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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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June 01, 2013

A Powerhouse of a Baitcasting Reel in a Small Low-Profile Package

by Bob Banfelder

Let's take a look at a relatively new addition to Shimano's low-profile baitcasting lineup. The Curado E 300 Series, offered in either left- or right-handed models, is a high-performance reel boasting an ultra-smooth and powerful maximum drag setting of 15 pounds! That's some stopping power! Dartainium drag material offers a wider range of settings. The reel can easily handle lightweight to large baits effortlessly.

Several features and specs include Shimano's High Efficiency Gearing (HEG); a lightweight but strong aluminum frame that houses an extra-deep aluminum spool capable of holding 240 yards of 12-pound test monofilament (50 pound equivalent braid), which gives you a good idea of line capacity; 5 Shielded Stainless Steel Ball Bearings; 1 S A-RB (Anti-Rust Bearing) Shielded Stainless Steel Ball Bearing; 1 A-RB Stainless Steel Roller Clutch Bearing (for a total of 7 bearings); 6.2:1 Gear Ratio; and 28 inches of line retrieve per crank. The reel weighs in at a mere 10.5 ounces, carrying an MSRP of $250. Please bear in mind that when I write up a product review, it is not simply field-tested over a weekend or two. All equipment is put through a vigorous trial by ordeal in which Donna and I own and work these workhorses hard through the seasons. Flawless would sum up this gutsy Shimano Curado bait caster.

Can't justify spending $250, even for a fine powerhouse in a lightweight package? Seeing as how I am not in bed with Shimano, I can suggest having you purchase a top-notch rod to match that first-rate reel:

Matching Baitcasting Reels to Rods

Time and again, I see folks paying way too much money for fishing rods, whether it is a fly rod, baitcasting rod, or spinning rod. Quite frankly, you're wasting your money if you spend more than $50 on a baitcasting rod for the Curado 300E (right hand) or 301E (left hand) model. Shimano, Okuma, G. Loomis, St. Croix and Shakespeare Ugly Stik wands are rated as excellent baitcasting rods—but not necessarily in that order. However, all things being equal, the former four rods are priced far higher than the Shakespeare Ugly Stik that I'll be suggesting. We're looking at double, triple and quadruple the price for a comparable Ugly Stik rod. As you generally get what you pay for, folks automatically get talked into and/or simply reach for the more expensive rods. The fact is that the Ugly Stik (again, all things being equal) is tougher than the other rods that cost considerably more. You may gain a bit more sensitivity and wield slightly less weight with those more pricy rods, but they generally do not have the backbone of Shakespeare Ugly Stiks. Different strokes for different folks. Perhaps you can now justify putting the money that I hopefully saved you toward a superior Shimano Curado 300E/301 baitcasting reel.

In selecting a medium- medium-heavy action Ugly Stik baitcasting rod for the Curado E, look for double-footed, chrome-plated stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts and center bridges for extra ring support. Ugly Stiks simply can't be beat in terms of strength and durability. For the price, you will not likely find these superior type guides on other rods that command significantly higher price tags.

I couple the Curado reel to a single-piece Shakespeare BWC 1120 7' (2.13) MH Medium Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod (12–20 lb. Line Test). At the expense of mixing metaphors, I'm spooled with 120 yards of 20-pound test monofilament—loaded for bear.

Let's take an even closer look at some of the reel's other outstanding features. On the sideplate is a flip-key that easily accesses Curado's Variable Breaking System (VBS) in order to quickly change weight adjustments and/or spools. The reason that the angler can cast extremely lightweight lures is in the design of the Magnumlite Spool. Creative construction coupled with innovative drilling techniques produces a light, thin-walled yet super-strong spool that offers ". . . the lowest startup inertia ever in a Shimano reel," claims the company. With Curado's VBS friction adjustments, cast control is always under control. If you are experiencing a backlash with a particular lure, simply make the fine adjustment via the Variable Breaking System, comprised of six brake weights, which can be changed by switching all or combinations of the weights. Easy to follow instructions come with the reel. I can flip or pitch virtually weightless worms (artificial or otherwise) with great accuracy because of this noteworthy system.

