AAR – Shimano Stradic Ci4 vs 2012 FJ vs 2011 FI

I love good products; “buy once, cry once”. Products that make it seem like you got what you paid for and that your heard earned money isn’t just flying out the window. This statement is especially true when buying fishing gear. Some people cringe at the idea of a $200 fishing rod and a $150 reel, while other gear enthusiasts will drop over $1000 on a Daiwa Steez combo and not look back.

Personally, I use my gear too much to buy the ’boutique’ products which cost well over $500 a piece (Which is not to say that some don’t put their Steez combos through tough use). Going out every week puts dings, dents, scratches, and scuffs on all of my gear regardless of how hard I try to keep them in shape.

Enter the Shimano Stradic series. These reels have been around for quite some time now and began with the Mg (Magnesium) series. They have progressed through various versions such as the MgFB, FI (2011), and now the 2012 FJ series. The reels were essentially the same throughout the years (less the Ci4), with minor changes, until the FJ series was debuted at the 2011 iCast expo. The Ci4 series was a ‘refresh’ of the Stradic line using the Shimano ‘Ci4’ carbon fiber technology for weight savings and strength.

The 2012 Stradic FJ introduces the ‘X-ship’ technology which was previously only available on the Stella series of reels, and is supposed to be a great addition to the sub-$200 reel market. This is also the biggest change in the Stradic line in some years.

I currently own a few of each ( FI, Ci4, and FJ series) and use them every weekend. Since this is an AAR or ‘After Action Report’, I’m going to lay out my pros and cons of each reel that I’ve found to date. Each reel has been in my possession for at least 8 weeks, has been used at least once a week in salt/brackish water exclusively, and are all 3000 models.

Shimano Stradic FI 3000 (2011)

  • ‘Feels’ heavier than the Ci4 and the FJ
  • Noisy retrieve after two seasons of use
  • Rusting around handle bearing
  • Still going strong after two seasons of use overall (Have had this series the longest)

Shimano Stradic Ci4 3000 (2011)

  • Extremely light, the lightest of the three reels
  • Reel handle screw cap cracked and fell off, was replace for free by Shimano
  • Very ‘sturdy’. As a 3000 series, was able to handle a crazy school of Mackerel in Tampa Bay with ease
  • Badass color scheme!
  • The initial Ci4 models has a tiny foam handle. This was fixed with the newer versions including a larger round foam handle

Shimano Stradic FJ 3000 (2012)

  • ‘Feels’ lighter than the FI but is noticeably heavier than the Ci4
  • Noticeable tight drag and smooth retrieve
  • Crisp bail mechanism
  • Less wind knots? I don’t know why or how (maybe due to the new spool lip) but I see allot less wind knotting when others use this reel
  • Retro white color is also awesome
  • PowerPro spools unevenly on the spool? You can see it in the photos below

 

 

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