Shimano have produced a reel that is a pleasing balance of quality, features and economy, and I believe it will satisfy most. If you’ve never owned a low-profile reel, this would be a very good model to start with.
It’s dirty work, but someone has to do it; and it fell to me to put the Shimano Casitas 150 reel and Energy Concept inshore jig rod through their paces in a variety of circumstances in order to gain an impression of how well they perform.
From the beginning this combo began to win me over, as a nicely-balanced outfit and a keeper. I think lots of fisherman would be happy to own it and to fish with it. So, let’s get down to the detail that led me to my impressions and my liking for the combo.
Looking at the rod first, here are the basic specs:
*Inshore jig overhead rod
*Rated for 90-160gr weights
Interestingly, the rod is constructed in two pieces which conceivably increases its price a little, but for transport purposes, I prefer two-piece rods any day. It’s 6’8” in length, pulling back from the 7ft size that’s commonly used to work jigs/lures; however when you look at the line rating (PE1-2 or approximately 10-20lb) this is practical and makes sense, as most inshore jig or lure rods are rated for around 8-15lb line when 7’ long.
I found the length and action worked lures with a pleasing, easy action, despite its being a little shorter. 90-160g fits its action and power nicely, although I think the rod is more versatile than its weight ratings suggest, as you will read further on.
The construction is a combination of graphite and carbon, and mixes cork (rear grip) and foam (fore grip) in the finishing. It has a ‘minimalist’ approach to the grips which, overall, makes it a lighter fishing weapon. I‘ve commenetd before on rods with short foregrips that may not give ham-fisted fishers enough to hold onto, but I found that for my hands they were comfortable.
The action of the rod is progressive – the tip is lively enough to work lures as well as to feel bites, if you decide to designate it a multi-use rod and fish with the smelly stuff. And for a rod this light, it delivers a surprising amount of power. There were two scenarios where this became apparent: working heavy (100g) lures, and playing fish. Rods rated for 10lb line often have 80g as the upper end of their ability; however that’s the lower rating for this rod.
Shimano haven’t skimped on guides: there are 11, plus the tip. I like it when a rod is at full curve and the line still isn’t touching the grip or in danger of doing so. When playing fish, the top third folded away ... only when there was stubborn resistance did it start to hit half way. I really liked the rod action; it’s best described as fast but not extra fast. It also has an appealing bit of bling added in the form of a blue water colour pattern in the blank.
And now to the reel. Here are the basic specs:
Available in right and left hand configurations
Cross carbon drags or ‘drag’?
6.3:1 gear ratio
4+1 ball bearings
Line capacity, PowerPro 20 lb braid: 150yds that OK?
The Casitas sits between the Citica and Caenan reels in the low profile baitcaster lineup. Shimano spool design (S3D) is not die-cast but machined, from a single piece of aluminium, resulting in a spool that is more stable and reduces vibration when casting. When I tested the casting, and used the cast control system (SVS) I found it to be very effective at helping control overruns. To access the SVS system, the side cover is removed via a small lever under the reel to give access to the 4 brake blocks and engage in the ‘On’ position. The cast control dial on the outside of the reel then adds or lessens resistance, to moderate the speed of the spinning spool. The control wheel goes from 1- 6, and is recessed to avoid accidental tampering.
The rod is rated for jigs and people don’t generally cast 100g jigs very far, so I tied on a softbait (40g) and also straylined some pilchard cubes to see what it could do. Despite the heavier rod rating (90-160g), I had no problems flicking lighter weights a reasonable distance without any risk of over-runs; likewise with even lighter pieces of bait.
So, the reel handled all the above weights just fine with some adjustment for conditions such as wind, although I have to add one small caveat. It was obvious the reel well was? was well? designed for casting. The braid I was using did dig into itself ever so subtly and I did have to coax it a little with my thumb – nothing to do with the reel, but a warning to all who plan to load it with braid; some braids are definitely better than others for casting duty on a baitcast reel. A braid designed for use on baitcast reels will fall somewhere between too fine and limp, and too stiff. If you just plan to jig lures and maybe cast something only occasionally, then the braid is not much of a consideration.
The drag is rated to 5.5kg, was smooth, and dealt to lots of snapper and kahawai without issue. Fiddling with the gearing, I couldn’t detect any back play; it was firm and helped achieve ‘positive hook set’ when fishing. The retrieve ratio is 6.3:1, pulling in 67.5cm of line for each turn of the handle. When working jigs, fishing lures on the drift or bait fishing this is fine; I didn’t have any problems with retrieving sufficient line to keep up with fish – although one snapper had me winding pretty quickly as it charged toward the boat!
The reel is lightweight, thanks to its graphite frame, and features 4 ball bearings.
Most fishermen are quite focused on getting the most and the best for the least outlay of cash. Well, Shimano have produced a reel that is a pleasing balance of quality, features and economy, and I believe it will satisfy most. If you’ve never owned a low-profile reel, this would be a very good model to start with. Low profile reels aren’t designed to hold a lot of line, but if you prefer to have some extra in the bank because of the ‘just in case’ scenarios of fishing, loading it up with a quality PE1 line would be the way to go, although finer lines bring their own challenges, of course.
As a combo, the rod and reel work together well. The reel would be equally at home on lighter sticks and would suit faster rods for fishing lighter lures. And it’s more versatile than its ratings suggest, especially when fishing lighter weights (I’ll stick my neck out and say 50g lures like softbaits). From my point of view, the combo would score 8 ½ out of 10.