I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

• Shimano Curado 200E5

In the world of baitcasting, one reel stands out above all the others. That reel is the Shimano Curado. The Shimano Curado has a reputation that exceeds anything else out there. Unfortunately, over the last couple of years, the Curado has faced some serious competition, especially from the Abu Garcia Revo. In response to all the competition, Shimano decided to go back in time in 2008 when it unveiled the revamped Curado E series. Prior to the release, the internet was buzzing with rumors surrounding a green mystery reel. Eventually, we found out this mystery reel was a revision to the Curado. Not only did they deal with many of the complaints anglers had with the D series, but they brought back a sense of familiarity with a green paint job, a salute to the popular Bantam series. At $179, the 200E is $30 cheaper than the D model and competitively priced compared to reels with similar specs.

I bought an E5 in May of 2009 after a little bit of financial freedom came my way. One setup lacking in my arsenal was a good 5:1 reel, so that was where I decided to invest my money. Ever since the green E series Curado was launched at ICAST where the reel won Best of Show, I knew I wanted to try one. At the same time, I had my eyes on another 5:1 baitcaster, the Revo Winch. I compared the two reels and posted my thoughts here on my blog. In the end, it all came down to weight and comfort. Throwing cranks all day is certainly no easy chore. After a while, fatigue will set in. Better to have a lighter reel and a little more comfort than a heavier reel that will wear me down. On top of that, most of my reading led me to believe the E5 handled lighter baits much better than the Winch. I don't throw a lot of heavy deep diving cranks anyway, so it made more sense to cater to my more realistic demands than to a list of what if's.

Here are the basics. The reel weighs 7.6 ounces (210g) and despite shaving off some weight from the D series, Shimano was able to keep many of the features fans have been accustomed to over the years. The E5 is a 7 bearing reel and as I've said in the past, six is about all most reels probably need. It has one S A-RB ball bearing, five shielded stainless steel ball bearings, and one A-RB roller clutch bearing. High efficiency gearing (HEG) is still thrown in there and the Dartanium drag was upgraded to 11lbs (now officially rated at 12lbs). Line capacity for any reel varies depending on a number of factors, but Shimano kept it within reason, holding 8/180, 10/155, or 14/110. Line recovery is not fantastic at 21 inches, but again, it's a slower speed reel. You don't want it to take in too much line per turn. Access to the brakes and aluminum Magnumlite spool is via a 1/8 inch turnkey. One major tweak worth noting is a shift towards graphite sideplates. This change made some fans a little apprehensive, but the drop in weight speaks for itself.

I thought about buying a completely new application specific rod, but an extra 6'6 MH graphite rod was sitting around doing nothing at all. As far as rods go, that's a good all around choice for most applications. The extra backbone in a MH rod can help make up for the work it takes to reel in less line per turn. It also leaves open the possibility for throwing heavier lures. A 7 footer would have been better, but I'll survive. In addition to cranking, I plan on using the E5 to slow roll spinnerbaits and swimblades. In terms of cranking, I usually throw DT6's and Bandit 100-200 series cranks. I do own a couple DD22's now, but there are only a few spots around here where those bad boys can get put to use. Despite the well known additional torque offered by a low speed reel, I probably won't be using the E5 for flipping. That said, it's clear that a Curado E5 is more than just a cranker and slow roller. In fact, several years ago, 5:1 was considered fast. Imagine that.

The reel comes with instructions and schematics for both the E5 and the E7. Also in the box are spare brake collars, a small bottle of Shimano reel oil, and a hexagonal wrench. Let me quickly talk about those brake collars because aside from my inexpensive Shimano Callisto, I'm new to using Shimano baitcasters. The box contains two kinds of brake collars in two colors, green and pink. The reel ships with pink collars installed on the reel, but they give you spares. Pink collars are lighter in weight and provide less stopping power. Green collars are heavier and slow the spool down, providing more stopping power, especially when using heavier lures. The collars pop right off, so swapping out pink for green is a simple task. If you find backlashes are happening more often than you would like, fiddle with the cast control knob or turn on one more internal brake. The convention among Curado users is to initially enable two brakes and make adjustments with the cast control knob. Should your reel behave a little wonky fresh out of the box, use the included bottle of oil to spruce up a few choice spots inside the reel. I hit beneath the joints for the handle knobs, the bearing beneath the cast control knob, a bearing inside the sideplate, the levelwind guide, each brake collar spoke, and finally the clutch bar.

