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A-Jay

New Shimano Calcutta Series D Casting Reel Demo Review

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Last week, utilizing TW’s Demo Program, I received the 200 & 300 sized reels.
This was the first time I’ve participated in the Demo Program. I think it’s a good idea.
The ability to “Test Drive” a reel a bit clearly assists in determining if it’s the right equipment before purchasing it. You will only pay for the shipping ($20) and TW provides a return label. There is a Deposit required; how much depends on the value of the reels you Demo. The deposit is returned (credited to your credit card) once they receive the reels back.

My experience with Shimano gear is not extensive. I do own a Calcutta 400B, 700B and a Sustain Spinning reel 2500. I am very happy with them and consider them quality tackle for sure. I’ve been using the 400B for tossing swimbaits but after many years of chasing striped bass on the East Coast – she is ready for retirement and replacement. I was hoping the 300 D would be it. Testing the 200 was just a “hey while I’m at it” evolution.

Out of the box, these reels are small for their size and line capacity. The solid sturdy construction, silver color and finish and large comfortable handle are all very appealing. Shimano says that they combine advantages of both low-profile and round reels. Perhaps, but they felt and fished like a round reel to me. The D Series Baitcasters have a much smaller profile than Calcutta B models and are said to be 15% smaller in height, 11% narrower, and 11% lighter; this is very apparent. The reels feature a one-piece aluminum frame, an aluminum sideplate, and Shimano’s smooth X-Drag. A lightweight machined aluminum body and Variable Braking System make these reels easy to like. Other features include a five-bearing system and HEG gearing. The 200 size reel has a double-paddle freshwater handle. The 300/400 size has a double-paddle saltwater handle.

One of the more innovative features on this series reel is the location of the X-drag star. It’s on the outside of the reel handle rather than in its traditional placement between the reel and the handle. Shimano says that with the handle moved closer to the body cranking under pressure exhibits a powerful and fluid retrieve that is completely devoid of any play or wobble whatsoever. I agree. Additionally, the X-Drag knob is quite easy to operate with your thumb or index finger to adjust the drag pressure. I did not find the smaller drag knob to be a concern.
In fact I like the new location and operation better. Both reels came spooled with braided line, I think it was 50lb suffix 832, it was lime green.

I was able to make 3 trips with these reels before having to ship them back. Before heading out on the water I mounted the 300 reel on a new 7’6” Okuma Guide Select swimbait rod rated 1-5 oz. I left the braid on the reel, added a 15ft 20lb mono leader and threw a 6” Huddleston 68 swimbait exclusively on each trip. I managed to get 1 decent lmb which didn’t really challenge the drag at all but was fun.
The reel matched / balanced very nicely on this rod. It was very easy and comfortable to cast / retrieve. The reel’s casting ability is Fantastic. The Narrower spool design fits my semi-educated thumb nicely and the VBS system required only very minimal feathering. Removing the spool assembly is the only way to access the six adjustable brake weights. It is not possible to change the brakeweight settings on the fly without a quick access sideplate. Not wanting to dismantle the demo reel, I committed to the adjustments the reel came with (I do not know what it was set at). This was not a concern at all. After getting the feel of the reel, I was confidently launching casts with little worry of overspin. The retrieve was very smooth; it almost felt like the reel/gears were not engaged. I know that sounds silly but if you fish this reel I think you’ll agree. This allowed for an excellent feel/sensitivity of what my bait was doing. Feeling virtually every tail thump during the retrieve just added to the whole experience. The 5.6:1 gear ratio was just right to work the bait correctly. And for anglers that place a high priority on the ability “To Palm” a round casting reel – you might be in heaven. I’m a medium sized human (5’10”) and both of these reels fit in my hand easily. I hear the bait Monkey.

And now for the 200 – Wow – what a nice reel. The two advertisements I’ve seen for the 200, Mark Zona and Dave Mercer discuss the reels suitability for crankbait fishing, so that’s where I started. My cranking is done with 2 Quantum KVD cranking reels mounted on a Lamiglas SR 765R & SR705R Glass rods. After re-spooling the 200D with 20lb Sufix braid, mounting it onto the 7’ glass rod, I set out to cranking. An SK 6XD and a Spro "John Crews" Little John DD Crankbait were my weapons of choice. I did use a 10-15 foot 12lb Big Game mono leader.

