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Shimano Stradic CI4+ Spinning Reel Review (Updated 2021)

Shimano Stradic CI4 Freshwater Spinning Reel
  • Lightweight and balanced carbon fiber body
  • Advanced spool design
  • Magnumlite rotor
  • CoreProtect water resistance system
  • Hagane cold forged gears
  • Anti-reverse bearing
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Lasso Brag

While Japan may have a very well-earned reputation for producing state-of-the-art technology products, and several extremely popular cars, it may not be the country in the world you’d first think of when considering which spinning reel for fishing to buy.

That would be a crying shame, especially with regards to Shimano Fishing, who produce a wide range of fishing equipment including rods, clothing, lures and most importantly for this article, reels.

Specifically, I’m going to look at Shimano’s Stradic CI4+ Spinning Reel which has proven to be one of the world’s best-selling reels, so I am keen to see if its popularity is justified.

Overview

The Shimano Stradic CI4 Spinning Reel caused quite a stir when it was first released in 2016, especially when it started to challenge some of the more established spinning reels. 

One of the first things people noticed was its very striking appearance that continued Shimano’s reputation for creating fishing reels that not only performed brilliantly but looked stunning too. It also included several enhancements that were not present on previous versions of the Stradic range such as the ‘FK’ and original ‘CI4’ models

A key selling point of the Stradic CI4+ is the advanced technology that Shimano has used to both design and manufacture the reel. Examples are the lightweight carbon fiber body and Magnumlite rotor, which are just of the many advanced features that you will benefit from if you use this reel.

Those who will want this reel the most are fishing enthusiasts who want a durable reel, and those who fish in all conditions and thus want one which can withstand being splashed with waves or spray.

Shimano Stradic CI4 4000FB XG Freshwater Spinning Reel

Pros

  • Lightweight and balanced carbon fiber body
  • Advanced spool design
  • Magnumlite rotor
  • CoreProtect water resistance system
  • Hagane cold forged gears
  • Anti-reverse bearing

Cons

  • Anti-reverse switch is very small
  • Handle could be designed better

Key Features

Advanced Spool Design

Shimano Stradic CI4 4000FB XG Freshwater Spinning Reel

The Stradic CI4+ has many features that commend it, and its spool design is certainly one of them. It is known as the ‘Advanced AR-C Spool with Power Roller’ so let me break that down and explain exactly what that means.

It is made from aluminum and it is cold-forged as part of its manufacturing process. This means it has levels of durability and strength that spools made using other processes could only dream of. 

The power roller element of the spool has a special groove which helps to eliminate by around half, the number of twists that you might normally expect when using a reel of this kind.

Magnumlite Rotor (MGL)

One aspect that plays a big part in your enjoyment of fishing is how comfortable it is to hold your rod, and a major factor in that is the weight of the reel. Obviously the lighter it is the less effort it takes for you to cast or to hold the rod while you wait for fish to take the bait.

The MGL rotor weighs 25% less than the previous version of this reel, and you will feel that it is balanced a lot more effectively too. This gives a better feel when retrieving and makes the entire process much smoother than you will find on many other reels.

Balanced Body Design

When you are fishing for long periods it is highly likely you will start to feel fatigued in your forearm. There are many causes of this, and one of them is how well or not the reel is balanced in relation to your fishing rod.

What Shimano has done with the design of the Stradic CI4+ is alter where the center of balance is within the reel. They have moved it closer to the rod, which means as you hold the rod, the weight ratio is not placing as much strain on your arms.

Another benefit of this is to give you a better feel when holding the rod so that when fish take the bait you are able to fight them with regards catching them.

Strong, Lightweight Body

Shimano Stradic CI4 4000FB XG Freshwater Spinning Reel

We’ve mentioned how much the balance of the reel’s body can help make it easier and more comfortable to use, and this is also true with respect to which material the body of the reel is made from. With the Stradic CI4+’s body, the material used is lightweight carbon fiber.

This almost seems to defy gravity because although it is very strong and durable, which you want, when you hold the reel it feels as though it has been made with a material that weighs no than paper.

Advanced Water Protection

By its very nature, fishing is a pastime where water is present and this is especially true of sea fishing where waves, and spray are all too common. Worse though, is the saltwater is extremely corrosive, and for many reels that can mean damage and even the end of their usefulness.

Thankfully, you will not have that issue because the Stradic CI4+ has an advanced water-resistance system called ‘CoreProtect.’ It works by basically giving the reel 360° resistance to water meaning the ocean can throw up as much spray and as many waves at your as it wants, but the reel will remain unaffected by them.

Stainless Steel Ball Bearings

One of the reputations that Shimano has gained with regards to the fishing reels it manufactures is how smoothly they operate. This is most likely due to the quality of the ball bearings that they incorporate into their reel designs. 

With the Stradic CI4+ reel, the ball bearings are all made from stainless steel, so that should help prevent any corrosion adversely affecting their smooth operation. 

Further, the ball bearings are shielded on both sides which adds further protection, not only against water ingress, but against sand and dirt particles getting in and causing the bearing to run less smoothly.

