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Reel Review

The world's first digital low profile baitcaster, the Shimano Calais 4x8 DC (continued)

DC 4x8 is born: The reel first debuted in Japan, stirring up plenty of discussion before ICAST about the US version. Dubbed the Antares DC in Japan, the reel was quickly picked up by specialized stores like Japan Tackle, satisfying the demand from the earliest adopters. The major differences between the Antares DC and the Calais DC are the cast settings, length of the handle, and style of the knobs. In addition the Antares DC is available in both 5.8:1 and 7.0:1 retrieve ratios while the Calais is currently only available in the high speed 7.0:1 ratio. Let’s now take a closer look at the individual modes that are offered on the new Calais 4 x 8 DC.


To get to the mode setting flip the "Escape Hatch" switch


X Mode: (Extreme Distance) When it comes to sheer distance the X-Mode will get your lure going the absolute farthest. This mode is designed only for optimal conditions and the curve does a good job casting heavy metal lures with low wind resistance like jigs and spoons. This mode is ideal for casting competitions and surf casting but not recommended for normal fishing situations. In this mode brake settings lower than X-4 should really only be used by expert casters in absolutely perfect conditions.


The sideplate instantly flips out thanks to a spring


L Mode: (Long Distance) L-Mode is most similar to the original Calcutta TE DC’s system, and is designed to control backlashes immediately upon releasing the bait and analyzes spool rotation during the middle portion of the cast. This setting is great for a wide range of baits, and will serve bassmen well. It provides more control than a VBS equipped reel and adds distance to each and every cast. L-Mode is all about fewer backlashes, less effort and overall longer casting distances.


The sideplate remains attached


A Mode: (Accuracy) A-Mode does not utilize compensation braking like X & L modes. Instead, it continues to brake during all portions of the cast. This is the strongest braking mode and is designed to prevent overruns by reducing spool rotation immediately after the cast and then continuing to add tension after the middle stage of the cast. This mode is basically what the old circuit was lacking and is ideal for accuracy casting styles like pitching and skipping.


The four modes (X, L, A, W) are selectable via a switch


W Mode: (Wind Mode) This mode is designed to combat the elements. When wind hits it slows down the lure, not the spool…causing backlashes. This mode actively prevents these types of backlashes by constantly updating the amount of brake force depending on how the lure acts in the wind. This mode is ideal for striper fishing, when lures with a fixed center of gravity are used (crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, or any lure that does not cut through the air). The W mode analyzes spool speed and adjusts the amount of braking force to ensure that the spool is spinning just fast enough to allow line to keep up with the lure but not surpass it causing a backlash.


Two handed casting tests of "X" (Extreme Distance) mode

Real World Test: I couldn’t wait to get on the water to test the new Calais DC. I paired the reel up with a GLoomis 783C and a Megabass Griffon for all the tests. To fully test the high speed retrieve we fished for stripers for two weeks, and another week was spent pitching for largemouth bass. It was one of the few times that we actually hoped for high winds on the water, so that we could properly test the Calais’s exciting “wind” mode settings. On the second week we got our wish.

The reel features a large asymmetrical window for comfort and generous spool access


Casting: It’s no surprise this is one reel that every editor on staff wanted a chance to weigh in on. For our first casts we made the mistake of setting the Calais to ‘X” (Extreme Distance) mode and attempting to long cast crankbaits.

Extreme Distance mode is best reserved for metal low profile lures and optimal "no wind" conditions

This mode doesn’t offer much backlash protection as is just about as free as it gets. In X-2 and X-1 modes there is almost no detectable counterforce at all and these modes should only used with heavier low profile metal lures (jigs) in absolutely perfect conditions. After we tied on an oversized Kastmaster we soon found ourselves casting serious distances with X-4 mode and a high acceleration two handed cast. X-Mode is really only for casting competitions or extreme distance applications like surf fishing.

The spool tension knob features a precision clicker

Most anglers will use the “L” (Long Distance) mode for all their bass fishing. In this mode we found we were able to cast just about everything from a jerkbait to a weightless Texas rigged worm. In this mode I liked L-5 the best, as it seemed to provide a shorter period of braking force for the widest range of lures. It is important to note than when fishing a stiffer line like fluorocarbon it is important to turn up the braking force. The same compensation is necessary when casting directly into a headwind. Settings like L-7 and L-8 provide short periods of strong braking.

HEG gearing makes this reel both fast and powerful

Next Section: Accuracy and Wind Modes










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