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Old August 19th, 2011, 02:10 PM   #1
The Hook Up Tackle
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Product Review - the NEW Shimano Chronarch

Field Review - the new Shimano Chronarch - 8/12/2011

Anyone who knows me knows that I am indeed a Daiwa fan when it comes to reels. Anyone who has been in my store, or at the reel counter with me has seen my eyes roll when "can I see that Shimano" comes out of someone's mouth. I'll be honest, I grew up a Shimano guy but converted years ago when I chose the "race-car" like refinements of Daiwa products over the "diesel like" durability of the Shimano's. When I decided to take on a review of a cheaper and rumored scaled down version of last years version that I didn't like much anyway, I figured this report would come out to be a slaughter. I honestly was almost dreading the Shimano factory reading my review, in fears that it would somehow pollute the relationship between our shop and Shimano. By the end of my review, to my surprise for sure, the exact opposite position has emerged, and for the first time in a long time, I understand and appreciate where Shimano is heading with a reel.

Shimano baitcasting reels have long been touted as reliable, tough reels that offer anglers superior performance and piece of mind that their equipment will work on the water. The Shimano Chronarch has been the star of the lineup. Even though not the most expensive reel from Shimano, the Chronarch has had a loyal following, and for over a decade has been the reel that Shimano's competitors have shot at to derail as the "pro's choice" for a baitcasting reel. Over the past few years companies like Daiwa and Abu Garcia have packed so much performance and features into their reels, that the once king of the hill Chronarch started loosing steam, and anglers started turning over a new leaf with new reel companies. Shimano tried to fight their way back by revamping the Chronarch almost every year to maintain their grip on the remaining loyal clan of Chronarch users and to keep fresh products exciting, but continued to fall short in innovation, and customers continued to select the feature rich alternatives like the Daiwa Zillion and the Revo Premier. In one last desperation attempt to re-energize the Chronarch, Shimano released last year the Chronarch E, returning to the original white pearl coloring, and matching the styling of the popular Core, in hopes to find a spark with past fans. While anglers who bought last years Chronarch loved the reels performance, most anglers chose to pass on the purchase, as in-store the reel looked and felt similar to the Curado, which retailed for $120.00 less.

When I heard that the Chronarch was receiving a complete overhaul, I was cautiously optimistic and excited about Shimano stepping into the high-performance scene again. Would the new Chronarch feature a swept handle finally? Would Shimano increase the bearing count up and free the spool for better casting? Would Shimano machine the reel from aircraft grade aluminum and pack it with hot cosmetics to mimic the JDM versions? Would the price of the reel exceed the $300 barrier? All these questions and ideas of where Shimano would take the reel started flooding my mind, and I along with the rest of the fishing industry awaited the announcement of the new high-end, high-tech Chronarch.

Shimano threw us a curve ball.

When the new reel launched I was taken back by the direction Shimano had taken it. Honestly, the thought that Shimano would go to a lower price point and less sophisticated reel never crossed my mind, and I did not know how to handle it at first. Feelings of "well that is the end of Shimano" and "what the hell were they thinking" crossed my mind. So when the reels hit my shelves, I was unsure the future of Chronarch sales. I needed to assess this reel, so I could actually see "what the hell Shimano was thinking", and pass the information on to my customers.

Here's the scoop:
The new Chronarch has ditched all the aluminum frame and components, and now is made from a combination of aluminum and graphite to reduce cost and weight. Many of the components, such as the star drag are the new graphite material, and at first touch may feel "cheap" to the consumer. The reel is noticeably lighter with these changes, but first opinions from employees and customers express a concern about performance, as no matter how sophisticated graphite parts are, they are not machined and as precise as aluminum, and in hand may feel less refined. Internally the Chronarch features 7 bearings, 5 shielded Stainless Steel BB, 1 S A-RB BB and 1 A-RD Roller Clutch Bearing. Shimano is touting their new HEG (high efficiency gearing) system that they developed for added power and torque, and familiar features like the Super Stopper II, the Quick Fire II clutch bar and the Variable Brake System are back. Shimano also lightened the reel by creating an Aluminum Magnumlite Spool and by drilling the handle shank. While the handle shank remains straight, all Chronarch models feature the larger handle and grips from the power models of the past, which is a neat feature. The result is a reel that comes weighing in at 7.6 ounces, much lighter than previous models, and a price tag that dropped $100.00 over last year to $199.99.

While I (and I'm sure most anglers will agree with me) feel that the new Chronarch is a step back in refinement and a step back in quality of materials, I was excited to hit the water with it and see if the performance would be lacking or if this was after all still a Chronach.

When I put the reel on a rod for the first time, my feeling started to change. The new light-weight of the reel balances on today's new light-weight rods better than previous models. I strung the reel with 16lb Sunline super natural, and put the reel on a G.Loomis NRX 854 and hit the water to throw some topwaters around. After some fine-tuning of the spool control and brakes, I was able to throw my baits with considerable ease, and I was pleased at the distance I could cast, and the overall smoothness of the reel. After fishing the reel all day I felt like this reel was performance packed and to my surprise I enjoyed fishing with it. At the end of the day we headed out for some deep water striper action to see if I could put some fish on the drag. I switched rods to a Cumara and also loved the balance of the setup. We put a couple dozen stripers between 3-6 pounds into the drag on 7lb Sunline Sniper, and the reels drag performed flawlessly and ultra smooth. It was an exciting reel to put to the test all day.

