I bought a Curado 201E7 a few years back. I got one myself because at that time it was a big hit in the US. The reel was made in Japan and was intended for the US bass anglers. I am pretty sure that Shimano made tons of money out of that reel. A lot of anglers bought tons and tons of this reel. But for some reason, everytime I use them, I somehow end up selling them. Could be the feel, the build quality, or possibly personal bias.
Anyway, because of the success of that reel, they made variations of it to capture more budget conscious bass anglers from North America. -- Citica, etc etc. I think that move was the big mistake that Shimano made, Instead of releasing an improved Curado following year, they just made copies of that platform and released a reel with a different name/model. If I remember it correctly, they called it Chronarch 201E7. It was pretty obvious that it was the old Curado and the fans were not amused. What was even mind blowing was that they used the old Chronarch platform and released it as the Curado.
It was pretty obvious that Shimano was trying to save money by not building machinery/tooling to build new reels. They opted to just use the same tools to build rebranded reels with a new paint scheme and cheaper materials. To save cost even further, they were no longer made in Japan. Instead, the new reels were made in Malaysia.
A few weeks ago, I got my hands on a "Curado" 201HG (actually a Chronarch) . A fellow angler needed help because the reel was rough and did not cast as far as before. He was hesitant to dismantle the reel so he decided to contact me.
After holding the reel the first time, it is hard not to like the ergonomics of the reel. That frame was borrowed from the more expensive Chronarchs which are actually a couple of tiers higher than the Curado. It's more palmable and I believe it was supposed to be lighter (the Chronarchs).
I think the Curado HG internals are almost the same as actual Chronarchs except perhaps the former has cheaper kinds of bearings. This probably explains why this reel's former owner replaced the stock bearings on the spool and handle with an orange seal. I also think that the gear and pinion material is different than that of the Chronarchs.
Personally, I am no a fan of Orange Seals. They are expensive and they don't last long in salt water. Bass, yeah they are fine but after a while, the seals collect dirt and mud and slows down the spin of the bearing. This is was what happened with this reel. Upon opening, it was pretty obvious that it has not been serviced for a long time. The oil and grease was replaced with caked dirt and grime.
I had to completely dismantle everything and brush and rinse the parts and use an ultrasonic cleaner on metal parts including bearings. I had to remove the orange seals to get rid of the dirt.
One of the complaints by the owner was that the reel was no longer smooth when cranking. It was rough and sounded like it grinding teeth when you turn the handle. I noticed that a couple of bearings were rusted one under the spool adjustment knob and the big bearing that holds the pinion. The bearings are regular steel bearings and not the SARB type that you see from higher-end Shimanos. I had to replace both.better bearings.
After removing the worm gear and pawl. I found one more rusted bearing. The stock reel doesn't have a bearing in the worm gear. It only has a nylon bushing. This bearing was an upgrade made by the original owner. Personally, if you don't maintain your reel regularly, I suggest that you keep the bushing. You will be spared from rust. This is specially true for saltwater anglers. Don't replace the bushing with bearings (rollers, knobs, and worm gear). They will eventually rust if you fail to maintain them.
After replacing the bearings, cleaning the rest of the parts, I greased, oiled, and put them back together. I also cleaned the carbontex washers and re-greased them with Cal's grease.
After the cleaning, repair, and reassembly. IT was relatively smooth again. But not so smooth as a Chronarchs or Conquest.
My thought on this Curado 201HG? Well, it has a Chronarch body and I like the size of it compared to the old green Curado. But somehow, Shimano's habit of cutting corners was at the expense of refinement. Because the build quality is unlike the Made in Japan Chronarchs, it has that Shimano signature clackity-clack and handle play which I don't like. For the price, I am sure you can find an old school all aluminum Made in Japan reel from Shimano (Conquest, Aldebaran, etc) or a Daiwa Millionaire, Alphas, TDZ, etc. from year 2000-2006. They are cheaper, more refined, and more durable in the long run.
As the saying goes "New is not always better".