Quantum Smoke Speed Freak verses Shimano Stradic C14+

If you are looking for a higher quality reel, then the Quantum Smoke and Shimano Stradic are probably on your radar. Our staff takes an in depth look at both of these excellent reels. We purchased both of these brand new in a 30 size (3000) spool in January 2016 and have spent the entire year evaluating them. We tested them side by side on the same rods and with identical baits. Here’s what our staff had to say.

First of all, if you want one of these and can’t have both, just flip a coin. They are both excellent. You can’t go wrong with either one. The Quantum costs about $40 dollars less, and if price is an issue, we recommend the Quantum. On eBay, you will find them even cheaper.

These reels are very similar in so many ways. The gear ratios are nearly identical. The Quantum has a 6.2:1 and the Shimano 6.0:1 (unless you get the Shimano 40 size, then it’s exactly the same as the Quantum). We don’t like 40 size reels, we prefer 25s and 30s for most of our fishing applications and rarely will you ever need anything bigger.

They are both made out of polymer lightweight materials. The 30 size Quantum weighs 7.9 ounces and the 30 size Shimano weighs 6.7 ounces. They are both very light, but still very strong. We think that sometimes companies sacrifice strength for weight and try to create ultra lightweight reels, but lose some strength. When you are hauling in that 8 pound monster, you want strength. We have hauled in 4-5 pound bass and walleye with both reels without any issues. You will not ever feel that these are “weaker” or not at strong as “all metal” reels.

The Quantum is a very nice looking matte black red color, while the Shimano is a very nicely finished black and shiny silver color. Both have a very premium look to them. Both look great on any rod you put them on.

In terms of drag, the Quantum and Shimano both have 20 pounds of drag. However, if you get the larger 40 size Shimano, you get 24 pounds of drag, otherwise they are all the same.

In terms of smoothness and ball bearings, the Shimano has 6 ball bearings and 1 anti-reverse ball bearing, while Quantum has 10 ball bearings, and 1 anti-reverse ball bearing. Does this affect their smoothness? Is there a noticeable difference? Not at all. In fact, we had no idea the Shimano had 4 less ball bearings till we went back and looked up their specs. To us, in real world applications, we didn’t notice any difference at all. Both were silky smooth.

The spool lips are both very similar and allow line to come off the spool very quickly and very evenly without any line twist. Both look almost identical. Regardless of what type of line you use, it comes off evenly and smoothly. Some pros use size 40 spools to avoid line twist, but with today’s modern lines and reels, line twist rarely happens. We haven’t had any issues with line twist.

We compared the two on small lakes and ponds, upground reservoirs, lake Erie, and on a raging, ice cold river in winter with sub 40 degree temperatures, sometimes as low as 28-30 degrees. We fished each reel for an hour on each outing with the exact same set up, switching back and forth after 20 casts.

Both reels were superb. If you blindfolded us, we would never know which reel we were using, they are that comparable. With the exception of the color scheme. They are nearly identical in every way.

Our verdict is to buy whichever one fits in your budget. If you are looking to spend around $180, get the Quantum. If you are looking to spend around $220, get the Shimano. You will never know the difference and both will perform for many years to come.


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Editor in Chief

Over 40 years of fishing experience! Began as a young boy at age 10, and slowly grew deeper and deeper into this hobby! Have been a writer and technology reviewer since 1990.