Inside The Top $200 Spinning Reels (Shimano VS. Penn VS. Daiwa)
The top $200 spinning reels comparison is here!!!
$200 spinning reels have proven to be extremely popular amongst inshore saltwater anglers.
But, of the top 3 major manufacturers, which spinning reel is best for you?
Learn all about the top $200 spinning reels comparison right here!
Top $200 Spinning Reels Comparison
Upfront, we believe all of the reels featured in this video are excellent choices for inshore anglers.
However, we do also believe that some reels perform better than others in given scenarios.
The three reels in this comparison come from Shimano, Penn, and Daiwa.
In this video, we are dissecting the Shimano Stradic FL 3000, the Penn Spinfisher VI 2500, and the Daiwa BG MQ 3000.
We’ve intentionally selected these three reels for our deep dive because of their similarities in certain aspects as well as differences that can create benefits in various fishing scenarios.
Levels Of Reel Sealing
Penn Spinfisher VI
In their Spinfisher VI, amongst other reels, Penn incorporates IPX ratings.
IPX or IP ratings is Ingress Protection.
Ingress Protection is a matter of how well solids, physical contaminants, or water make their way into what we are testing.
IP ratings are given in two numerical values.
The first number indicates how well a solid can pass through the body of the reel.
The second number indicates how well the body of the reel stands up to liquid contaminants.
In the case of spinning reels, you focus more on IPX which indicates water passing through the body because very few solids will ever come close to infiltrating your spinning reel.
Inshore spinning reels are already sealed to the point where salt and other physical contaminants have an extremely difficult time entering the body of the reel.
The IPX5 rating of the Spinfisher VI is very specific to the reel.
This means Penn tested the reels seals by blasting 12 liters of water per minute at the reel at a distance of 9-feet for at least a period of 3 minutes.
They then tore down the reel to observe water contamination and determine how much water entered the gearbox and drag stack.
Although the Spinfisher VI comes with an IPX5 score, that can significantly hinder other aspects of the reel.
For example, Penn may have sacrificed smoothness and refinement for emphasis on overall reel sealing.
There is a lot of grease and protectants packed into the reel that hinders the overall smoothness and refinement of the reel.
The Penn Spinfisher VI is a high-quality inshore spinning reel but it will not feel as smooth or refined using lighter inshore fishing tackle as the Daiwa or Shimano reels.
Overall, the Penn Spinfisher VI is a well-sealed reel that can defend against splashes and contaminants while also remaining relatively easy to maintain.
On the other hand, Daiwa and Shimano did not go the IPX route of determining the overall sealing capabilities of their reels.
Not every manufacturer uses an IPX rating to determine the level of sealing within their products.
Smoothness In A Reel
Smoothness within a reel can be subjective because it can vary based on different fishermen’s styles of fishing.
We define smoothness or refinement as how much effort is required to complete a turn with the handle and spin the rotor.
Arguably, the Shimano and Daiwa reels are the smoothest products of the three shown.
Both the Shimano and Daiwa reels spin effortlessly and feel extremely smooth.
In terms of the smoothness of a reel, you need to wonder how long the reel will stay smooth as well as what the manufacturers designed to create refinement within the reel.
The Daiwa and Shimano reels used in this demonstration have a moderate amount of sealing.
Daiwa BG MQ
As far as overall sealing is concerned, there are two major features on a reel that anglers are most attentive to being sealed.
How is the main gearbox protected from a sealing standpoint?
And, how are the spool and handle entry points sealed up?
These are the main areas where water could potentially penetrate your spinning reels.
Daiwa and Shimano slightly differ in their approach to external and internal sealants on their reels.
The handle on the Daiwa BG MQ is sealed using a preliminary rubber lipped-ring to protect the inner workings of the main gears.
The handle threads onto the bolt which is basically part of the main gear itself.
When the handle is threaded on the reel tight, water has to creep under the handle and then over the rubber lip and then back down again to the main gear.
It is extremely difficult for water to make its way into this reel.
Beneath the drag stack, Daiwa utilizes a small rubber cap covered in grease to further protect the reel.
This serves as a deterrent to prevent water or contaminants from entering the main shaft of the reel.
Further, the grease is also not inhibiting the smoothness of the drive train as the main shaft moves up and down with the rotor.
Click here to get the Daiwa BG MQ
Shimano Stradic FL
A similar concept applies to the Shimano Stradic FL sealing techniques.
