On the Water with Curado DC

The line flew out off of the spool with a whir. I’d cast straight into the oncoming wind, and I didn’t dare place my thumb on the spool. I wanted to see what the Curado DC was all about.

This month, Shimano’s latest iteration of the Curado began to hit store shelves. It’s called the Curado DC, and the new reel is bringing Shimano’s digital control braking system down to its most affordable price point yet. But after taking home Best of Category honors at ICAST, is the Curado DC really all it’s cracked up to be?

I went on the water to find out.

First impressions

This is a Curado. There’s no mistaking it. In fact, without casting it, very few external cues allude to the difference between this reel and any of its brethren. It feels solid, like the Curado of old, and yet its low profile aligns with modern trends in baitcasting design. A lone “DC” marking is your only clue to what’s inside.

Pick it up, put it on a rod, and head to the lake, and you’ve got a different story to tell about the reel.

1/1,000th of a second. That’s how quickly the digitally controlled brake inside of the DC tracks braking pressure. It’s adjustable via a dial, and the microcomputer inside of the reel really does make a difference when fishing in windy conditions. Shimano claims that the digital control system virtually eliminates backlash, and I found that to be true. If the digital control is set to maximum, you really can cast this reel without applying your thumb to the spool.

That said, you’ll sacrifice some casting distance if you choose to crank the DC dial all of the way up.


The new reel fishes much like the Curado K. In practice, I was able to make long distance casts with both Curados, and cranking up the digital control on the DC resulted in a mild impact to casting distance—think feet, not yards.

With the digital control set to a medium or low setting, the reels are virtually indistinguishable, save for a signature “whir” that sings whenever you cast the Curado DC. It’s a futuristic, tech-y noise that can be alarming at first. The noise isn’t loud, and Shimano says its there to let anglers know the digital control is working, but it is different from any current reel that I know of on the market. It’s reminiscent of some vintage Ambassadeur reels that I fished as a kid. Those reels released a “whir” which actually helped gauge casting distance over time, and I found the DC noise to have the same effect.

Is it impossible to backlash? No, but it is difficult to do so. The Curado DC’s braking system is very good, but Mother Nature can still get the best of it in extreme situations, especially with heavier line. It’s a reel that helps experienced anglers fight the elements, and could help beginners learning to use their first baitcaster do so without a constant bramble of backlashes.

At $249, the Curado DC clocks in quite a bit higher than the Curado K’s $179 price tag, but for some, the digital control will be worth the upgrade.

Keith Combs tests the new Shimano Curado DC

What are the pros saying?

Jonathon VanDam: “It’s a great reel for a guy to start out with because you’re not going to be picking out a ton of backlashes. If you’re already great with a baitcaster, it has niches for lightweight baits, casting in the wind, and for those type of things when you want to use the digital control.”

Keith Combs: “It’s a Curado. It’s going to last you six or eight years, even if you fish every day. It’s an investment in your fishing future. Instead of buying a $100 reel, then a $150 reel, then a $300 reel it’s one $250 reel that adapts to you. It compensates for your mistakes and helps you keep fishing.”

The official take

Shimano’s in-house promo video does a good job of breaking down the technology behind its digitally-controlled brake. Listen closely at the beginning to hear its signature “whir.”

Shimano says the Curado DC is shipping to retailers now.