After using the reel for a full day, I truly look forward to fishing with it again. I see clearly now what Shimano was going for in this reel, and I think they hit it out of the park. While anglers looking at high-end expensive reels will probably shun this new Chronarch, anglers looking at cost and best bang for the buck will find that the new Shimano Chronarch is going to be the new king of the hill in the under $200.00 category. No more comparing Daiwa Zillions or T3's to the Shimano Chronarchs. No more comparisons of the new Revo MGX or Premier to the Shimano Chronarch. This is a new reel, with a different target audience. The new Chronarch has 3 gear ratio's, so anglers can use the same reel for 5.5:1, 6.5:1 and 7.0:1 retrieves. It also offers a 50 size for finesse fishermen.

This is going to be the new "Curado" for Shimano. When anglers come in to my shop asking for a solid performance, great bang for the buck baitcasting reel, the Chronarch is going to dominate the competition. Good price, smooth performance and solid overall quality are going to make a lot of anglers happy. If you're a former Chronarch lover, you will not like the changes, but then again you've likely switched to a different brand of reel by now. Shimano still offers the Core and Calais for more sophisticated and feature rich offerings. If you are a fisherman assembling an arsenal of high quality rods and reels and you are concerned with your bottom line, the Chronarch is a fantastic place to look, and a fantastic offering from Shimano to build your fishing foundation.

Reviewed by Ben Koller, Owner/Operator of The Hook Up Tackle and The Hook Up Outfitters
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Old August 19th, 2011, 02:37 PM   #2
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Nice.... Can't wait to get some of the 50 models...
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Old August 19th, 2011, 02:45 PM   #3
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Awesome write up.

This just might be my first non BPS reel....
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Old August 19th, 2011, 02:53 PM   #4
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would you say it was a repainted Curado E series reel ?
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Old August 19th, 2011, 04:06 PM   #5
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Great review. Looks like a reel for me.
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Old August 19th, 2011, 04:17 PM   #6
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Where are these reels made?
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Old August 19th, 2011, 04:26 PM   #7
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now i know exactly what your throwing at Pleasant
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Old August 19th, 2011, 04:32 PM   #8
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I have a few chronarch 50's and 1 200 and I can say that the 50's out perform the 200's and the older 50e's. The drag is so butter. Noway I'm buying anymore cores!!

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Old August 19th, 2011, 08:38 PM   #9
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Nice "SALES PITCH".
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Old August 19th, 2011, 10:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by kevin View Post
Nice "SALES PITCH".
Ummmm....let's see. The guy is in the business of selling tackle. What exactly would you expect?

He's not pitching the gazillion dollar reel, he's pitching a reel that anybody can afford. If you don't want to buy it, don't. If you are looking for a $200.00 reel, I doubt if you'll ever find a more informative write up on one. What more (or less) would you desire from a product review?
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Old August 19th, 2011, 10:51 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by onthefly View Post
would you say it was a repainted Curado E series reel ?
Nice reel, nice review...

Butt as you stated, the Chronarch is now the new white Curado...
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Old August 20th, 2011, 12:01 AM   #12
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nice. 160 on wheel and deal wensday ?
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Old August 20th, 2011, 10:10 AM   #13
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I don't think I would say this is a "white Curado E", but I would say that this is probably going to become the new "Curado" of the lineup as far as the reel that most people choose to buy and use. This is still a Chronarch packed reel as far as bearings and smoothness. This is still a step up from last years Curado.

The Chronarch is still made in Japan, and it performs like a Japanese made reel.

The question will be how is the new Malaysia made Curado going to perform? I think for a few extra bucks guys are going to choose the Chronarch almost every time, but we'll see. We will review the Curado also and see how it performs.

Kevin brought up a good point about a sales pitch, I forgot one! If you want to see more about the specs on the Chronarch, I have them spec'd out online:
Shimano Chronarch & Shimano Chronarch 50

If you guys ever want to throw one around come by the store and you can toss the one we used to do this review and see for yourself how it performs.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 11:46 AM   #14
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I never underestimate Shimano but as you know I am a big fan of last years Chron, it was smooth, light enough, and outcasted the Diawa counterparts that I own. I would alwys grab the Chron if I had the choice. When I heard about this so called downgrade, it really has been on course with what Shimano has been doing with the Chrons the past couple of models. It seemed as though even though they were smooth and bulletproof it didn't prove to be enough, so they started the attempt to get a better price point and maintain the reliability and smoothness that we have come to love in that product. I was skeptic to say the least and I will still buy all of last years models if I catch them going on sale but I might find room for a new Chron or two.

Thanks for the update. I can still read your Diawa slant.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 12:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hook Up Tackle View Post
I don't think I would say this is a "white Curado E", but I would say that this is probably going to become the new "Curado" of the lineup as far as the reel that most people choose to buy and use. This is still a Chronarch packed reel as far as bearings and smoothness. This is still a step up from last years Curado.

The Chronarch is still made in Japan, and it performs like a Japanese made reel.

The question will be how is the new Malaysia made Curado going to perform? I think for a few extra bucks guys are going to choose the Chronarch almost every time, but we'll see. We will review the Curado also and see how it performs.

Kevin brought up a good point about a sales pitch, I forgot one! If you want to see more about the specs on the Chronarch, I have them spec'd out online:
Shimano Chronarch & Shimano Chronarch 50

If you guys ever want to throw one around come by the store and you can toss the one we used to do this review and see for yourself how it performs.
Ben, ya know I'm just f***in w/cha! But I knew someone on the zone would get thier pantys all twisted up.
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