The team at TackleTour has been up to their necks in low speed cranking reel testing and as of today, the showdown finally has a winner. Can you guess which reel won? Yes, it was the Curado E5. Why else would I write about the shootout? Much of what was featured about the E5 mirrored my own findings, but that being said, some of my own thoughts were admittedly biased because I read the Curado E series review TT wrote up while trying to decide on a 5:1 baitcaster for myself.
TackleTour Low Speed Shootout
I need to get something else out of the way before diving too deep into the shootout. TackleTour has a long standing reputation, true or not, for giving preferential treatment to Shimano products. Although they introduced some sort of new scoring system, the seed of doubt has been planted. I must say that after reading the four-reel comparisons, I think many reasonable points were made. In the end, every baitcaster that underwent scrutiny had a healthy mix of good and bad.
So which reels did TT consider?
In addition to the Shimano Curado E5, they looked at the Abu Garcia Revo Winch, the Daiwa Crazy Cranker, and the Quantum Energy PT. Each reel was compared to the other in terms of raw specifications, ergonomics, drag, casting and retrieve, and price as well as overall value. I will attempt to briefly summarize the high points of each section and reiterate things I mentioned in my own review of the E5. You can read the article in its entirety as well as my review of the E5 and make up your own mind. What I'm doing in this post is examining what was said about the E5 in the shootout in comparison to my own findings. By the way, when you visit the page on TackleTour, disregard the name of the page that shows up in the title bar. For some odd reason, they misprinted it as the high speed shootout between other reels. Maybe they were in a hurry to get the article out.
While the shootout put the E5 last on the list in terms of specifications, the reel was by no means left struggling. Other aspects of the shootout relied on the dynamic and extensive features present in the E5's competitors and the E5 obviously suffered for what it lacked, but when it came down to what we really need, a six bearing reel might be enough. As explained by the TT team, "more" does not always equate to "better" when talking about bearings inside a reel. The ratio and line recovery played a small part in my decision making and I decided a difference of 5:1 and 21 inches compared to 5.4:1 and 20.6 inches was likely negligible and somewhat user dependent. I mentioned in passing how the Winch, made of more corrosion resistant materials, might better suit the inshore salt water angler. The only specification that really clinched my decision was the weight. So let's talk ergonomics next.
The E5 excelled in ergonomics, although paddles stood out as being on the large side according to the TT eval. I agree. When I compared the Winch to the E5, the two reels TT found to be the most comfortable, the weight difference between 7.6oz and 8.5oz really impacted my finally decision. Both reels do offer plenty of room for line. No big deal, in my opinion. Everything else, to me, counts as fluff.
Casting & Retrieve:
Rounds three and four looked at casting and retrieve, respectively. Casting was a close one because all the reels performed about the same with long distances. The Curado narrowly edged out the competition in long distance casting by performing more consistently than the rest, but faced scrutiny when challenged by short casts and pitching, a shortcoming I recognized early on. You see, when pitching, I found that the E5 spun up quickly and allowed lures to drop too fast for repeated successful short casts. Daiwa's Crazy Cranker was the reel which turned TT heads in pitching situations. With regard to retrieve, all four reels performed smoothly, but some where more agreeable than others. The retrieve was smooth with the E5, but lacked the innards to compete with reels containing more bearings and robust frames, once again calling into question the specifications. The Curado ended up tied with the Winch in its retrieve performance. In my experience, the Curado does not lack power, but taking up line in a hurry is an ordeal in itself. The Crazy Cranker picks up line better in the TT shootout, so that should tell you something about the importance of line recovery specs. Quantum's Energy PT did not impress the TT reviewers as they found some backplay as they cranked the handle. I'll just go ahead and say Quantum did not fare all that well in the TT article on a number of levels.
Note: It does not appear that TT bothered to include numbers with regard to casting distance. Now you understand why I do my own casting tests and post them. If all four reels performed about the same with respect to casting distance, I suspect they all throw around 115-120 feet on average in light of my own results for the E5.
The E5 teetered on the edge in terms of drag, maxing out at a tested 12.7lbs. Although higher than the rating in the Shimano specifications, it fell far short of the impressive 24lb rated/21lb tested power of the Revo Winch. The award for smoothness, however, went to Daiwa, which features an eight disc wet-drag system. The problem is, TT could only squeeze out 9lbs of drag power from the Crazy Cranker. While the Quantum PT put out 15.6lbs of drag, it fell 2lbs short of what Quantum claims. Still, the Curado fell to the bottom of the list when it came to actual numbers. Oddly enough, TT gave the reel from Quantum the 4th place ribbon and moved the Curado up to 3rd. Hmm. This result raises some suspicions, but would not have made any impact in the final tally. In my own experience, I have yet to really push the E5's drag to the extreme.
The Curado E5 edges out the competition in terms of price, leaving the others behind overall, offering the best value in the low speed cranker category. I can't say much about something as simple as a price tag. To me, if you can afford a reel you like, buy it. When I bought the E5, I was on a budget, as are most of us if I'm not mistaken. Abu Garcia had a deal going with some Wiley-X shades. Shop around.
Things TT could have improved on:
Writing a review is no simple task, so I won't harp on them too much. On the other hand, they are TackleTour. We should expect more from their reviews. What the review lacked, in my eyes, was a good discussion on bait and line choices. In my own review of the E5, I noticed considerable differences in performance depending on the line and lure in question. As I mentioned earlier, TT could have also expanded on their comments related to casting distance. Since most of the reels appeared to give similar results, I suspect they felt the specifics were unimportant. As more and more anglers take on the tedious task of maintaining their own reels, a section on ease of maintenance would have been an insightful addition to the piece. Many details were left out, so as a reader, I picked up on some glaring differences and omissions. In the photographs, it was not apparent whether or not each reel was paired with the same rod. I didn't see anything about the rod used mentioned in the article. Did I skim right by it? In my blog posts, the type of rod changed everything. I also noticed different line was spooled up on the reels. The line on the E5 looked like braid and the others had either monofilament or fluorocarbon. All I'm saying is that the specifics of the shootout would have been interesting to know.
Then again, TT tends to favor Shimano products, or at least that's the way the come off, so those who recognize this trend will continue to remain skeptical of the results. Many positive things were still said about all four reels. In the end, it all boils down to application. In my case, I wanted an inexpensive quality reel that could handle most of the fish I encounter in my outings. Even though I looked at the Winch, I didn't need an 8.5oz monster in my arsenal. Inshore anglers and those eyeing larger targets might lean towards the Winch. Pigeonholing a reel for one specific application is not my thing. As a multi-purpose angler, the Curado does what I need it to do for the most part. Should you need a low speed reel for pitching, consider Daiwa. If cost is your primary concern, look at the E5 and the PT. In the world of low speed reels, it appears there is something for everyone. Take only what you need. I already made my decision.
Now if only I could wrap my head around the need for bikini-clad women showcasing products in TackleTour articles.
E5 or the Winch?
Curado E5 Review
Curado E5 Casting Distance
Team TackleTour. "Low Speed Cranking Reel Shootout: And the Winner Is..." TackleTour Reel Review, 10 February, 2010. TackleTour.
< http://www.tackletour.com/review2010lowspeedfinal.html >. 10 February, 2010.