Shimano SpeedMaster Conventional Reel Review – High Performance


When it comes to conventional reels for saltwater fishing, the choices are numerous. When you talk about great fishing reels from reputed companies, there are again a lot of options. But when you ask for a really capable reel from a reputed brand at an affordable price, there may not be many options.

The Shimano Speedmaster II is one of those reels that are capable of big catches in the deep sea. And it comes from Shimano and is affordable too. In our Shimano Speedmaster Reel Review, we found that this product has an excellent build quality and you can expect it to work without any trouble in most trying and exacting fishing conditions.

Made of high-grade aluminum, stainless steel, it has a compact design and medium-range weight. This makes it more versatile to the extent that you can’t afford to have it among your fishing gear. Overall, it’s a winning product that has come to the market pretty recently. More reviews and opinions are awaited for a more considered verdict but the reviews that we have so far suggested that it’s going to be a big hit with the fishing community.

Bestseller No. 1
Shimano Speedmaster Ii Conventional Reels, SPM25II
  • HAGANE Body
  • S-Compact Body
  • Super Free Spool

Quantitative Score

Performance – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Durability – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Value for Money – 4/5 ⭐⭐

Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Learn more about how our scoring system works.

Let’s have a look at the specifications:

Shimano SpeedMaster Features

  • Drag: Double-Speed Lever Drag Reel
  • Water Type: Saltwater Fishing
  • Hand: Right Hand Retrieve
  • Line: Monofilament
  • Gear Ratio: 5.7:1 and 3.1:1
  • Line Retrieval: 42 / 23 inches per crank
  • Mono Line Capacity: 30/230, 25/280, 20/250 (lbs/yds)
  • PowerPro Line Capacity: 80/355, 65/400, 50/580 (lbs/yds)
  • Maximum Drag: 40lbs
  • Bearings: 4
  • Weight: 25.7oz


If you use heavy-pound test braids, you should be happy to find Shimano Speedmaster 12II. This is a saltwater 2-speed lever drag fishing reel with a right hand retrieve.

There are two gear ratios to choose from 5.7: 1 and 3.1: 1. It also has a high spool capacity necessary for fighting big fish. The SM 12II can hold 65-pound braid up to 400 yards. It offers a maximum drag pressure of 40 pounds that’s a lot and makes it fit for big catches and big waters. It has an S-compact design with Shimano’s Hagane body and weighs 26 ounces. This must give you a hint about its strength and durability.

Shimano Speedmaster Lever Drag Fishing Reel in Action


Speedmaster 12II has a more capable drag system that can have a 40lb – 50lb setup without any problem. This reel has a maximum drag of 40 pounds.

Smooth functioning

This reel functions very smoothly in both high and low gear settings. The casting is excellent as the spool floats without an issue. As you try different lures, you find the reel casts them with ease.

When you try to cast far, you find the spool spins too fast and you get blowups. But when you persist with casting different lures, you find the trick is to avoid casting out. The best option is to let the lure go slowly using the drag lever for spool tension.


  • At 42 inches for each crank, the SM12 II has an incredible line pick-up. Compared to other reels in its category, the Speedmaster 2 comes across as slightly heavier, that’s a small comment about its strength and build-quality.  
  • The SM12II has a slightly smaller side plate which is easier on the palm. 
  • The inside of the SM12II has 2 large brass gears and 2 anti-reverse clutches.
  • The gearing of the Shimano SM 12II is very silent and smooth. The Speed Master 12 II is also cheaper than other comparable reels. This reel seems to have many good features that will surely enhance your fishing experience.
  • 2-speed lever drag with 40 pounds of pressure that can bring home big catches
  • Comes from Shimano, a reputed Japanese manufacturer
  • Made of high-grade materials including industry-grade aluminum, stainless steel, and plastic


  • On the downside, this reel does not seem to have Instant Anti Reverse Bearing. This makes you play with the gear back and forth to change it.
  • Another thing that we don’t appreciate much about this reel is the clamp for it’s made with plastic.
  • Also, it seems the left-hand version of Speedmaster II is not being produced right now.
  • This is a new product about which not many reviews have come so far

Can there be a problem with parts?

Some users complain that Shimano discontinues the supply of parts after they close down a line. But other users claim that they have never had any difficulty getting their Shimano reels repaired. They never faced any shortage of any Shimano parts. Conventional reels stay in production much longer than other reels. During this period, there are many developments and changes. But the parts are always available.

Best for groupers and snappers

This is a saltwater reel that can catch some of the biggest groupers and snappers. It’s very smooth and has got a good deal of cranking power. There are users who claim that you can go on catching big-sized red groupers, mango snappers, and gag snappers and the handle of the SM ii reel will never give any problem.

Value for Money

In terms of price, it’s a cheaper substitute for some of the more expensive reels in its category. It works smoothly and gives you a big bang for your money. The Speedmaster is going to meet your expectations with its excellent quality and great pricing. With the launch of this affordable lever drag reel, Shimano has raised the bar for saltwater reels. Shimano deserves kudos for giving a lever drag reel at such a low price.

Shimano Speedmaster Conventional Reel for Deep Sea Fishing

Video Review

Ultimate Fishing has put together this video of the Shimano Speedmaster so you can see the reel in action:

Bestseller No. 1
Shimano Speedmaster Ii Conventional Reels, SPM25II
  • HAGANE Body
  • S-Compact Body
  • Super Free Spool


SPM12II20/350, 25/280, 30/23025.745.7:14250/580, 65/400, 80/35540
SPM16II20/440, 25/350, 30/30026.545.7:14250/750, 65/550, 80/45040
SPM20II30/470, 40/320, 50/26034.645.2:15265/725, 80/575, 100/43544
SPM25II30/550, 40/420, 50/34036.245.2:15265/1010, 80/730, 100/47044

Although it is called the SpeedMaster 2, this does not refer to a previous model, but rather that it is a two speed reel that can switch between high speed and high torque depending on whether you are retrieving a big fish or just bringing back your lure.

Shimano SpeedMaster II vs Tyrnos II

A common comparison to explore is the differences between Shimano’s SpeedMaster and Tyrnos. Both are high end, two speed conventional reels. For this comparison I have used the Model 20 sized specifications for both options.

The SpeedMaster is a more compact overhead – it is lighter, has less line capacity, but has a faster retrieve and higher max drag. If you are chasing heavy gamefish that requires a higher max drag then consider the SpeedMaster.

The Tyrnos is a heavier reel but packs a huge line capacity. If you are chasing gamefish that will run long distances then it is hard to pass. The line capacity also lends itself to deep dropping.

The SpeedMaster is the more expensive of the two options.

SpecificationsSpeedMaster IITyrnos II
High Gear Ratio5.2:15.0:1
Low Gear Ratio2.3:12.5:1
Retrieve Per Crank52 inch45 inch
Max Drag44 lb33 lb
Weight34.6 oz39.2 oz
Braid Capacity575 yards of 80 lb790 yards of 80 lb

Final Thoughts

If deep-sea fishing is your passion, the Speedmaster reel is for you. It’s a highly evolved and refined product that brings the best of Japanese engineering and craftsmanship. It is sturdy and high-performance equipment. It has all the attributes that make a reel pass the test for saltwater use. We are happy to recommend this product to you. 

If you want to see some alternatives then have a look at our review of the best conventional reels available on the market.

Last update on 2022-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.