A Need For Speed





Over the last decade I have come across three different techniques where a high speed bait casting reel would come in handy while fishing for trout.  Casting large swim bait and minnow type lures for brown trout would be the first.  When casting from shore I must admit most time I prefer a spinning reel, but when I'm casting from a boat with a 8" lure on 12 pound line, nothing beats a low profile round reel.  Secondly, vertical jigging deepwater lake trout.  The ability to put your thumb on the spool and control the speed of descent is essential.  If you detect a hit from the fish during the drop you're able to immediately press down on the spool with your thumb and set the hook.  The high speed retrieval allows me to move from spot to spot in a much shorter amount of time.  Lastly, retrieving your lure from long setbacks behind the boat.  If you have ever experienced a red-hot bite then you know that sometimes the feeding frenzy only lasts a short period of time.  The faster you can retrieve your line and let it back out again can make the difference between a good trip or a great trip.

The biggest problem with high speed reels is the lack of torque.  The drag from retrieving a large lure would put so much pressure on the gears that the reel would start to bind and lock up.  Also, a prolonged  battle with a trophy trout could put so much pressure on the inner workings of the reel resulting in nothing more than a paperweight.  A lower gear ratio reel works  more like a winch.  The low gear ratio is designed to slowly bring up heavy loads.  I definitely had my doubts but after a short conversation with my friends at Shimano, they convinced me to check out the new Chronarch CI4+, which took home the 2013 ICAST “Best of Show” award in the freshwater reel category.


Now lets talk about speed.  The Chronarch CI4+  i150HG is a smoking fast reel with a  7.6:1 gear ratio rated at 32" of line retrieval per crank.  Incredible, that's almost 3 feet every time you turn the handle!  Let me  put gear ratio into perspective for you.   The first reel that I had when I  was just a laddie back in the 1980's was a Penn 209.  I would  long line lures a good distance behind the boat.  I'm talking a football field "300 feet" or more.  It would take what felt like an eternity to reel in the lure with the Penn 209.  This reel's gear ratio was 2.8:1  which was great for wrenching in a trophy lake trout that is swimming away from the boat, but if the trout ever turned and charged the boat,  you would find yourself competing in a crank-fest, cranking the handle as fast as you possibly could just to keep from having slack line.  Another popular trolling reel is the Shimano TEK300LC  with a line counter.  This reel is a favorite of many trout anglers with a gear ratio of 4.2:1   Although it's not a speed demon with 25" per turn, it splits the benefits of torque and speed.  Going back to the analogy of trolling lures a football field behind the boat, here is how the speed of the three reels breakdown with an angler who turns the handle at 2 turns per second.  A football field is 3600 inches long.  The  Penn reel has 17" per turn of handle.

Roughly 212 cranks later and 1 minute and 42 seconds, the Penn crosses the finish line.
The tek300lc time comes in second at 1 minute 12 seconds.
The CI4+ finishes in  112 cranks at 56 seconds.  Winner winner chicken dinner.

The reason I have not been a big fan of high gear ratios reels in the past is because of the lack of torque and the high failure rate.  The stress the is put on the compact gear housing and gears can be intense. High speed reels have been around for years.  The Abu Garcia c4 5601 with a ratio of 6.3 to 1 was and still is one of my favorites reels of all time. Other companies make even higher gear ratio reels up to 9.0 to 1 . So if the Chronarch CI4+ is not the fastest reel, then why did it win the  2013 ICAST “Best of Show” award?  Well to put it simply, its bad ass!  All the innovations that make Shimano the most recognized name in cycling gets passed right down to the fishing reels.  Its all about the gearing so how did Shimano fix the problem with the lack of torque in high speed reels?  First, Shimano increased the size of the drive gear and the pinion gear to offer increased leverage and power.  As important as gears are, the bearings are as equally important.  The CI4+ features an 8 bearing system.  The one thing that I will always remember from attending the Shimano product training meeting over 15 years ago is that it's not the number of bearing but the number of high quality bearings.  Shimano's  A-RB bearings have been through a treatment process which makes them at least 10 times more corrosion resistant than standard stainless steel ball bearings.  A patented feature named "X SHIP" adds an additional support bearing to both ends of the pinion gear.  The placement of the support bearings is to keep the pinion gear in precise alignment with the drive gear and mitigate energy loses due to friction caused by deflection when the gear train is under load.  By eliminating the flex and increasing the leverage, Shimano was able to provide high speed retrieves and deliver an incredible amount of torque.

The Chronarch CI4+ is extremely light weight and more advanced than ever before, one and a half times stronger than Shimano’s normal XT-7 graphite and is over 20% lighter as well.  Weighing in at only 6.5oz, it's only a fraction of most of my other high speed reels. In fact when I slipped it on a 8'6" Shimano Clarus graphite rod "CDC-86m2b" with a combined rod and reel weight of 11.84 oz, it actually weighed less than my favorite  Abu Garcia reel 6501c  , which weighs 12.25 oz all by itself.  For anyone who has ever accidentally lost a rod over the side of the boat, and as crazy as this may sound,  you can take this rod and reel combo and actually toss it overboard into the lake.  I don't recommend that you do this, but it actually floats!


For the real world test I wanted to see if this reel was all it was talked up to be.  When I first picked up the reel, my initial impression was that it looked beautifully colored in gun metal gray and red.  I expected it to weigh much more than it did.   As I turned the handle I felt the smoothness of the gearing that Shimano is famous for.  The retrieval speed was insane as it zipped line in from 300 feet behind the boat.  I found the casting to be a work in progress as I am not the best at casting this style of reel.  On my first trip out with this reel I was fortunate enough to put the drag and the torque through its final test, a double digit brown trout.  Just as my friends at Shimano predicted, this CI4+ had quenched my need for speed and more than enough torque for my needs.

Brad Stout