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BFS Reel Review


Built to Brawl - Shimano's Curado BFS XG Baitcaster (continued)


Casting: In our previous introduction to BFS article by editor Hobie-Wan Kenobi we delved deeper into the technique and unique design attributes of BFS specific reels, and their distinctive spool designs. Hobie-Wan described the reason why traditional baitcasting reels often have difficulty casting light lures due to inertia and how the heavier the spool, the more force it takes to get the spool to start spinning. Even something as minimal as the weight of the line on the spool impacts how well a BFS reel will cast such lightweight baits. The Curado BFS addresses this by utilizing their heavily ported and thin-walled aluminum S3D Spool which only holds about 50 yards of 8lb fluorocarbon line to reduce overall inertia.


The Finesse Tune Brake System (FTB) moves the brake system from the spool fully into the sideplate and can be fine tuned by removing the magnetic brakes


I typically fish NED rigs and micro-jigs with a spinning setup and it was a very interesting experience utilizing the Curado BFS with these familiar techniques. At first, I found it frustrating trying to fish these baits with BFS, but it was because I was simply trying to replicate the casting distance that I was used to achieving. I soon realized that I was thinking about it all wrong. With shorter rods and this BFS setup it was less about max distance than it was about control and accuracy.


The Curado BFS spool is thin walled and ported to reduce mass and lower inertia required for startup during casts


I recommend taking the time to really get used to the Finesse Tune Brake system that the Curado BFS employs. It feels and operates very differently than both the more traditional VBS and DC systems, and in many ways is more like competing magnetic systems that use magnetic force applied on the spool or an inductor on the spool to apply force throughout the cast.


The FTB system is adjustable externally via the small dial


The FTB system can be adjusted using the external dial which moves the entire magnet assembly deeper into the spool to apply more force, and advanced BFS anglers can further fine-tune the settings by removing the actual magnetic brakes. I think most anglers will find the external dial, and the ability to make on the fly adjustments, to be more than adequate for just about all situations.


Once I dialed in the Curado BFS and got used to smooth casts focused on accuracy versus maximum range I started to really appreciate the smooth casting performance that the Curado BFS provides, and on the plus side there is a lot less line twists and wind knots than you experience with spinning gear fishing these same lightweight plastics.


I tried the Curado BFS with a range of different rods


The Curado BFS does a great job casting small hardbaits which is no surprise since lures around the 5/16oz. are around the sweet spot for this reel. Casting heavier baits really enables the spool to start up quickly and if you are mindful of the overall line capacity this baitcaster can easily pull double duty as a light power fishing reel for lighter baits when pitching and flipping. The same attributes that make this reel so good for accurately fishing lightweight plastics also makes it surprisingly versatile for any lightweight rigs where very accurate or more subtle presentations are required.


Tossing mini-cranks for largemouth


Retrieve: While the Curado BFS is an impressive caster the retrieve on the reel is pretty much exactly what you expect. The reel is as smooth as other Curados and when compared to both the JDM SLX BFS and 2017 Scorpion BFS this reel feels almost identical. The bearing supported knobs on the Curado BFS improve the feel slightly, but the overall retrieve feels very similar.


One gripe that some anglers have of the Curado BFS is the visible screw channels on the outside of the handle-side sideplate


Inside the reel we find the familiar black gear, which is a specially treated aluminum gear to reduce wear and tear and improve corrosion resistance. The teeth on the gear are relatively small, though not micro-module small, and overall matchup between gearing is relatively tight. There is a slight amount of detectable handle play in this reel and while I found it relatively smooth it also lacked some of the refinement of Shimano’s higher-end reels, which is no surprise given the Curado BFS’s platform similarities with the SLX BFS and price point. 


A look under the hood reveals the Curado BFS gearing


Drag: The Curado BFS features a simple drag system that makes use of two small carbon washers that surround the main gear. This “Cross Carbon Drag” as Shimano calls it, is an upgrade over the single carbon drag found in the SLX BFS. One of the main differences between the Curado BFS and SLX BFS drag systems is not really the maximum stopping power but how much more adjustment, and smoother, the Curado’s drag system is.


The Curado BFS features aluminum gearing that is treated for extra durability and corrosion resistance


In our lab we were able to achieve 8.3lbs. of drag pressure with the Curado BFS, which is just slightly over the rated specification. This may not seem like a lot of pressure, but it is plenty for the BFS application where a smooth and reliable drag is equally important.


The Curado BFS drag system is simple and features carbon drag washers on both sides of the main gear. Inside the gear you can see the audible drag system


While the Curado BFS’s drag system is designed to provide some stopping power the primary function is to protect the light line while keeping fish pinned. I primarily like to fish BFS with 4 and 6lb. mono, or a very supple fluorocarbon like Seaguar Tatsu, and the Curado BFS’s drag does a good job reducing line snapping shock during battles with fish. One of the coolest things about fishing BFS is how entertaining encounters with fish are, regardless of size. Even ˝ pound sunfish or rainbow trout stockers put up a good fight on the right finesse rod paired with the Curado BFS reel.


The Curado BFS paired with a Dobyns Extreme rod


Not only does the Curado BFS help keep fish hooked it does so with an integrated drag clicker in the main gearing that provides anglers with a reassuring audible cue as to what the fish is doing at the end of the line. Bigger fish that are capable of longer and more intense runs will get the drag to really sing, much like a spinning or fly reel. Many Bait Finesse System reels employ an audible drag mechanism and while this is not a “must have” this is a nice feature that adds to the overall BFS experience.


The Curado BFS provides plenty of access to the spool to manage those pinpoint casts

Next : Purpose built but good for more than BFS alone...









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