Use the schematics to learn your way around the reel and if you're new to Shimano baitcasters, skim through the manual to learn about how to use it.

So here are my impressions thus far.

Shimano deserves a lot of credit for shaving a couple of ounces off the D series because in my opinion, the weight felt perfect. At first, I thought the front of the reel, which resembles a caveman's protruding forehead, would be cumbersome to palm. It only took a few minutes to get comfortable handling the E5. The Septon PV power grip handle knobs and drilled handle also offered an additional level of comfort in terms of control and weight. Overall, I'd say the ergonomic design gets a passing score, especially since the reel sits low on the reel seat. Extra bulk is simply not my friend.

Accessing the internal brakes is an effortless process. The sideplate is easy to open via the classic Shimano-style turnkey. Unlike other reels, the sideplate is attached to the frame of the reel by a hinge, so don't be concerned about losing it over the side of the boat. Just make sure you lock it back in place. The only problem I have is once that sideplate is swinging around on the hinge, it gets in my way. I only wish it would not sway back and forth so freely.

When I engaged the reel for the first time, I heard a high pitched click, something I was not accustomed to hearing on any of my other reels. After inspecting other E5's on display, it appeared to be "normal." There was also a noticeable, but not worrisome whine from the spool during casting. A little bit of lubrication was necessary. I applied one drop of oil in a few spots I regularly hit on my other reels and the experience changed in a positive way. I also noticed additional noise when using certain kinds of line. For instance, Vicious Fluorocarbon was much louder than P-Line Halo. Casting felt smooth, but not quite as smooth as my Pflueger Patriarch.

Casting was a breeze, but there were some setbacks. I was really impressed at how smooth the reel felt, but it required some tweaking to get there. Contrary to the TackeTour review, dialing in the cast control required some fiddling depending on the lure, but the experience really relied more on the line. I know why so many prefer Shimano over other reels, but I think these same people also put up with a few inconveniences despite the ease in casting. In my experience, the E5 was finicky with lure changes compared to my other reels. For example, my Pflueger baitcasters required little to no adjustment at all going from a 1/2oz spinnerbait to a 1/4oz crank. Magnetic braking does all the work for me. However, with the E5, the internal brakes needed adjusting. When the internal brakes were set accordingly, it only took a few very small turns with the cast control knob to squeeze out the desired amount of casting distance. That being said, overall casting distance was only slightly better with certain lures. Distance seemed to dwindle when I went too heavy or too light. The sweet spot was in the 3/8oz to 1/2oz range. Long casts were manageable and precise. Pitching and underhand lobs tended to drop short of the target until I tightened the cast control knob. Why? The spool spins up awful quick. In terms of casting behavior, the E5 was more comparable my Pflueger Summit. My Patriarch is much smoother and manages lure changes without even blinking. Barring a major upgrade to the LPCR Trion, Pflueger really does not offer a high end 5:1 reel.

I plan on writing a separate post discussing casting distances, so stay tuned for my findings.

I did get some backlashes. My very first cast produced an overrun with all the internal brakes off. I don't think I'll ever use this reel without at least one internal brake engaged. With minor braking applied, the reel actually began to go into an overrun, but worked itself out a second later. The reel was able to balance it out without any thumbing required. Impressive. Still, I wouldn't recommend getting too arrogant. It only took a little give from the cast control knob to send the reel into a backlash. The spool is very free and may not be as forgiving as you'd like.

The drag has not been put to the test yet. I'm waiting to hook into a fish ready to fight. What I did learn after reading the TackleTour review was that the E5 actually has a slightly more powerful drag than the E7. The E7 lived up to the rated 11lb drag, but the E5 held out up to 12.7lbs. Always good to know. The folks at TackleTour put the E5 up against some big cutthroat trout and a 7.5lb largemouth bass. I doubt my E5 will ever face that level of aggression, but big bass are certainly not unheard of around here.

