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Volume 16, Issue 42 - October 16 - October 22, 2008
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A New Lean Green Machine

My 2009 Shimano Curado 200E casting reel is small but mighty

I thumbed the slim, dark green reel and sent my three-quarters-ounce plug sailing about 40 yards to within a foot or two of aged riprap running the length of the point. Popping and skipping the lure across a placid surface, I hoped it presented a tempting target to any marauding rockfish.

Moving along well outside the shoreline and tossing and retrieving my lure again and again, I quietly drifted with the outgoing tide. It was just an hour before sunset: the magic time for stripers along this part of the river.

The reel I was using was new. In a moment of overwhelming curiosity, I had purchased the small but well-built fishing machine more because of its improbable size than anything else. All of my salt water casting reels are sturdy mechanisms that dominate the rods on which they are mounted.

This reel was a low-profile model weighing scarcely seven ounces; once attached, it virtually disappeared onto the rod. Its only prominent feature was a substantial but graceful handle.

Fish Are Biting

The large breaking schools of bluefish and rock that crowded the Eastern Shore from the Gum Thickets down to Poplar Island have finally broken up and started moving around, though good action can still be found in that area. On the Western Shore side, live-lining spot along the channel edges from the Baltimore Light to the Sandy Point Light and down to Hacketts, then as far south as you care to go, remains the dominant method of getting bigger fish. For plug-casting aficionados, more than a few nice sized rockfish are being taken working shoreline structure in the wee hours of the morning and afternoon on both sides of the Bay.

Big white perch up to 12 inches are showing up over shell bottom in depths of 15 to 30 feet. Some are also cruising the rocky shorelines when a high tide coincides with dawn or dusk, perfect targets for small plugs and spinner baits. Water temperatures are now approaching perfection for good fall action. Need you know more?

Up until the last few years, low-profile style reels have had poor popularity, particularly in salt water, because of critical constraints involving limited line capacities and low-speed retrieve ratios. But with the recent technological advent of super thin, braided lines, reels that previously held only 80 yards of 20-pound monofilament can now be armed with 180 yards of the same test braid.

The Shimano Curado 200E that I purchased is one of the first truly compact, low-profile casting reels that have been engineered internally and externally to take full advantage of these super braids. Intended for largemouth bass fishing with a fast, 7:1 retrieve ratio, strengthened gear systems and a powerful drag, this baby seemed just about perfect for plugging the Chesapeake.

But loading the lithe little devil with lots of 15-pound Power Pro line and a six-foot fluorocarbon leader of 20 pound test, I still wondered if the diminutive machine was up to the task. The spool sideplate measured only one and a half inches in diameter, a full inch smaller than my other reels. It was so light and slight that I barely noticed its mass in my hand.

Proof of the Pudding

The moment of truth was not long in coming. A surge of water marked the ambush of my lure. The tip of my medium-action, seven-foot rod arced over from the force of a good fish. A broad tail threw a sheet of water skyward as the 24-inch striper bulldozed its way out of shallow water. I leaned into the fish and the drag gave up line, but I had purposely set it firmly and the burly linesides didn’t run for long.

Frustrated, the striper headed in another direction. It didn’t have much luck with that either, and it threw a fit, coming up to the surface and smashing the water again and again, shaking the offending lure violently. Fearing a thrown hook, I quickly eased off the drag adjustment, and the striper sprinted away.

When at last the fish came to the net, the reel was even handier, providing a comfortable ergonomic grip in contrast to my other reels, which often got painfully in the way. Throughout the evening, the reel performed flawlessly.

Suddenly plug casting in the Chesapeake Bay has gotten a whole lot more interesting. I suggest you check out one of these reels, but beware: Oftentimes a necessity is just a luxury once tasted, especially when the taste involves fishing.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.