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Reel Review


Shimano’s Curado K Baitcaster : More than Black and White (continued)

Ergonomics: The best way that I can describe the new Curado K in terms of ergonomics is that it feels extremely solid in hand. The new reel may have a more modern and angular profile but it still palms nicely yet always lets you know that it is there, unlike some of Shimano’s smaller and lighter reels that seem to completely disappear in hand.

The Curado K feels like a tank and seems as if it was built to do battle. The sculpted aluminum frame and long fighting handle pair up well with the soft grip knobs, which are just the right size, to provide a comfortable grip and plenty of leverage during retrieves.

The Curado K 6.2:1 and 7.4:1 gear ration reels weigh in at 7.6oz. which is just slightly heavier than the 200I by .2 ounces, which is attributed to the new handle and upped bearing count. The larger geared XGK model with the faster 8.5:1 gear ratio is noticeably heavier at 7.8oz. but still feels manageable during fishing all day. Being a mainstream reel Shimano made sure to offer every single retrieve in both a right and left hand version to address the personal preferences of all anglers.

Get low, low, low...

The reworked symmetrical clutch button can be a little polarizing but does seem to guide your thumb to the center where it clicks assuredly as it is engaged. The only thing that could have made this even better is a little tighter tolerance on the slides on the connection points and the addition of a rubberized grip in the center for that extra bit of comfort and grip. Overall the Shimano Curado K gets almost everything right in the ergonomics department, and save the tiny cast control knob, delivers a solid and comfortable platform.

Ergonomically the new reel sits very low on most rods and is comfortable to fish normally or palmed

Price & Applications: While the 200I was a solid performer it never really looked like a Curado family reel, mostly due to the two tone design and color choices. The 200K remedies that, and though black may not be the first color anglers think about when they think modern day Curado’s the use of the black throughout the main frame and sideplates with the green and gold anodized highlights on the spool and spool tension knob pays homage to the Curado Series history.

The only color on the reel are the spool and spool tension knob which feature anodized green and gold highlights that pay homage to the previous generation reels, a very subtle yet nice touch

Some anglers may not like the solid and black finish on the new reel but I personally like the understated matte look versus a polished or shiny black finish that can often look cheap if not done right. Shimano could have easily gone overboard by applying green and gold colors to the drag star and handle, but they decided to go in a more understated motif, and we are glad they did because the subtle design works and makes it easy to match the new Curado up cosmetically with a wider range of rods.

The new Curado K is great for everything from finesse fishing with fluorocarbon to tossing big baits and punching with braid

The Curado K retails for $179 dollars, the exact same price as the previous generation, which suddenly looks and feels dated in comparison. The competition at this price point is fierce, and where the Curado Series was once the easy choice there are many other reels that anglers can consider within this price range, including the excellent Tatula SV TWS or the new Abu Garcia REVO STX Gen 4, both of which are within striking distance at just 20 dollars more.  

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Shimano Curado K Casting Reel Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality We used to think the previous version was built like a tank but the new K series takes things to the next level. This is the most solidly build Curado yet 8.8
Performance Significantly smoother than the last generation and no need to oil the brakes to eliminate unwanted squeaks. The new reel is designed with durability in mind and yet doesn't give up refinement and still manages to handle like a reel that you actually want to fish 9
Price The same price as the last version, this reel is becoming a better deal than before with the additional features and performance but there are plenty of competing reels in this category so anglers have plenty of choices 7.8
Features Plenty of quality features including the SVS Infinity Braking System, the S3D spool design, X-Ship, refined cross carbon drag, Hagane body, use of CI4+ in the sideplate, and micro module gearing 8
Design (Ergonomics) Though gaining a little weight the reel feels very solid and manageable for daily use. The more angular design looks more modern and yet is still comfortable to palm 7.5
Application Finally a version of each retrieve for both right and left hand retrieve. The new Curado K is designed to be more durable than previous versions and our test reels have held up very well 9.7

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:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Excellent build and quality components, the new K Series is built like a tank - Not the lightest reel, in fact it has gained some weight from the previous generation
+ Consistent casting performance that delivers on both ends of the spectrum - While the drag has become more refined over time the max drag pressure has dropped
+ Smoother more powerful retrieve, almost as smooth as much more expensive Shimano baitcasters - No power cranking 5.5:1 retrieve ratio available
+ Externally adjustable cast control - Externally adjustable cast control is a bit tight
+ More durable than previous generations, which is exactly what you want in a "workhorse" reel  
+ A reel that is not only worthy of the "Curado" name but also successfully recaptures much of what anglers love in the series. This workhorse reel may be built tough but it is also surprisingly refined and something you really look forward to fishing  

Conclusion: The new matte black Curado K baitcaster looks more sinister, more substantial, but does it really look like a Curado? Does it need to? In a departure from Curado reel’s over the last decade Shimano wanted to make sure that anglers knew that this new version wasn’t just another evolution of the series, but rather a re-introduction of everything that anglers loved about previous Curado reels in a new more durable and feature rich package.

It is rare that a reel series gets more durable and solid feeling and doesn't sacrifice handling and refinement. In this area the Curado K succeeds

The more we fished the new Curado the more it seemed that things were not just black and white when we evaluated the reel as a whole. There are areas like the drag and overall weight where the previous generation edges out the K Series spec-for-spec, but when you look at the sum of all the parts the new reel feels more solid, delivers a far superior retrieve, and looks much higher end.

The K Series is likely the strongest most durable Curado yet with a combination of quality aluminum and CI4+ materials in the frame and sideplates, and a more refined and hard wearing gear design. What is most impressive about this generation is that while the new reel is built like a tank it somehow manages to handle like a sports car with a surprisingly smooth retrieve that puts the last version to shame.

Add it all up and this latest iteration of the Curado Series recaptures so much of what anglers love about this mainstream workhorse series, and when it comes to a smooth retrieve the new K Series really delivers

Is this the best Curado yet? We think so, and even existing fans of the series will likely find it hard to fish some of their previous generation Curados, except maybe the E Series which is still one of the most balanced reels the company has ever made, but even the reliability and nostalgia of the E Series must yield to the comprehensive feel and performance of this latest iteration. No other Curado has been built quite as “tank-like” as the K Series, and whether you plan on using the reel just for bass or for saltwater fishing, there is no doubt that this baitcaster is capable of rising up to the challenge. Shimano took some chances with the Curado K Series and while the new reel is not perfect it is one of the very best workhorse reels available on the market today for $179 dollars, taking home yet another Editor’s Choice Award and building on the Curado legacy as a proven go-to mainstream workhorse reel.

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