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How low can you go?: I bet all your questions and curiosities about this reel haven’t all quite been answered have they? The true ultra-light baitcaster enthusiasts amongst our readership are going to want to know one very important little tidbit and that is, how low can the Cardiff 50/51s DC go? No, we’re not talking about the Limbo. What we’re referring to here is how light of a lure can this reel toss?

But wait, there's more ...

Comparison Ratings for Shimano Cardiff 51s DC

Line Capacity (0.26mm)
Measured Max Drag
Start up spool inertia
Reel Weight
Spool Weight
Cardiff 50/51s DC
40 yds
3.67 g
201 g (7.1oz)
16 g
Conquest 50/51s
40 yds
.33 g
195 g (6.8oz)
13 g
Liberto Pixy PX68R/L
90 yds
.33 g
160 g (5.6oz)
14 g

To answer that ultimate question would require matching this, and any other reel for that matter, up with the perfect ultra-light baitcaster. Not having one in our vast collection of rods, we decided to take a more scientific approach and simply determine how much weight is required to get the Cardiff 50/51s DC’s spool moving.

How low can the Cardiff 51s DC go - in lure weight?

What we did was let out about an eight inch section of line out from the front of the reel. Then we progressively crimped on one super small split shot after another. These split shots were from our collection of fly fishing weights with each shot weighing approximately one third of a gram. It took eleven of these split shots crimped to the end of the line on the Cardiff 51s DC to get the spool moving – approximate total weight? 3.67 grams (~ one eighth of an ounce).

An old school test to uncover startup inertia yields disappointing results.

The 16 gram spool of the Cardiff 51s DC (right) requires at least 3.67 grams (1/8th oz) to get rolling on freespool.

Not bad, right? Both the Conquest 51s and Liberto Pixy PX68L only needed ONE of these split shots to get the spool moving. Moreover, released from the same forty eight inch height from the floor, it took the single split shot at the end of the Conquest 51s to hit the floor in five and a half seconds. The PX68L dropped this split shot in four seconds and gave us a mini-backlash for our trouble!

Conversely both the Conquest 51s and Pixy PX68L can move only 0.33 grams - the lightest weight we had available to test the spools.

Realizing line also plays an important role on such a test, each of these three reels were respooled with the same, limp, copolymer line prior to this investigation. Bottom line? Based on these results, if we were to rely on one reel to cast a super light lure, we’d reach for a PX68R/L.


Shimano Cardiff 51s DC Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A very refined build 9
Performance Good for anything 1/8 oz and above - we expected more considering what the Conquest 51s delivers 7.5
Price JDM + DC = $!%@$&! 3
Features DC Technology, cork knobs, good drag 8
Design (Ergonomics) 50 sized!! - handle is a bit short 7.5
Application Intended for trout and serviceable as a finesse bass reel 7.5

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:


J DC technology in a 50-sized reel!! L Very shallow line capacity
J Really refined piece of machinery L Surprisingly high spool startup inertia
J Cork knobs are a very nice touch L DC technology always comes at a super high price
J Good drag strength for a finesse reel  


Conclusion: Well, as always, what looks good on paper does not necessarily translate into finished product. Shimano’s DC platform is a definite favorite amongst us TackleTour editors, but the last two incarnations from Shimano Japan have felt unfinished in their overall packaging. The Metanium Mg DC was also a highly sought after combination, but in the end, the braking system was too cute with its touted, intelligent digital control. The Cardiff 50/51s DC’s brakes seemed to behave better – especially with fluorocarbon line, but the reel itself barely outperformed the Conquest 51s in drag and fell woefully behind in startup inertia.

Make no mistake about it, the Cardiff 51s DC is a fun reel to fish, but ...

... for the money? We're sticking with the Conquest 51s.

The saving grace for this reel? It’s beautifully crafted and a fine piece of machinery, but of course, comes at top dollar regardless of the current exchange rate. Fished in support of its intended applications (casting trout spinners and spoons) the potential is for a very nice performing reel. Once you get that spool moving, the DC brakes should allow this reel to outcast the Conquest 51s – but you have to get the spool moving. Have a really trout spinner that’s less than an eight of an ounce to throw? I’d choose the Conquest 51s. Have one that weighs more? That’s when the Cardiff DC will begin to show its merit. What’s the difference in cost between the two reels? A little over $200. You decide but I have a feeling somewhere out there Mr. Sweet is smiling.










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