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Field testing the new Shimano Stella SW

Several months ago, I was asked by Shimano to field test a new and improved version of their popular Stella SW shimano stella sw(saltwater series) spinning reel.

To be honest, I was somewhat skeptical about the company making changes to the series, as the original ones already worked perfectly for the type of fishing we do in Venice, Louisiana. So, when I met up with the research and development crew from Shimano back in September, I voiced my concerns regarding their decision to make changes to a reel that had been a staple on my boat for years.

“Do us a favor and fish this thing hard, never clean it, and don’t worry about breaking it.” These were the only instructions I received when they handed over a new Stella SW 20000.

“Perfect!” I said to myself. These guys must know my crew, I thought. We break almost everything we touch and never clean our gear.

Well, we threw every fishing scenario we could at that Stella over the next six months, from bottom-dwellers on butterfly jigs to pelagics on topwater, and not only did the reel survive it all, but it passed every test with flying colors.

The new Stella is loaded with unique features and technology including X-Shield, X-Protect, X-Ship, and X-Tough Drag. Their website breaks all of these features down in technical terms, but I’ll try and explain each of them in a way that a simple Cajun like me can understand.

 X- Shield

The new series has sealing gaskets in over twelve critical areas throughout the body of the reel. This creates a water-resistant seal that will hold up to being exposed to harsh elements, like fighting a fish while the reel is getting doused with saltwater spray, and will allow you to get more trips out of the reel before it needs any service.


This proprietary three-lipped rubber seal is used on the rotor and first lip shimano stella swand is designed to keep low-pressure water out. Grease between the second and third lips resists high pressure water while enhancing a smooth rotor rotation. Sealing at the anti-reverse clutch is the optimal location to prevent water intrusion. These seals, which are located around moving parts of the reel (like the rotor and handle) provide an extra barrier to protect the parts of the reel that are most likely to allow saltwater intrusion. This translates into the reel not feeling rough when you use it after a few trips.


Provides greater power transmission efficiency through the use of large precision-cut gears with increased bearing support. Increased power combined with rigid construction results in maximum pressure on the fish. This one is simple. The gears are designed to let you to turn the handle easily, even when you’re fishing with a really heavy drag. The increased bearing support and the rigid construction allows you to pull hard and keep turning the handle without having to worry about the extra pressure blowing out the bearings.

X-Tough Drag

The new Coil Wave Spring features steady elasticity at any compression level, and little deformation under repeated compression. This results in precise drag adjustments throughout the curve, giving the angler more control at high drag pressure. By applying pressure from above and below the drag washers, the pressure is distributed across a larger surface area, resulting in the toughest and most durable drag system Shimano has ever offered in a spinning reel

In a nutshell, this new system gives the reels an incredible amount of drag (the 20000 is capable of 55-pounds of drag), but still allows you to make small adjustments to drag pressure when fighting a fish without the drag pressure taking huge jumps with a minor adjustment.

shimano stella sw

My favorite of these new features is the X-Ship gearing as it just makes fishing a whole lot easier. We do a lot of butterfly jigging on our boat, which can wear you out by the end of the day (whether or not you’re catching fish). But, with the X-Ship gears, it takes less energy to work the jig and that translates into more fishing time. Better yet, when you do hook a big fish, the gearing gives you the power to turn the fish’s head, which is crucial to not breaking off the fish when fishing high vertical structure like our oil rigs.

The X-Ship gearing can also be a lifesaver (or at least an arm saver) when fighting big pelagics like yellowfin tuna. shimano stella swCompared to other spinning reels, the new Stella SW feels like a two-speed conventional reel when you’ve got a big fish straight up and down towards the end of the fight. Try it for yourself; you’ll be a believer.

Shimano is offering this new series in sizes from 5000 to 30000. This variety of sizes along with different retrieve speeds being offered for several models will cover any application imaginable.

There’s no doubt that purchasing one of these reels is a serious investment for a recreational fisherman, but as a professional I can assure you that they are well worth the extra money. Not only will the new Stella SW last four times longer than any $500 reel, it’ll give you the peace of mind knowing that when you hook that fish of a lifetime, you don’t have to worry about your drag freezing or your bail breaking. So pick up one of the new Stellas and “Show Your Power”.

For more information:

Available at Melton International Tackle: Order Here


  • X-Touch Drag, with its dramatically enhanced smoothness, control and toughness anticipates the vigorous speed of Blue-Fin Tuna and Giant Tuna
  • X-SHIP enhances power transmission through the gear. This results in increased cranking power with extremely smooth feel
  • X-Shield & X-Protect combine to provide extreme water resistance in the harshest conditions
  • The Power Aluminum Body, X-Rigid Rotor, X-Rigid Body and X-Rigid Handle combine to provide ultimate rigidity & eliminate loss of power caused by reel flex
  • Propulsion Line Management System: Propulsion Spool Lip, SR One-Piece Bail Wire, Power Roller IV Oversized Roller with Overflange for the Ultimate in Line Protection, Redesigned Bail Trip, S-Arm Cam
  • Aero Wrap II Oscillation
  • Paladin Gear Durability Enhancement with Low Wear Rate Pinion Gear
  • Cold Forged Aluminum Spool: Proprietary Coating on Spool Lip is harder than a Ti coated Stainless Steel Spool Lip, Ceramic Coating on entire spool for extreme corrosion resistance
  • Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) Coating on Line Roller
  • S A-RB Bearings (Shielded A-RB)
  • Super Stopper II
  • Stopperless Design (No Anti-Reverse Switch)
  • Septon Handle Grip – On models 10,000 and up
  • Direct Drive Mechanism (Thread-In Handle Attachment)
  • Fluidrive II
  • Dyna-Balance
  • Approved for use in Saltwater
  • Rated for use with PowerPro, Fluorocarbon and Mono lines
Capt. Eric Newman
Eric Newman grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana where he fostered his passion for the ocean and all things fishing. At a young age he started fishing tr...