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Selecting the right Rod, Reel, and Line for Your Walking Bait Arsenal

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Reel Review

It’s all about the Journey – The Shimano Stella FI Spinning Reel (continued)


Retrieve: It is once you start retrieving that the Stella FI starts to distance itself from other spinning reels. The Stella FI is exceptionally smooth, and I hate to say it but anglers, this one included, will get spoiled quickly. After fishing with the Stella FI for a few trips it is easy to take just how smooth this reel is for granted, that is until you pick up another reel, even the Stradic FK for example, and it feels nothing like the friction free and balanced retrieve that the Stella FI naturally delivers on every single crank of the handle.


The reel is light and when balanced out with a light rod really feels natural

I drop shot a great deal with this reel and every time I had a fish on the line I was reminded just how smooth and powerful the Stella FI was under load. Shimano accomplishes this with their “G-Free” body design which basically moves the entire oscillation system from where it is traditionally located beneath the drive gear to closer to the center of the reel, improving balance and reducing wobble in the process. The reel’s new Micro Module Gear System also improves the gear alignment and tolerance. This translates into more power and torque thanks to the use of even more tiny teeth locked into the main gear and pinion gear.


Where the reel really shines is when retrieving, it is extremely smooth

The guts are just half of the story here, and to ensure that complete transfer of power the Stella FI reel employs a drive system (Shimano calls it S-Direct) in which the handle now screws directly into the drive gear. This gives the reel an even more connected feel, especially when you are fighting a big fish back to the boat. This design also helps reduce sloppiness and back play in the handle. Other proven features like X-Ship support on the pinion gear and the metal “Hagane Body” design all add to the Stella’s solid feel and torque, but it is that exceptional balance that puts the Stella FI over the top when it comes to the quality of retrieve.


After fighting a few smallies the Stella's torque also became very apparent

Drag: The Stella FI may be a small reel but it has a ton of torque. This reel can hang with the best of them and I was able to land fish all the way up to eight pounds on 4lb test. Of course torque isn’t the only reason that this was possible, and the reel does feature a quality drag as well. The tiny 2000 size reel is great for targeting smaller trout, panfish, or finesse fishing for largemouth and while the drag is not overly powerful, maxxing out just over 6lbs. we did find that it was consistent and did a very good job protecting light line under pressure.


Fig 1.
The Sweet Drag Performance chart above shows the consistency in drag performance of our
Shimano Stella 2000 FI.


Sweet Drag Performance for Shimano Stella 2000 FI

Turns backed off from locked drag >>>>
Avg % Change
Start Up
Lowest Value
Change in Startup vs Sustained
Biggest Drop from Sustained


The Stella FI was a match made in heaven with the equally high-end JDM 13 Fishing Archangel


Durability: To counter the Daiwa Steez Zaion and Magseal enhanced durability features Shimano ups their game with “Core Protect” concept which protects the inner workings of the reel by effectively sealing critical components. Shimano wanted to increase durability by improving water resistance without any negative effect to the smooth rotation. The three areas that they focused on improving the resistance was the line roller, roller clutch, and the Stella’s body itself. What we can attest to is that over two complete seasons of use our Stella FI reel has held up very well, and continues to feel smooth and powerful without any additional maintenance whatsoever.


Talk about a sweet combo! The Archangel + Stella combined retail for over $1400 dollars!

Ergonomics: Weighing in at only 6.6oz. the Stella FI 2000 is light and pairs well with lightweight spinning rods. The handle arm feels comfortable between your fingers and the small barrel grip, while simple, provides a solid winding platform. The only thing that anglers will notice is the absence of a reverse switch. I rarely use the switch these days but there were times that I still found myself reaching under the reel only to find nothing, force of habit I suppose.


I found the Stella FI excellent for fishing 4 and 6lb fluorocarbon lines

In some ways the clean design of the Stella adds to the reel’s straightforward ergonomics, leaves less to go wrong, and improves internal corrosion resistance, but also asks anglers to give up a feature that you find on even the most affordable of reels. Just like enthusiasts don’t really care if there is an integrated hook hanger on JDM rods this will hardly even factor into the conversation. Overall the Stella boasts excellent ergonomics and is a pleasure to fish with, and all the dials and handles look and feel every bit as high-end as they should at this price point.


The barrel knob on the Stella FI is familiar and functional


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