feel just how strong the reel is under load. What is delivering this power is Shimano’s Hagane Gear, which is a cold forged gear based off of 3D design. No cutting here, the forging allows the surface of each took to be formed to exacting specifications, rather than cut and opening up the opportunity for imperfections on the teeth of the gear itself.


A forged handle adds to the overall refinement of the reel

Though now messaged as “Hagane” gearing many anglers know that this is not a new implementation for Shimano, and that the company has been using cold forged gearing in many of their spinning reels for over a decade. It just plays well together into the entire concept of strength and durability.


The most striking characteristic on the reel is probably the spool which is ported and features rich blue anodization

A quality gear is not enough, it needs to be properly isolated and the Stradic FK’s Hagane metal body exhibits high rigidity. We were impressed by how stiff the reel was with the combination of the metal main frame and composite side. Overall the body was stiff enough to not exhibit any flexing during fishing to help transfer maximum power from the angler directly into the powertrain, generating that powerful cranking power when you need it most.


The Stradic 2500 and 3000 spools look near identical

Bail Operation: Often overlooked is just how reliable the bail mechanism is in spinning reels and rather than use a plastic lever the Stradic FK employs a heavy duty spring and metal bar that forces the arm back into position when rotated. This system provides a satisfying “click” when re-engaged and during testing never failed to reset the bail. It does however require a little more torque of the handle if there is not momentum on the rotor.


A look at the Stradic FK's bail trip mechanism

For example when the bail is set open right in front of the location where the bail trips the metal bar. Overall I found the mechanism to be reliable and it should last anglers many seasons, especially if you save some wear and tear on the mechanism by employing the habit of flipping the bail over by hand, versus relying solely on the mechanical trip.


Every spinning reel is going to exhibit the eventual line twist but overall the Stradic FK manages line very well

Line Twist: Truly the bane of spinning reels, the dreaded line twist. Anglers that regularly fish with baitcasters often forget that it still takes skill to fish a spinning reel effectively and just like there are backlashes with baitcasters you will inevitably experience a line twist no matter how good of a spinning reel you are fishing with. In this area the Stradic FK performed very well overall, and while I did get a few line twists when casting drop shot rigs into the wind they were not common. Toss aside all the marketing speak, the Stradic FK does a good job managing line primarily through proper winding and a good spool lip design. Anglers will find that it is as good as or better than just about any spinning reel out there when it comes to casting, even with lighter lines.

Next Section: Evolution or Revolution?




 

 

 

 

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