A very good review on your part . . . thanks!
LakeForkGuy publishes a nice series of videos on YouTube and he also gives the Casitas a very strong review.
The material used in the reel, Ci4+, is the same that is used in my Stradic Ci4+ spinning reel and I love it for its strength and super lightness.
I think I saw where someone picked one up for $99 and here it becomes a point of interest. For anyone who can care for their reels themselves, doing normal maintenance, everything is the same. But, for someone who pays a professional to clean them, quality reels like this one have dropped down in price so low that it is almost to the point where you could use one for a couple of seasons, with minor maintenance and cleaning, and it would simply be more cost effective to sell or give it away, then get another new one.
Anyway, LakeForkGuy and others say this reel casts very well. He shows making a pretty hard cast without feathering the line with his thumb, no back lash, favorably compares its appearance and low profile to the Aldebran which is 4X more expensive. No, he says, not as good, but much closer than he'd have guessed.
I'd be interested in knowing how you set the brakes, anything you have done, if different, with the spool tension.