The handle has a similar approach by incorporating a threaded cap and rubber plunger to prevent contamination.
Moreover, Shimano incorporates the same rubber cap beneath the main shaft to prevent water from infiltrating the anti-reverse clutch.
Shimano uses a similar approach to Daiwa in that their reels are protected and sealed while also not inhibiting overall smoothness and performance of the reels.
Moving a step further, if water happens to pass through the main shaft to the main gear, the anti-reverse clutch can be compromised.
Shimano uses X-Protect and Core Protect to defend their reels.
Core Protect is a hydrophobic coating around the sensitive parts within the reel.
X-Protect is a labyrinth designed to create obstacles and barriers.
Daiwa MQ Series Reels
In the Daiwa MQ series spinning reels, there is a threaded piece that comes over the top of the anti-reverse clutch.
The threaded piece combined with rubber seals and compression aims to prevent contamination.
Both the Shimano Stradic FL and Daiwa BG MQ do a great job of sealing the anti-reverse clutch.
Line Roller Bearings
In past years, the roller bearings on the Shimano Stradic reels would blow out and become compromised.
Water and salt penetrated the line roller bearing and started to wear away at the bearing.
Shimano did not directly solve the issue but altered the assembly of the line roller bearing.
The objective of this was to make it easier for users to clean and maintain the line roller bearing.
The same concept also applies to the Penn Spinfisher VI but with less pieces needed.
But with all told, is having a bearing in the line roller an important feature on a spinning reel?
For anglers fishing for smaller species and need fluid line and drag movement, it is an important aspect to a reel.
However, for those inshore saltwater anglers using a 10-15+ lb test braided line, it is negligible.
As long as the line roller is spinning freely, the reel’s performance will not be impacted.
Across the board, aluminum main gears are smooth, precise, and extremely durable.
Daiwa, in particular, does a great job in how they align all of their main gears using what they refer to as “DigiGear” or Digital Gearing System.
DigiGear is bigger in diameter and thickness while at the same time fitting exactly into the pinion gear.
In simpler terms, Daiwa has taken time to learn how well they are crafting a zinc gear for their reels.
The Penn Spinfisher VI and Shimano Stradic FL have an aluminum main gear within the reel.
After careful evaluation, Daiwa’s use of zinc to craft the main gears edges out in front of aluminum main gears.
The sizing and combination of parts within Daiwa’s BG MQ cause it to be a powerhouse in terms of inshore spinning reels.
Pros & Cons
Although all three options included in this video are great for inshore saltwater fishing, there are pros and cons to be addressed.
Shimano Stradic FL
The Shimano Stradic FL excels in overall refinement and smoothness.
Shimano is known for its gearing.
Their reels are perfectly aligned and create smooth movement throughout the reel.
However, the line roller bearing on the Stradic is a major con.
The fact that Shimano did not replace the line roller bearing with a bushing leaves the line roller open to contamination.
Although Shimano has made it easier to replace a faulty bearing, it is still a con because you have to periodically maintain the part.
Furthermore, the grease Shimano uses within the main gears of its reels have affected overall spool performance.
Some anglers report a “sticky” spool or drag when a fish is burning line off their reel.
This is a result of the grease Shimano uses as well as their system for applying it in various places within the reel.
Penn Spinfisher VI
The Spinfisher VI is the best sealed out of the three reels discussed in this video.
More seals than an inshore saltwater angler might need but still very advantageous.
Also, you can easily maintain and repair many aspects of this reel right at home.
However, the reel is slightly heavier than most of its size and it is a downgrade in overall refinement.
Daiwa BG MQ
The Daiwa BG MQ is an ideal balance between refinement and sealing.
There are 9 overall seals within the reel and one monstrous main gear.
The main gear supports the power of the reel when you are battling a heavy load.
This reel checks off all the boxes in terms of not sacrificing power for refinement.
However, in the same light, these reels are not easy to maintain on your own.
Experienced anglers prefer to pop open reels and re-grease the main gear themselves.
At the moment, the ability to do this is not present in the BG MQ.
You would have to send this reel into a certified Daiwa service center or Daiwa directly to be repaired.
But the truth is, the Daiwa BG MQ doesn’t need a lot of maintenance to begin with because of its design.
Click here to get the Daiwa BG MQ
Which Reel Is The “Best”?
After going over all the pros and cons of each reel, respectively, which one is the best choice for you?
At the end of the day, these are all quality reels and not one can be said to be the ‘winner’.
Let us know your own personal experiences with these reels down in the comments!
