This reel feels up there in the quality stakes – almost like a Saragosa in terms of smoothness, ease of winding and engineering quality. It’s not quite as feather light as a Ci4 Stradic, but it’s still light enough to be comfortable.
FEATURES AND SPECS:
Shimano Stradic FK 2500HG
The latest incarnation of Shimano’s popular Stradic range of quality spinners is a beauty.
The 2500HG is the smallest Stradic FK reel available from the New Zealand importers, but it should be a popular size with soft-baiters and jig fishers.
The Stradic FK sits between the FJ and Ci4 models on the Stradic family tree with a price tag to reflect its technological edge over the FJ. It features an all-metal ‘Hagane' body and gears, ’X-ship’ gearing, along with Super-Stopper II infinite anti-reverse, six stainless steel anti-rust bearings and one roller bearing. A cold-forged duralium drive gear and hardened brass pinion provide smoothness, longevity and durability; these reels should be smoother for longer.
This reel feels up there in the quality stakes – almost like a Saragosa in terms of smoothness, ease of winding and engineering quality. It’s not quite as feather light as a Ci4 Stradic, but it’s still light enough to be comfortable when fishing for long periods, and nicely-balanced too.
The styling is pleasing. It’s obviously a Stradic, but the dark grey spool highlights, machined cutouts and sculpted lip of the cold-forged aluminium spool are very Twin-Power or Stella-like. Polished stainless steel and silver with black highlights comprise the simple but classy body colour palette and the solid machined stainless steel handle feels powerful. Shimano rate the reel as water resistant rather than waterproof, but it should withstand splashing and salt spray.
This reel is more the sum of its parts than the result of any one breakthrough feature. Shimano has made improvements to nearly every component of the new Stradic, from the gears through to the opening angle of the large diameter stainless steel bail arm, which is wider. The anti-reverse roller clutch is a new low-friction design, further lessening winding effort, and the reel’s centre of mass has been lowered for better balance and handling. The large diameter drag knob is easy to adjust and there’s a new line clip design, though I struggled to free the line from it the first time I used it. I blame my failing eyes …
Hagane is something that we’ll see in more Shimano reels as Shimano roll out this technology through its range. Essentially it’s a cold-forging process for gears and reel bodies, which are one-piece. Most reels have cheaper cast metal gears and bodies, usually of aluminium or, in more expensive models, gears machined from a solid piece of metal. Cold-forging gives a much stronger end product than casting and also allows very precise manufacturing.
In the Stradic FK, Hagane is combined with X-Ship where the main shaft is supported so it can’t warp or twist under pressure. The result is a strong, stiff and very smooth-spinning reel.
Although small, the reel has a powerful, waterproof drag system and sufficient line capacity to stop big fish. If more line capacity is needed, a 3000 size reel has the same body but a larger spool.
All that slick technology makes for minimal energy loss when turning the Stadic’s handle – your effort goes into fighting the fish, not winding the reel. The FK’s neoprene handle knob feels nice too, with the knob style chosen by Shimano NZ being well-suited to the finessed fishing techniques a reel like this lends itself to.
As supplied by Shimano, the reel was spooled with 300m of Ocea EX8 PE1 multicoloured jigging braid, a multi-carrier braid that’s limp with a super-fine diameter for its strength, and mounted on an Elite Backbone Colt Sniper jig-spin rod. This rod is rated for lines between 3 and 7kg breaking strain and lures of between 20 and 80 grams.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get an opportunity to use the Stradic and the Colt Sniper together; there simply wasn’t time to go chasing work-ups during the short loan period. So instead, I screwed the reel to my faithful StarloStix Tournament Pro seven-foot softbait rod and put it through its paces on spring snapper in the shallows.
A productive morning’s fishing from an inflatable boat produced plenty of eating-size snapper and a few small kahawai. Fortunately, I also managed to hook a few solid snapper, including one on just my second cast – a fish which demonstrated its considerable bulk by pulling braid slowly but steadily from the Stradic FK as it swung the boat around. Sadly, the hook pulled after just a few seconds.
Later in the session, after losing another good fish and subduing at least 20 feisty 40-45cm snapper amongst the rocks and kelp of the shallows, I hooked a decent specimen which really made the drag howl. It looked like causing me grief when it buried itself under a kelp-covered ridge in two metres of water, but fortunately the fluorocarbon trace held together and I managed to pull my catch out from under the rock and into the inflatable. At around 5kg, the snapper was a decent workout for the reel in such a tight situation.
Regrettably my time with the Stradic FK 2500HG was short, but it was very pleasant. This is a top little reel for lure fishing applications. With a 6.0:1 retrieve ratio, it pulls in 88cm of line with each crank and a claimed 9kg of drag is more stopping power than could ever be utilised on a reel of this size. At more realistic drag settings, the pressure is wonderfully smooth with virtually no startup inertia that I could detect.
The only frustration I experienced had nothing to do with the reel but concerned the line. The reel was spooled with Ocea EX8 braid designed for jig fishing, and I had a few issues with the limp, very fine line. Most of the time it cast like a dream – but every once in a while it would snag my rod tip, or one of the guides. This also happened a couple of times while working my soft bait, and a tip-wrap cost me one good fish which broke me off when it struck.
This is however no reflection on the reel, nor on the line, but simply a consequence of pressing a reel set up for micro-jigging into service for a soft bait session. Shimano Ocea EX8 braid is a superb fine diameter eight-carrier braid that handles beautifully, but it’s designed in two formulations: jigging (marked with depth increments), and topwater fishing. But not soft-baiting; jigging line isn’t ideal for soft bait fishing, especially when used with an older rod that lacks non-tangle guides.
If I were buying the reel for myself, I might opt for the 3000 size with the slightly larger spool and greater line capacity, but that may just be because I’m used to fishing 3000-size reels. As it was, I really liked the compactness of this reel, and it certainly holds plenty of line for soft bait or light micro-jigging. Maybe I’d go with the 2500 after all…