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LIVE ICAST 2018 COVERAGE from Orlando Florida

Selecting the right Rod, Reel, and Line for Your Walking Bait Arsenal


TackleTour Exclusive: On the Water with the New G.Loomis Conquest Rod Series
Ready to Combat the USDM : Evergreen International's Jack Hammer

First Look Inside the New Shimano Curado K Series Baitcasters


Reel Review

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

Modes cont'd: Next we tested the biggest weakness in the original Calcutta TE DC…short distance casts. We tied up with a series of plastics ranging from Zoom Brush Hogs to Senkos and worked shorelines and docks with a series of short pitches. “A” (Accuracy) Mode doesn’t use compensation braking like the other modes. Instead it continues to apply braking pressure through the entire cast. We tried to cast far with a crankbait to confuse the system but didn’t get a whole lot of distance before the crank lost velocity. While the short distance pitching has been improved a great deal we at times felt the mode was a bit too aggressive. Nonetheless the “Accuracy” mode does what it is supposed to when it comes to precision short (and we mean short) distance casts.


The cold forged long handle is a thing of beauty for this high speed reel


We waited for two days to test the wind mode, and finally we got what we wanted. Gust of 18-22mph hit the O'Neil Forebay, which is famous for Striper fishing. As the wind picked up so did the bite, but casting into the shoals required casts almost directly into the headwind. Switched into “Wind” mode we proceed to fish with TD Minnow SG’s and Megabass Visions 110’s. We were amazed how good of a job the Calais was able to do, and we were able to fish in conditions that normally would have been utterly frustrating.


With each turn anglers bring in a whopping 31 inches of line!


The “W” mode effectively prevents backlashes by immediately adding or subtracting tension on the spool to adjust for the flying position of the lure during the middle of the cast. While this reduces the chances of backlashes a great deal it still doesn’t always eliminate them. In perfect conditions it is possible to cast in “W” mode without ever touching the spool, but it is possible to backlash if you don’t stop that spool when the lure hits the water.


The reel built up some salt and grit in brackish water...good to know the Calais DC is designed to operate in even full on saltwater


Another interesting feature of “W” mode are the detailed settings. W-8 through W-2 use compensation braking based on line tension, and W-1 goes back to the L-7 profile. This allows for a quick external change to L mode without having to open the sideplate. After fishing with all the modes I agree that L-Mode is the most flexible, but I loved W mode’s unique characteristics. 


Not exactly a trophy fish...but nonetheless the first fish caught with our test reel


With all the modes it is pretty normal to see a backlash begin to appear then go away as the spool spins. This is called “crowning” and illustrates the DC system at work. The Calais allows the spool to spin as fast as possible, but not allowing the spool to spin faster than the bait is flying. Now that’s what I call a “smart” reel.


A look at the asymmetrical window

Retrieving: When it comes time to bring your bait back the Calais is a seriously fast. With a 7:1 retrieve ratio the Calais DC is the highest end burning class reel on the market and a good choice for jerkbaits, topwater, and flipping and pitching. The retrieve is a bit fast for slow crawling plastics but during our tests I was eventually able to get into a slower rhythm to work be able to fish grubs and worms. When it comes to deep cranking the high speed Calais proved to be competent, due to its enlarged High Efficiency Gearing. One of the things that many high speed reels suffer from is lack of raw power, this is not the case with the Calais DC, which manages a reasonable balance of both.

The Calais's metal finish is amazingly durable and resistant to scratches and boat rash

This Calais feels different from the standard 200, and I actually felt a bit more connected to the gearing with this model. The reel is very smooth, but not overly fluid…which can sometimes lead to a sloppy disconnected feel. In terms of ratios I wish the US version was available in both speeds like the Antares DC, which has a 5.8:1 model for slow rolling plastics.

The Calais DC makes use of larger Power Grip II Septon handles

On the plus side Shimano USA has made some nice refinements to the domestic model. The longer handle absolutely makes sense for the high speed ratio, and the slightly enlarged Power Grip paddles give anglers 30% more surface area in which to clamp down on. At first I didn’t think the larger paddles would be as comfortable as the smaller grips found on the normal Calais, but after my first full day ripping for Stripers I was sold on the bigger grips.

In our casting tests we compared the Calais DC with the Chronarch B.. it wasn't much of a competition as every editor on hand could cast 10-15% further with the aid of the digital circuit (Tested based on regular casting motion with Calais set on L-4 and Chronarch with all weights in off position)

Drag: The Calais DC has a fantastic drag, one that is both strong and smooth. The reel features an oversized Dartanium drag system that is capable of dishing out serious counter pressure. Shimano rates the drag at 12lbs, and in our lab it beat that spec by .6lbs for a total of 12.6lbs. Shimano tends to rate their drags lower than what we are able to achieve, and the reason for that is they test the drag at full normal rotation, while we test at absolute maximum lock. Either way 12 plus pounds of pressure is very impressive. Compare that to the original Calais which outputs 10lbs, and it even beats the Calcutta 250DC which maxxes out at an already respectable 10.1 lbs.

The Calais's wind mode was ideal for targeting stripers, which actually often become more aggressive when there is wind breaking the surface of the water

Durability: The original Calais has always been high up on my list of favorite reels. The Calais series exudes style, but the all metal finish has also proven to be extremely durable in the field. The slick finish is comfortable to hold and actually does a surprisingly good job warding off scratches or problems with boat rash that plague ore conventional paint finished reels. The durability of the original Calcutta TE DC digital circuit has proven itself in the field, and from our Calais DC field tests we have no reason to believe the new 4x8 circuit would be any different. This reel can be used for light saltwater applications as well and makes use of Shimano’s highly corrosion resistant S-ARB bearings. The adjustment components that make up the handle and drag star are both cold forged aluminum and are built to last a lifetime. All in all the Calais is just about as durable as you will ever see. Inside and out generous use of top notch alloys is apparent, but as an added layer of protection Shimano does bundle a reel cover to safeguard your reel during storage and transport.

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