Words & Images: Dean Norbiato
From its customary electric purr to a similar size and bulletproof casing, the Shimano Curado DC 200 HG is near-identical to the pioneering Curado DC 150 HG in every way – and that’s a good thing.
I’ve been using the DC 150 HG since its introduction to the Aussie market back in 2018 and have put that little pocket rocket through absolute hell. From battling with barra up north to getting mauled by countless hard-fighting Murray cod down south, the DC 150 has handled it all with ease.
But the only criticism I would level at the DC 150 is the Curado nameplate being synonymous with big fish. Hear me out. This meant I would always push it further than any other 150-sized baitcaster.
As a result, I would load 60-80lb braided line on it when chasing some XOS Murray cod with 6oz baits, as the kayak could only accommodate one combo per angler. With braid this thick I could never fill the 150-sized spool with enough line in case I had a mid-trip mishap and lost half my braid to a fish, snag or errant cast.
Thankfully, it appears this angler anecdote was common and Shimano created a 200-sized Curado DC that comes in two retrieve ratios – HG 7.4:1 and XG 8.5:1 – to address this very challenge. Based on claims from the Shimano website, the left and right hand available DC 200 provides anglers up to 40 per cent more line capacity.
Now, that’s a massive claim and in my real-life testing with thicker cord, like 80lb Power Pro, it doesn’t seem like 40 per cent more line compared with the DC 150. However, it definitely holds more line, but I would put the percentage sitting closer to 25 per cent.
That said, 25 per cent is still a huge advantage for those big fish anglers who chase barra, Murray cod, jewfish or even smaller pelagics as it affords you the added insurance of more line in heavier diameters. In Shimano’s words, this gives you added versatility and performance when using a wide range of baits and techniques, especially those looking to leverage heavier line, larger lures or maximise casting performance.
Now, on casting performance, most of my time spent using the DC 200 so far has been low slung in the front of a two-man kayak. I had the reel spooled to the brim with 60lb braid and a 60lb leader, while my cod compatriot in the back had 40lb braid and 40lb leader.
Due to the nature of the vessel, the majority of casts were delivered as round arm slings fired off parallel to the water’s surface. With both of us subject to this style of cast we had a pretty level playing field to compare casting distances.
Conservatively, I would estimate the Curado DC 200 was achieving an extra 20 to 30 per cent in distance from the cheaper 150-sized reel being used in the back. As any lure addict will attest, extra casting distance and accuracy is a game changer if casting is your preferred method of choice.
There is no mistaking a cast made by a Shimano DC reel as you hear an electric car-like hum as line goes sailing off the spool. This is thanks to the advanced I-DC4 computer technology in the side of every DC reel.
Courtesy of this waterproof computer chip, there are four distinct casting settings that you control via a protruding clicking disc on the top left of the reel. These four settings control how much braking the DC technology applies to the spool during the cast for superior control, while minimising backlashes when long-bombing casts or fishing in windy conditions.
If you are casting lighter baits you will toggle between the first two settings and for bigger baits and casting into the wind, you’ll sit mainly on three and four. Most of my cod work from the ’yak casting a 5oz swimbait was done on level three. It seemed like the sweet spot for distance without the fear of bird’s nest looming over every cast you gave a good nudge.
You often hear anglers, mostly US guys, talk about a reel having a ‘good palm feel’. What that means, I think, is how it sits in your hand and the level of fatigue you feel after a full day on the water. This was the main reason low-profile baitcasters were invented, as casting a huge barrel reel can be taxing on your hands and wrists.
The Curado DC 200 excels in this area and not only sits low on the reel seat but is ergonomically comfortable in the palm for fatigue-free fishing. This was a big plus for me and a carry over from the comfortable design of the DC 150.
The other absolute mandatory baitcaster feature I was fortunate enough to test was the smoothness of the drag. When fishing for species such as barramundi and Murray cod, a smooth, stutter-free drag is imperative to aid keeping the hooks lodged in the fish’s gob.
While I’m yet to tame a real giant on the DC 200, I did test the 5kg drag on a number of hard-fighting greenbacks that stripped string and tested the smoothness of the drag – a test it passed with the same flying colours as the DC 150.
My simple summation of this reel is it is aesthetically identical in almost every way to the DC 150, but it holds more line. And, yes, that is a very good thing.
For the privilege of holding a claimed 40 per cent more line, however, the DC 200 will cost you a RRP of $499, which is around $120 more than the DC 150.
For me, this is money well spent as the only real criticism I’ve ever really levelled at the Curado DC 150 is its line capacity and now, magically, it has been addressed.