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Reel Review

Shimano Crestfire: Is it for you?

Date: 1/13/02
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 5.83

Introduction: The Shimano Crestfire is designed to targeted towards first timers to baitcasting reels.  Unlike the top of the line baitcasting reels the Crestfire is made out of less expensive materials and does not contain some of the more advanced features Shimano incorporates into their higher end reels.  But how does this reel perform and should a beginner really purchase the Crestfire to learn on before getting one of the more expensive baitcasters?

Shimano Crestfire (CR-200B) Specifications

Line Capacity 8/130;10/130;12/95
Gear Ratio 5.1:1
Weight 7.8 oz.
Bearings 2BB
Additional Features Graphite frame, Graphite spool, Easy Mag
MSRP $49.99

Impressions: If you have seen or picked up another one of Shimano's baitcasting reels before, you will definitely think how cheap the Crestfire feels; that's how I felt when I first saw this reel.  The body is constructed with graphite that looks and feels like cheap plastic, plus all the plastic parts used.  The two ball bearings along with the graphite spool did not add much to the Crestfire.  But I guess Shimano was really targeting first time anglers who never used a baistcasting reel before and designed a low cost toy for them to get their feet wet.  The Crestfire is the only reel that does not contain the Super Stopper and is the heaviest Easy Mag reel Shimano makes; 0.2 ounces heavier than the aluminum Coriolis and Chromica.

The Crestfire sports a complete graphite frame and spool

What is Easy Mag?:
The Easy Mag is a magnetic casting control system that tries to obtain as near true free spool as possible and differs from the old magnetic technology.  Shimano was able to do this by changing the angle of the magnets while the older method was done by controlling the distance between the magnets and the spool.  That means when the setting on the Easy Mag is set to zero there would not be any or as much force applied to the spool, allowing you to cast further.  At zero setting the six magnets are perpendicular to the spool, and at 10 it is parallel and very close to the spool.  All the settings in between has an angle between 0-90 degrees to the spool surface.  The Easy Mag allows a beginner to use a baitcasting reel with ease and have less backlashes, but can also be used by the more experienced due to the fact that you can set the magnets near zero resistance.  The Easy Mag is also used in the Coriolis and Chromica.

Easy Mag set to 10(picture on the left).  The 6 magnets are parallel to the spool.  At zero setting (right) the magnets are near perpendicular to the spool

Tests: After thorough analysis of the Crestfire I took the reel on a test run bass fishing at Anderson Lake.  I set the Easy Mag to a level of 5.  That would be a good starting point for a beginner since it is in the middle and would allow the angler to adjust the resistance either up or down.  First cast, oops... backlash!  The second cast and on were better, but I have to say it took me a little while to get adjusted to the feel of casting the Crestfire.  The smoothness from the spool is just not there to give a nice flow to feed the line, but the reel would work for a first timer.  The spool is not steady when casting nor while retrieving.  It would wobble which could be the cause to one of the problems I experienced during retrieval.  Every time I retrieved more line would be on the right hand side rather than having the even amount of line on the spool.  There could be other reasons why this would happen, but the spool is one of them.  


When the Easy Mag is set to the highest resistance(10) where the magnets are closer to the spool you can definitely feel it working.  At this setting I was not able to cast as far, but it does solve the backlash problem experience by many beginners.  Thus you can say the Easy Mag is doing it's job.  BUT there is something really wrong here!  At the 9 or 10 setting there is something inside the reel that rubs when I crank the reel.  It could be the magnets hitting the spool or something else inside.  I decided to take the Crestfire apart and debug the problem.  (See Below)


For the more advanced anglers setting the Easy Mag to zero allows you to cast further and almost obtaining free spool.  Even though the setting is at zero there is no way to turn off the magnets to allow true free spool.  When I cast I can feel that there is still a slight resistance on the spool.  That is one bad thing about using a magnetic control system, free spool can not be obtained.  


During this trip a caught a few fish that gave the Crestfire a good workout and I was able to test the other function that is very important to reels.  That is the drag system.  Before fishing I set the drag to a desired level, but I found it a little hard to increment the drag setting by minimal levels.  It was always either too much or too little on the drag.  This was shown to be true when I first hooked a largemouth bass at approximately three pounds.  The drag was not set to a level which allowed me to fight the fish the way I like it.  Having the drag too tight because of the non-fine adjustments from the drag control, the fish pulled hard on the rod bring it down.  I reacted by pulling back expecting the drag to come in play, but in turn I pulled the fish near the surface where it jumped and got away.  


Here at TT we like to tear things apart to see what is inside to give our readers a more in-depth look at what they are paying for.  


The guts of the Crestfire...


We took the Crestfire apart to examined the parts and to figure out what is the main cause of the rubbing I felt when the Easy Mag was set to either 9 or 10.  When the magnets are set high they are parallel to the spool, but somehow the magnets rub against the spool.  You can see wear on the edges where the magnets scrap against the spool, and on the spool you can see the damage the magnets caused.


Notice the groove on the spool caused by the magnets rubbing against it


Shimano Crestfire Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Feels cheap, but solid.  Uses many plastic parts 6
Performance The Easy Mag does it's job for beginners, but you can never have true free spool.  At the 9 or 10 setting the is "rubbing". The drag degrades an angler's ability to fight big fish.  The line being reeled in does not come in evenly creating different problems 2
Price I would not pay $50 for a reel of this quality 5
Features A magnetic control system for beginners called Easy Mag provides a way to start them off in using baitcasting reels, but even at the zero setting there will always be resistance, but at higher levels there are mechanical problems 6
Design (Ergonomics) The Crestfire is a good size that fits nicely into the hands.  The gap is wide enough to finger the spool 9
Application Beginners will find the Crestfire easy to use because of the Easy Mag which can be adjusted as one improves, just don't set it too high 7

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Good ergonomics L Plastic drag control
J Easy Mag L Poor drag adjustment
  L Cheap feel and look
  L Spool wobbles
  L Rubbing when Easy Mag set to 9, 10
L Line does not reel on evenly

Conclusion: There are reels designed for users that are more experienced and for ones that are beginners.  The Shimano Crestfire is definitely created for the beginners.  The quality and the performance of the reel is not good for the price you pay for it.  The Easy Mag is helpful, but the other flaws from this reel are not even acceptable to fishermen who are new to using baitcasting reels.  In my opinion I would never get this reel, even as a beginner.  A better choice for a beginner that does not want to spend that much on a baitcasting reel but wants a Shimano brand should go with the Citica that comes with many features of a higher end reel.

Have fun and keep on fishin!









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