Shimano Stradic CI4 Freshwater Spinning Reel
  • Lightweight and balanced carbon fiber body
  • Advanced spool design
  • Magnumlite rotor
  • CoreProtect water resistance system
  • Hagane cold forged gears
  • Anti-reverse bearing
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
Lasso Brag

Anti-Reverse Bearing

The anti-reverse bearing in a fishing reel is an important feature because it stops the reel from spinning backward and allow for the drag to occur. With this Shimano reel, you can set this depending on your preference using their latest generation ‘Super Stopper II’ system.

Hagane Cold Forged Gears

The gears within any fishing reel play a significant role with regards to retrieving and can often mean the difference between that being a smooth and successful experience, or not.

In this Shimano spinning reel, the gears are trademarked under the Hagane name, which quite literally translates as steel. However, these are no ordinary steel gears. They are precision cold-forged making them extremely durable and at the same providing the means for smooth retrieval.

X-Ship Pinion Gear Support

The benefits we mentioned with regards to the gears is made more possible thanks to the X-Ship pinion gear support system. This is a system that is more efficient than others, and its configuration means that when you are cranking the handle, more traction, and thus more power is applied to the rotor.

It also incorporates two Shimano designed roller bearings, which provide greater stability and reduce the amount of stress placed upon the gear system when it is under the most pressure, such as when retrieving a larger catch.

Available Sizes of The Shimano Stradic CI4+

As you can see from the table below, the Shimano Stradic CI4+ spinning reel does come with four options, but that is a lot less to choose from than some other manufacturers might offer.

The first column shows you the product codes which show the sizes going from ‘1000’ up to 4000.’

The letters ‘HG’ in models ‘1000,’ ‘2000’ and ‘3000’ stands for ‘High Gear’ which indicates more fishing line can be retrieved per turn of the crank than on standard systems. The ‘XG’ means ‘Extra High Gear’ and this reel will be even higher in terms of line per turn.

As we look across the column headings the first one relates to Mono lines and the second to braid lines. These two columns show the relative strengths of each model for varying lengths of line that have been cast.

The third column you will note is the same for all models and this relates to the number of bearings within the design of the reel.

Next, we have the drag for each reel that a fish will feel as it tries to pull away, with the highest being 24 lbs. for the ‘4000’ model, and the lowest being 7 lbs. for the ‘1000’ model.

Gear ratios are the same for three of the models, with the exception of the ‘4000’ which has a 6.2:1 ratio versus 6.0:1 for the rest.

Line retrieve indicates what length of the line will be retrieved with each turn of the handle and as you can see the highest is the ‘4000’ model with 39 inches. Both the ‘2500’ and ‘3000’ are 35 inches, with the ‘1000’ at 31 inches.

The final column is one which shows the weight of the reel and what I encourage you to do is compare these weights with those of any other manufacturer. The difference is significant, with the Shimano reels often 3 to 4 ounces lower in weight for comparable reels.

Alternative To The Shimano Stradic CI4+ Spinning Reel

Shimano reels are excellent and this one, in particular, has lots to offer, however, if you would like a spinning reel that has lots of excellent features, but offers more in the way of value for money, then there is a fantastic alternative. 

It’s the Penn Battle 2 Spinning Reel, and it is made by one of the world’s foremost fishing equipment manufacturers.

PENN 1338220 Battle II 5000 Spinning Fishing Reel

It has a full metal body that is lightweight and durable, Penn’s very own Ht-1000 carbon fiber drag system, and a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire. 

Given all that and the additional features it offers, you might think it would have a premium price, but it doesn’t, and no doubt that is part of the reason why it is one of the best-selling spinning reels currently on the market.

Shimano Stradic CI4+ FAQ

Which one of the Stradic CI4+ spinning reels would be most suitable for trout fishing?

Fishers who have previously used the reel for trout fishing, have either had the ‘1000’ or the ‘2500’ size reel. Their main advantage is that they are the most lightweight reels. Which of the two you should use depends on what specification your rod is, with ultra-lightweight rods being suited to the ‘1000’ reel, and light/medium weight rods suitable for the ‘2500’ reel.

Are any of the CI4+ rods suitable for ice fishing?

Ice fishing normally requires a very lightweight set up so the only one that might be suitable is the ‘1000’ but even then, it might be a bit on the large side.

Can I use The Stradic CI4+ for freshwater fishing?

You certainly can. The main difference between a freshwater reel and a saltwater water reel is that saltwater tends to have a lot more protection. This is due to the corrosive nature of saltwater and other undesirables such as sand causing damage. 

While most saltwater reels are suitable for freshwater fishing, the reverse is not true so please do not use any freshwater reels for sea fishing as it is likely to corrode or get damaged very easily.

Final Verdict

Shimano Stradic CI4 Freshwater Spinning Reel
  • Lightweight and balanced carbon fiber body
  • Advanced spool design
  • Magnumlite rotor
  • CoreProtect water resistance system
  • Hagane cold forged gears
  • Anti-reverse bearing
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
Lasso Brag

I mentioned in the introduction about Japanese technology and I have to say, although there may not be any microchips in this fishing reel from Shimano, there is no lack of high specifications and state-of-the-art-design within this reel.

The Stradic CI4+ has plenty to offer in the way of top features such as its precision gears and pinion system, its advanced water protection and advanced spool design. 

However, it is the design of the body and the material used that gives it a huge advantage over other reels. These make it so lightweight and balanced that anyone using this reel while fishing will find it a pleasure.

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Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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