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Reel Review


Hit up multiple species with the redesigned Shimano Cardiff A (continued)

Ergonomics: Because of its construction the Cardiff A isnít heavy at all for a round reel weighing in at only 8.6 ounces. When we took the reel apart we noticed how lightweight the aluminum side covers were which helped reduce weight. While reducing weight compared to say the Calcutta, it does lack some of the Calcutta's solidness in the construction....but that is to be expected for a reel costing half as much. Overall the 200A size is very comfortable to use when jigging, jerking, or cranking, and Iíve gone all day using just this single reel while striper fishing without any penalties in the ergonomics category.


Weighing in at 8.6 ounces the Cardiff is quite ergonomic and you can even palm it while fishing lures


Durability: From our months of field testing, the Shimano Cardiff has held up nicely. Fished in harsh saltwater environments battling rockfish, horsing in stripers and black bass in lakes, and usage as a loaner reel to newbie guest anglers, the Cardiff proved to be a hardy reel. The surface of the frame did get some boat rash but it was very minimal. The most important thing is that even after some of the surface paint had been scratched or damaged in any way, it still didn't flake off.


The reel taken apart


After much heavy use, we opened up the reel for inspection and I have to say that the Cardiff A is one of the easiest reels to take apart and perform routine maintenance on. All the A-RBís are unshielded which makes cleaning a breeze. Though we did see moisture inside the reel, which was expected due to its design, no internal components exhibited corrosion or any other damage caused by saltwater. During our lab and field tests the drag never failed us, but during our washer inspection we noticed some gunk had intruded. We removed the particles and set it back up to measure the drag pressure when tightened all the way down and the drag still performed flawlessly. With routine maintenance I am confident the Cardiff can hold up to many seasons of abuse. Remember in our tests we deliberately subjected the reel to equal amounts of fishing time in both fresh and saltwater applications....and the reel stood up to the test agreeably.


A-RB's are not shielded and cleaning them is a breeze


Price: Considering the type of components Shimano decided to stuff in this reel, the Cardiff A is actually a very good price. For just a hair under one hundred dollars this round reel performs exceptionally well and anglers can use this reel to battle both freshwater and saltwater species. The reel offers a lot of performance the Calcutta does, and a somewhat similar fishing experience. Sure it isn't as refined or as a pretty a total package, but this workhorse gets the job done nearly as well in most applications.


Sub $100, this round reel performs great for the price


Applications: I would say the Cardiff A is a multi-species round reel. In the 200 size you can apply the reel to both saltwater and freshwater fish, thanks to the Anti-Rust Bearings that not only resist corrosion, but are unshielded making them really easy to maintain. We tested the CDF200A against nearshore rockfish, inland stripers, and black bass. In other areas the Cardiff A should be able to stand up against fish such as drums, pike, musky, catfish, carp, and much more.


The Shimano Cardiff has a one piece die-cast aluminum frame


Zander's take: I had a opportunity to field test this reel side by side with JIP and I must say that the reel is a big improvement over the previous generation offering. Not only does the reel look better, it is also built better, and makes use of more advanced technology. Once again Shimano trickles down some premium features into its mainstream offering. It remains to be seen if the new flexible dartanium drag will hold up and I would have preferred a flip down sideplate, but then I am probably asking for too much...as the reel would be pretty darn close to the Calcutta B. You really can't complain when you get all this for under a hundred dollars. Personally I'd still pay the delta for a Calcutta B, but as a crossover reel or a reliable backup the Cardiff is certainly a worthy alternative.



Shimano Cardiff (CDF200A) Ratings (?/10)


An overall good construction and finish considering the price point. Having A-RBís are a big plus


Though not the smoothest on the retrieve and doesnít cast smaller lures that well, the overall performance is pretty darn good. You can cast heavier lures with ease, and has enough power and drag pressure to battle some good sized fish


This reel is designed to be an affordable round reel for weekend anglers but have the performance for those hardcore fishermen. Your getting quite a lot of reel for the money but you still get the feeling you are fishing a mainstream reel rather than a premium part


The reel has some nice features seen on the Calcutta and up such as A-RB, Super Stopper, Assist Stopper, VBS, and a new Dartanium drag

Design (Ergonomics)

The 200 size shows good ergonomics and is quite palmable. Would have been great to have a clicking star drag, but kudos to Shimano for use of Septon grips. One other thing that is a bit of a downer is having to remove the handle sideplate to adjust the cast control system


This reel is capable of freshwater and light saltwater fishing hitting up species like bass, stripers, rockfish, and more. While not perfect for light lures this reel is an excellent fresh and saltwater crossover reel nonetheless


Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J A-RB L Must remove handle side to adjust VBS
J Easy to maintain  
J Great price  
J Capable of multi-species  


Anglers can use the Cardiff in both fresh and saltwater no problem, this is an excellent crossover reel for under 100 dollars

Shimano decided to redesign this reel and at the same time upgraded it with some sweet features such as A-RB and VBS. The overall performance and construction of the Cardiff A is pretty good considering the price, which is just under one hundred dollars. Though the reel allows moisture to enter, and it remains to be seen if the new flexible dartanium drag will hold up in long term use, but the CDF200A is very easy to open and perform maintenance on. The A-RBís arenít shielded, which is a plus in certain situations, and makes cleaning and re-lubing something any angler can do. If you are looking to get a round reel or looking for an affordable back up for freshwater and saltwater use, the Cardiff A should be on the list of choices for you.











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