The lakes I regularly fish do not have a lot of deep water, if any. I still put the E5 up against some DD22's and came to the same conclusion others have expressed online. The E5 simply cannot throw heavy cranks as well as lighter ones. A more appropriate rod might remedy the situation, but I couldn't get very good casting distance out of a heavy lure that should sail without much fuss on a rod rated to handle it. The TackleTour review found the E5 could handle DD22's and 1oz spoons quite well. Looks like I'll have to fiddle with the reel some more and figure out what those guys did.

The Final Say
So in the long run, I do not regret this purchase, but I'm still trying to get the hang of the reel. The E5 handles well despite the learning curve. If you are in the market for a new 5:1 baitcaster, don't forget to check out the E5. If you are more accustomed to mag braking present in Pflueger, Abu Garcia, and Quantum baitcasters, an E5 might require some learning on your part. If you're a die hard Shimano fanboy, what are you waiting for? Get one already!

Additional Points:
The braking system was briefly described above, but I left a few things out. Let me add a few more details to offer answers to questions you might have. Several people differ on whether or not the brake collars need to be balanced in pairs. For instance, the manuals for Pflueger reels instruct users to set brakes in opposing pairs, from all six internal pins disengaged, four and two, two and four, or all six engaged. The E5 also has a six pin internal braking system. I briefly discussed this topic with a Shimano rep at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic here in Shreveport. I was told the brakes did not need to be set in pairs. The FAQ section of Shimano's site discusses VBS in more detail and also states that brake weights can be arranged in any configuration.

With that in mind, a second question emerged. Seeing as how the reel came with light and heavy brake collars (pink & green), one might wonder if the two can be mixed together. In other words, can I install a few pink and green collars at the same time for a more fine tuned casting experience? I would think that as long as you paired the weights in opposing positions for the sake of balance, combining the two should work. It's something worth investigating.

VBS Basics:
When a weight is engaged, it is positioned away from the center of the spool and applies more friction, slowing the spool down. When disengaged, the brake is closer to the center and has less of an effect on the spool. If a backlash occurs at the beginning of a cast, tinker with the internal VBS. If the backlash occurs towards the end of a cast, adjust the cast control knob.

If you're curious as to what brake setting works well with the E5, consider reading my post on casting distance with this reel (see link below or click here). To save you some of the effort required to read that post, let me sum it up for you. I learned that the green brakes are better for most lures, especially when paired with a weight appropriate rod. My E5 is now paired on a medium Shimano Sojourn rod, 15lb PLine Halo, and the green brakes are installed. It handles lures from 1/4 to 3/4oz tremendously well. Pink brakes require a little more tinkering whereas the green brakes do the job without many extra adjustments between lure changes. Hope that helps. Enjoy your reel!

Related Links:
Shimano Curado E Series
E5 TackleTour Review
Shimano FAQ
Shimano Curado E5 Schematics (PDF)

Related Posts:
Curado 200E5 or Revo Winch?
Curado E5 Casting Distance


Fishing Guy said...

Looks like a pretty darn good reel. I stick with spinning, but been meaning to switch over to baitcasting when I get some money. I'll definitely give this reel a look over when I head over to my Bass Pro Shops store.

HellaBass said...

I knew you would like it!

Stone said...

Nice review. I'm pondering the same question you had in May. I have the 7.1 Revo sx (and love it) but want more torque for flippin the mats. I would like to use the same reel for the inshore reds and snooks, so I'm leaning towards the Winch and its 24lb drag, but the E5 feels soooo good.

BassFishingDem said...

The reviewers at TackleTour took the E5 out on water with some salinity and they had positive things to say. However, the Winch was built with parts favoring corrosion resistance, so it might be a better fit for inshore fishing.

Dobby Miller said...

I have never owned a Shimano fishing reel. I guess the main reason would be I have had such good luck with the Abu Garcia. Some of those I have are 20 yrs old :) I use to bass fish a lot but now I mainly just crappie fish.

JB said...

Looks like a you put a lot of thought into the logistics of this reel. I've thrown one, and it is the real deal. Thanks for the write up!