Top $200 Spinning Reels Comparison [VIDEO]
Do you want to know EXACTLY where you should fish this weekend? CLICK HERE
Click here to get your FREE pack of F.R.E.D. Redfish Lures TODAY
It is important to have a reel that works for you and fits the different types of fishing scenarios you most often find yourself in.
Daiwa, Shimano, and Penn design fantastic spinning reels that are fit to tackle any scenario an inshore angler might find themselves in.
Be sure to check out the specifics of each reel and choose the best fit for you!
Do you have any questions about this top $200 spinning reels comparison?
Let us know your thoughts and experiences down in the comments!!
And if you know someone who wants to learn more about the top $200 spinning reels comparison, please TAG or SHARE this with them!
P.S. Want access to our best fishing spots and tips, plus discounts to our online tackle store? Click here to join us in the Insider Club!
STOP WASTING TIME ON THE WATER!
Do what the “SMART ANGLERS” are doing and join the Insider Club.
Here’s what you’ll receive today when you join:
Hi guys, I own two spinfisher vi (different sizes) baitcasters and two Shimano stradic FL hg 2500s. The spinfisher series reels pretty rugged and good for kayak fishing in sea environment, but… My to stradic FL HG reels our fantastic and very hard to be in regards to how they perform with both salt and freshwater species.
Hello from New Zealand, Justin you are a very good presenter i watch all your Videos.
I really appreciate you saying that, Jeff. It means a lot! Glad you find these videos helpful.
Is the retrieve rate with the spool empty or full? Would be helpful when putting on a certain amount of line. Like my Diawa LT light spinning reels.
Excellent question, Martee. I actually do not know for sure. I would assume this pick-up speed is recorded at an empty spool (since it would be more difficult for the Manufacturer to standardize the IPT at a full spool because there are so many more variables to consider).
Thanks Justin, always enjoy your posts
I am quite surprised that you didn’t include the Daiwa Ballistic MQ which is just over $200. In my opinion the Daiwa Ballistic MQ is the best reel over the other reels shown in the report. It incorporates magseal, MQ body design, and a zaion v body and rotor material. As far as gearing goes it is better than any of the reels mentioned in the report. It has a forged aluminum gear which is HUGE. All of the reels in the report will get the job done but I think if you spent the extra $30 it would be well worth your while.
The Ballistic MQ will be highlighted in a future comparison against the Shimano Vanford (the closest contender). Both of those reels are focused on being extremely lightweight, and are not made from Aluminum Construction like these 3 reels in this video.
Don’t quote me, but I believe the new Ballistic MQ does not include an Aluminum Main Gear anymore (I believe it is now Zinc). The previous model Ballistic LT did have Aluminum as their Main Gear, but this might have changed. More research is needed here.
Thanks for the info Justin 😀. I did some research on the gear material and according to http://www.cabelas.com the Daiwa Ballistic MQ has an air-force grade, A7075 forged aluminum main gear. http://Www.charkbait.com also said that the Daiwa Ballistic MQ had an aluminum main gear.
Interesting! I have a strong gut suspicion that the new Ballistic MQ does actually have a Zinc Main Gear (I feel like Marc Mills, their Field Marketing Manager told me this at ICAST 2021). I haven’t had a chance to pop one open for myself without that MQ Frame Tool, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did keep Zinc as the material. I bet the Charkbait guys know their stuff though, they’ve been putting out excellent educational content for a long time now!
I have not been able to find any teardown videos myself but I watched a lot of ICAST videos and review videos and they all mentioned increasing the size of the gear but they never mentioned gear material. If they do include a zinc main gear they may be trying to keep it quiet that they actually downgraded the gear material.
I have always been a shimano angler. The shimano is so much lighter than the other reels. Those 5 to 6 ounces add up after a full day of casting. I’m a strictly lurer angler.
When it comes to these 3 reels in particular, there seems to only be a ~1.5oz difference between the Shimano and the Daiwa. Both are very lightweight, but Shimano does seem to have a slight weight advantage over Daiwa in many categories, and a significant difference when compared to Penn (at least against their aluminum body models). I’m an artificial angler 95% of the time as well, but a difference of 1-2oz doesn’t make much of a difference in the long run. Yes, if the difference was indeed 5 or 6oz, THAT would be substantial.
