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Spinning reels have come a long way, even over just the past few years. As of 2018, both Daiwa and Shimano have been releasing new features that top any of their previous efforts. There are however, complications that can come with buying the correct reel for your needs. Especially online and blind. With Daiwa's new LT models there's a new sizing structure in town (just to confuse you even more!).

Which reel size should I buy?

Making up your mind as to which fishing reel to purchase is now harder than ever. Although most manufacturers seem to vaguely follow similar size guides, there are no rules and occasionally one of them breaks tradition. Often when selling fishing reels online I have an inkling that the angler has perhaps not bought the correct reel they intended it for. Especially when buying in combination with a new rod. It's not their fault - the manufacturers make it bl**dy difficult for us. Normally I'll contact the customer and try to ensure they get it right, but it's not always possible. So to try to do what I can for anglers buying their fishing reels online, I came up with a bit of a plan and created a bit of HTML code to see if I could help people visualise the differences between our reels more easily. The results are below each reel in the list below.

For a general comparison, you could look at it roughly like this (as long as you're familiar with at least one Daiwa or Shimano fishing reel):

Shimano 1000/C2000 | Daiwa 1000/2000/2004/LT2000

These reels sizes are our go-to LRF or ultralight dropshotting models. Between the 1000 and 2000 sizings, there really isn't that much difference. In fact, I recommend the Daiwa 2000 sizes far more than I do their 1000 versions. Why? It's because the biggest difference between any of these reels is simply the spool. The body sizes are actually the same but the wider lip of the 2000 gives you better casting capability. Visiually there's not much between them, but technically the 2000 wins (for me)

For Shimano the 1000 and C2000S (shallow) spools generally have exactly the same size spool diameter (and same size body). So the difference is in the depth of the spool. Often the 2000 even has a shallower spool - making it, on paper, a smaller reel. Confusing, right?! Saying that, with braided lines being so thin, if they give you the option of a C2000S model, go for it. To make matters complicated, you may well see three different versions of Shimano 2000 size reels:

  • The straight 2000 - a lot like a normal 2500 (you don't see too many of these in the UK).
  • The C2000 - a "compact" 2000 much the same as a 1000 but with a shallower spool.
  • The C2000S - as above but with an even shallower spool - perfect for the lightest braids.
  • So the 1000 is actually the largest amongst them - holding more line than the two C2000 sizes while all having the same body size!

And then you have the Daiwa sizing to content with... 2000, 2004 etc. See HERE for a description on why this is and how you can use it.

Daiwa LT 2500

Like others in the Daiwa LT range, the 2500 fills a bit of a gap between other Shimano or Daiwa sizing. They're not quite as compact as our lightest dropshot or LRF reels, but provide that next step up. This makes them perfect for 8'+ LRF rods, or those lovely perch rods like the Tailwalk Micro Gamer S70UL - 7' in length and rated to 16g. They're a perfect example of the type of rod that will suit this size.

Shimano 2500/3000 | Daiwa 2500 | Daiwa LT3000

I'm bulking these reels together so that you get an idea of how the sizing compares. With Daiwa having now bought in their LT ("Light & Tough) reels to the UK, their sizing becomes varied between traditional and LT versions. The LT3000 is very similar to the usual 2500 - if that's what you're used to. Usually the 3000 Daiwa reels have been much bigger.

The difference here between the Shimano 2500 and "C" (compact) 3000 is to do with the spool (and sometimes the handle too). The C3000 is basically the same size reel with a usually deeper spool and sometimes a longer handle with slightly larger handle knob - as the reel diagrams below will show.

A lot has to do with the physical weight of a spinning reel as to what lure rod I'd match them with. In their lightest forms, these reels go best with 7'+ rods through to the lighter 9' bass models. You can even get away with an aluminium bodied reel like the Shimano Stradic C3000 FK on the lightest 9'6" bass rods like the brilliant Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R. So this size range of reels is very versatile!

Daiwa LT 4000

I love this new size. For our lure fishing needs, there have always been a lot of rods that sat on the fence. By that I mean you could have gone either way - Daiwa 2500 or 3000 and been OK either way. It's in these instances though where a middle size would have just made things incredibly easy. The LT 4000 size does just that. There was always a bit of a gulf between the normal Daiwa 2500 and 3000 sizes. When you're trying to balance a reel nicely on a light lure rod, sometimes this created a dilemma and compromise one way or the other. That's where the LT4000 comes in.

I use this reel size for my short range match and feeder work with light rods. It's also the perfect size for the majority of our modern bass lure rods being well balanced with the most popular 9' - 9'6", 30g rated models.

Shimano 4000 | Daiwa 3000 | Daiwa LT 5000

The Shimano 4000 size has probably always been our best selling size and range. You could strap one on any 9'+ lure rod (or shorter from the boat), any match or feeder rod and be away. As a saltwater lure or match fishing reel, there is no more versatile size.

The Daiwa sizings sound very different, but aren't. The LT5000 is actually the same size as the LT4000 body wise, but has a wider spool and rotor. The typical Daiwa 3000 has always roughly matched the Shimano 4000 in its uses. The best thing to do is just look at the LT 5000 reels in the same way. Physically they're very similar, particularly with spool size. The LT5000 has in many cases a wider spool lip diameter than the other two options though, which will do nothing but aid casting. The drag power of the LT reels is generally superior as well, so this LT range is well worth considering if you're after a Shim.4000 or Daiwa 3000 alternative.

