The Most Exciting New Gear from Shimano for 2022

Published on 05/17/2023 · 5 min readConventional Fishing Expert Matthew Watts covers the most exciting gear from Shimano at ICAST 2022 and gives his take on the gear on display.
Matthew W., Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Matthew W.

Walking into the Orange County Convention Center in sunny Orlando, Florida for the yearly ICAST convention is an angler’s dream. It is truly like being a kid in a candy store, and walking up to Shimano’s 2022 booth offered some very shiny things to drool over.

From the new Expride B series of rods to the World Pop 69F lure, Shimano brought something new for every angler, and whenever Shimano drops a new version of their flagship-spinning reel, the Stella, the fishing world takes notice. Not only that, Shimano launched a new budget-friendly saltwater combo into the mix with the Spheros SW. It is pretty amazing that Shimano could bookend both the ultra high-end and budget-conscious low-end of the market, but if there’s a fishing brand that can pull it off, it’s certainly Shimano.

Photo by Matthew Watts

The Winner’s Circle: Shimano Spheros SW Combo

Photo by Matthew Watts

This year, Shimano brought home some serious hardware with two wins in the New Product Showcase. Winner of the 2022 Best of Category: Rod & Reel Combo is Shimano’s all-new Spheros SW. The new Spheros SW combo is sure to turn heads. Covering many saltwater applications, it is offered in four models, with reel sizes from 5000 to 8000 and rod lengths from seven feet to nine feet. The Spheros SW Combo offers models suitable for everything from pier use to offshore angling.

The rods are made from high-quality, lightweight graphite blanks with tapered EVA grips and comfortable reel seats. They feature Fuji’s Aluminum Oxide guide rings, which work for anglers that use either monofilament or braided line. As the name implies, each Spheros SW combo features a Spheros SW A reel, and because the combo is only slightly more expensive than the reel itself, it certainly makes the combo a superb buy! These reels also have Shimano’s cold-forged HAGANE gear for silky smooth cast and retrieve and the durability to hold up to the harshest saltwater environments.

Drawn from Shimano’s Stella SW, the Spheros SW reels feature Shimano’s HAGANE body for enhanced rigidity and more cranking power. The Spheros SW also incorporates Shimano’s Infinity Drive and X-Ship technologies to ensure a smooth rotation and optimal power transmission. To protect the reel from extreme saltwater conditions, the Spheros SW spinning reels contain Shimano’s X-Protect and X-Shield to keep salt, sand, and other debris out of the reel’s internal components. On top of that, Shimano added S A-RB bearings that are shielded to keep salt and sand from affecting the bearing’s rotation.

Those were a lot of features highlighted, so here is a summary list of all that can be found in the Spheros SW Combo:

  • HAGANE Gear
  • HAGANE Body
  • X-Ship
  • Infinity Drive
  • CoreProtect
  • S A-RB Bearings
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • X-Protect
  • X-Shield

Shimano’s Star Player: The Stella FK

Photo by Matthew Watts

Shimano’s newest spinning reel release was just in time for ICAST 2022, and boy, did it make waves. This year’s New Product Showcase winner for Best Freshwater Reel is the Shimano Stella FK. First, let me point out that this reel is, in fact, saltwater rated, and although it won in the freshwater category, it is a workhorse inshore saltwater spinning reel. Up against the industry’s finest baitcasting reels and many other manufacturers’ spinning reels, the Stella FK outshined the competition. Stella is Italian for ‘star’ after all!

The first thing that stands out is its beauty. It is a stunning work of art by Shimano, akin to a luxurious timepiece, and it has the technology and internal components similar to a Swiss watch. When you first pick up the Stella FK, you realize just how lightweight the HAGANE body is, but the new DuraCross drag system means it’s also packed with tons of power.

Speaking of timepieces, Shimano continues to push the envelope with their gearing systems by incorporating their all-new, revolutionary InfinityXross system. This system adds unrivaled gear durability by distributing contact points across a bigger surface. In turn, this enhances the performance of the reel while increasing its longevity. Shimano’s new DuraCross drag system boasts 10 times the longevity of other drag systems by combining the smoothness of felt with the power of cross carbon. Similar to its big brother, the Stella SW, the new FK uses Shimano’s low-friction Infinity Drive system for silky smooth winding with increased power. One of the most exciting new components in the Stella FK is the InfinityLoop system, which manages your line with more wraps around the rotor in succession, leading to increased casting distance. It’s astounding to watch the handle on this reel spin while the spool moves so slowly!

The new additions to this iteration of the Stella continue its evolution as Shimano relentlessly pursues perfection. Combining that with the proprietary magnesium HAGANE body and cold-forged HAGANE gear, the Stella FK stakes its claim as the finest spinning reel ever made, which is a claim that is hard to deny.

Here is a summary list of all the features in the Stella FK:

  • InfinityXross
  • InfinityLoop
  • Infinity Drive
  • Anti-Twist Fin
  • DuraCross Drag
  • MicroModule Gear II
  • HAGANE Gear
  • HAGANE Body
  • Long Stroke Spool
  • CI4+
  • X-Protect
  • X-Ship
  • Titanium One-Piece Bail

My Take

Conventional Fishing Expert Matthew Watts with Bernie Schultz. Photo courtesy of Matthew Watts

It’s hard to deny Shimano as the leader of the fishing industry. They continue to progress by leaps and bounds over many of their peers. With two category wins thanks to the Stella FK and Spheros SW Combo and releases of the new Sahara, Curado DC 200, Tranx 150, Miravel, the World Pop 69F lure, and the Expride B rod series, Shimano has the latest and finest gear on the market for every angler. The fishing industry is certainly in good shape with companies like Shimano leading the way!

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