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Is Shimano's new Curado Super Free really that super?

Date: 6/25/01
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: Zander & Vador

Total Score: 8.7 Preliminary Score

Introduction: Shimano's new Curado SF comes as a real surprise to us here at TT. Shimano has usually reserved the SF technology for higher end reels in their lineup. The Curado has always been one of Shimano's most popular baitcasting reels with good construction and smoothness resulting from 5 bearings, which is a huge jump from the next reel in the lineup the Citica which only sports 2 bearings. We sought out to discover just how good the Curado SF is and how it compares to the next reel up the Shimano ladder, the Chronarch.

Shimano Curado SF Specifications

Line Capacity 8/180;10/155;14/110
Gear Ratio 6.2:1
Weight 8.7 (oz)
Bearings 4BB, 1RB
Additional Features Aluminum frame, Aluminum wiffle spool, super stopper, VBS, Super Free technology
MSRP $149.99

Impressions: The Shimano Curado has been a top selling bait casting reel in the U.S. in the year 2000. This year Shimano wanted to expand the appeal of this reel by adding their patented SF (Super Free) technology.

It is interesting that Shimano made this decision because their higher end reel the Chronarch 100A was not upgraded. Sure you can buy the Chronarch 100SF or 100MG (magnesium) but these reels go for 229.00 and 299.00 respectively. Our tests purpose was to see if the Curado SF really was a big improvement based on performance and price so we put it head to head in lab tests with its sibling the Chronarch 100A which retails for 194.00.


What is Super Free?: The SF system is basically a bearing supported pinion gear. When the reel is cast the pinion gear is disengaged and stays in alignment so there is almost no friction with the spool shaft. This combined with a lightweight spool allows the Angler to cast farther simply because the spool is spinning faster. 

The comparison: The CuradoSF is slightly heavier then the Chronarch by .4oz, but the real noticeable physical difference is the Curado SF's wiffle spool. The aluminum wiffle spool is drilled to reduce weight and spin longer and faster.

The new CuradoSF has a lightweight wiffle spool which spins faster due to simple weight reduction

When in freespool the Curado SF spins more then 4 times longer then the Chronarch with the same brake setting. This amazed us, but really proved that Shimano's SF technology was more then just a catch phrase. In fact the CuradoSF spun so much faster and longer then the Chronarch we began to wonder why anyone would spend 50 dollars more on the Chronarch 100A?

The heart of the CuradoSF (notice how the entire side panel physically detaches from the aluminum frame)

Upon closer inspection it started to become a bit more clear what separates a Chronarch from the Curado. While both have an almost identical aluminum body construction the Chronarch yielded some advances that didn't carry over to the CuradoSF...yet. The Chronarch uses a much nicer metal drag adjustment then the plastic employed on the Curado. The plate that protects the spool and brakeweights on the Chronarch rotates but stays connected via a axel and spring while the Curado's comes completely off. (which is actually quite annoying since it is one more thing to worry about when making quick brake adjustments on the water) One other Chronarch plus was the inclusion of a small rubber pad on the freespool that was more comfortable then the plastic button on the Curado.

The Chronarch weighs .4oz less then the CuradoSF and makes use of more high quality material (notice the entire drag adjustment is metal)

The Chronarch drag adjustment clicker seemed more able to be finely tuned in small increments. At increased tension the drag on the Curado seemed to wobble a bit while the Chronarch stayed completely even. Both reels had great cast control via nice metal knobs. 

Both the CuradoSF and Chronarch make use of Shimano's reliable VBS brake system

Both reels employed the same VBS centrifugal braking system which is far superior in terms of adjustment and response then Shimano's own "easy mag" magnetic casting control system which attempts to adjust casting control by angling magnets, but can never actually be turned off like the VBS for experienced Anglers.  


Curado SF Preliminary Ratings (?/10) [prior to field testing]

Construction/Quality Good quality that is representative of the Curado line 9
Performance Performance is incredible! The CuradoSF easily beat the Chronarch in initial rpm tests, while the drag adjustment isn't perfect everything else is! 8.2
Price A reasonable price for Shimano's SF technology and defiantly worth the extra 50 dollars for the SF and wiffle spool 8
Features All the features of the more expensive Chronarch...and actually more comparable to the 229.00 ChronarchSF! 9
Design (Ergonomics) There is a reason why the Curado sold so well. It seems to fit perfectly in the palm of the hand and the new SF makes it even more appealing 9
Application Serious bait cast Anglers will find the CuradoSF a great reel that can perform well under all conditions with features far surpassing reels in its price range 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great Features L Plastic drag control
J Reasonable Price L Refinement of drag
J wiffe spool L Brake cover separates
J Reliable performance  

Conclusion: The Curado SF really is an impressive reel and a natural evolution for this top seller. At the 149.00 price we think the Curado SF beats the Chronarch 100A and actually can be compared to the much more expensive Chronarch SF model! While the Chronarch is more refined and makes use of more metal, the Curado SF is a better price, and a better cast performer thanks to the SF and wiffle spool. We will be using the Curado SF in plenty of tests to come and it will be interesting to see just how well this new addition to Shimano's extensive bait casting line really performs out in the field!

Until next time....Tight Lines!









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