Shimano 5000 | Daiwa 3500 | Daiwa LT 6000

Of these three, the marginally smallest is the Shimano 5000. That one is basically a 4000 reel with a larger spool and wider rotor to accommodate it. I use this size a lot for my match and feeder fishing as the wider spool is nothing but a benefit when the rod is just sat in a rest. It's also the size of reel I would go for to match with a 10'+ lure rod where a bit more distance was the plan. Additional weight is often not that much over a 4000, but there are technical benefits in stepping up.

The two Daiwa reel sizes are close. A 3500 size is often only seen on their saltwater models but it's very similar to the traditional 4000 Daiwa size too - if you're familiar with that one. As a stepped up range of reels from Daiwa, this is confirmed by the generally much larger handle knobs, designed for cranking in larger fish. Great reels for the boat and heavy duty spinning applications. For longer distance feeder work on 11'+ rods I'd either stick with either the Shimano 5000 or more normal Daiwa 4000. For ultimate range on 12'+ rods, consider the mini pit carp reels.

Daiwa spool size numbering?

With most Daiwa ranges, outside of the usual 2500, 3000, 4000 sizing, they often have additional numbers on the end. Anglers will be familiar with sizes like 2004, 2508, 3012 and the like. Some Daiwa reel model numbers also end with an "R" or "PE" (or both)...

So what does this mean?

It's actually really simple once you understand it, and is a great way for us to compare spool capacity of the different reels. The number at the end of the spool number represents a breaking strain of monofilament line. you have to understand the next bit for it to make sense, but once you do, it's easy:

Any spool number ending in "03", "04" or "06" is designed to hold 100m of line in that numbers breaking strain. So, a spool size ending in "06" is designed to hold 100m of 6lb mono.

Any spool number ending in "08", "10" or "12" is designed to hold 150m of line in that numbers breaking strain. So, a spool size ending in "12" is designed to hold 150m of 12lb mono.

Any spool ending with "00" is the typical spool capacity for that size of reel. Overall, the reel sizes are physically the same as the first two numbers would suggest. For example, a 2508 size reel is a 2500 sized reel but with a shallower "08" spool. get me?

Here's the full list of those I'm aware of:
  • 1003: A 1000 size reel holding 100m of 3lb mono (* or equivalent).
  • 2000: Standard capacity 2000 size reel. Usual capacity roughly 150m of 6lb mono.
  • 2004: 2000 size reel with shallower spool holding 100m of 4lb mono (*).
  • 2500: Standard 2500 size reel. Usual capacity roughly 200m of 8lb mono. (LT3000 equivalent)
  • 2506: 2500 size reel with shallower spool holding 100m of 6lb mono (*).
  • 2508: 2500 size reel with shallower spool holding 150m of 8lb mono (*).
  • 3000: Standard 3000 size reel. Usual capacity roughly 200m of 10lb mono). (LT5000 equivalent)
  • 3008: 3000 size reel with shallower spool holding 150m of 8lb mono (*).
  • 3012: 3000 size reel with shallower spool holding 150m of 12lb mono (*).
  • 4000: Standard 4000 size reel. usual capacity roughly 200m of 15lb mono. (LT6000 equivalent)
  • 4012: 4000 size reel with shallower spool holding 150m of 12lb mono (*).

Now you can also add those "R" and "PE" references in to the mix. You can generally ignore the "PE". It means that the spool is designed specifically to hold braided lines (PE). The truth however, is that all of these reels are completely happy with braided lines anyway, so only the truest of tackle tarts need worry about it.

The "R" reference is always worth noting to ensure that you buy the correct reel for your needs. It's only a size that I've seen come up in the 2500 sizing schemes, but it's actually one that I love. What it stands for exactly I don't know, but what it means is that you effectively have a 2500 size spool on the body of a 3000 reel. Why is this a good thing? You've a compact reel with more cranking power than a usual 2500 - you have the guts of a 3000 in it. This is ideal if you're fishing from a boat, inshore in fairly shallow water. You may catch some big fish but use a lightweight 7'-something rod to do it with. A 3000 reel can feel too bulky on a light rod, but with the "R" you have a happy compromise between power and size. It's a lovely size too for putting on those light 9'6" bass rods that we use a lot of these days from the shore. From a match fishing point of view I wouldn't see the benefits so much, but for the lure angler it's a potentially great size.

How does Daiwa LT sizing differ from their traditional reels?

I think comparisons all comes down to the spool capacity. The LT reels may be small and compact, but their spools are deep. I think this is why Daiwa have sized them as they have. The "Light and Tough" concept is brilliant, but confusing until you know... They have incredible gearing and drags. Superior in all honesty to their normal reels. Some shallow spooled LT reels would be an incredible addition. So to sum it up, physically the LT spinning reels are much smaller than their normal sizes. If you're looking for a Daiwa 2500 or Shimano 2500 replacement, but an LT3000. If you want to upgrade a Daiwa 3000 or Shimano 4000, buy an LT5000. The 4000 sits in the middle.