Expert Review: Shimano Curado K Baitcasting Reel

Published on 07/01/2022 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2020.
Jay Wallen, Fishing Expert
By Fishing Expert Jay Wallen

All photos courtesy of Jay Wallen

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2020.

My take

The Shimano Curado K is my workhorse baitcaster. It’s great for professionals as well as beginners. It's an easy-to-use reel, with smooth bearings and gearing, and a good strong drag. I use this reel for everything from jigs and soft plastics, to chatterbaits and topwaters. With the wide range of gear ratios, there is a Curado K to suit just about any freshwater or saltwater fishing scenario.

About the reel

  • Model: Shimano Curado K
  • Reel Size: CU200 HGK
  • Construction: Hagane Body Baitcaster
  • Drag System: Cross Carbon Star Drag System
  • Drag Pressure: 11lbs

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): My preferred style of fishing is slow working a jig or soft plastics. At times though, I will throw moving baits like spinnerbaits and crankbaits. For jigs and soft plastics, I prefer the 200HGK in the 7.4:1 gear ratio; and for the moving baits, I prefer the 200K 6.2:1 gear ratio model.
  • Experience: I have over 30 years of conventional fishing experience.

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: January 2020
  • Rod Paired with Reel: I have several of these reels on different rods, but my favorite is the G.Loomis NRX+ 854C, 7’1” MH ex-fast with the CU200 HGK. This is a perfect setup for fishing jigs, worms and other soft plastics.
  • Line Paired with Reel: I use the 18lb-test Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon line on this reel, but it handles anything from 10lb-25lb test monofilament, flourocarbon and braided lines with no trouble.
  • Days tested: 400 days
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Most of my fishing takes place on freshwater lakes, but I’ve used this reel on creeks, rivers and other reservoirs. It is well-suited for saltwater use as well.
  • Species targeted with reel: Almost all of my target species with this reel have been both smallmouth and largemouth bass.

How it performs


What I was looking for

When I was looking for a new do-it-all reel, I needed something that had multiple gear ratios, a strong drag, and would last several tough seasons of fishing. I tournament fish, and use my reels more than the average guy. I’m on the water 150+ days a year, and I needed a workhorse reel that can withstand abuse and still perform at a high level.

Why I chose this gear

This reel has a history of being well-made and long-lasting. The new models of the Curado have exceeded my expectations. With multiple gear ratios to choose from, I knew the MicroModule gearing and X-ship technology would give me what I needed and I would get long-term use out of it.

What I love about it

  • Performance: I’ve been using the Curado K line of reels for several seasons now, and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy more. They have performed so well for me, even with minimal cleaning. They remain smooth, casting long distances, and the drag is very strong and durable. As with any baitcaster there is always the chance of a backlash if the brakes are set too loose. However, I have found with this particular model its much more user friendly and while it will still backlash it doesn’t seem to be as severe as with other reels I have used in the past.
  • Versatility: These reels are incredibly versatile, as they come in multiple gear ratios and are saltwater capable. This makes it an ideal reel for jigs, soft plastics, and moving hard baits with treble hooks.
  • Drag System: The drag system on the Shimano Curado is a cross-carbon drag system, easily adjusted with the star drag on the side of the handle. This drag is rated for 11lbs and when engaged, releases the line in a smooth way. It is also rated for saltwater, and will not corrode or otherwise be negatively affected by salt.
  • Feel: The reel is a perfect fit to the palm; it’s light, and the thumb button is perfectly within reach. It's also very balanced on the rod, and has a solid feel to it.
  • Maintenance: This is one of the things I love most about this reel. While I do recommend cleaning and lubing this reel at least once per season, I can actually get away with going longer. The bearings are well-sealed, and dirt and debris intrusion is almost nonexistent. I have several of these reels that are two seasons old, and I haven’t cleaned or lubed them, and yet they still feel the same as the day I bought them!

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Durability: One of the few issues I have encountered is that the outer casing isn’t super durable. They do receive quite a bit of boat rash, and the writing on the reels can easily be scratched off. This doesn’t affect the usability of the reel or the mechanics, just the aesthetics.
  • Aesthetics: I would personally like to see a more matte finish to these reels, and a coating or something to protect them from scratches a little bit more. I find that the reel scratches easily.

Favorite moment with this gear

One of my favorite moments with this reel occurred when I was trying out a new, large swimbait for bass in deep water. I was concerned with how the reel would handle such a large bait on a heavier line. I was super pleased when I spooled it up with 20lb Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon, and it laid on the spool in a very clean and even layer. I made sure to tighten up the spool a bit, and my first cast was so smooth and long I knew right away it was going to be perfect. The 6.4:1 ratio was slow enough to not over-fish the bait, and when it got bit, the drag did its job and set the hook deep. It was a giant largemouth bass, well over 5lbs, and I knew then that this was the reel I was looking for. Whether it was for small baits or big, bottom baits or moving baits, the Shimano Curado K could handle them all.

Value for the money vs. other options

The Shimano Curado K isn’t a cheap reel. But when compared with others with similar characteristics and technology, the price point is an absolute steal for a reel under $200. A reel would have to offer quite a bit to make me purchase something else other than a Curado K. To me, it’s the best reel on the market for under $200. This reel is very similar to the Curado DC without the digital controlled braking system. I do find that the Curado K has a smoother feel and is much quieter on the cast. For me, I personally prefer the Curado K over the DC. It may have a possibility of backlashing more than the DC but to me the savings of money, the smoothness and quietness of the reel make it worth it to me over the DC.

Final verdict

For anglers who are looking for a great quality reel, one that will last for years and won’t break the bank, I can’t recommend the Shimano Curado K enough. This has been and will be my workhorse reel for years to come. It will provide incredible castability and endurance in almost any situation.

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