If you’ve spent any time on the water fishing or talking with another angler, you have probably heard comparisons between Daiwa and Shimano brand reels. These two manufacturers are extremely well known, have massive reputations in both the spinning reel and baitcasting departments, and create excellent quality fishing gear.
Both originate in Japan and have been making fishing tackle for many years. However, many anglers want to know which manufacturer is better. The truth is, they both have their pros and cons and can be an excellent option for an angler of any skill level. What one fisherman may love in a Daiwa, another may prefer in a Shimano, or another brand entirely, such as Abu Garcia.
Both manufacturers create solid fishing gear that can be used by anglers of all skill levels in both heavy cover fresh and open saltwater. Let’s take a closer look at the two manufacturers and some of their flagship reels to see how they compare.
About Daiwa Reels
Founded in 1958, Daiwa wasted no time making a name for itself in the fishing world. It started off as a somewhat small company but soon grew into a name that was known not just in Japan but globally as well.
While their first creation was a spinning reel, Daiwa never focused on a single fishing discipline or technique and instead created quality, affordable fishing gear for various fishing styles and target fish species. Whether you were fishing in freshwater for smallmouth bass or wanted to land big saltwater game fish, Daiwa reels and other gear were created that could stand up to the task.
Over time, Daiwa changed its goals and public image. Today, they continue to focus on making baitcasters and spinning reels that are not only reliable out on the water but also affordable and perfect for beginners and professionals alike.
About Shimano Reels
Starting out as a bicycle parts manufacturer in 1921, Shimano Iron Works didn’t start making fishing gear until the 1970s. At this time, their first fishing industry creation was a spinning reel of such high quality and affordability that it became known the world over.
Over time, Shimano has grown to become the largest and most successful manufacturer of great reels in the world. Their main focus is on both spinning reels and baitcasters, but they also make rods as well.
Each year, Shimano continues to release new and better versions of their casting reels and rods while still keeping a focus on the high-quality angler search for in their gear. For beginners, Shimano gear is an excellent choice when you want smooth casts and reliable functions, but they can really shine in the hands of a professional.
Shimano vs Daiwa Reels: Which Brand Is Better?
Shimano and Daiwa share a lot of the same traits when it comes to their spinning reel manufacturing process, but let’s take a closer look at other factors that make a really great reel.
Value of Money
When it comes to comparing reels at different price points, both Shimano and Daiwa offer a range of prices to fit any budget. However, when it comes to lower-tier reels and their price point, Daiwa is a bit more budget-friendly for beginners to get started with.
Both Daiwa and Shimano use high-quality components in all of their spinning reel construction, although Shimano may use higher-quality chips in their computerized reels and some other higher-end models. Both companies create high-quality reels that can last for many years.
Size of Range
While both Shimano and Daiwa share similar reel size ranges, Daiwa runs one size big in comparison. For example, if you are currently using a Shimano 4000 and want to switch to a Daiwa brand reel, their 3000 model would be the same size and weight. This is important to keep in mind when looking for a reel combo to balance your rod and compare reels between the two manufacturers.
One of the most important features of a reel is the braking system. With Shimano reels, you will be getting a centrifugal braking system that is extremely rugged. For Daiwa, you’ll be enjoying an advanced magnetic braking system that offers extreme smoothness. Both braking systems are highly reliable, but many anglers prefer Daiwa for the smooth magnetic braking over the rugged hard stop of the Shimano.
Shimano has more than two dozen unique baitcasters to their name, while Daiwa has slightly fewer. When talking about baitcasters, many anglers will say they prefer a Shimano over a Daiwa any day of the week. This is due in part to the lightweight and compact size that started with the Bantam, as well as the reliable and heavy-duty drag system found in most of their well-known reels.
While Daiwa spinning reels are more affordable than Shimano, an unfortunate truth is that Daiwa spinning reels simply don’t last as long as Shimano does. This balances out with the lower cost of entry on the Daiwa, but if you’re looking for an exceptionally long-lasting smooth reel and are willing to invest a bit more at the start, Shimano is the brand to consider.
Top Three Daiwa Spinning Reels
One of the most popular reels for saltwater use, the BG can also be used perfectly well in freshwater. Many anglers love this popular reel series for it’s all-around durability as well as its reliable and precise internal 5.6:1 gearing systems with 6+1 ball bearings that offer super smooth movement in almost every situation.
- Weighs just 10.8 ounces before spooling
- Can handle braided line up to 30/190
- Versatile 5.6:1 gearing system and 15 pound max drag
Similar to the Daiwa Revros, the Legalis spinning reel shines when you’re fighting high-action fish and need an extremely durable reel to withstand the pressure. It features an air rotor and bail for an easier over-handle flip and better rotation. You’ll find Daiwa's Legalis in sizes from 1000 to 6000, which will cover anything in freshwater, as well as some light saltwater fishing.
