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Reel Review

The Shimano Caenan, a Mainstream Contender (continued)


Casting: The Caenan is quite a competent caster and I found I was able to sling both heavy and lightweight lures consistently using both 10-12lb. lines. The Caenan doesnít have ďSuper FreeĒ and yet it casted almost as far as the Citica E in our distance tests. The Caenan does have a higher bearing count, though a number of those bearings are actually used in the knobs so donít impact casting in the slightest.


The two tone finish gives the reel a more sporty look


Fishing for Stripers I was able to bomb ripbaits over huge distances and cover a lot of water in an attempt to get the fish to chase. The Caenan makes use of Shimanoís VBS cast control system, which while simple in design, is probably the most consistent and reliable cast control system on the market.


The reel features a more rounded shape than the E-Series baitcasters


Retrieving: The Caenan casts like other Shimano higher end baitcasters but it doesnít retrieve the same. While still reasonably smooth the Caenan lacks the refinement of the Citica and Curado and when it comes to power if falls well short of the higher-end reels. I first noticed this when I set into a 4lb. largemouth and the gearing immediately felt stressed and I really had to crank the reel aggressively to muscle in the fish, not something Iím used to having to do thanks to being spoiled by Shimanoís HEG gearing, but as it would turn out it was more than just efficiency at work here.


Plenty of spool access here


At the California Delta when fishing ripbaits for Striper I finally got the strike I was looking for and hooked into a double digit fish on the edge of a school in open water. The second I set the rod and started cranking I could discern an abrupt loss of power, a result of the flex in the reelís frame. The graphite frame, while lightweight, simply does not do as good of a job holding all the gearing together in the necessary tight tolerances. This loss of power is noticeable and with a Curado E reel I would have had no problem winning the tug of war with this particular fish in half the time it took me to land her.


The reliable VBS cast control system is accessed under the 1/8 turn sideplate knob


The Caenan lacks the power necessary to turn bigger stronger fish, requiring a little more work and lot more finesse. Because the battle took so long the fish was able to get into the weedline and I had to more carefully work the fish to make sure it didnít get hung up and throughout the tests there was also some noticeable backplay in the Caenanís handle as well.


The VBS system just plain works


After this test Iím very interested to see just how the new Citica and Curado G reels will stack up with the same form factor and gearing placement within the new aluminum frames, hopefully they will do a better job locking the gearing together and translating the winding power from the handle to the spool. Over the long term the Caenan gearing has held up well, in fact it has held up better than the Daiwa Exceler which started to get pretty rough just after half a season of use and required additional lubrication on the master gearing.


The metal cast control knob is a nice touch


Drag: The Caenan makes use of a standard drag that delivers 9.8lbs of drag counter pressure in our lab, just shy of the 10lb. factory spec. We did notice that the drag was not as smooth as Shimano baitcast reels that make use of the companyís higher end Dartanium drag system. Even though the drag only consists of a single washer sandwiched between a steel disc and the brass gearing in the field the straightforward drag system was still smooth enough to release line under pressure, this helped prevent break-offs when trying to turn Stripers and keep treble hooks pinned.


The Caenan features the Quickfire II clutch bar


Ergonomics: The Caenan weighs in at 7.2oz. and feels light and is easy to balance with most rods. One of the benefits of using graphite versus a metal is that it is lighter and more corrosion resistant. In comparison the Daiwa Exceler weighs in 8.8-9.4oz. depending on retrieve ratio version.  The Caenan feels lighter than the Citica E which weighed in .6oz. heavier but somehow it just doesnít look it, the design of the Caenan appears wider than the E-Series models.


The Caenan palms reasonably well


In hand I still prefer palming the E-Series reels and feel like they more easily rest in hand providing direct access to the line. While I liked the EVA Power Grips on the Stradic CI4 I quickly tired of them on the Caenan. When fishing spinning reels I typically fish lighter more finesse applications and find myself pinching the knob lightly when retrieving, here the round knob feels natural.


The reel makes use of high density EVA power grips


On baitcasters there are more applications when I really require more leverage, especially when power fishing, and I will mash down on handles not just with my thumb and finger but gripped in the center of my fist. It is during these circumstances where I find the standard Shimano barrel knobs and especially the Power Grip II knobs vastly superior in terms of grip and comfort.


The lighter silver finish on the sides gives the reel a larger look, we are surprised how much smaller the new Curado G looks with the darker color

Next Section: So how does the Caenan stack up?









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