Shimano vs Daiwa Reels (Head-to-head comparison!)

Scales weighing up Shimano vs Daiwa

In another series of our head-to-head comparisons, we’re comparing two more giants of the fishing industry, Shimano vs Daiwa… or Daiwa vs Shimano – whichever you prefer!  

Here, we give you comprehensive information backed by extensive research to best compare Daiwa vs Shimano reels as a whole.

We’ll look right across a range of factors to best inform you about each reel brand and what they offer. 

Things like resale value, how long reels have lasted for other anglers, what Shimano or Daiwa’s customer service is like, and what their warranty or returns policy is. 

But where to start when trying to decide between two of the highest caliber brands for your fishing reels?

Then read on. 

This article will provide you with all the information you’ll need to help you decide which of the legendary reel brands to go for – it’s a head-to-head comparison of Shimano vs Daiwa… or Daiwa vs Shimano!

Check out our two other comparison articles in this series:

Daiwa BG

Author photo of the Daiwa BG Reel

Best Surf Reel Overall

  • Crazy value for money
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Shimano Stradic FL

Top performing, great value reel

  • Waterproof sealing
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Trying to pick the right size reel for surf fishing? Click here for a helpful guide!

Or want help making a decision on the best saltwater reel? Check out this article.

A brief history of Shimano Fishing reels

Shimano was founded in 1921 in Japan.

Established first as a modest ironworks, it put the talents of the Founder, Shozaburo Shimano, to work on producing expertly crafted freewheels found in bicycles. 

At the time, freewheels were a complex piece to manufacture, and advanced technology for the times was needed to produce this detailed piece.

Shimano has been producing some of the finest cycling components for a hundred years.

Over the years, Shimano developed its expertise in designing and innovating advanced gears, bearings, and shafts, and turned its attention to producing some of the best fishing reels in the world in 1970. 

Again, Shimano is a brand that delivers some of the highest-quality fishing gear out there at the moment, so you can be confident most of their products will stand up to the demands of use.

A brief history of Daiwa fishing reels 

Although founded a little later than Shimano, 37 years on in 1958, Daiwa stands equally to Shimano to many anglers, whether amateurs or professionals.

Daiwa was established primarily to produce fishing equipment, particularly reels, so has its origin story rooted in fishing. 

Daiwa has an impressive history of pioneering technologies for fishing gear, whether new tech to build groundbreaking reels or materials not seen before on the market. 

For example, Daiwa created the first open-faced reel, which revolutionized the market. 

The company has also innovated materials to make its fishing gear stronger, lighter, and more sensitive to the needs of different fishing applications.  

More recently, Daiwa took an idea from the engineering field in space technology and applied it to making new fishing reels.

That idea became known as Daiwa’s ‘Magsealed’ reels which enhanced the experience and maintenance of using their reels. 

Shimano vs Daiwa reels: The top advantages and disadvantages 

Shimano vs Daiwa reels on Price 

Daiwa and Shimano have relatively similar price ranges.

You can find cheap Shimano and Daiwa fishing reels starting from around $30-50 all the way up to the $3500 Daiwa Dendoh deep-sea fishing electric reel, or the $4500 Shimano Beast electric reel. 

Both reels have exceptional build quality and high-grade materials, and even their lower range reel options are well made, although you do sacrifice quality the cheaper you go. 

Interestingly, there seem to be many anglers online who believe Daiwa’s cheaper models are better quality than those at a similar price made by Shimano.

We saw in the head-to-head comparison of Abu Garci vs Shimano, that this was the case too.

Some say the lower range reels of Dawia and Shimano have generally gotten worse in recent years though.

The common consensus though is that if you want to access the best of these brands’ reel technologies, you’re going to need to invest $100-200+ on a reel when buying new ones.  

Shimano vs Daiwa reels on Resale Value

Shimano and Daiwa are probably the top two reel brands in the market. 

Their products are sought after by many amateur and professional anglers, but not all can afford the top-range models new.

This means there is a great resale market for both Shimano and Daiwa, providing the opportunity to sell on your reels when you want to try something new.

And if well maintained, it’s likely you’ll get a fair price for them. 

Anglers online in some of the most popular fishing forums have discussed issues with some of Daiwa’s features, like the clickers ceasing to work and shafts being bent sometimes.

But generally, the complaints are minimal for both brands whereas the praise is significant.

You’ll often see anglers online seeking to trade or sell and buy their Shimano and Daiwa reels from other anglers. 

To conclude, if you’re looking to buy a top-end Shimano or Daiwa reel and you’re concerned about whether you’ll be able to resell it and switch to another option you’ll be pretty safe to re-sell if you look after it well.


Durability of Shimano vs Daiwa reels

Shimano and Daiwa reel are at the top of the reel game and have both invested significant time, resources, and talent into producing exceptionally high-quality reels. 

In our extensive research of comparisons between Daiwa and Shimano, we came across little evidence of major issues with either reel.

