Line Capacity* (lbs/yds)10/150, 15/145
Gear Ratio6.0 : 1
Weight (without line)6.3 ounces
Number of Bearings8
Additional FeaturesCI4+ Body
MGL Rotor
Cross Carbon & Waterproof Drag
S A-RB Bearings
Propulsion Line Management System
Long Stroke Spool
Micro Module II gearing
One piece bail
No anti reverse switch
*Depending on Model
Unpacking the Vanford

After researching the Vanford at different retailers online and in stores and paying undiscounted MSRP for the Vanford, Baitstick followed the same experience as any typical angler getting a look at the reel for the first time, starting with the packaging and box itself.

Being a premium brand and product, Shimano shipped its product in a sturdy cardboard box which helps support the impression of quality for the price being paid at the register. The great first impression was backed by seeing the interior of the Shimano Vanford box lined with form-cut cardboard inserts that were fitted to the reel and protected the reel from sliding inside the box and being potentially damaged from rough handling between the factory to the retailer to the opening of the box at home. Also inside the product packaging box were the printed reel manual, parts diagrams, extra washers to create a “winding shape”. No oil, no reel case or protective bag, and no extra spool was included in the retail box purchased by Baitstick.

The eventual removal of the reel from the box emphasized one of the biggest features of the Vanford, it’s lightness. It is noticeably lighter than other reels on the market.

From there, it was a matter of tightening drag on the reel, adding line, and attaching the reel handle in order to take the Vanford onto the water.

Field Testing the Vanford

In testing the Vanford, the reel was put through its paces with a casting performance assessment. For improved casting performance, Shimano took a new step with the Vanford and increased the height of the spool, elongating the area of the spool for holding line with the goal of increasing casting distance while producing a smoother line lay on the spool during retrieval. Shimano gives this change much coverage in its promotion of the Vanford and it’s an interesting change to the Shimano spool design. In Baitstick’s field testing of the Vandford there was not necessarily a dramatically noticed change in casting difference but the line control on retrieve was excellent.

The Vanford had noticeable smoothness in the movement of the reel during the retrieval assessment. With any new reel this is not necessarily surprising but the10 bearing design of the Vanford was still noticeable and noteworthy. In addition, the Vanford has a comfortable handle design. The lightweight design is easy to hold and is optimal for extended days of fish on the water.

Shimano highlights the use of carbon material in the drag of the Vanford and the increased range of drag settings with improved smoothness of operation. In Baitstick’s own field testing of the product, the drag was easy to adjust and the drag overall operated very smoothly.

The Vanford in Comparison to the Stradic CI4

There is no question that the Vanford is a quality reel for any angler. Still, there remains a lingering feeling with the Vanford on why the change and the break from the Stradic line of reels. As if to emphasize the move in the new direction with the Vanford, Shimano heralds its new release by writing, “A legend is born.” Shimano also claims: “Sculpted from over a decade of engineering advancement and a rich lineage of predecessors”

Time will tell whether the Vanford has the endurance and stamina of its predecessors, particularly the CI4. And while Baitstick recommends taking a close look at the Vanford if an angler is in the market for a new high end reel, there is also reason to question whether the Vanford is enough of a newly born “legend” to replace an existing CI4.

The Vanford shares all of the following product features with the Stradic CI4, looking from the outside first and then taking a look under the hood of both reel designs . . .

The Flexibility of the Vanford

If an angler wanted to go with one reel to handle both fresh and saltwater fishing then this would be an excellent choice given the amount of graphite construction and non-corrosive parts designed and built into the Vanford. Many cheaper reels would be sufficient for heavy freshwater use yet wouldn’t handle long term use in saltwater even with routine cleaning. Still, there are experienced anglers who would think twice about paying $229 for a Vanford and taking it out for inshore fishing regardless of the graphite packed into the reel.

Shimano marketing emphasizes that Vanford is capable of going “from ice fishing and drop-shot fishing for smallies in the sweetwater to stalking tailing fish in the flats”. But Baitstick believes this may be too much of a stretch. Can you ice fish with the Vanford? Yes. But just because you can do things doesn’t mean you should. The Vanford would simply be overkill for ice fishing.

And if a reel is really meant to go from freshwater to saltwater to ice fishing then for the price it does not seem too unrealistic to add an additional spool in the retail box to enable an angler to go fish those extremes.

The concept of one reel covering multiple situations makes sense though the size of reel and rod used for smallies wouldn’t be the same as that used for tailing redfish meaning that multi-species, multi-technique anglers are still going to need multiple set-ups anyway

The Takeaway

The Shimano Vanford is a premium spinning reels from Shimano capable of performing at high levels of performance and built with durability in mind. The reel is designed to deliver results and to endure the wear and tear that comes with fishing heavily.

The Vanford has the roots of the Stradic family design behind it and offers great performance and flexibility for different types of fishing. That being said, the high price point makes the reel a product that may not make the most sense for anglers looking for more affordability or a different mix of price and value. But for those anglers looking to add to the top of their reel rotation or anchor it with a workhorse, the Vanford is one of the best on the market today.

 Custom Speed
Spin Series
Mach Crush
Spinning Series
Spinning Series
Mach 2
Spinning Reel*
New ModelNoYesYesNo
Body MaterialAluminumAluminumAluminumAluminum
Roto MaterialC60 CarbonC40 CarbonC40 CarbonC40 Carbon
Gear & Shaft MaterialAluminumAluminum & BrassAluminum & BrassAluminum & Brass
Gears5.2:1 – 6.2:16.2:16.2:16.2:1
MONO/LINE CAPACITY6/90 – 12/1908/120 – 12/1908/120 – 12/1906/120 – 12/190
Weight* (oz)7.5 – 10.48.6 – 9.88.6 – 9.86.9 – 9.9
Max Drag*8 – 2414 – 1814 – 188 – 18
Recovery per turn*25 – 37”31 – 35”31 – 35”30 – 35”
DRAGSealed Carbon Multi-DiscSealed Carbon Multi-DiscDuraMax™ Drag SystemDuraMax™ Drag System
Warranty1 Year Limited1 Year Limited1 Year Limited1 Year Limited