Welcome to the Shimano Stella FK Review. It’s an interesting time in the world with rising costs and growing financial pressures. Yet the demand for high-end reels is as strong as it’s ever been. The Shimano Stella has for many years been considered the Rolls Royce of fishing reels. We have had our hands on the new flagship Stella FK since its release and will share our experiences with you.
Shimano Stella FK history
First, let’s touch on the history of these reels. The product lineup was initially released way back in 1992. Throughout there have been some changes to the naming convention but in recent years has stuck with Stella F and Stella SW. That’s right they come in 2 variations the SW version SW stands for Saltwater and is primarily made for fishing offshore and in the bay for bigger fish species like kingfish and Tuna. Plus, they also come in the F versions. The F stands for Finesse made for finesse fishing for bream, whiting, snapper, flathead trout, and so on. Essentially 2 different reels under one name targeted at different audiences.
There generally is a refresh of these reel series every 3 or 4 years. Every time Shimano brings out a new version of this reel series, they identify it by moving down one letter in the alphabet. As it stands, we are at Stella FK and Stella SWC. These reels are made in Japan (like all of Shimano’s high-end products ) as expected they come with a steep price point yet in return they provide consumers with the latest in technology, the highest componentry, and the best features.
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Shimano Stella FK in 2022
This brings us to 2022 and after a few slow development years by the vast majority of fishing manufacturers due to COVID we welcome the Shimano Stella FK. Strangely enough, the new Stella FK was released on the same day as its major competitor the flagship Daiwa Exist 22.
The previous Stella FJ was a nice reel that performed well but probably lacked some innovation. This time around the new Stella FK brings with it a whole swag of technology advancements. Much of which is marketed as Infinity. Yes, get used to the term “infinity” as you’re going to hear a lot more about it. This article aims to remove much of the marketing jargon instead walk you through these new features in a practical sense so you can actually understand what it is and why that might be beneficial to you on the water.
I’ve been using this reel now full time for 6 months and must say I am really impressed. It looks great and performs well on the water. I have caught countless fish with the 2500HG reel that I have on a wide variety of species whilst fishing on my kayak, runabout boat, and land-based. I have caught snapper, whiting, flathead, salmon, trout, redfin, yellow belly, and more.
Watch the Stella FK in action as we punish it with a giant school of angry Aussie Salmon
It performed exceptionally well but I wouldn’t expect anything less from a reel that costs $1,299. So, let’s break down this reel into its looks, design, features, durability, and cost.
The Stella FK appearance
We have certainly seen a trend in recent years of high-end reels going for an almost plain-looking silver design. The Stella FK has followed this trend however the aesthetics are simple yet stunning. A sleek silver design with vertical splits around the spool. Almost a darkish chrome-looking colour that makes the reel really stand out. It looks sleek, solid, and inviting. It also looks great when spooled with bright colour braid and a high-end rod. I have paired mine with a combination of rods including Shimano T-curve Premium, Shimano poison Adrena, Millerod twicth freak, Millerod Vibefreak, Daiwa TD Commander & NS Blackwater II.
The Stella FK performance
It’s simply buttery smooth. When you rotate the bail arm and let it go it continues to spin and spin and gives you this sense of smoothness and satisfaction. It’s an interesting point as the Daiwa 22 Exist has gone the complete other direction working tirelessly on slowing down the rotations so you can start and stop the reel with ease. It’s a fascinating concept as to which is right or wrong however I can’t help but feel that the Stella seems so much smoother in your hand because of this. When battling fish the reel handles exceptionally well. The 2500HG reel is rated with a 9 kg drag capacity and its handled a whole range of fish species and sizes for me with ease.
Stella FK Line Management
Now this by far is my favorite feature of the new Stella FK. The line management is quite exceptional. Shimano has changed the gearing and motion, so the spool and bail arm move up much slower than other reels. This means that your line when retrieved onto the reel is closer and tighter. It means the line freely comes of the reel when casting because the line is organized and straight. It may not sound like much but it’s a key feature that separates this reel from other high-end reels.
