Shimano Charter Special Review: Lightweight Lever Drag Reels

Shimano Charter Special Review: Lightweight Lever Drag Reels

Anglers looking for line control in a saltwater conventional reel often make a permanent stop when they discover the Shimano Charter Special. A near match to the Shimano TLD, one noticeable difference is the addition of a level wind feature. Factor in the lever drag design and the Charter Special removes much of the hassle anglers encounter with conventional reels. All at a cost that defines the term value.

Shimano Charter Special Reels

Shimano Charter Special
Shimano Charter Special TR1000LD

Product: Shimano Charter Special Conventional Lever Drag Reels.

Overall Ranking: 84 out of 100.

Price: Lower middle range.

Owner/Company: Shimano, Inc.


Intro To The Shimano Charter Special

The Shimano Charter Special LogoThere’s no denying the similarity between the Shimano Charter Special and the TLD single speed reels. More than anything, the TLD seems to take over in size where the Charter Special leaves off. That means the two models in the Charter Special series are smaller conventional reels, and they add the level wind feature. At a cost that goes light on the balance books, the Charter Special works wonders for both fresh and saltwater fishing. Let’s get into the model specifications as well as their features.

View Charter Special Models On Amazon

Shimano Charter Special Models, Specs, & Features

Charter Special Models

• TR1000LD     • TR2000LD

Reel Specifications

The Shimano Charter Special
The Shimano Charter Special TR1000LD Lever Drag Conventional Reel

Shimano Charter Special reels are light in weight at 16.4 and 17.1 ounces. Both models retrieve line at a rate of 26 inches per crank with a moderate 4.3:1 gear ratio. One of the more popular specs of the reels is they offer a max drag of 33-pounds. Sturdy graphite makes up the frame and side plates with strong aluminum for the spool. Charter Special reels contain three anti-rust bearings and one anti-reverse roller bearing for quick hook sets.

Taking a look at the line specifications shows the Charter Special is a lighter series than the TLD. They do rate for both braid and monofilament line. Starting with the TR1000LD, anglers get 12-17 pound monofilament or 40-65 pound braid. The spools hold roughly 390-250 yards of mono or 410-390 yards of braided line.

The larger TR2000LD doesn’t budge any in its rating for braid, though it does offer a bit more length. Its specs remain at 40-65 pound braid, but its spool will wrap 555-450 yards of it. Monofilament anglers are able to move up in line diameter and wrap on more length. Specs recommend 14-20 pound test at a range of 480-300 yards.

Features Of Shimano Charter Special Reels

Lightweight Graphite Frames & Side Plates

Shimano Charter Special Reel MaterialGraphite is a lightweight, dependable material that will not rust in a saltwater environment. Though not as durable over years of use as metal or aluminum, it stands up well with proper maintenance. Sun is the worst enemy of graphite, as it can make it break down and become brittle over time. Store these reels away from the direct light and they hold up much longer.

Strong Aluminum Spool

Shimano Charter Special reels include a strong anodized aluminum spool, ready to handle the rigors that fishing line applies. Capable of holding braid line, mono, or fluoro, anglers can fish the style that suits their needs the best.

Shimano A-RB (Anti-Rust Bearings)

Shimano A-RBAs found in nearly all Shimano reels, the Charter Special employs three of the popular Anti-Rust Bearings. Also known as the Shimano A-RB, the bearings are stainless steel and sit in shielded compartments. It’s more than ok to wind these babies through the gritty ocean water. Charter Special reels use a one-way roller bearing to stop the spool from spinning backward while in gear.

Level Wind System

That contraption on the front face of the frame comprises the level wind system. It follows along back and forth as the angler reels, guiding the line evenly back onto the spool. This prevents the line from bunching up in one place and digging in. It also frees the angler from having to guide the line with finger or thumb.

High Capacity Lever Drag

Shimano Charter Special Lever Drag
Lever Drag w/ Strike Setting

By all means, the Shimano Charter Special are small reels with a heavy drag. 33-pounds of drag on such small reels is almost too much. That amount of drag can handle a lot of fish, to the point that frame twist would be an issue. Still, it’s nice to have that kind of capacity as you don’t need to set it all the way.

Barrel Handle w/ Counter Balance

Anglers grasp a barrel style handle when retrieving a Shimano Charter Special reel. Opposite the handle, on the turn shaft, is a handy counterweight which helps maintain a more even reeling motion. Both ingredients aid in grinding when a heavier model fish puts its head down.

Other Features

Shimano Charter Special reels include a drag adjustment knob and an on/off clicker switch. Both models come with a sturdy metal rod clamp. The lever mechanism features a slim metal guide which indicates your drag position and also provides a strike setting.

Check Charter Special Models On Amazon

Pros & Cons Of Shimano Charter Special Reels


Top value in a fishing reel doesn’t always mean it uses the highest technology and premium materials. If a reel does what you ask it to, doesn’t offset your budget, and gives several years of good use, anglers will appreciate it. Not to mention, most reels that fit this description won’t be offering a max drag of 33-pounds.


There are obvious drawbacks with a reel like the Charter Special, the first being longevity. Anglers should never expect graphite frame reels to hold up as long as anodized aluminum. That is as long as they keep the chips away so rust won’t set in. Graphite frames can also tweak or twist when under a heavy strain. This isn’t good for the gears and they tend to bind when it occurs.

Best Use/Fishing Style 

Shimano Charter Special reels excel for freshwater or light game saltwater trolling. Anglers can easily pull them out of the rod holder and snap a cast to their desired location. The level wind feature makes them perfect for personal boaters that have enough to deal with or beginners learning the conventional reel. They won’t fly a jig very fast but work well for fly lining, bottom purposes, or drifting chunked bait.

Shimano Reel Support

Shimano Reel Repair Request FormShimano takes strides to ensure the satisfaction of their customers. All products come with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty and service centers are available in prime locations around the globe. Replacement or repair comes for free minus the cost of shipping for reels that fall under warranty. A fair price for parts and labor applies to those that fall outside the warranty contract. Ofd course, you can always do the work yourself or take it to a local reel repair expert.

The Final Word

84 out of 100 anglers approve of Shimano Charter Special Reels

For a small conventional reel, the Shimano Charter Special packs a large punch. 33-pounds of drag is something to write home about or show off the catch you bring home because of it. You’re not going to be tackling large offshore species, but a large striper or lake trout isn’t at all out of the question. Keep them well maintained and lubricated for years of use. For what Shimano asks for such a compact powerful reel, anglers can’t go wrong.



  1. Tom

    I got my first one today and played around with the settings a little enthiusiastically
    I did set the drag knob in free mode but at one point I forgot, and also had quite a heavy winding experience in full drag mode
    Have I damaged it? There was never much tension in the line and I have loosened everything off for storage but I am worried it is too complex and I should have gone for a good basic star drag..??

    1. Sounds like the drag is working correctly. It should very hard to take line when pushed to full drag.

      Strike is often used when trolling. The force of the water pulls on the drag, but not enough to take line. Any extra force from a fish will be enough to start the drag running.

      Setting the drag all the way open, so there’s no pressure and you can easily pull out line is the proper way to store it. Having a reel cover doesn’t hurt either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.