There were some issues which we’ll come to soon, but there are a lot of reports of Shimano and Daiwa reels lasting years of hard usage. 

We came across a few corroborating reports about an issue with the Shimano Symetre model that jars up when it gets wet, but also plenty of anglers using this reel model in the rain who’ve not had this problem. 

Also, we noticed some issues arising from line getting caught in the thumb plate of the Curado DC reel when casting. 

Some mentioned spool clickers breaking very early into the life of the reel (on Power Aeros), and also the plastic support that holds the rota becoming warped and needing replacement. 

Daiwa seems to suffer clicker issues too. Some anglers mentioned their reels going silent because the reel clicker breaks, on Basia models. 

Basia models were also highlighted as having problems with bent shafts occurring.

One other issue that came up in our research was the anti-reverse feature failing on Daiwa reels after usage of anywhere between one season and 5 years. 

How long do Shimano vs Daiwa reels last?

In our research for each brand, we found the mention for the longest-lasting reel was a Shimano reel which was almost like new after 14 years of usage.

This was the Ultegra model purchased back in 2006.

That said, anglers seem confident that both Shimano and Daiwa reels, if maintained well, can last for years of use.

Our research gave us the sense that the older Shimano models tend to be the longer and harder lasting of the reel brands and models. 

I bought 5 of the Shimano Ultegra 12000 XTA’s new in 2006. Had them serviced for the first time last year. Never let me down… The guy who serviced them said they were in perfect condition. I can not imagine some of the newer reels lasting 14 years.

Shimano vs Daiwa reels: customer service, returns, warranty

Customer service

Daiwa’s customer service is held up to be of exceptional quality.

Many anglers noted Daiwa’s fast responses to issues about products or shipping, and their helpful and friendly approach to solving their customers’ problems. 

And what stood out, particularly in our research was how they went beyond typical expectations of customer service.

We noted that many anglers mentioned that when they had issues with a product or it had broken or needed a replacement, Daiwa had provided parts or replacements without question and without cost too! 

 “I’ve found Daiwa to be fantastic customer service. Now I haven’t dealt with a broken rod. But they sent me free parts for a very old Procaster reel not once, but 3 times. They didn’t even respond to my email. They just mailed them.”

Shimano’s customer service seems to cause some frustration with a few anglers online, who report that the reel they returned for a repair doesn’t show up in Shimano’s system when they enquire about it on the phone and that they have encountered delays in servicing too.

“I sent my broken spooled curado in a week from yesterday, and they still haven’t even looked at it, nor do they even have it in their system I was told.”


Dawia sells its reels through dealers in the US, so you’ll need to check the returns policy with each individual store. 

For example, Cabelas is 60 days, and BassPro is also 60 days.

Shimano offer a 30-day full refund policy on their reels.  


Both Daiwa and Shimano have a similar warranty, replacing or repairing any defective item without charge.

If the fault is not covered under warranty they will still repair it but at a cost after quoting to the customer.  

  • Shimano – 1 year warranty
  • Daiwa – 1 year

Shimano vs Daiwa: reel sizes

Shimano and Daiwa reels are available in a range of sizes for baitcasters and spinning.

You should note though that Shimano vs Daiwa reels have a slight difference in their sizes, and Themis difference varies across models.

So there is no universal way to compare reels sizes between Daiwa vs Shimano. 

Some of the most popular baitcasting reels from Shimano include: 

Curado MGL

Chronarch G


Some of the most popular spinning reels from Shimano include: 

Stella SW

Stradic SW

Sedona FI

Some of the most popular baitcasting reels from Daiwa include: 




Some of the most popular spinning reels from Daiwa include: 




Check out our view on the best spinning reels by Daiwa here.

Where are Daiwa and Shimano reels made?

Daiwa reels were originally manufactured in Japan but now are made in various countries.

The general rule of thumb is that the upper-end reel models are still made in Japan, and the lower-end of their range are produced elsewhere in other Asian countries like China and Malaysia.

Shimano reels are currently manufactured mainly in China, Singapore and Malaysia. 

Daiwa v. Shimano reels summary. 

Deciding between what might be the top two fishing reel brands in the market today is not easy. 

Daiwa vs Shimano are almost shoulder to shoulder in many aspects.

Each brings its own unique innovations and manufacturing expertise to produce some of the world’s greatest reels.

We’ve tried to highlight some of the key points of comparison between Shimano vs Daiwa. 

It’s difficult to draw a simple conclusion for the winner of this head-to-head.

We are inclined to land on an answer that is so often given when you ask seasoned anglers for their opinion…

“it’s kinda like asking Ford or Chevy, Toyota or Honda which boils down to personal preference”.

So, as always, try before you buy! Because you’ll be dropping a significant sum on a reel from these two brands. But whatever you decide between Daiwa vs Shimano, you want to make sure it feels right for you. 

Happy reel hunting!