Comparing Shimano’s budget spinning reels
I’ll get straight to the point: the Shimano Sienna FG and the FX FC are essentially the same reel, just dressed in different clothing. Most of their parts are interchangeable, and in terms of performance, there is little that sets them apart. The only notable difference is one extra ball bearing in the Sienna. Other than that, the internals are identical.
Personally, I would opt for the cheaper option when making a purchase.
Now, let’s focus on comparing the 1000 size Sienna and FX models, as I have not had hands-on experience with the larger sizes. However, the same points should apply, because I am not aware of any design differences in the larger sizes.
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the Sienna is available in more sizes compared to the FX. For instance, you can find a 500 size Sienna (which I haven’t used), whereas the smallest FX is the 1000D.
With that in mind, let’s delve into this comparison and determine which of these reels offers the best value for 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 between the Sienna FG and FX FC reels. The most apparent distinction is the coloring of the spool. The Sienna features red highlights, while the FX FC comes in gold. Personally, I prefer the red accents of the Sienna, although this distinction is purely cosmetic.
The second difference lies in the presence of a ball bearing on the drive gear of the Sienna, whereas the FX FC utilizes a bushing in that position. Additionally, the spool design of the Sienna differs slightly. Again, I consider this to be primarily a cosmetic variation.
While the frames of the two reels have different part numbers, apart from the colors, they are remarkably similar. I suspect that the disparity between the frames is also cosmetic in nature
Check for variability between reels.
During my research for this review, I had the opportunity to test a dozen Sienna reels straight out of the box. Among them, I noticed that one reel felt noticeably rougher than the others. It exhibited more resistance and internal play compared to the rest.
This observation highlights that, while Shimano generally maintains good quality control, at this price point, the tolerances are not as tight as those found in more premium reels. Consequently, there is a greater degree of variability between individual reels within the same series.
Therefore, if possible, it is advisable to personally inspect the reel before making a purchase to ensure that it meets your specific standards.
How about the Propulsion Line Management System and Super Stopper II ?
The marketing material for the Shimano Sienna emphasizes its Propulsion Line Management System, claiming it allows for longer casts and fewer wind knots. Additionally, the Sienna is said to include the Super Stopper II instant anti-reverse feature.
I can confirm that the internal parts, including the Super Stopper II mechanism, are identical in both reels. They even share the same part numbers. Surprisingly, the FX FC also incorporates the Super Stopper II, despite it not being mentioned in the marketing materials.
Regarding the propulsion line management system, it involves a combination of the spool lip design, a no-contact bail arm, and the line roller design. I must note that the bail arm and line roller are identical on both reels.
Therefore, the only difference lies in the spool design. Although the spool design does vary between the two models, I haven’t noticed any significant performance differences between them.
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 reel is designed as a budget-friendly, entry-level option, and its tolerances are likely match the price.
Considering this, any potential improvement in smoothness resulting from the extra ball bearing in the Sienna reel will be masked by inefficiencies in the gearing system. In my experience, both reels, the Sienna and the FX, feel equally smooth in operation.
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.
Ball Bearings and bushing
This is the only ‘mechanical’ difference between the two reels. All the other changes are to do with the frame. Ball bearings use rolling balls to reduce friction and enable smoother operation, while bushings rely on a lubricated sliding surface.
The Sienna has a ball bearing on the drive gear, while the FX FC has a bushing. 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. Bushing 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
In terms of pricing, both the Sienna and FX FC reels are reasonably priced, with the Sienna being slightly more expensive than the FX. Considering the recommended retail price, I would personally choose the FX FC.
However, at the time of writing this review, the price difference between the two was only 75 cents, making the Sienna a more appealing option when both reels are priced the same.
Beyond price, the decision largely comes down to cosmetic preferences. I understand that some individuals may have a preference for either the red spool of the Sienna or the gold of the FX FC.
In my opinion, the Sienna has a more premium appearance, even though it shares the same fundamental components as the FX FC.
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.