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Forget the Street Car, Book the Bullet Train to this New Stella (continued)

Drag: Something I did not feel nervous about opening up at all was the Stella's drag stack. It consists of two three felt washers sandwiched by aluminum washers (one keyed). The drag knob on top of the reel has a rubber gasket to keep water out away from the discs. This is obviously a finesse setup and I'm uncertain if the drag stack is different between the Stella's different models.

The spool bearing is actually nestled within the spool.

In addition to the usual drag stack, Shimano inserts a bearing in the spool itself to ensure rotation of that spool around the drive shaft during engagement of the drag is friction free. Most spinning reels that have a spool bearing have this bearing installed on the drive shaft itself so that the spool is sitting on top of the bearing. This is the first time I've noticed the bearing placement inside the spool but now that I've seen it, this strategy makes so much sense.

The spool cap has a rubber gasket to prevent water intrusion.

Out on the water, I actually lost the very first fish I hooked with the Stella because I had the drag set too tight for the 4lb test line I was using - and it was a really nice fish! Aren't all the ones we loose like that good fish? I immediately backed the drag off so as not to repeat that disappointment on subsequent catches. Once engaged, the Stella's drag sings with that familiar spinning reel zing and operation of that drag is very smooth and consistent.

Power is difficult to assess when you're only using 4lb test line.

Power: This area is difficult to assess when you're only using 4lb test line and fish a reel exclusively in finesse applications. Having said that, it's been proven to us through our experience with Shimano's casting reels, that their micro-module gearing technology not only results in super smooth operation, but very sure and hesitation free gears when it comes time to power through a retrieve or during battle with your catch. The inclusion of this technology in the Stella can only mean similar results.

The Stella's bail operates flawlessly.

Bail Operation: The Stella FJ's bail snaps open with a very crisp, but gentle sounding "click". When you turn the handle to close that bail, it snaps back with authority. The actual tripping mechanism is mechanical and built into the reel's body and concealed beneath the rotor. A bent wire extends down from the non-line roller side of the bail, down under the rotor when the bail is open, then, when the rotor turns with the handle, that wire hits up against a ridge in the body and gets kicked back up, snapping the bail over.

The number one cause of line twist with spinning reels is the line roller.

This looks to be a very reliable bail trip design, and of course, if you're in the good habit of closing the bail hand (I do this about three quarters of the time too), this information is all moot. That spring that assists the Stella FJ's bail in snapping back to a closed position is very strong.

Manufacturers mitigate this occurrence by installing a bearing at this location.

Line Twist: Every higher end, and now many not so high end, spinning reel features a bearing supported line roller. A bearing in this location allows the roller to rotate as line is being wound back onto the spool helping to minimize the number one cause of line twist. Not only does the Stella FJ feature a bearing in this location, but similar to the situation with the reel's spool, the bearing is actually inside the roller bearing, not just on either side of it. I fished the same spool of line over four or five trips where the C3000MHG FJ saw a lot of use and still haven't had any difficulty with line twist.

Spinning reel manufacturers will tout unique spool and spool lip designs all engineered to increase casting performance, reduce the occurrence of wind knots, and so on.

Design & Ergonomics: Spinning reel manufacturers will tout unique spool and spool lip designs all engineered to increase casting performance, reduce the occurrence of wind knots, and so on. I personally, have a difficult time noticing decreased casting performance on a spinning reel unless there is insufficient line spooled onto the reel. Even this factor is moot with some spinning reels I've fished. But this is the reason why I don't really comment on the casting performance of a spinning reel anymore.

The Stella FJ features Shimano's "Propulsion Line Management System".

I bring that subject up in this particular section, however, because Shimano does state their "Propulsion Line Management System" in the Stella FJ is a carefully engineered spool lip design that does precisely these things - increases casting distance while preventing backlashes and wind knots from forming. I did not have any issues with these occurrences to think of so perhaps the design works or maybe my practice of closing the bail by hand, ensuring there is tension on the line before beginning to wind, and not turning the handle when the drag is singing are the reason - maybe both.

This system is designed for increased casting performance, and a reduction in the occurrence of wind knots.

Now that I've sung all the praises of Shimano's new Stella FJ, there is one aspect of this reel I am not pleased with and it is a thing with the reel's ergonomics. Somewhere over the last few years, reel manufacturers began using T-shaped knobs on their spinning reels. Perhaps this is something they've always done with their larger sized reels, but now it's creeping into the reels I prefer to use for bass fishing. T-knobs provide a larger surface area to grasp, providing a more sure area to hold as you spin the reel's handle. I don't like them.

Yes, that's a Daiwa Steez AGS you see paired with my Shimano Stella FJ.

Yes, there are aftermarket knobs you can buy to customize this part of the reel, and I will probably go that route or use some leftover Shimano knobs from my days of superTTuning my casting reels, but if I'm already spending $700 on a reel, there should be nothing on there I need to change. Just goes to show you, no product is perfect.

I'm not a fan of T-Knobs on spinning reels.

Another feature or lack there of I found interesting in this reel is the lack of an option to switch the reel over to back reeling mode. Note, I rarely use this feature, but always thought it was part and parcel with a spinning reel - sort of like the spool tension knob on a casting reel.

Now the bad news...

Price & Applications: The specific model I fished, the Stella C3000MHG FJ is a shallow spool JDM model that retails for $720 at JapanTackle.com. I went through the effort to acquire this JDM model because I value that shallow spool for finesse applications. The USDM Stella FJ models range in price from $700 - $730 depending on the model and of course can be ordered from TackleWarehouse. They have most models in stock right now - or at least they did at the time of this writing

The USDM Stella FJ models range in price from $700 - $730 depending on the model.


Shimano Stella C3000MHG FJ Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Stunning right out of the box 10
Performance Again, quite remarkable 10
Price This is where it will always hurt when we're talking about Stella 6
Features Shimano really loads this reel up with their latest and greatest tech 9
Design (Ergonomics) I like everything about this reel except for that knob. No back reeling option? 7
Application The great thing about spinning reels is, they are super versatile 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:


+ The FJ's design is absolutely stunning - I don't care for the T-Knob on my spinning reels
+ Smoothest spinning reel I've fished to date  
+ Available shallow spool models (If you go JDM)  

Conclusion: I did not realize until I sat down to write this conclusion, that it was only last February that Zander wrote up the Stella FI. These three to five year product refresh cycles are taking their toll on our review budgets! Of course, when it comes to Stella, though price is a factor in our evaluations, those who are willing to court her come in knowing price is really not a factor at all.

The new, Stella FJ is stunning from every turn of the handle to every angle within view.


With all the tackle I see and have seen on a yearly basis since joining TackleTour back in 2004, it's become increasingly difficult to really tap into that trigger that ignites the enthusiast within. It doesn't necessarily have to be something high end as was evidenced by my look at the new Revo4 X. However, high end certainly helps. There is not a product within Shimano's lineup that is more high end than Stella, and this new, Stella FJ is stunning from every turn of the handle to every angle within view. Now it's time to decide on what I'm going to do about that T-Knob.


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