- Machine-cut handle for extreme comfort
- Makes use of the Zaion air rotor system
- Can handle up to 26-pound max drag
As one of Daiwa’s high-performance spinning reels, this is a must-have for professional anglers and serious weekend fishermen to consider. Made with an all-aluminum body for long lasting durability and corrosion resistance. You’ll love the extremely smooth drag after your initial hookup, no matter what size of fish you are fighting on the line.
- Combines a durable drive gear with optimized pinion gears for high speed
- Makes use of the ATD system for lower initial drag start-up inertia
- Made to be lightweight and durable with an all-aluminum main shaft
Top Three Daiwa Baitcasting Reels
For an angler looking for the top-of-the-line in Daiwa baitcasting reels, the Tatula series is the one for you. Made from extremely high-quality materials and always being tweaked and innovated, the Tatula is great for flipping and deep cranking for bass. You’ll find the Daiwa T-Wing system as well as a soft handle and reinforced internal brass gearing.
- Features a 7+1 ball bearing system for smooth movement
- Perfectly suited for braided line up to 20/65 with a 7.2-pound max drag
- Ultra-light size of just under 8 ounces
While the Fuego LT has been around for many years, it has been adjusted and innovated over time. This reel offers Daiwa’s magseal design to protect the internal components from corrosion while also offering precisely geared internals for butter smooth and long operating life. Anglers can find the Fuego in sizes from 1000 with a 5.2:1 gear ratio or 2500 with a 6.2:1 ratio.
- Features Magseal magnetic liquid for internal corrosion prevention
- Largest Fuego model weighs just 8.6 ounces
- Can handle from 11 to 26-pound max drag easily
Daiwa put a focus on durability with this reel by combining a range of their most well known features. You’ll not only find the Magseal corrosion resistance, but also an EVA ball-shaped drag knob and T-Wing system for extreme comfort, control, and durability. This reel is a great choice for most freshwater fishing, as well as a wide range of inshore target fish.
- Features the ATD system and can handle up to 15 pounds max drag
- Makes use of the Magseal liquid to provide corrosion resistance
- Offers a soft touch knob for long-hours of fishing comfort
Top Three Shimano Spinning Reels
The Sienna FG is one of Shimano’s well-priced high-performance spinning reels. It offers an angler the ability for longer casts with the propulsion line management system and offers an anti-reverse feature with the Super Stopper II braking and gearing. You’ll find this reel in a variety of sizes suitable for both freshwater to saltwater fishing.
- Ideal reel for high-performance freshwater and inshore fishing
- Can handle a max drag of 19 pounds on larger models
- Offers the PLM system for long-casting capabilities
For the angler looking for all the bells and whistles, the Ultegra delivers. This feature-packed reel offers extremely high performance for professionals and casual anglers alike. You’ll find everything from a Ci4+ machined composite exterior to cold-forged internal gearing so you end up with an ultra-light fishing reel that offers extreme sensitivity and long-lasting durability.
- One-piece bail with an extremely silent drive gear
- Ci4+ composite body with Hagane machined internals
- X-Protect technology for brackish and saltwater fishing
If you’re looking for long-lasting durability as well as extreme reliability and active features during use, the Stradic is exactly what you want. This great reel offers a variety of waterproofing features to keep your internal components protected from corrosion which makes it ideal as a saltwater reel. Additionally, you’ll love the smooth gearing and reliable braking system when you’re hauling in that massive trophy fish.
- Made from an all-metal body for extreme durability
- Found in several sizes to suit both freshwater and saltwater fishing
- Offers superior corrosion protection for use in saltwater environments
Top Three Shimano Baitcasting Reels
When it comes to baitcasting reels, the Curado is one of Shimano’s most well-known and best offerings. It is one of their extremely high-end reels and has a low profile which makes it a first choice for many professional tournament anglers. You’ll also find some of the best Shimano features, including the Infinity braking system and more in this higher-end gear.
- Weighs just under 8 ounces to help reduce hand fatigue
- Offers the patented Stable Spoon design from Shimano
- Offers a 6.2:1 gear ratio and 11-pound max drag
Say goodbye to bulky and oversized baitcasters and instead consider the low profile of the SLX. This reel is made from an all-metal Hagane body and includes precision machined brass internal gears. It’s a great option for the angler that want high performance stopping power when fighting aggressive fish on the line.
- 45mm long handle for extreme comfort and control
- Extremely smooth brass internal gears
- Available in a variety of gear ratios up to 8.2:1
The flagship reel that got the Shimano name on the map, the Bantam has gone through many revisions and improvements since the 1970s. Today, it remains one of the most popular baitcasting reels offered by Shimano for both beginners and experienced anglers alike. You’ll get a range of features, including a CoreSolid body construction that offers extreme durability, as well as lightweight full-aluminum components that help with pitching and flipping.
- Ergonomic design for extreme comfort over long hours of use
- Highly durable exterior construction with a CoreSolid body
- MGL spool to reduce initial inertia and offer longer casting distances