I guess a good way to describe what happened next would be – “effortless” – the casts were effortless, the retrieve (even with the large billed baits) were, you guessed it, effortless. It was just so smooth. The reel really is small. The size may have be the hardest thing I had to adjust to. And hard is a relative term here. It only took a few minutes and I felt right at home hurling baits out across the water. This Lamiglas rod has a relatively thick (larger diameter) handle. Despite this, I was able to palm the 200D very easily.
This particular day included some wind and light rain which helped put a handful of decent bass and pike in a very cooperative mood. Casting into, across and with the wind was not a problem.
I do not fish with a particularly loose drag, however during the few decent surges made by fish, mostly at the boat, the reel predictably fed line to the fish quite smoothly. The level wind, which disengages during the cast, handled and laid the thin diameter braid effectively. The large handle and knob set on this reel makes chunking and winding all day a much less arduous task, especially when the bite is a little slow. I found myself really enjoying the winding and was gladly anticipating the next heave knowing that I would get to do it all over again. Catching a fish was like a bonus !

After an impressive showing as a crankbait reel and despite being advertised as such, I chose to mount the 200 on a 6’6” MH rod and take her out to toss a few swim jigs. For this next trip, the 200D went on a Quantum PCT666F and got re-spooled with 30lb Sufix braid. The gear ratio on the 200D is 5.7:1 perfect for most deep cranking but I prefer a faster rate of pick up and often fish 7.3:1 on jig rods. After it was all said & done, the 200 did do a nice job. Target casting isolated weed clumps in 10-15 fow was a pleasure. As I worked the swim jig/craw trailer over, around and through them looking for willing participants, a couple of respectable lmb were foolish enough to test the power of the 200D. They were quickly dispatched by the reels seemingly unlimited power and stout drag system. The ample knob and handle set up came in handy here while fighting fish in somewhat close quarters and on a short leash.

And then, it was over, all too quickly. After re-wrapping these 2 beauties back up in a couple layers of bubble-wrap, they went in the box and were on their way back to TW. Despite the fairly short visit, these reels were impressive. The same innovative high quality features and components that made the original Calcutta a very popular reel and the only choice at that price point exist here, in the
"Little Silver Beast" that is the Callcutta "D" Series.

 

bce49fe2426cca182bb1ca7d77db2d22.jpg2ffdccd6df1dc9ad75ee0ff65f1fc677.jpg6cd957e6ab784fbfe68301d635cb6220.jpg
:smiley:
A-Jay

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Great review A-jay. I'll bet tackle warehouse will want to put you on staff. You definitely helped sell the new D. Were there any shortcomings you noticed? Did the use of plastic seem cheap? Do you think the casting distance was improved over your regular reels?

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Great review A-jay. I'll bet tackle warehouse will want to put you on staff. You definitely helped sell the new D. Were there any shortcomings you noticed? Did the use of plastic seem cheap? Do you think the casting distance was improved over your regular reels?

Thanks Dwight - as for your questions ~

No - not cheap. I would say that this reel looks, feels & performs equal to the time & effort that obviously went into it's design - top notch.

As for casting, I was not making record braking distance casts. However, I do believe that the reel throws with a little less effort than some reels I have used and currently own. I don't know if that even makes sense - maybe it's the fact the reels are so smooth that is just seems that way.

Short comings - well, you can't please all the people all the time - but I would like to see a definitive click adjustment on the tension control knob I have this on other reels and I feel more confident making minor adjustments up / down 1 click or two. This reel does not have this feature.

I believe that the size, quality of construction / design & durability are the reel's most favorable attributes.

And if there is one drawback - it may be the price point. But you get what you pay for.

A-Jay

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Very Good review A-Jay!!! :respect-040: I was afraid you were going to say that. The last thing I need is a reason to buy more reels this year. One thing I would like to know though, when the levelwind dissengages for the cast, does it float or just quit turning like on the B!! I agree with Dwight, you should be there next candidate to be put on there staff! Thanks for the detailed review!!!!

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Very Good review A-Jay!!! :respect-040: I was afraid you were going to say that. The last thing I need is a reason to buy more reels this year. One thing I would like to know though, when the levelwind dissengages for the cast, does it float or just quit turning like on the B!! I agree with Dwight, you should be there next candidate to be put on there staff! Thanks for the detailed review!!!!

Thanks Capt B - as for the line guide / level wind - it does disengage - but to be honest, I didn't think to look to see if it did, if fact, float with the line.

Sorry - I wish I had checked that - I would like to know now myself -

I will add that with the spool being so narrow - there would be less sharp angles bewteen the line guide and the outer reaches of the spool.

A-Jay

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That is a good point Jay, so even if not it would still be an improvement. Thanks for the reply

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Great review A-Jay - thanks for taking the time to type it up - and pure poetry at that! :thumbsup:

Next time I get some mad money - now I'll have to decide between the "D" or getting another JDM Conquest. I do like the quick-access side-plate on the Conquest and sometimes have to go back and forth between 2 and 3 brakes, depending on bait. I think I would miss that access if I had the D. I do like the narrow spool and smaller diameter on the D though.

