Shimano Caenan Review - Promises, Promises!

Overview – Oh look, a baitcasting reel that says it will limit backlash and be more fishable than the others you’ve tried. Pretty much the same pitch we always get, right? The Shimano Caenan baitcaster make those same promises. A reasonably-priced reel, that the average weekend warrior can use, not fight. I’ve been tempted before, and expect the same result. The Caenan is available in standard 6.3:1 or the higher speed 7.2:1 ratio, right or left-handed. Of course are also several systems with cool names like VBS (variable brake system) and HEG (high efficiency gear) that are supposed to make me not want to throw the reel in the lake after three hours of making up more coarse names with those letters. We’ll see.

MSRP – $99

Hits – So I was pretty hard on the Shimano Caenan in the overview, I know, but here’s the thing.


I started out with a heavy jig to get a feel for the reel and give me a little more room to fail when casting. It performed flawlessly. The casting was smooth, and the cast control knob was easy to adjust to each bait. Moving to lighter and lighter baits, I expecting each new challenge to be where the reel failed, but even in my clumsy, sausage-esque fingers, each cast was smooth and devoid of backlash or rat’s nest. I casted fine wire hooks, and finesse plastics without issue. I was floored. This whole VBS centrifugal brake system really does work, and it is much easier to use than previous reels I have tried.

The Shimano Caenan just doesn't fit in my had quite as I would like. Not enough to have an affect on performance, but I had to nitpick about something.

Misses – The reel is exceptionally fishable, but it doesn’t “fit” my hand quite as well as I would like. It’s a personal preference thing, it may work perfectly for you. Frankly, it doesn’t really cause me to not use it. I just find myself fidgeting, looking for a more secure, comfortable seat in my hand. The only other problem I can find, is that I only have one of them. This means I'm retying lures too often because I actually WANT to use a casting rig. Who would’a thunk?

Surprising feature – Did I mention that the braking system actually works? Nobody was more dubious, or pleasantly surprised, than this guy.