I’ve been using a 5500LC Spinfisher VI on a surf setup for the past couple of years and never had any issues. It’s been splashed a few times, but rinse and go is all it needs. On the other hand, my Penn Clash is very prone to wind knots using the same power pro braid. My smoothest reel is a Shimano Twin Power, but it costs more so should expect more. Nice to see some head to head tests.
For surf fishing, yes, those Spinfisher VI Long Cast versions are exceptional. Arguably one of the best bang for buck surf reels out there right now. You should probably check your line lay on that Clash. Make sure its centered on the spool, and that you have enough line on there to begin with (if it’s too little or too much, it could cause wind knots). All 3 companies make excellent products.
The most important places for an eggbeater to have proper sealed ball bearings are the handle and bail arm.
Energy lost at the handle affects everything else. However, regard handles as expendable with upgrades to choice. If you have balanced your tackle correctly, you will be pulling 45% to 60% of your line rating. Replace both these components regularly.
Shore fishing reels get bounced, boat reels get fallen on or just lost.
So, the spools will need replacing regularly when the lip gets dinged.
The body will end up in the swash with seawater and sand swilling over it.
Traditionally, egg beater internal spares are a myth. Life your reel. Disgard.
Only the cost of a couple of tanks of gas for the pickup.
Personally, I detest any use of Zinc for other than teenagers table models.
No business near a marine environment.
Sacrificial anodes after all.
Brass is good, bronze is better. SS is excellent but as rough as a badgers backside.
Penn Slammer 3 for me. £120. Spinfisher, only if I needed a live liner.
Remember, not a proper reel nor a Van Stal. Use and disgard.
Far too much emphasis on weight and smoothness. Sea fishing for goodness sake. Weed, sewage, condoms and other marine sundries. On a boat I carry a blacksmith manufactured notched T bar blade for dispatching Conger eels by severing the spine. Stop being so precious. Do the IPX ratings keep out blood, slime and scales?
Have you guys tried Alveys? Pure Aussie practicality.
I think what’s really important to remember here Malcolm is that this video was created with the needs of Inshore Anglers here in the Southeast in mind (hence why emphasis was put on Smoothness & Weight). Anglers that are throwing lures all day long in shallow areas less than 4ft deep often times prioritize these elements, with sealing being the 3rd factor of the triad. Each angler must emphasize what is important to THEM, and their style of fishing.
I have tested an Alvey Spinning Reel before! They just started to show up down here in the US market about a year ago. They are very smooth, and feel well-built. But they are kind of on the higher-end price ($200+), and without doing a proper teardown to confirm their construction, they don’t seem to be as competitive as the other 3 brands mentioned in this video (at least in terms of fishing Inshore). More research is need on the Alveys before I can make a definitive statement.
Great review Justin…First off I am a Diawa fan and that being said I’m not sure why they didn’t incorporate mag seal into the BGMQ. I love the idea of low maintenance and I think that would be a plus on the real.
Second you used the terms male and female…tsch tsch 😉 I may have to send my favorite Army reservist over to square you away! Guy is just the man for the job!
I honestly think they didn’t include it so that they didn’t compete against themselves (it’s what really separates the BG MQ and the Saltist MQ by about $100). Mag Seal is an attractive feature to some, and it tends to separate products by about $50-60 retail.
I tried to keep that attachment explanation as Elementary as possible 🙂 Send him over, I can always be better! Haha
I own all three manufacturer’s reels. Overall, I found that the Shimano was the most durable and smoothest if the lot.
I use Penn reels for surf fishing and the sealing system is the best for that use.
As for the Diawa reels, they are smooth, lightweight but the gearing doesn’t hold up after a few years of use as well as the Shimano.
The gear alignment in the Shimano is probably the best of the three.
As for the bail roller, the Penn is the smoothest. The trick to keeping them in shape is ….. clean, clean, clean after your fishing outing.
Great details about your experiences with all 3 brands, Ed. Appreciate you sharing that with us!
I have alway thought that Daiwa reels were well designed. My biggest issue was getting them repaired and often parts are not available or only available for a very limited period.
I think Shimano and Penn do a better job with parts availability.
Good point, Mike. The longest I’ve waited for parts/service on a Daiwa reel is 2 months (which admittedly is a fairly long turnaround time). I have also waited for 5 months for parts from Shimano on previous Ci4+ reels that I’ve owned, but that was many years ago. I’ve never sent a Penn reel back to their Warranty Center for servicing, I’ve usually sold my used reels whenever I experienced issues with bad bearings (i.e. Spinfisher VI 3500 and my Slammer III 4500).