Tackle Critic

Shimano Nasci vs Sahara – Which One Is Better?

Shiman Nasci vs Shimano Sahara

The Shimano brand has built a reputation for making the best spinning reels in the world. While you can spend hundreds of dollars on high-end equipment, the Shimano Nasci and Shimano Sahara are a better value for the money.

To someone who doesn’t know about the Shimano lineup, the Nasci and Sahara may appear very similar. They have a similar body design, the same size options, and aren’t priced too differently.

Many anglers aren’t sure which one to pick, so we created a guide to these two Shimano reels.

In this article, we compare the Shimano Nasci and Shimano Sahara reels to help you decide which one is right for your needs. We review smoothness, price, quality, durability, and other spinning reel criteria.

Shimano Nasci vs. Sahara – what are the differences?

SpecificationsShimano NasciShimano Sahara
Imageshimano nasci previewshimano sahara preview
PriceCheck AmazonCheck Amazon
Weight (3000-size)8.5 oz8.8 oz
Ball Bearings5+14+1
Gear Ratios5.0, 5.6 and 6:25.0, 5.6 and 6:2
IPT (inches-per-turn)36”36”
Max Drag (3000-size)20 lb20 lb
Line Capacity (3000-size)10/200 (lb/yds)10/200 (lb/yds)

The chart above compares the specifications for the Shimano Nasci FC and Sahara FI. As you can see, the reels have similar gear ratios, IPT, max drag ratings, and line capacity.

However, they have different weights and ball-bearing counts. Inside the housings, several other key differences make these reels unique.

Now, we’ll outline the most important qualities.

The three key differences explained

Ball Bearings: The Shimano Nasci features six ball bearings (5+1), while the Shimao Sahara only has five (4+1). This is one of the biggest differences between the two reels, as the extra ball bearing gives the Nasci a much smoother feel.

Interestingly, Shimano was able to include an additional ball bearing without increasing the weight of the reel. The Nasci has more performance while still being lighter than the Sahara reel.

Take Away: An additional ball bearing in the Shimano Nasci reel gives it smoother retrievals than the Shimano Sahara.

Price & Quality: The Shimano Sahara is the more affordable reel of the two. While the Nasci only costs about 20% more, this could contribute to your decision.

However, the Shimano Nasci is more durable and has improved performance over the Sahara. Many anglers choose to make the upgrade so that their reel will have a longer lifespan.

Regarding quality, the Shimano Nasci has a solid feeling with better build quality than the Sahara. The reel feels firm, and the components don’t have any play. 

Take Away: The Nasci is more expensive but has a longer life expectancy.

Durability: Both reels feature a Hagane body and X-Ship gearing for added durability. While the Sahara has better durability than most budget spinning reels, the Nasci has unique technology that improves durability.

The Shimano Nasci features the same SilentDrive and CoreProtect technology that Shimano uses in their $200 spinning reels.

This CoreProtect repels water, keeping the elements out of the reel’s internal components. With this add-on, you can use the Nasci for both freshwater and inshore saltwater fishing.

Shimano’s SilentDrive reduces vibrations and sound created by the spool, which gives the Nasci a smoother feeling and keeps friction from wearing down the reel.

Take Away: While both reels have a Hagane body and X-Ship gears, the Shimano Nasci uses a SilentDrive and CoreProtect to improve durability and performance.

Shimano Nasci spinning reel review

4.3 Stars | 356 Angler Reviews

Shimano Nasci spinning reel

The Shimano Nasci is one of the best value spinning reels on the market. With advanced CoreProtect and SilentDrive technology, this model has many of the same features found on high-end Shimano reels. This reel has smooth retrieves and excellent durability. The sealed-off housing ensures you can use this reel for freshwater and saltwater fishing.

While the Nasci costs more than the Sahara, this is expected for your upgrades. We tested several Shimano fishing reels but found this reel performs just as well (if not better) than Shimano’s top-tier models.

Nasci FC vs. Nasci FB

Things get even more complicated when you learn there are two models of the Shimano Nasci. The Nasci FC is the most popular model, with a sleek silver pattern and an upgraded gear system. Shimano’s FB doesn’t include SilentDrive technology, which is one of the main reasons why we like the Nasci more than the Sahara.

Note: The 500-size model does not include CoreProtect, SilentDrive, or X-Ship systems.


  • Strong X-Ship gears
  • Durable Hagane body
  • Advanced SilentDrive and CoreProtect technology
  • Smooth reeling with six ball bearings

Shimano Sahara spinning reel review

4.7 Stars | 529 Angler Reviews

Shimano sahara spinning reel

The Shimano Sahara is a very capable reel with more performance than you would expect. At under $100, this reel has enough strength, accuracy, and durability for most anglers. While we think the Nasci is a worthwhile upgrade, both models have better build quality than budget reels from other brands.

Shimano’s Sahara spinning reel has X-Ship gearing, a Hagane body, and an elegant design. One reason why some anglers prefer this model is the black and gold paint job because it gives the Sahara a competitive appearance.

Sahara FI vs. Sahara FJ

Like the Nasci reel, the Shimano Sahara has two sub-models to choose from. The Sahara FJ has an upgraded SilentDrive system and is also lighter than the original Sahara FI reel. While this upgrade makes the Sahara more appealing, it lacks the CoreProtect technology that lets you use the Shimano Nasci for saltwater fishing.

We also found the SilentDrive system performs better in the Nasci reel, as it does a better job reducing noise and friction.


  • Hagane and G-free body
  • Strong X-Ship gearing
  • No CoreProtect technology
  • SilentDrive in Sahara FJ model


The Shimano Sahara and Shimano Nasci reels are both exceptional products for the money. Advanced technology is incorporated in both models to increase durability and ensure ultra-smooth retrieves.

However, we see a clear winner between the two, which is the Nasci model. It’s difficult to look past the SilentDrive and CoreProtect systems, and the extra ball bearing makes the handling buttery smooth.

We’re sure many people think otherwise, as more Sahara reels have been sold than Nasci reels. After getting hands-on experience, we’ll undoubtedly be using the Nasci on personal fishing trips in the future.

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