How to Read Shimano Fishing Reels

It is easy to understand Shimano Reels once you understand the numbers attached to their reels. 

How to Read Shimano Reels

Before We Start, here is a quick summary of Shimano Reels & their Strengths;

Best Shimano Spinning Reels 2022

Model Comment
Shimano Vanford Best Overall Shimano Spinning Reel for 2022
Shimano Stradic FL Excellent Addition to the Stradic Range
Shimano Stella FJ The Ferrari of Shimano Spinning Reels
Shimano Ultegra FB Great mid-range Shimano spinning reel
Shimano Spheros SW Shimano Quality at a Great Price
Shimano Nasci Great Shimano Spinning Reel for around $100
Shimano Sedona FI Great Budget Option
Shimano Sienna FG Great for the Beginner

1. Understanding the Numbers

All the Numbers (1000, 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000, etc) simply indicate the size of the spool. The bigger the number, the more line you can spool to your fishing reel. Basically, the numbers are used to explain that a Shimano reel with 1000 spool can hold around 150 meters of nylon fishing line in size 1 (Japanese Sizing). 2000 Spool can hold 150 meters of nylon line size 2; etc. 

So what are the differences between them? What should be taken note of?

Reel size

Where and How

Potential Catches


  • Best for targeting small species up to about 8 pounds
  • Work best with 2-10lb monofilament, or 4-14lb braid 
  • Freshwater fishing 
  • Protected coastal waters 
  • Ultralight fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harbours (inshore fishing)

Tamban, Yellowtail, Spanish Flag Snapper 


  • Ultralight lures, perfect for finesse applications
  • Ideal for lighter rods within 6 to 7 feet

Tamban, Yellowtail, Spanish Flag Snapper 


  • Offshore fishing 

Groupers, Snappers, Arowana, Peacock Bass, Barramundi


  • Start to gain a little size
    -> suit medium action classes of rods in the 6ft-7ft (barra/snapper style rod) with a line class of around 4kg - 10kg or in an 8ft-10ft (light surf) rod with a light line class. 

  • Best if you want to keep more lines for your offshore fishing. But more line also means added cost. 

Arowana, Barramundi, Grouper, Diamond Travelly, Peacock Bass, Queen Fish


In general, larger reels match up better with longer and more powerful rods and heavier line strengths. They are designed to handle larger lures, heavier terminal tackle, and bigger fish. Smaller reels matched with shorter and lighter action rods. They are designed to handle lighter line strengths and lighter lures and baits.

2. Letters & Their Meaning




Middle body spool” or medium spool which is in between normal spool and SM (small-medium).


Middle Shallow spool” which is a bit lighter than a medium spool.


“S” in the end stands for “Shallow spool, a small spool with lighter weight and less line capacity.


Super Shallow spool” or Super Small spool which is the smallest and lightest spool available.


Compact body” which means that everything except spool is one size smaller, or more compact. E.g “C3000” reel will have a “2500” body but a “3000” spool.

PG  (Lower Gear)

“PG” in the end means that in one turn you will get less line but it will be easier to fight big fish.

HG  (High gear)

“HG” in the end means more fishing line in one turn of a reel.

XG  (Extra-High Gear)

“XG" will get you more line than anything else.

No Marking

Normal Gear


3. Other Markings


This reel is made for the European market and it is not available anywhere else.


“Double Handle”, which is pretty rare nowadays when it comes to spinning gear but you will find tons of cool stuff in Japan.


Stands for Saltwater, which means that this reel is corrosion resistant to a certain extent.


A drag control in the back of the reel, which is rarely used nowadays.


Let’s begin with two numbers after Shimano's name and before the model of the reel, which states the year when this model first became available. 

For example, Shimano 14 Stella is a modification of Stella which became available in 2014. Keep in mind that it isn’t a year since this reel was made.

4. Reels Gear Ratio
What do the numbers on reels mean?

The first set of numbers represent the number of revolutions the spool makes for each turn of the handle. The gear ratio of a reel is measured by how many times the spool turns for each single turn of the handle. 

For example,

7.3:1, means the spool would turn 7.3 times for every crank 

6.4:1, means the spool inside turns exactly 6.4 times for every crank.

The higher the number, the quicker the retrieval. Higher numbers are ideal for lure fishing where the lure requires a fast retrieval action. Generally, Reels with a gear ratio of 6.X:1 are your workhorses. They get the bulk of the work done. 

You will find all the information discussed above on the Box of Every Shimano Reel. 


    So there we have it.
    You are now a certified Shimano Reel Expert. 
    If you need more help, feel free to message us or visit our Fishing Reels Section
    Happy Fishing!

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