The Shimano Curado K is a great mid price point reel for those looking for the reliability and performance typically associated with Shimano products. It’s not outrageously pricey like a Metanium MGL and it’s not a budget reel like the SLX, but absolutely serves its purpose as a great mid point reel for Shimano loyalists and those who may typically not be, alike.

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The Curado line by Shimano is arguably the most legendary series of reels ever released. Whether it be the “greenie” Bantam series, the bulletproof E series; or the DC version, odds are you’ve heard of or used one of these reels. The most recent non-DC reel release is the 200K series. After a slight let-down with the G series, and a good turn around with the I series, and 70 series; the 200K needed to make a good impression to firmly establish a consistent reputation for the line. With a sleek black frame with gold accents, this is certainly an aesthetic reel, but does it live up to the Shimano name in performance?

What is the Shimano Curado K?

First, we need to get a few technical specs out of the way for the basis of comparison. The Curado K comes in three models: XG (8.5:1), HG (7.4:1), and a standard gear at 6.2:1. These three ratios cover most techniques, but some of the crankbait guys may be looking for a ratio in the 5.x:1 for their gear ratio. We were able to try every gear ratio offered in the right hand version of the reel for this review. As the name “200K” implies, this is a 200 size spool, which is common with most conventional tackle offerings by competitors. With this larger spool, the K is rated to hold 110 yards of 14lb line, which is more than enough for whatever you may need. Despite a Ci4+ sideplate and Hagane body, which is marketed as being a lighter frame material, the reel is definitely heavier than the competition; coming in at 7.6oz. Additional technologies worth mentioning include the SVS Infinity Braking System; which is found in some of Shimano’s high end offerings such as the Antares, and Micro Module Gearing found in many other Shimano reels, noted for its smoothness. Based on these specs, this reel appears promising from a glance.

Who is the Shimano Curado K for?

Though not a “cure all” for your reel needs, the reel is a workhouse and performs well. If you are looking for a good offering for topwater, moving baits, or finesse applications, this may be a good option for you. Coming in at $179.99, the reel is at an unusual price-point where its not lower quality one might find in a $150 reel but definitely is not the higher quality of a $200 reel, which means there aren’t a terrible number of offerings in this range. However, if you do find yourself in the market for a reel that is mid end, but don’t want to spend $200, this could be an option for you.

What We Liked About It

We paired the three reels up to be used for a few different techniques. Overall, the smoothness of these reels is fantastic, they are quiet, and they don’t have much resistance when reeling. We attribute most of this to the use of the micro module systems in these reels. If you know Shimano, you know this is the same system used in reels such as the 2013 Metanium, which is regarded as one of the greatest of all time. We also enjoyed long casting distances, and the reels were easy to tune with the four internal brake settings, and a small dial on the side plate for six fine tuning adjustments. Despite the lack of drag stopping power, the cross carbon drag was noticeably smooth; having a slow start up and consistent through the pull which is critically important compared to a drag system that is jerky and could cause you to break your line.

The Shimano Curado K vs. The Competition

With only a few offerings in the price range to compare to, and not being a terribly popular price range to begin with, we were forced to compare the K to others solely based on the stats. The Curado K is heavier than the KastKing Bassinator, the Favorite Fishing Soleus XCS, and the Lew’s Custom Speed Spool MSB. Looking at other stats such as drag, ball bearing systems and other quantifiable features, the Curado K, on paper, gets beat by the competition in nearly every aspect, however, without being able to test the other offerings in the same price range, we are left to speculate how the performance compares. In reality, the reel does incorporate some of Shimano’s high end offerings, but the question is, how much are those really worth in the first place?

Suggested Improvements

One area we saw room for improvement was on the XG model (the first we tested), the cover on the thumb bar popped off midway through the day when we engaged after a cast. Luckily, it stayed in the boat and we were able to glue it on as recommended. We read many places that only the first production runs of these reels had this issue, and that Shimano was working diligently to fix the problem. However, it immediately made us second-guess the quality of the reel as a whole. We found ourselves asking if something like this was missed in production, what else could have been overlooked? Now that we have been fishing with these reels for nearly two years we have not seen this issue in any of the other models. We have noticed some deterioration in the smoothness of the reel compared to how they felt out of the box. Despite regular maintenance, the reel simply just feels like its deteriorating.

Closing Remarks

The Curado K is a decent option for people looking for Shimano quality in a lower cost offering. Based on our extensive use, the reel performed not to an overly impressive standard, but we were content with it. Most anything you would want to use it for the reel could handle it without a problem. At that $179.99 though, we think it worth the extra $20 at that point to invest in a higher end offering, possibly from a different manufacturer due to the absence of one from Shimano.


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