Stella FK Drag System
I’m a tad on the fence with the new drag system. The drag clicker is not quite as loud as the latest Twin Power ( or Daiwa Exist 22 ) and its extremely sensitive. Don’t get me wrong once you get it dialed properly it handles amazingly and sounds excellent, it just requires quite a bit of fiddling to get it feeling exactly right. At the end of each fishing session, I clean the reel and then store away and back of the drag to take away and pressure to drag washers and increase longevity. It just requires some fiddling when heading back out for your next session.
Stella FK Drag Durability
As mentioned at the beginning of the article I have been using this reel for 6 months and really put it through its paces on snapper, salmon, flathead, bream you name it, and it hasn’t missed a beat. There are no cosmetic signs of wear and tear, and it looks similar to the day it was unboxed. Now, of course, we can’t comment on how durable it will be over many years but I do take comfort that historically the Stella lineup of reels has a really strong reputation of being very durable and lasting the test of time. In my experience Stellas, I’ve owned in the past have been very durable.
Stella FK Price
Well, this is the moment that might scare a few anglers. These reels retail for around $1,299. Don’t worry Shimano will sell them like hotcakes because it’s a household name and the best finesse fishing reel technology that money can buy. The best componentry, world-class inventive features, stylish looks, and durability makes this reel worth it.
When you consider these days you can buy some very good mid-tier reels on the market for between $250 and $500 this is a lot of money to pay. However, a reel like this is expected to last you many years if taken care of properly.
Stella FK Specs
|GEAR RATIO||MONO LINE CAP.
|PowerPro Line Cap
|MAX DRAG (kg)||BALL BEARINGS||WEIGHT (grams)|
|STL1000FK||25||5.1:1||2/270, 4/160, 6/110||10/95, 15/75, 20/65||3||12+1||165|
|STL2500HGFK||34||5.8:1||8/140, 10/120||10/150, 15/145, 30/100||9||12+1||210|
|STLC3000XGFK||37||6.4:1||6/230, 8/170, 10/140||10/200, 20/140, 40/105||9||12+1||210|
|STL4000XGFK||40||6.2:1||10/200, 12/160||15/230, 30/180, 50/120||11||12+1||260|
|STLC5000XGFK||40||6.2:1||12/195, 14/165||20/260, 30/235, 40/185||11||12+1||260|
So, let’s look at some of the manufacturer’s marketing spiel
Advancements in manufacturing technology and gear tooth design improve the surface contact and meshing between the drive gear and pinion gear. This revolutionary design efficiently distributes the load placed on the gear tooth surface across a wider area to prevent damage from stress points while significantly improving overall gear durability.
Advancements in the internal structure and design extend the spool’s oscillation to enable the spool to move up and down at an extremely low speed. This technology creates a precise winding pattern with less overlap that significantly reduces friction as the line leaves the spool during a cast. The result is smooth and exceptional casting performance, especially of light lures.
The Infinity Drive structure is a more advanced version of the conventional X-SHIP structure that created exceptionally light winding. The main shaft, which had previously been supported by the pinion gear, is now supported by a new and unique low-friction bushing that significantly decreases frictional resistance. In addition, the main shaft has undergone a proprietary surface treatment and special processing to drastically reduce rotational torque, constructing a reel that can actively wind even under heavy loads.
ANTI TWIST FIN
The flexible polymer fin is installed near the line roller. This maintains line tension to reduce sagging and prevents the line from falling off the bottom of the spool or wrapping around the spool in an uneven manner.
New AR-C Spool Shape
The new AR-C spool shape improves line management by modifying both the shape and angle of the spool ring as well as the drag knob to significantly lessen the risk of line looping or fouling. Utilizing technology with a proven track record in Stella SW, a proprietary barrier coat is applied to the spool ring for strong abrasion resistance to maintain its original smooth condition.
Constructed to enhance overall durability, this revolutionary drag washer incorporates cutting-edge materials woven in a unique pattern compared to conventional drag washers. Without sacrificing a smooth drag feel, this new material is greater than 10x more durable for improved drag performance.
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