New! and Improved? The Shimano Caenan

Shimano Caenan

The Original Shimano Caenan

A couple years ago, Shimano introduced the Caenan reel. This reel was a high-quality, mid-priced baitcast reel. There were not a lot of bells and whistles to this reel, and it’s aesthetics were nothing to write home about, however, it was the guts of this reel that really made it praiseworthy.

The original Caenan reel boasted 7 bearings, and used the Variable Braking System; this is a series of pins that could be adjusted to change how quickly the spool will slow down during the cast. These are really high quality features in what was a $100 reel. The best part, was the Caenan was available in both right and left hand retrieve, and boasted a solid 6.5:1 gear ratio.

My only sleight on the original design was the handle. Although durable, it lacked appeal, and felt a little bit cheap compared to Shimano’s other offerings at the time. That, and the paddles on the handle were a minimalist rounded pvc pegs; I can’t tell you how many times I have missed the handle due to their small profile. But, for the price tag, how could one complain? It occurs to me now, I probably could replace the handle on the two I own.

Shimano Caenan

New Shimano Caenan

Well, I discovered recently that the Caenan has received a facelift.

The new Caenan is sleek in all black, and has a very modern body now with a lower profile. The standard model now boasts a slightly slower 6.3:1 retrieve.  Further, it appears that Shimano realized that the handle can often make or break a reel and they have dramatically improved the handle and paddles on this reel. For those looking for a reel with a little faster line retrieval, there is a model available with a 7.2:1 gear ratio.

The new Caenan also takes advantage of their second generation of VBS; a slight improvement over the initial version with easier brake adjustments.

However, there is one thing that I really don’t like about the new Caenan: the newer models have reduced the number of bearings to 5. I am not sure whether this was a cost saving exercise for the new model, or if they simply felt that the Caenan, left as it was, would steal business away from higher models, but I view this as a big step backward on an excellent entry level reel.

I have always lauded Shimano for catering to those of us who prefer a left hand retrieve reel. However, the faster 7.2:1 retrieve is only available in a right hand retrieve; another big disappointment in my books. Oddly enough, the Casitas appears to be almost an identical reel for $20 more; it does offer a left hand retrieve with the 7.2:1 gear ratio.

Shimano now has the Caenan at $100, the Casitas at $120, and the Citica at $150 with very little to differentiate between them. The only clear difference is the Citica offers 6 bearings versus the other two at 5 bearings.

With that said, this reel still has appeal, and is a worthy entry level buy at the price point. For anglers looking to buy a solid baitcast reel that won’t break the bank and should last them for years, you can’t really go wrong with the Caenan.


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