Shimano Vanford 2020

The new Shimano Vanford. Is it better than the Stradic Ci4?

The Shimano Vanford takes over the reins of the Stradic Ci4 series of spinning reels. What’s the difference? Let’s take a closer look.

Just one look at the new Vanford reels from Shimano and you’ll immediately think Stradic Ci4. This is perfectly fine as Stradic Ci4 is the direct predecessor of the Vanford.

Why the name change you ask? The cross-cannibalism of the Stradic FL and Stradic Ci4 series of reels caused too much confusion and the Shimano crew had to sort it out ASAP.

Differences and brief history

The standard Stradic FLs are a different reel to the Stradic Ci4s in terms of some features and technology. The Stradic FL have the Hagane body, which in layman terms is a mixture of aluminum and magnesium, cast into molds of the body and parts needed to build the reel.

Ci4 however is a carbon-reinforced graphite material. We’ll break down Ci4 later on in this article.

This makes the reel’s overall weight significantly lighter compared to non Ci4 body reels of the same size.

Both benefit from trickle-down technology from the Stella, so we know they are well built. But the confusion among consumers deemed the name change a necessary move.

Why Vanford then? Where’d Shimano get the name from? Technically, the name stems from Shimano’s JDM model Vanquish. Van-quish – Van-ford. Get it? Let’s give them a break guys. It’s easy to run out of names for thousands of products in your catalog.

Now that the confusion is cleared, let’s take a closer look at what makes the Shimano Vanford a great successor to the popular Stradic Ci4 reels.

First Impressions

The reel looks ridiculously sexy and is based heavily on the Stradic Ci4 color scheme. Can’t go wrong with a black base with silver and red accents.

Out of the box, the first spins with the crank was buttery smooth. Take note that the c5000 size comes with a foam ball crank knob. Nothing special except for the ergonomics of the handle as the bearings for the knobs are the same throughout the series.

The extra smoothness was also due to the help of the upgraded rotor. The Shimano Vanfords have the MGL (Magnumlight) rotor which is significantly lighter compared to the aluminum or XT-7 graphite versions. Lighter rotor, means less rotation resistance, resulting in an overall smoother and lighter cranking experience.

Another major factor in the smoothness of the reel’s cranking is the internals system made up of the MicroModule II, Hagane gears, and X-Ship technology under the reel’s hood.

Cold forged gears with teeth cut in perfection make for a perfectly smooth feel. The X-ship system with bearings supporting the pinion gear allows for more stability, therefore assisting in smoothness by reducing movement of the internal gears.

Weight-wise, the c5000 weighs in at 220 grams. Extremely light for its size and just 5 grams more than the 4000. For comparison sake, the Stradic FL c5000 weighs in at 295 grams. A whopping 75 grams more than the Shimano Vanford c5000.

Let’s get a closer look at each part of the reel so we can further explore the technology involved in making this a potential workhorse.

The Body

Shimano Vanford body

As mentioned above, the main body is constructed with Ci4. In detail, Ci4 means Carbon Interfusion with 4 referring to the number of electrons in the carbon atom. Bit of a tongue twister and brain fryer but essentially it is a graphite body reinforced with carbon fiber.

Shimano reels with Ci4 bodies have proven themselves time and again, with only a few occurrences of major damage that can be categorized as freak occurrences.

No other material can achieve virtual weightlessness considering the price of the reels.

Another major advantage of Ci4 is its corrosion resistance. Having no metals involved, it is impervious to rust and corrosion, making it a top choice for inshore saltwater anglers.

The Rotor

To achieve an even smoother and lighter cranking experience, Shimano has upgraded the rotor to an MGL rotor, from the previous XT-7 graphite rotor.

Having a lightweight rotor just makes sense as it significantly reduces the amount of effort required to spin the rotor around the spool. Making an overall faster and smoother cranking experience. Top marks for Shimano in this category.

It is also important to note that the Vanfords do not have a one-piece bail attached to the rotor. It has the standard Shimano bail, which is still very good considering the rest of the features of the reel.

Another factor that differentiates the Stradic FL from the Vanford is the lack of Aero Wrap on the latter. Standard oscillation layers the line onto the spool in an even up and down pattern for the Vanford. No fancy crisscross line laying pattern here.

The Spool

Shimano Vanford Spool

What the Vanford lacks in Aero Wrap technology, it makes up for in its spool. It has the AR-C spool which it shares with the Twin-Power and Stella.

The AR-C spool is a patented spool design with the angled lip. It allows the line to leave the spool with less friction and in smaller coils. This results in longer and smoother casts, with the possibility of decreasing wind knots when using braided line.

The Shimano Vanford also has the Long Stroke spool, which aids in casting distance and line release.

The porting on the aluminum spool is aggressive and very attractive but also helps reduce weight. You can tell that Shimano has upped their design game lately, with the release of their 2020 reels.

The Drag

Shimano Vanford Drag

Our favorite cross-carbon drag washers are present only in the 4000 and c5000 models of the Vanford line. The smaller 1000 – 3000 sizes have felt drag washers.

Remember, that the cross-carbon drag washers are part of the trickle-down tech that comes from the Stella range. Expect optimum drag performance.

On the Shimano website, the c5000 and 4000 sized reels topped off at 11kg of drag, c3000, and 2500 maxing out at 9kg and the smallest 1000 sized reel maxed out at 3kg.

It is worth it to note that the c5000 and 4000 sized Vanfords have the same drag power of the Twin-power variants. How’s that for a reel update?


Standard sizes from 1000 – c5000 are available.

Light tackle aficionados will have fun with the 1000 and 2500 sizes, but I’m more attracted to the c5000 size for inshore plugging and light offshore duty.


Shimano Vanford

I’ve always reiterated how important maintenance is to your fishing gear. Having them constantly exposed to the elements will eventually result in corrosion and damage.

Having said this, the Vanford lucks out with the X-protect waterproofing system similar to the Stellas and Twin-powers.

The X-protect means they are “almost” fully sealed. The waterproofing of the reels is accomplished by smart design and strategic placement of grease where it’s important.

Water intrusion is also reduced by designing a series of interlocking lips where the spool and rotor meet, with grease applied at the very last innermost lip preventing water intrusion.

And “IF” saltwater gets into the internals of the reel, you still have the S-ARB bearings which are the highly corrosion-resistant bearings with an extra shield for further saltwater protection, keeping things buttery smooth for a longer time.

But wait, there’s more! Shimano have made their consumers so happy by listening to them, by adding X-protect to the line roller. This was one of the most common places where the first signs of damage to the reel occurred. IPX8 water resistance rating for the line roller and roller clutch baby!

Looking back at all reel updates this 2020, we can finally rest-assured that all their newly released reels will have saltwater resistant  line rollers.


The Vanford is indeed a worthy successor to the Stradic Ci4 series of reels.

A value-packed reel with qualities you would want in an inshore saltwater workhorse, that you can use and abuse.

With a list price of AU$ 399.00 for the c5000 size reel on Shimano Australia’s website, it is an excellent value packed reel for the money.

With most of the top range features from the Stella built into them, you can’t go wrong with them.

It may not be a Twin-power or a Stella, but you can have a workhorse reel that is extremely light, reliable, and affordable.

Have you ordered your Shimano Vanford yet?

Photo credits: Shimano Australia  

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The new Shimano Vanford. Is it better than the Stradic Ci4?

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