Comparing Shimano’s budget spinning reels
I will get straight to the point. The Shimano Sienna FG and the FX FC are the same reel but in different clothing. The majority of the parts are interchangeable and performance wise there is little which differentiates them. Internally the Sienna has one extra ball bearing. In all other ways, the internals are identical. I personally will buy whichever is the cheapest.
This comparison is mostly comparing the 1000 size Sienna and FX. I do not have any hands-on experience with the larger sizes, but the same points usually apply. These two models, for the most part share the same parts.
I will also add, that the Sienna comes in more sizes than the FX, for example, there is a 500 size Sienna (which I have not used), while the smallest FX is the 1000D.
So let’s get into the comparison, and see which of these reels is worth your money.
|Shimano Sienna SN1000FG||Shimano FX FC 1000D|
|Gear Ratio||5.0 : 1||5.0 : 1|
|Capacity mono 4lb|
2/270, 4/140, 6/110
|2/270, 4/140, 6/110|
|Line per crank||24||24|
|Gearing||Zinc Alloy / brass||Zinc Alloy / Brass|
|View Schematic||View Schematic|
The key differences between the Sienna FG and FX FC
There are three main differences, the most obvious is the coloring of the spool.
The Sienna has red highlights, while the FX FC is gold. I personally prefer the reds of the Sienna, but this is only a cosmetic difference.
The second difference is that the Sienna has a ball bearing on the drive gear while the FX FC has a brushing.
Finally, the spool on the Sienna is slightly different. I personally also consider that a cosmetic difference.
The frames of the two reels do carry different part numbers, but apart from the colors they are remarkably similar. Again, I suspect there is only a cosmetic difference between the frames.
Check for variability between reels
While researching for this review, I got the chance to play around with a dozen Sienna reels side by side. Out of these 12 reels one was noticeably rougher, with more resistance and internal play.
While Shimano does have good quality control, at this price point the tolerances are not always as tight. Which means there is the chance for more variability between reels. If possible, I advise checking over the reel in person before buying.
How about the Propulsion Line Management System and Super Stopper II ?
The marketing blurb for the Shimano Sienna mentions that it features a propulsion line management system. Apparently, that results in longer casts and fewer wind knots. The blurb also mentions the Sienna includes an instant anti-reverse feature called super stopper II.
I can tell you, that the internal parts including the Super Stopper II mechanism is identical in both reels, they even carry the same part numbers. The FX FC also has Super Stopper II, despite the marketing not mentioning it.
The propulsion line management system is a bit more complicated. It is a combination of the spool lip design, a no contact bail arm, and the design of the line roller. I will start by saying that the bail arm and line roller are identical on two the two reels.
So the only difference is the spool design. The spool does have a different design, but I honestly do not notice any performance difference between the two reels.
It is possible to add a bearing to the Shimano FX
Some owners, even take the brushing out of their FX and replace it with a ball bearing.
I have not done so myself. I doubt if that really makes much of a difference. The FX is a cheap, entry level reel with tolerances to match the price.
Inefficiencies in the gearing probably hide any increase in smoothness from the extra bearing. It is the same with the Sienna, both reels feel equally smooth.
I have no issue with line lay on either reel, and they cast and retrieve just fine. While I was lucky with my reels, I suspect there could be quite a bit of variation in such cheaply produced reels. I personally would only fish monofilaments on either reel.
Check my guide here if you are interested in a reel that can handle braid.
This is the only ‘mechanical’ difference between the two reels. All the other changes are to do with the frame.
The Sienna has a ball bearing on the drive gear, while the FX FC has a brushing. The two parts are 100% interchangeable. Quite strangely, ordering a replacement brushing from Shimano actually costs more than a replacement ball bearing.
In theory, the ball bearing should be smoother, but they are more prone to corrosion. Brushing are likely to be more durable due to no moving parts.
Both reels use the same felt drag assembly which provides up to 7lb of drag. (More in larger sizes). Felt drags work fine for ultralight fishing and I actually prefer them over carbon.
If you plan on fishing 4 or 6lb lines, then 7lb of drag pressure more than exceeds that. I accept that there are reels with much more powerful drags, but they offer no advantages when fishing for trout.
The Bail arm and mechanism on the two reels are identical. They snap down securely and feel fine to use.
How Does the Sienna 500 FG compare?
The Sienna 500 FG is the smallest and lightest reel in the Sienna range. It is not a 1000 FG with a lower-capacity spool. The 500 FG weighs in at only 6.3oz and holds approximately 100yards of 4lb line. I will say this now, 6.3oz is impressively light for a $30 reel.
The 500FG has quite a high gear ratio (5.6: 1). This means that despite the smaller size, the 500fg actually retrieves line faster than the 1000 FG it is often compared against
The physically smaller spool will likely result in more line twists. But this can usually be managed by using swivels or braided line. While I have not had a chance to use the 500 FG it does appear to be a rather nice reel.
Value / Summary
I consider both reels to be fairly priced, with the Sienna costing slightly more than the FX. At recommended retail price, I personally would get the FX FC. But, at the time of writing this review the Sienna was only 75 cents more expensive. So when both reels are priced the same I would go for the Sienna.
Price aside, it really comes down to cosmetics between the two reels. I can understand why some people will prefer to have a red spool over gold or vice versa. In my eyes the Sienna does look more premium despite fundamentally being the same reel.
Interested in other reels? Head over to our spinning reel buyers guide where we list what we consider to be the 12 best lightweight spinning reels at all price points.
Interested in how the Shimano FX FC compares with the Daiwa Crossfire, check my review here.
Any questions, or experiences with either reel, then feel free to comment below.