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To Stradic SW, or not, that is the question

Last year Shimano released the 2020 Stradic SW, which they described in official literature as follows;

2020 Shimano Stradic SW -

They claimed that this reel "takes the Stradic family of reels to the next level" and that it improves on the Stradic FL reels because it "incorporates all the same water resistance technologies but also includes X shield". You know what I'm going to say next, don't you? Admit it, you know it and you love it. Yep, it's all rubbish!

Before picking this nonsense apart, let's first look quickly at the lineup from Shimano's Japanese site since they have the full release over there

2020 Shimano Stradic SW -

Size 4000 in both HG and XG gear speeds, 5000 in PG/XG, 6000 in PG/HG/XG, 8000 in PG/HG, and 10000 in HG. As usual, international markets will only get a selection of these reels based on local demand and the fishing techniques prevalent in each region.

At first glance nothing seems abnormal. It appears to be a standard series whose reels are typically built similarly but in different sizes, except that this isn't at all the case here...

2020 Shimano Stradic SW -

In reality sizes 5000 to 10000 are entirely different reels to the 4000 size, something whose first clues are external in the form of the extended rear body bumper and the capped cuts in the rotor, as marked in this graphic. I added the 2018 generation of the Stradic SW here to prevent any confusion; that silver/gold model from 2018 is now discontinued and has nothing to do with the 2020 Stradic SW discussed in this article. Back to the 2020 model, I'll begin with the 5000-10000 group then come back to the 4000 later on.

2020 Shimano Stradic SW -

There you go. That's all you need to know about the 5K to 10K sizes of the 2020 Stradic SW. That was quick, wasn't it? What? You say you need more information than my foolish Photoshop scribbling? Alright then; sizes 5K-10K of the 2020 Stradic SW are in essence the 2020 Saragosa SW-A in a different colour, only with the following alterations;

1) The 20' Stradic SW reels have drag washers in a top stack arrangement only, while the equivalent 20' Saragosa SW-A reels have an extra drag washer beneath the spool in addition to the top stack. And because the drag clicker of the 5K to 14K Saragosa is an integral part of the bottom drag unit, the clicker of the Stradic is different since its spool doesn't have that bottom drag.

2) The 20' Stradic SW has a ball handle grip instead of the egg-shaped grip of the 20' Saragosa SW-A. That ball grip of the Stradic is mounted on one ball bearing and one bushing, while the egg-shaped one in the Saragosa rides on two bushings. This is why the bearing count in the Stradic is 6+1 versus only 5+1 in 5K to 14K Saragosas. 

3) Some 20' Stradic SW reels have different gear ratios than their 20' Saragosa SW-A counterparts.

4) Sizes 5K/6K of the 20' Stradic SW have a removable plastic ramp that kicks the bail closed when you turn the handle, meaning these two sizes have automatic bail closure. That plastic ramp is omitted from the 5K/6K sizes of the 20' Saragosa SW-A so they have manual bail closure.

Otherwise the 20' Stradic SW has the exact same build as the 20' Saragosa SW including the clutch, locomotive oscillation, bearings, rotor, frame, gearbox housing, handle stem, sealing of the body and line roller, etc. I am not talking about mere similarities, rather about the exact same parts going into both models.

Coming back to the 4K size

2020 Shimano Stradic SW -

The 2020 Stradic SW 4000 is virtually a 2019 Stradic 4000, which is known in some markets as the "Stradic FL". They only changed the handle grip, and some of the external screws that were Torx type in the 2019 Stradic 4000 (FL) became Phillips type screws in the 2020 Stradic SW 4000. Here is a quick diagram showing the difference since "Torx" and "Phillips" often translate wrong for non-English speakers reading this site via machine translation

2020 Shimano Stradic SW -

Otherwise these two reels are identical. Being the exact same reel as the 2019 Stradic (FL) means that the 2020 Stradic SW 4K has a worm shaft oscillation, doesn't have a gearbox seal, and its pinion/clutch assembly is protected by a labyrinth-type water protector, all of which are in glaring contrast to the bigger 2020 Stradic SW 5K-10K reels.

To summarise the whole thing, the 2020 Stradic SW series consists of two fundamentally different designs, both of which come straight from existing models. This leaves no doubt that Shimano's claims highlighted earlier are indeed nothing but a smelly heap of rubbish. They said that the 20' Stradic SW "takes the Stradic family of reels to the next level", which is nonsense because the 4K Stradic SW is the exact same reel as the 4K Stradic, therefore it takes it absolutely nowhere. Could Shimano's statement then apply to the bigger ones? Nope, because bigger Stradic SW have zero relation to the Stradic and everything to do with the new Saragosa, so saying that would be akin to saying "the Saragosa takes the Stradic reels to the next level", which is utter idiocy.

The other claim shown at the beginning of this piece, which states that the Stradic SW "incorporates all the same water resistance technologies" of the 19' Stradic (FL) "but also includes X shield", proves bogus as well since in 4K size there is no additional X or Y or Z Shields because both models have identical parts, and larger 20' Stradic SW reels  don't have the labyrinth protector of the 19' Stradic so it can't possibly incorporate "all the same water resistance technologies".

All of this might sound overwhelming on first read, but give it a second one and you'll realise the extent of misinformation on display here. Apparently now if you want to create a new series you only need to pick reels from existing serieses, paint them in different colours, put a ball grip on the smallest to magically convert it into a saltwater reel, then sit back and watch how the others take themselves to the "next level" despite never belonging to the previous level to begin with.

And while we're still looking at Shimano's words, can someone tell me what in Lucifer's name is this gibberish on their Australian site?

2020 Shimano Stradic SW -

How exactly do you create performance? Is Australia still using English as its official language? Ok, I'm just teasing here. My own grammar is terrible at best.

The purpose of this article is disambiguation and clearing up what's what, just as I did before with the so-called "Spheros SW" or the necromanced Okuma Metaloid. I took a few swipes at the formation of the series and the ridiculously inaccurate marketing, but not at the reels themselves. Actually the two models essentially comprising the 2020 Stradic SW reels are at the time of writing featured on my Top Picks, one as the top budget freshwater reel (19' Stradic FL), and the other is on the golden table of the best offshore reels money can buy (Saragosa SW-A). The 2020 Stradic SW reels are absolutely fantastic, and they offer a chance to obtain size/ratio combinations that don't come in the Saragosa SW-A series, which would also weigh slightly less than the Saragosas due to the absence of the lower drag unit.

A funny bit that I spotted; do you remember how I raved about the cranking power when I reviewed the 2020 Saragosa SW-A?

2020 Shimano Stradic SW -

I guess I wasn't imagining, since Shimano too knows it and actually chose to make that huge pulling capability the centrepiece for advertising the 2020 Stradic SW, both on some global sites (main picture) and on Shimano's Japanese site (inset with machine translation). That would normally be about sizes 5K-10K since they have Saragosa bodies.

No matter what they name them, the 2020 Stradic SW are brilliant reels thanks to their parent models, and I wanted to make sure that you know who those parents are so you can make a better informed choice and decide whether it's more prudent to get a Stradic SW or go for a parent reel instead. I will not be testing them since I've already done the origin reels, and instead I'll be using the time for other projects. Keep your eyes on the News page for updates and latest developments.


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Alan Hawk

June, 1st, 2021