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Reel Review

Shimano Continues Their Roll : Chronarch CI4+ (continued)

Features: The story with this Chronarch is its carbon construction. Shimano touts their new, CI4+ formula as being 20% lighter yet 250% stronger than the original CI4 material. Certainly we have no method of validating these claims but given the way this reel fishes, we have no real reason to doubt these claims.

One of our favorite features on Shimano low profile baitcasters are the left and right hand contoured knobs.

On our baseline features checklist, the Chronarch CI4+ has externally adjustable brakes, no bearings in the levelwind, one bearing and one bushing per knob, micro-click adjustment on the dragstar only, no reel cover in the box, and one vial of oil.


Features Ratings for Shimano Chronarch CI4+

Ext Brake Adjust? (1-2)
Levelwind Bearing (1-2)
Knob Bearings (1-3)
Micro Clicks (1-3)
Reel Cover (1-2)
Oil (1-2)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)


Design & Ergonomics: The Chronarch CI4+ borrows from the ergonomics of its JDM cousin, the 2013 Metanium with small differences in how the sideplate interacts with the frame, the shadow lines around the reel, and how the spool engages the pawl end of the pinion gear. What this translates to is a reel that, like the Metanium, is super easy and comfortable to palm.

The Chronarch CI4+ is among the most comfortable reels we've fished.

Extending those similarities to the Metanium a bit further, the Chronarch CI4+ also sports an 84 millimeter handle, contoured left and right handed knobs, and a throwback fighting dragstar from the 1980's only with flat surfaces at the ends of the star making it easier on your finger tips as you tighten down or back off your drag setting. The overall weight of the Chronarch CI4+ is just 0.3 ounces more than the Metanium yet it retails for two thirds the price - another advantage of the CI4+ material.


Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Shimano Chronarch CI4+

Handle Length (1-5)
Knobs (1-5)
Palming (1-5)
Overall Weight (1-5)
Ease of Breakdown (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)


Application: The Chronarch CI4+ comes in two different retrieve ratios both kind of in the mid-range speedwise compared to the competition. Missing is a super slow cranking speed and a super high, bragging rights speed. Realistically, you can do a lot with its 6.2:1 and 7.6:1 options. The only technique I wouldn't recommend the Chronarch CI4+ for is throwing big baits. Unless you get creative using braid with heavy mono or fluoro leaders, it's just not possible to get enough big diameter line on this reel.


Application Ratings for Shimano Chronarch CI4+

Horizontal (1-5)
Vertical (1-5)
Finesse (1-5)
Big Baits (1-5)
Topwater (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Available in two retrieve ratios, the Chronarch CI4+ is a good option for many different techniques.


Shimano Chronarch CI4+ Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Joints as tight as we've seen on a low profile baitcasting reel. 9.0
Performance The SVS Infiniti brake system is my new favorite. 9.2
Price I had forgotten this reel was under $300! 7
Features Standard fare here but that CI4+ frame makes a lot of things possible. 7.14
Design (Ergonomics) Remember when Shimano reels were kind of big and heavy? No more! 8.8
Application Pretty versatile save for a true cranking gear ratio and a deeper spool for big baits. 8.0

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ The Chronarch name within Shimano is relevant once again - No low gear ratio option
+ Super comfortable to palm - No micro-click spool tension knob
+ SVS Infiniti braking system  
+ Light yet affordable  
+ Saltwater Safe!  


Conclusion: Before I handled the Chronarch CI4+, my new favorite Shimano reel was the 2013 Metanium followed closely by the latest Antares and Conquest reels. Now, I'm not so sure. This Chronarch CI4+ really grows on me the more and more I use it. The fact it's easier to get than the Metanium only adds to its appeal and overall utility. Then of course, there's the reel's price. I've always gravitated towards magnesium reels for personal use because I appreciate their lighter weight without sacrificing rigidity. Small aluminum reels that weigh eight ounces or more just annoy me. Unfortunately, magnesium reels always come with a hefty price tag, and that price has been going up every year.

The Chronarch CI4+ is making me a believer in carbon fiber framed reels.

Carbon framed reels have always shown potential, but until the only one so far that has realized this potential in my hands has been this one. The Chronarch CI4+ casts like a dream, has good power, a super sweet drag, and is light, comfortable to palm, and relatively affordable. It's somewhat obvious the reel is not metal when you tap the frame and sideplates with your fingernails, yet out on the water, it does not have that hollow feel typical of other reels made from the same material. Shimano is back people, and back in a big way. The Chronarch CI4+ wins this Editor's Choice!


Looking for a Shimano Chronarch CI4+? Try one of these reputable sources!


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