A long time coming, I finally freed up enough time to really give the Shimano Curado K a good test. This specific review is on the Shimano Curado CU201XGK, an 8.5:1 gear ratioed left handed reel. The Curado K retails for $179.99 and is available in several different gear/hand configurations.
About the Shimano Curado K
From Shimano: Built tournament tough, Curado is the benchmark for reliability and durability. Generations of anglers have looked to Curado as their trusted partner. Shimano gives you more than ever with the new Curado K series reels. Now featuring the latest in Shimano technology, such as super smooth, efficient, durable MicroModule gearing, and offered in multiple gear ratios up to 8.5:1, Curado builds on its legacy as the ‘go to’ baitcasting reel for both fresh and saltwater action.
As pretty much every review has stated, the Curado K is really smooth. The reel can be finely tuned with adjustment points on the external spool control knob, the SVS Infinity system which provides easy-to-manage, consistent spool control and brake force, and a side plate underside adjustment like we’ve seen in previous Chronarchs. The carbon drag washers give a true 11 pounds of drag and the anti-corrosion internal components could make it a viable option for inshore saltwater fishing.
On the water, I was able to dial in the reel to throw a 1/15 Ned rig into the wind and land it right where I wanted to. Distance wasn’t a problem even with the light lure applications. When I tied on a heavier bait the spool kept up and allowed maximum distance. One other note: you don’t have to bullwhip this reel to get distance. The Super Free Spool spins so well, I am not sure if you’d need to mess with a bearing upgrade on the Shimano Curado K.
When you want to make adjustments on the water, the Curado K has a convenient beetle wing side plate that releases from a locking slider. You won’t accidentally open it on the water because it is tight straight out of the box. I expect it to loosen a little as it gets wear but it won’t matter as much since the side plate can’t dive out of the boat on you.
Purely from an aesthetic perspective, this is a good looking reel. It looks mean! The Curado K will turn heads at the ramp for sure.
Room for Improvement
While I love the beetle wing side plate, it can be a bear to get lined up just right to get it closed again. I again expect this to get easier over time but straight away it took a couple of minutes for me to get it lined up just right to get the slider to relock.
If you screw the external spool tension knob down too much it can make the retrieve a little mushy and sluggish. Adjustments to the external side plate adjustment and the SVS system on the spool can allow you to keep drop control and loosen the spool knob to take the sluggishness out. You’ll likely only see this with very light baits or very heavy baits if you have the SVS fully free and a 1 or 2 on the side plate control dial.
The Shimano Curado K has reset the sub $250 reel high water mark. At this point, I’m actually considering swapping out my Chronarchs for Curado K reels. The K isn’t perfect but the fact that it’s $179 and the performance outkicks the price point, I worry that Shimano has to quickly retool the Chronarch or else it may face a large market change. And who knows, maybe that’s the plan.