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Reel Review

Hit up multiple species with the redesigned Shimano Cardiff A

Date: 4/14/06
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 8.33

When Shimano decided to upgrade their reels for 2006, they didnít only put premium parts into their high-end offering but also mainstream products like the Cardiff A. The redesigned Cardiff sits right below the popular Calcutta in Shimano's line of freshwater, round baitcasters, but sports many high-end features, respectable overall performance, and a great price point.

Shimano Cardiff (CDF200A) Specifications

Line Capacity (lb/yds) 8/230, 10/210, 14/120
Gear Ratio 5.8:1
IPT 24 in
Weight 8.6 oz
Bearings 4+1
Additional Features A-RB, Super Stopper, Assist Stopper, VBS, Quickfire II, new Dartanium variant drag
MSRP $99.99


Introducing the attractive newly designed Shimano Cardiff

The new Cardiff 200A looks much better than the previous model. Instead of the gold colored pattern found on the old Cardiff, the new CDF-200A has a combination of silver and gold. This color scheme on the non-handle sideplate results in a much simpler and toned down pattern compared to before, which makes this round reel much more attractive. The silver side plate on the non-handle side has a much simpler and toned down pattern compared to before, which makes this round reel much more attractive. The Cardiff uses a one piece die-cast aluminum body construction along with an aluminum spool. You wonít find too many plastic components on this reel. Aside from the levelwind and thumb bar, the rest of the reelís components are metal including the handle and drag star. One thing we wish the Cardiff A had is a clicking drag for finer adjustments but we arenít complaining for a reel under one hundred dollars. The handle is a good length of 84 mm and comes with two soft rubber knobs that felt comfortable during initial inspection. New on the Cardiff are the use of four A-RB bearings and one A-RB roller bearing compared to the 3+1 stainless steel bearings used in the previous model. The Cardiff also makes use of features such as Super Stopper, Assist Stopper, and Shimanoís Variable Brake System (VBS).


Access to the brakes require removing the handle side via three hand-screws


Complete Rig for Cardiff A Tests


Lipper Evolution (C701M)


Shimano Cardiff (CDF200A)

Lines 12 lb Sufix ProMix
30 lb PowerPro


Zander uses the Cardiff to muscle this Lingcod away from its hole

Field Tests:
Weíve had the Cardiff for a extended period of time now and it has been through the hands of our Editors and guests fishing for rockcod off of the coast of California, striped bass at OíNeill Forebay, and black bass in various waters. These reels ran through the paces in both saltwater and freshwater applications and below are the results.


Spooled with 30 pound PowerPro this reel tossed jigs with ease


Casting: During our saltwater tests fishing for rockcod and lingcod, we tossed diamond jigs to 4.5 ounces on a Lipper Evolution rod while the reel was loaded with 30 pound PowerPro braided line. Casting these irons with the Shimano Cardiff A was excellent and well controlled thanks to the VBS, even for a few beginners that came along on our rockcod trips. No problem casting heavy lures, but how about lighter lures? For these tests, we spooled the CDF200A with 12 pound Sufix ProMix and went hunting for striped bass and black bass. For stripers we tossed jerkbaits, bucktails, and swimming jigs such as the Chatterbait in the half ounce size. The Chatterbait flew through the air effortlessly achieving great distances over 100 feet. Where the casting performance degrades is when we used the Cardiff A on smaller crankbaits and plastics. Though casting performance was acceptable, it wasnít the most refined, so we wouldnít recommend this reel for ultra light lure presentations. Though we havenít tried the 100 size, we feel that particular reel would probably respond better for casting lighter lures. Thinner line on the CDF200A might make a difference as well.


The VBS system is housed on the handle side


The 84mm handle sports two ergonomic knobs


Retrieve: Thanks to the four A-RBís the Cardiff does a good job in this category. Though not the smoothest reel out there, itís great for its price range. This reel feels very close to the old Calcutta but still not as refined in overall feel. In terms of power, the Cardiff has plenty of  muscle. With a gear ratio of 5.8:1 we found the reel to be quite good at horsing fish in. At one time during our field tests, Zander hooked into a decent lingcod that tried to run back into its hiding hole. Zander cranked down the drag, then pulled and reeled like mad and was able to turn the fish around. The Cardiff provided plenty of power to battle these hefty fish. When paired with a good crankbait rod the Cardiff did well for large crankbaits while bass fishing. It has the right speed and power to pull these large lures that produce a lot of resistance when retrieved.


The reel features medium sized gears and a new flexible dartanium variant


Drag: Though the Cardiff A features some components similar to its high-end siblings, it does not share the same drag material. While not the hard Dartanium drag we are used to the Cardiff does make use of a new flexible dartanium washer that is less brittle when flexed, and even produces less dust over time. Even though itís not the hard Dartainium we are used to, the drag washer provided smooth pressure at all settings as seen in our lab tests. Maximum measured drag on the CDF200A came out to be 10.5 pounds of pressure which is right on spec. In the field the drag never let us down even when we hooked larger stripers and rockfish that made a few freedom-runs as they came near the surface of the water. For black bass the 10.5 pounds of drag was more than enough to handle these fish, and the drag pressure was consistent throughout each and every fight.


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