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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Shimano Chronarch D Product Review

Barramundi fishermen are often looking for the perfect reel for lure casting. As most of my readers would be aware, I really only started targeting fish like Barramundi on lures a couple of years ago when we purchased a small tinnie and electric motor. Before that my only experience in the creeks was live and dead baiting. Consequently the only outfit I had suitable for the task was a Shimano Calcutta 200 on a G∙Loomis GL2 644. Now don't get me wrong, this was an excellent setup and has served me well for quite a while. But as my lure casting became more 'serious' I started to want more from the outfit. My biggest problem with the Calcutta is that being a drum style reel it is quite large to hold in your hand. Its also a very heavy reel more accustomed to sitting in a rod holder with a live bait attached. This might not seem a big deal, but when you are casting lures quite literally all day long, comfort does start to play a role.

Given that my next reel needed to have this comfort in mind, a low profile baitcaster reel was the obvious choice. Shimano have an excellent range of baitcasters, from the lower end Caius to the top of the range Calais. For me, the upper end of the range was where I wanted to be. So that left me with the choice between a Curado, Chronarch or the Calais. After some discussions with the ProTackle guys I ruled out the Calais. This is a superb reel and deserves the title of being the flagship model. But it's a complex reel that needs high maintenance to keep it in tip top shape. Something not every fisherman is prepared to do! So now it was between the Curado and Chronarch. I was going to go with a Curado as this seems to generally be the reel of choice for most anglers. It's an excellently priced reel and is more than up to the task of big Barramundi. But when I put it side by side with the Chronarch, it just didn't compare. The Chronarch was a lot smoother, more precise and had less 'play'. So the Chronarh D was my top choice.

The side plates and frame of this reel are all aluminium, making it super strong and very light weight. The spool is an aluminium magnumlite design, and is again super strong and ultra light. There are 6 Stainless Steel A-RB bearing and one super smooth roller bearing. This is 2 more bearings than the Curado and, coupled with the precision engineering of the aluminium spool, is the main reasons the reel is so much smoother. Gearing is Shimano's powerful HEG (High Efficiency Gearing) coupled to a durable brass drivetrain. The infinite anti-reverse is instant with zero backward movement in the handle. 

Cast control is provided by Shimano’s VBS system. This is quickly and easily accessed through a flip open side plate. This 'escape hatch' requires no tools to open and also provides maintenance assess to the bearings at each end of the spool. Terry from ProTackle also recommends opening this hatch after cleaning the reel to allow air to enter and dry the inside fully.

The Chronarch features a high quality Dartanium drag which is capable of delivering about 5kg of maximum drag pressure. This is pretty standard for a reel of this type, and assuming the 1/3 rule allows good drag pressure for up to 30lb braid. Additional pressure can always be applied using a thumb on the spool!

The handle shank is cold forged aluminium that has been drilled for weight reduction. The accompanying star drag is also cold forged aluminium. The handles are a sexton material that provide a very positive feel. Thanks to all the bearings and quality materials used in this reel when you turn the handle the movement is very smooth and fluid like. 

There is a D5 and a D7 version of the reel, the difference being the retrieve rate. The D5 features a 5:1 retrieve ratio, while the D7 is obviously 7:1. I opted for the quicker of the two as a faster reel is always my preference. My thought is that you can always slow the retrieve down, but you can only wind so fast! Plus, sometimes when lure casting to Barra you only want to work the lure for the first few meters where the cover is and then rip the lure back to the boat for the next cast. The faster reel is better for that. 

I have been using this reel for several months now and am extremely impressed. The drag has always been super smooth, casting is light and nimble and reel looks and feels as good as the day it arrived. In the hand the reel is comfortable and light, good for full days lure casting. The reel casts like a dream, especially with the more lightly weighted plastics that many baitcasters struggle with. A 4in prong with '00' ball sinker for example will cast very easily. I chose to spool the reel with 30lb PowerPro with the intention of it being a Big Barra Reel. But as luck would have it the biggest fish I have landed have been Barramundi in the high 70's. But from those experiences its quite clear to me that this reel is capable of much more! I have put the reel on a custom made graphite CTS rod built by Bundybear. But, it would go quite nicely on either a G∙Loomis 665 or T-Curve Barra rod. 20lb PowerPro and the lighter G∙Loomis 644 would also be a nice combination. I highly recommend this reel for any avid lure caster who demands the very best from their tackle. 

Since purchasing this reel Shimano have now released a Chronarch E series. The Calais has been removed from the range, leaving the Chronarch as the flagship reel. I have no experience with this new reel as yet so cannot comment on the changes to the 'D', but there have been mixed reviews around.


• Aluminium frame and side plate
• Dartanium Drag
• Super Stopper
• Super Free (SF)
• Magnumlite Spool Design
• High Efficiency Gearing (HEG)
• Escape Hatch