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Reel Review


Great for Finesse, but Capable of So Much More. Shimano's Vanford Spinning Reel


Date: 12/31/20
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.50 - EDITOR'S CHOICE AWARD

Introduction: Shimano's newest spinning reel, the Vanford, picks up where the Stradic CI4+ left off and makes use of new features, including a Long Stroke Spool design and Micro Module II gearing, all with the goal of delivering not just a better casting reel, but a smoother retrieving one as well. Let's take a closer look at this interestingly named new series. 


Shimano Vanford F 2500 Spinning Reel Specifications

Line Capacity (lbs / yds)

10/150, 15/145

Gear Ratio 6.0:1
Weight 6.3 ounces
Number of Bearings 7 + 1
Additional Features -CI4+ Body
-MGL Rotor
-Cross Carbon & Waterproof Drag
-S A-RB Bearings
-Propulsion Line Management System
-Long Stroke Spool
-Micro Module II gearing
-One piece bail
Origin Malaysia
MSRP $229.99


The Vanford is a new series that is based on CI4+ construction


Impressions: The Stradic Series is the go-to series for many mainstream anglers as it delivers a very good blend of performance versus price within the Shimano lineup. The Stradic CI4+ offered anglers a composite based reel for those that put a premium on light overall reel weight and corrosion resistance. The Stradic CI4+ has been a personal favorite of mine and is one of my go to reels to pair with G.Loomis NRX and Conquest rods for finesse fishing. This past ICAST I was excited to learn that Shimano was introducing an upgrade to this reel and was surprised when the company decided to retire the Stradic CI4+ and instead replace it with a new sub-brand called Vanford.


When Shimano introduced the new series I wasn't quite sure what to think of the new name. What exactly is a "Vanford," and what does the name mean? Why not call this new reel the next generation Stradic CI4+, or adopt the JDM name Complex CI4+?


The Vanford is designed to match the company's new Zodias rods but it looks good on the G.Loomis Conquest


We asked Adam Diehl, a key member of Shimano's North America Product Development staff who worked on the Vanford why the company decided to introduce a new series versus another generation of the Stradic CI4+.


"The reasoning behind the separation of CI4+ from the Stradic naming was to better highlight the differences between the two series of reels. Often the common thought prior was there was the standard Stradic lineup and then the CI4+ lineup was just a lighter version of the regular Stradic. While this was true in its simplest form it doesnít highlight the advantage each provides in some situations over the other. What separates the two is the body and rotor material. The HAGANE Body of the Stradic FL lineup is a rigid aluminum construction making for minimal flex in the reel. This makes it ideal for situations where you may have heavy resistance during a fish fight due to heavy class fish or heavy cover and even heavier lure weights/resistance which may pull more heavily on the reel. The aluminum body while heavier better resists flexing providing a more solid feeling of control and power. The Vanford utilizes the CI4+ Body material which equates to a Shimano version of carbon material that provides a high strength-to-weight ratio," Adam stated. 


The Vanford not only has a CI4+ frame but also a CI4+ MGL rotor which is one of the reasons why this reel feels so light on startup


We also asked Adam more about the segments and applications that the Vanford would play in versus aluminum based reels like the Stradic.


"Overall the Vanford equates to a lightweight package that with the quick response of the rotor makes it ideal for finesse situations where a subtle light tick of a bite can be responded to instantly. Body-wise itís similar to comparing a CI4+ body of a Chronarch CI4+ to a CoreSolid body Bantam MGL. Certainly both work well as multipurpose tools but each has some applications that they just seem to excel better in the hand at. Thus the reason for the separation. Both the Vanford and the Stradic FL work for multipurpose applications but for those who want their reels for more specific applications they will find each has specific uses that seem better suited for than the other," Adam expanded.


In terms of styling the Vanford is stealthier in appearance than the more brightly finished Stradic CI4+


With the matter black finish and red highlights the Vanford clearly looks like it was designed with the latest generation Shimano rods in mind, especially the new Zodias and Poison Adrena rods which share the same colors on their blanks, hardware, and markings.


My first impression of the Vanford's styling was somewhat lukewarm. Though the reel looks nice and compact it doesn't appear as visually interesting, or as high-end, as the Stradic CI4+ that it replaces. Still I was eager to see how well the new reel would perform.


Time to see what the new Vanford is all about


Real World Tests: Shimano provided us with one 2500 Vanford for review at the ICAST hard launch. I've been fishing this test reel since the show targeting largemouth bass and trout using a variety of finesse plastics but also seeing how the reel would perform with reaction hardbaits including crankbaits and ripbaits. We didn't have either the new Zodias or Poison Adrena rods so I primarily paired the reel with G.Loomis NRX and Megabass Destroyer rods. I spooled the reel up with Sunline Supernatural monofilament and Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon lines for all tests.  


The Vanford features a new spool design that houses a very refined beefed up drag. The combination on the 2500 size reel weighs only 34.7g

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