Opposite the access plate is the Cast Control knob to lessen or increase spool friction. Between the two friction control systems (the Variable Breaking System and the Cast Control knob), backlashes [overruns] are eliminated. If a backlash happens at the beginning of the cast, it is cleared by the Variable Breaking System. If a backlash happens at the end of the cast, it is cleared by the Cast Control knob.

For instant hook-setting power, Super Stopper II anti-reverse employs a one-way stainless steel roller bearing to prevent backplay. Additionally, the Curado E 300 series features a backup system, Assist Stopper, utilizing an anti-reverse pawl and ratchet to positively eliminate failure. To paraphrase the company's claim, "Should the Super Stopper roller bearing fail to engage as the result of cold weather or over-lubrication, the Assist Stopper kicks in to provide a solid hookset the instant the roller bearing begins to slip. Most often, the angler will not even realize when this feature engages. By immediately stopping the backward rotation of the roller bearing, the Assist Stopper greatly reduces the chance of permanent damage to the Supper Stopper, allowing the feature to continue to function as designed."

The QuickFire II Clutch (thumb) Bar gives you control of both spool and clutch with the touch of your thumb by either disengaging the spool or reengaging the gearing.

Curado's handlebar knobs are comfortable, made of Septon CPD, a thermoplastic elastomer that offers an appealing tactile feel. A round-headed five spoke star drag is perfectly positioned behind the handlebar.

Note: An important word on right- or left-hand retrieve handles. On most fly and spinning reels, it's a rather simple procedure to convert from either right- or left-hand wind modes. On most fly reels, it's a matter of repositioning the pawl. Instructions generally cover this conversion. On most spinning reels, one can easily switch the handle from one side of the reel to the other. However, concerning all baitcasting reels, one must decide on either a right- or left-handed model from the onset, for there is no conversion option. Some reels only come right-handed. Occasionally, within a model series, several right-handed reels are offered whereas a left-handed option may be limited to a single choice. A word to the wise; be very careful in your selection.

I'm right-handed; yet, I purchased Shimano's Curado CU301 E left-hand model because I'm more comfortable cranking the handle with my left hand. All my fly reels and spinning reels are set up for left-hand retrieve. Our Penn 930 Levelmatics—along with a pair of ancient Penn Senator baitcasting reels—came with right-hand retrieve. Fine for dropping a line over the rail or trolling, but for continual casting performance, I do not like changing hands in order to retrieve a lure. That's just me. It's all a matter of preference.

May has been a fabulous month for stripers, blues, porgies, blowfish and weakfish in the Peconics: Little Peconic Bay and Great Peconic Bay. Referencing weakfish, many folks claim that when it comes to fine fare, they find weakfish to be mushy and therefore return them to the waters. This is not the case if you follow my recipe to a T. Here's the trick: Dredge them with flour, egg and bread crumb. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Next, flour, egg and Panko them. Back into the refrigerator for another couple hours. Get your pan hot with Crisco, a little butter, a little olive oil; 3:1:1 ratio, respectively. Using strictly olive oil will be absorbed into the batter, making it—guess what? —mushy. Add thin-sliced garlic to the pan moments before the fish is done. Cut into the thickest section of flesh, finishing off the fish the moment the meat goes from gray to white. You want the fish flaky, not underdone nor overcooked. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. The dish is fabulous; not at all mushy. Enjoy!

Note: Although I cook virtually all my fish with wine, I do not cook this dish with vino. However, a glass is close at hand. :o) :o)

Bob Banfelder is author of the newly released (April 2013) The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, with blurbs by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso. Bob is also an award-winning thriller writer; his novels include Trace Evidence,The Author (two-volume set), The Teacher, Knots (e-book), and No Stranger Than I. Visit; follow on Facebook @ Robert Banfelder and Twitter @RBanfelder.

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