Shimano Vanford vs Shimano Stradic

Shimano Stradic FL vs Shimano Vanford for Ultralight Fishing

In this article, I am going to discuss two very similar reels. These reels, almost have more in common than separates them. They are both excellent.

If I had to describe both reels in just one sentence. The Stradic is a workhorse while the Vanford is all about finesse.

For the most part, I am going to be discussing the smaller 1000 and 2000 size reels which I feel are true ultralight reels. Although, much of what I say also applies to the larger sizes.

Comparing Vanford and Stradic specifications

Vanford5004/100, 6/604.96+15.6:16
Vanford10004/160, 6/1105.37+15.1:17
Stradic10004/160, 6/1106.56+16.0:17
Vanford20006/165, 8/1055.37+16.1:17
Vanford25006/200, 8/1406.37+16.0:120
Stradic25006/200, 8/1407.96+16.0:120
The most apparent difference between the two reels is weight.

First impression

In my opioin the Stradic FL feels like a much more premium reel.

The aluminium frame simply feels more rigid and robust with no detectable flex in the frame. It is a real workhorse, powerful, precise and silky smooth.

The Vanford is impressively light, much lighter than the already lightweight Stradic, but carbon simply feels less premium than metal. It kinda feels like plastic. It also feels less rigid and not quite as solid when the reels are under pressure.

When fighting big fish, under heavy drag. The Stradic feels more reassuring.

But where the Vanford excels is in responsiveness. There is next to no start up inertia and everything feels quite instant.

Frame Material

In my opinion, the biggest difference between the Vanford and the Stradic is in their frame material. Marketing names aside, the Stradic frame is made out of Aluminium while the frame for the Vanford is made out of carbon fibre.

Aluminium is stronger, more rigid and generally more durable, while carbon fibre is lighter and does not corrode.


The design of the spools between the Vanford and Stradic is nearly identical. They both fit on the other reel and they both use the same click mechanism.

They both feature long stroke technology to help maximize casting distance. This really shows when casting extremely lightweight lures. In my previous testing, I was able to get a couple of extra feet of distance when casting with such a reel.


Both reels are excellent, they cast well and feel very smooth.

The Vanford, thanks to it’s featherlight weight feels more instantaneous. There is less inertia to overcome allowing for a more refined feeling reel. Any movement is almost instantly transferred to the gearing and towards the line.

For the ultimate contact and control in finesse applications, the Vanford does hold a slight edge.

With regards to casting distance. Both reels are nearly identical. One is not really better than the other.

Line Lay

Both reels use Shimano’s worm drive technology to achieve an extremely even line lay. It excels at laying down both monofilament and fluorocarbon lines.

They handle braid slightly less well, but still better than all but the high end daiwas. The criss-cross lay pattern also does assists in preventing the line from digging into itself which can improve casting distance. Top marks for both reels.

Under real world fishing conditions, I doubt there will be any issues caused by line lay.


Both reels feature the same drag which is excellent. The maximum drag pressure of 7lb is the same for both reels which is about ideal when targeting trout and other small fish.

In general, I prefer to use felt washers when fishing finesse ultralight lines, but I must admit that the carbon drag used in these reels is very refined.

The minimum drag pressure is also low enough not to cause issues when fishing 2lb line.


Both the Shimano Stradic and Vanford use aluminium gearing manufactured under Shimano’s Hagane standard.

In my experience, Shimano makes excellent gearing. It is not only very lightweight but surprisingly durable probably thanks to the tight tolerances they are manufactured with.

Ball Bearings

The Stadic has 6+1 ball bearings, while the Vanford has 7+1. Both reels use Shimano’s high quality water resistant shielded bearings

Is the Stradic or Vanford Better Value?

Both reels retail for around $200, with the Stradic being about $40 cheaper than the Vanford.

At this price point, they compete in the same ballpark as the Daiwa Ballistic, but I personally feel the two Shimanos are simply more refined reels with better durability. Plus they seem to cast further. The main reason to go for a ballistic instead is if you require an anti-reverse switch.

Are they worth $200?, are they going to catch twice as many fish as a $100 reel? Well no, but they are very well made reels and they are a pleasure to use. Everything is just a little

more precise with better tolerances and fewer corners cut.

is out of your price range, I recommend several sub $100 reels here.

Who should buy the Shimano Stradic FL?

The Stradic is a workhorse of a reel. They just seem to last forever. If you want a tougher reel, which might have to put in some real the Stradic is a good option. I will not hesitate to try and fight a 20lb fish on a Stradic 1000, it is that good of a reel.

So if you are wanting a trout reel, but might occasionally hook a large Salmon or Steelhead then the Stradic has the rigidity and durability to survive such an encounter.

I also slightly prefer them in the salt, because when inshore fishing you never quite know when you are going to hook an underwater bulldozer.

Who should buy a Shimano Vanford?

The Vanford is well suited for fishing styles that require a large degree of finesse and precision. It is perfect for fishing ultralight line and casting finesse tiny lures where every bit of sensitivity is an advantage.

It is also the best option for panfish and trout in ponds and streams. Any fishing style that does not occasionally require brute force to land a fish.

The Vanford also comes in several more small sizes than the Stradic so there is slightly more flexibility when selecting a size to perfectly balance a rod.

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