I wonder if Shimano has any plans for a "100" size D-model Calcutta?

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Great review, just wish I had the extra cash to go get one.

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Pretty good review A-Jay :thumbsup:

Great review A-Jay - thanks for taking the time to type it up - and pure poetry at that! :thumbsup:

Next time I get some mad money - now I'll have to decide between the "D" or getting another JDM Conquest. I do like the quick-access side-plate on the Conquest and sometimes have to go back and forth between 2 and 3 brakes, depending on bait. I think I would miss that access if I had the D. I do like the narrow spool and smaller diameter on the D though.

I wonder if Shimano has any plans for a "100" size D-model Calcutta?

The JDM has the 100 size D model and it comes with the easy access to the brakes..

CT100DJDM-1.jpg

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Good stuff man. I don't/ won't expect any less from a Calcutta (I have a 401TE).

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Good review, thanks. I would sure add the non-accessable VBS to the short comings list, though. IMO, that's a big deal. I do adjust the VBS on my Shimanos, including my Calcutta TE GT. To have to disassemble the reel to get to them just makes no sense. That sure makes the JDM versions look a lot better.

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The side cover wouldn't be the deal breaker for me. To me and I have said this before, a floating level wind, where the line guide floats when disengaged would be the biggest improvement in my 200GTB I would wish for. I tune reels so when I did my own super tune on my GTB it was smoother than a TE from the factory. The narrower spool is a bigger deal to me as Jay stated, there was less severe angle when paying line out, that is the biggest downfall with my tuned 200GTB, the line guide is very close to the wider spool and does change tension on the fish as it pays out line against the drag, the other problem is when casting, making sure the guide is centered when going into free spool is more critical on that reel than my others, it will play a big role on casting accuracy and distance.

Probably to much to ask for but the TE200GT, or even the CT200GTB, upgraded like the D with side plate and Floating level wing on disengagement with floating level wind when drag is being played out would be my dream reel, w/ the gearing to pickup 28" of line per turn of the handle!! that would be NICE!!

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Glad to hear it. I'm thoroughly impressed with them. At this point I'm still standing by my liking them better than my Pluton. I feel like they perform every bit as well, without the price tag.

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There is now one New Shimano Calcutta Series 300D Casting Reel heading my way.

Many of my usual sources of supply are in a back order status.

Seems like the on-line in-stock supply is currently fairly low.

I had to search several on-line vendors before I located one.

:respect-059:

A-Jay

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There is now one New Shimano Calcutta Series 300D Casting Reel heading my way.

Many of my usual sources of supply are in a back order status.

Seems like the on-line in-stock supply is currently fairly low.

I had to search several on-line vendors before I located one.

:respect-059:

A-Jay

Evidently the review process sold the reviewer. Don't forget to check the brakes before you spool it up. Set them & forget them.

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Evidently the review process sold the reviewer. Don't forget to check the brakes before you spool it up. Set them & forget them.

Yes Sir - Thanks I will do that ~

If the reel does come from the factory at "2 on" as you indicated - that worked good for me -

One thing I didn't mention in the initial review - the deposit for the Demo was 700 smack-a-roos, which I already got back -

So according to The Bait Monkey's financial calculations - I actually Made Money ~ ? ~ ?

A-Jay

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Yes Sir - Thanks I will do that ~

If the reel does come from the factory at "2 on" as you indicated - that worked good for me -

One thing I didn't mention in the initial review - the deposit for the Demo was 700 smack-a-roos, which I already got back -

So according to The Bait Monkey's financial calculations - I actually Made Money ~ ? ~ ?

A-Jay

A-Jay... I love your math! Spoken like a true fisherman. Enjoy the new reel. How about a follow up review after you have had a chance to really put it to the test?

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A-Jay... I love your math! Spoken like a true fisherman. Enjoy the new reel. How about a follow up review after you have had a chance to really put it to the test?

You got it - and I'm hoping this "putting it to the test" includes photo's of several Autumn Over-size Black Bass.

A-Jay

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You got it - and I'm hoping this "putting it to the test" includes photo's of several Autumn Over-size Black Bass.

A-Jay

They could be Autumn Over-size Brown Bass. Just saying.

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They could be Autumn Over-size Brown Bass. Just saying.

But Of Course - You know how I feel about - The Quest for Bronze.

A-Jay

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It's taken way too long but the new 300D finally arrived. (A Keeper not the Demo).

Vendors seem to be having a heck on a time getting them in stock.

I'm about to find of why.

:eyebrows:

A-Jay

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I hope you slime it soon.

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