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Enthusiast Tackle Reel Review

A decisive balance of might and refinement, the Shimano Conquest 50

Date: 10/17/04
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano Japan
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 9.11

A little over a year ago, TackleTour introduced you to the Shimano Calcutta GT series with an article detailing the advancements and features of the TE 200GT. This year, we took a closer look at the GT’s Japanese Market counterpart, and downsized our test with the Shimano Conquest 51. Could this ultra light sized reel deliver when it counts? You better believe it.

Shimano Conquest 50 Specifications

Weight 7.3oz.
Gear Ratio 6.2:1 (20.5 inches per turn)
Bearings 11 Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing
Line Capacity (lb-yds) 6-120, 10-80
Additional Features Drilled sideplate, Cold Forged Aluminum Handle & Cast Control Knob, Super Free Whiffle Spool, SVS Brake Control
MSRP $360.00 approx. imported cost

The Conquest 51 is nothing short of a work of art. The side plate of concentric, drilled circles is breathtaking, but the attention to detail on this reel does not end there. The handle is cold forged and sculpted with contours to allow the drag star clearance to turn. The lock ring around the handle’s fastening bolt is recessed within the handle presenting a super clean line of detail. The ball bearing knobs of the handle are contoured for custom-fit left and right grips depending on model you purchase and the polished, cold forged, aluminum cast control tension knob has a micro-click, fine tune adjustment.


Introducing the Conquest 50, a tiny reel that offers powerful gearing and precision refinement throughout

Open the side plate to access the "SVS" brakes and one discovers a plastic shield fastened to the backside of the plate to guard against entry of foreign elements. Lastly, the seat on the Conquest 51 is recessed within the reel offering a superb low position on any fishing rod eliminating the difficult palming issue many relate to larger round baitcasters.

Field Tests: This reel endured several months of bass fishing in waters throughout Northern California including the California Delta, Lake Sonoma, Lake Camanche, and Calero Reservoir. We combined it with multiple rods and spooled it with a variety of lines to get a true feeling of its capabilities and it did not disappoint in any combination. Not only is this reel beautiful, but it is entirely functional as well.


Complete Testing Rigs for Shimano Conquest 50 in Field Tests

Rod (Senko, spinnerbait tests) Kistler He69APC
Rod (Senko, Horny Toad tests) Kistler He76HC
Rod (Spook, Poppers, tests) Kistler He70MLC
Rod (Crankbait tests) Kistler He76MC
Reel Shimano Conquest 50
Line 15lb P-Line Floroclear
Line 20lb Berkley Fireline
Line 12 lb. Yozuri Hybrid


The Conquest is truly a work of art from all angles, and the drilled sideplate immediately sets it apart from the domestic Calcutta TE

Casting/Pitching: This tiny little reel is surprisingly capable in casting and pitching baits ranging from small, soft plastics to large cranks and spinnerbaits and can be switched back and forth between such baits without having to adjust the SVS brake control system! Though not the furthest casting reel I’ve tested, I was constantly amazed at the distances that I could achieve with little to no effort imparted in my casting motion. Pitching is equally as smooth and efficient especially with the reel’s small size and easy palming profile.


Retrieving: Proportional to its overall size, this reel does sport a short 70mm handle. Normally a detriment with other reels I’ve used, the slow 20.5” of line recovery per turn, is actually very comfortable with a handle of this length. The added benefit of ball bearing knobs and powerful, high efficiency gearing simply added to my smile every time I picked up and fished with this engineering marvel.


The Conquest 50 is so small it can be completely palmed, making it a powerful lightweight reel for pitching and flipping plastics

Drag: Normally an area of excellence for Shimano Calcutta and Conquest reels, the Conquest 51 tested out at only two and one half pounds (2.5lbs or 1.25kg) of max drag pressure. Disappointing, but strong enough if your only quarry is black bass. For larger species, this may prove a downfall, but then again, so will the line capacity. Fortunately, Shimano has addressed both as the Conquest is available in larger sizes with proportional adjustments to the drag and line capacity.

Ergonomics: Contrary to other round baitcasters, the Conquest 51, as shown in the above photo, is very easily palmed. Together with features such as a micro-click adjustable dragstar and cast control knob, and ball bearing supported septon grip knobs on the handle, this reel is full of ultra refined features, and because of its size and fit in your hand, weight is hardly an issue even though it is of solid aluminum construction.

Paired with a Kistler Helium this lightweight combo serves up an exhilarating experience when a bass is on the line

Price and Availability: The Conquest line of reels from Shimano Japan are readily available through the usual Japanese Market vendors. The price for these reels is inline with the Calcutta GT line of reels and sometimes, can be found for even less. The true value add in this series of reels is that you can find one in the proper size to match just about any type of fishing you want to do – save maybe big game saltwater fish.


Shimano Shimano Conquest 50 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality This reel is an exceptional piece of craftsmanship – super solid and beautiful 10
Performance The only downside here is the light drag 9
Price Inline with Calcutta GT series - expensive, but not as outrageous as other Japanese market imports. 8.2
Features High points for refinements right down to a clicking cast control tension knob 9.5
Design (Ergonomics) Super low height in the reel seat, anodized finish is durable and very attractive, unprecedented attention to detail 9
Application Not quite as versatile due to its size, but if you need more line capacity, move up in size! For black bass, or even an ultra light trolling reel for trout or kokanee, this reel is more than capable 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Excellent Construction L Light drag
J As pretty to look at as it is fun to fish  
J Powerful gearing  
J Smooth and Silent  
J Durable finish  

Conclusions: Enough cannot be said about Shimano’s Conquest line of reels. Whether your choice is the 50 series, reviewed here, or up to the 400 series reel, what you are purchasing is quality at every angle and an attention to detail, I find, unprecedented in a reel at this market price. Other reels share some of the same features such as the clicking cast control tension knob and ball bearing handles, but not another reel in this price range shares the attention to detail that has gone into the assembly of the Conquest. Not only does this reel shine in craftsmanship, but its performance is more than worthy of the Shimano name. While many enthusiast import tackle can cost many times more than the domestic counterparts, the Conquest is attainable at near the same prices, making this an excellent reel to consider in terms of performance, value, and as a sheer collectible.










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