Stella FJ (Stella 2018) Warning
(UPDATED- Scroll down to the update, highlighted in red font)
Earlier this year Shimano released the 2018 freshwater Stella, known as Stella FJ in export markets. The reel first appeared in exhibitions in Japan at the beginning of the year, then they went into serial production and were sold retail beginning April-May 2018.
During the 4 months since release I began receiving reports of a problem where the bail hits the spool when the spool is near to or at the highest position. Sometimes the hit is on the side of the spool, and others it's in the centre of the spool. Here are some video samples of reports I received, sizes 2500, 4000, and 5000.
Once the number of reports I received reached 6, I made some enquiries with contacts in the trade in Japan, and was told that the first production runs did have this problem which was not in pre-production exhibit reels. I was informed that Shimano quickly rectified it in subsequent production runs, and so far I'm being told that they are doing a good job replacing the affected reels no questions asked. Up till now I have counted 11 different such cases, and the the problem is not limited to a size or a geographical region.
If you have one of these reels in any size check if your bail clears the spool at the highest position, and if it has the problem get in touch with your seller or Shimano to get a replacement, and send me an email using the CONTACT form and let me know which size and what's the code on the round sticker found on the foot.
Update- Two things have happened since I posted this;
1) A reader has forwarded me a response that a Shimano representative posted on social media, where he claimed that the reels were fine, that there was no record of the problem, and that all the reels I reported must have been ones whose bail wires got bent in shipping. I'm not going to pick on that Shimano dude personally, because like most tackle brands' representatives he's either misinformed or repeating garbage dictated to him by PR higher-ups without much choice if he wants to keep his job. As usual I'll just respond with facts, so I added more videos to demonstrate the problem better (see them above), and will state that the number of documented reports received has gone up to 19 so far. If you're the kind of person who knows my history of fighting the industry's rubbish and being proven right time after time yet you still chose to believe that latest denial, I really have nothing to say to you except good luck going through life.
2) I'm reconsidering my initial judgement that Shimano is taking good care of the issue, because in one case Shimano Singapore refused to replace a faulty reel and offered to service it instead, which is not a good thing to do when someone has just spent a huge amount of money on a new high end reel. I'll continue to monitor the response, and if this sort of thing continues I'll change my description of Shimano's response and will escalate this warning.
Shimano, you had a hugely embarrassing engineering failure, and it's doubly humiliating because it's your flagship and the cream-of-the-crop of your products. The way to deal with it though is not by denials or giving affected fishermen who trusted you the runaround. Fix your production standards, replace the reels for those who bought them, and move on.
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September, 14th, 2018