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Enthusiast Review

Imperfect Perfection : Shimano's Conquest 50/51 DC (continued)

Drag: The Conquest 51DC is rated at 3.5 kg of maximum drag pressure. In the lab, we tested this reel out to right around 7 pounds max pressure and found the startup inertia to be pretty consistent with each setting throughout the reel’s drag range. Out on the water, I did not manage to hook into anything that really tested the drag on this reel, but nothing leads me to believe it will behave any differently than other Shimano reels in this situation. We’ve fished enough of the Conquest 51DC’s siblings to know that when needed, drag performance will be smooth and reliable.

That equates to roughly 7.5 lbs in the imperial system. We tested the reel out at 7 lbs maximum pressure.

Pricing and Availability: The Conquest 50/51DC was announced early in 2011 and was officially available beginning sometime around the March or April timeframe. Due to the tragic earthquake that hit the country earlier this year, production out of the Shimano factory has been slowed, but the reels are still being produced. Of course, this reel comes at a bit of a hefty price.

This combo was deadly with topwater baits like Evergreen International's One's Bug popper.

List price on this reel is 66,150 Japanese Yen. With the exchange rate as of this writing (80JPY to 1USD), that equates to a price tag of $826. Naturally, few shops in Japan actually sell product at list price. We found the reel listed at 52,920 JPY but that still equates to $661.50. Of course, this is all before any associated points are deducted from the exchange rate for foreign currency exchange fees, etc.. Bottom line? This is one pricey little reel.

Here's that fish I hooked into above on the Evergreen Wild Hunch Crank.

Given the reel’s cost one question that is sure to come up is whether or not the spool from this reel will fit in the Cardiff 50/51 DC. Since the two reels are the same size and use the same braking system, it would seem this question is a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, the spools are not compatible. Nope, if you want to play, you’re going to have to own up and just do it. Shimano is good about that.

Another topwater fish on the Evergreen Shower Blows pencil popper.



Shimano Calcutta Conquest 50/51DC Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Just about as solid as they come 9.5
Performance i-DC4 is holding this reel back 7.5
Price Yeah, let's not talk about this 2
Features i-DC4, Septon Grips, S A-RB 8
Design (Ergonomics) Perfection 10
Application surprisingly versatile 10

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ The 50 sized Conquest series continues to fit me like no other - i-DC4 makes it into both columns because overruns are more common with this DC system than others
+ i-DC4 is better than no DC... i think - cost of ownership is... ouch
+ The reel is still an excellent caster once you gain an understanding of the i-DC4  
+ In the end, none of the other stuff really matters.. it's a fully functional 50 sized DC reel!!  


Conclusion: So was the Conquest 51DC everything I expected it to be? Of course not but my only real disappointment in this reel was the DC braking profile Shimano Japan chose to include in the reel. I personally feel it's a step backwards even from the original DC system. It certainly still works, to a point, but I would have like to have seen the DC+ system in there instead. The other Conquest reels supposedly have it, why not the 50 series?


Wait... you can't be serious?

Putting all that aside, does the Conquest 51DC put a smile on my face in similar fashion to its imperfect older sibling, the non-DC Conquest? Yes, but for different reasons. Just to have the DC brake system in any reel this size is a joy. The form factor of the Conquest 51DC is the same as the original non-DC version so the comfort level and ergonomics are indeed perfect. The more or less standard spool capacity on this reel means you can use it for just about anything you would the non-DC 50/51 and all those characteristics are reason enough put that smile on my face when I'm using this little gem of a reel.

Fishing the slop with the Conquest 51DC and NRX 852JWR?!?

The reason why my enthusiasm for this reel is not quite the same as for the non-DC Conquest 51? Something about the artistry of the original Conquest 51 with the drilled sideplate, gold monotone motif, and even drilled top bar - that reel is a pure functional piece of art. This new Conquest 50/51 DC is kind of a throwback to the original Calcutta which in and of itself should make this reel quite special, and it is, but I guess you just never forget that first 50/51.

You better believe it! If you're not smiling after that very first cast with this reel, you're not an enthusiast!

I guess imperfect is what we come to expect from products these days. High expectations keep manufacturers honest and the desire for that one special piece of equipment keeps the search alive. If you're looking for an overwhelmingly glowing recommendation on the Conquest 50/51DC, you're not going to get it here. BUT if you're asking me whether this reel is worth having or not, then the answer is an unwavering yes. Understand its imperfections, accept the drawbacks, and allow yourself to soak in the comfort of this reel in your hand as you make that very first cast to the digital serenade of the DC whine, zzzzziiiinnnnnnngggggg. Even with all its drawbacks, if you're not smiling after that very first cast with this reel, you're not an enthusiast.










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