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Enthusiast Reel Review


Something Wicked this Way Comes : The Antares DC7
 

Date: 12/26/07
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano Japan
Reviewer: Cal & Zander






Total Score: 9.00 + Ultimate Enthusiast Award!

Introduction: Over a year ago we completed our in depth review of the premium positioned Shimano Calais 4xD DC. As we draw to a conclusion this 2008 season we have some fun as we take a second look at the Japanese version of this "wicked" reel. Few reels can make Cal break into poetry verse, but the Antares DC7 did exactly that...

 

What evil lurks out yonder link?

It beckons me without chance to think.

She whirs and gleams, at once, she is bright,

Promising what once was distant, will now pose no plight.

Alas she is real, that which we've longed.

Something sleek, fast, avant-garde, and of course,

electronic and strong.

We bring to you now, a story of leaven,

offered by Shimano, announcing the Antares DC7.
 

The Shimano Antares DC7 : Alas she is reel, that which we've longed

 

Shimano Antares DC7 Specifications

Line Capacity (lbs / yds) 12/140 : 14/120
Gear Ratio (actual retrieve) 7:1 (31 inches per turn)
Measured Weight 8.8 ounces (250 grams)
Measured Max. Drag 8lbs
Bearings 10 + 1 roller
Features 4x8 Digital Control Braking, Carbon Drag Washers
MSRP ~$550 (Approx Import Price)


Something sleek, fast, Avante-Garde, and of course, electronic and strong.

 

Impressions: 

Subtle and skilled, refinements over its sire...

The DC7's most explicit? ..that which we've longed and so desired.

Control that is electronic, already common this day and age,

But is there something new, in this reel yet to be uncaged?

Four by eight adjustment, a tangled web of much selection,

Would we dismiss it without need or come to embrace it with affection?

Suspicious were our minds, what benefits might we behold.

Certainly reserving judgment until the mystery we unfold.

 

Come hither she beckons, with a hint that is red...


The Field Tests:
Abandoning the prose, we spooled the wicked DC7 with some 12lb Yozuri Hybrid and mounted her on both an Evergreen Stallion and a Helium He76MC to take her through a range of tests.

 

Complete test rig for Shimano Antares DC7 Field Tests

Reel Shimano Antares DC7
Line 12 lb Yozuri Hybrid (115 yds)
Rod(s) Evergreen TXFC-68MH Stallion
Kistler Helium He76MC


let me adorn your fine rod, and manage your fine thread.

 

Casting & Pitching: With a definitive 32 different brake settings, I took the higher road to determine whether or not there was a true difference between the four internal brake settings. They are labeled as: L - for true long distance casting situations; M - for multi-application or general application settings; A - for situations that call for accuracy (i.e. pitching); W - for situations with head wind. The details of these different settings were explained in our review of the US Market Calais DC7, but a simpler approach would be to consider "L" ("X" in the US version) as having the least amount of brake control and "W" as the most. "M" and "A" then, would fall somewhere in between. But the question in my mind was, given the inconvenience of flipping the sideplate open to make this adjustment, is there really a difference between these settings?


I shall control the momentum...


The quick answer is indeed, yes, there is a notable difference between the four internal modules, but of course, the benefit of their utility is dependent upon the skill of the angler - the less the skill, the more the benefit. In the end, I found myself leaving the internal dial on "M" the majority of the time as at this setting, combined with the range of the fine tuning adjustments on the external dial, I found little need to flip open the sideplate and adjust the internal dial. Where I did find the internal flexibility priceless was when changing actual techniques the reel would support. The ability to really fine tune the range of braking support you will need by turning the internal dial and making a few test casts was extraordinary. Then, once dialed in, the external adjustment provides the majority of fine tuning required.

 

with technology so advanced...

 

The benefit of Shimano's DC system is in overhand casting. In this presentation mode, and matched to the proper rod, the DC7 is easily capable of casting baits down to 1/4 ounce (as low as we went in our tests) and quite possibly even lower. From past experience with the DC reels, we know full well the upper range is where the DC system really shines so we didn't even bother to test this aspect - it is a given. Where we were a little disappointed in the performance of our DC7 was in the low speed presentations (i.e. pitching). Set in the appropriate "A" mode, our DC7 comfortably handled baits down to three eighths of an ounce while pitching but nothing below that range. Given this is not exactly a finesse reel, we found the lower end range acceptable because once you're within the brake's range, pitching performance is actually quite phenomenal. If you really want to get down to presenting 1/4 ounce baits with the DC7, we found by employing a roll cast at the "M" setting, we were able to send our bait sailing well over 120 feet - extraordinary.

 

turn your attention towards fishing, make your lure do its dance


Retrieve: Shimano does not disappoint in this category. First off, the backplay we experienced on our DC7, while still there, was very minimal. Actual retrieve was typical Shimano silkiness though why Shimano Japan insists on these shorter handles (74mm on the DC7) really is beyond me. They provide a wonderful handle length on the Metanium XT, but for the DC7, a fast retrieving reel that could really help the end user if it had a longer handle, they choose to go with a short, what I call, finesse handle. In applications where your bait is either still or slow moving, this is not much of a factor, but on a reel with 31 inches of return per handle, I'd like as much leverage as possible.
 

admire my features that are vintage

  
On the other hand, Shimano's HEG's really shine in this reel. Combined with the reel's stout construction, the power provided by the internal gears, even at this high rate of retrieve is truly remarkable. I was able to retrieve deep diving cranks like the old Lucky Craft Fat CB DR and Norman DD22's with relative ease using a slow to medium cranking speed. As one who really favors slower cranking reels for these applications, this really surprised me. Throw in a longer handle for better ergonomics and boy.

 

my profile that is svelte

 

Drag: Almost always a bright spot for Shimano, the DC7 delivers a maximum tested eight pounds of pressure and exhibits smooth, consistent performance throughout its range. Spotty reports indicate Shimano Japan may be using a new material for the drag washers and while perhaps not quite as silky smooth as the older, Dartanium drag reels, it was difficult to truly discern any difference without taking the reel apart to investigate. I started to dig into the reel only to discover, that in order to disassemble the handle side of the reel to access the drag system, you have to disassemble the non-handle side first so that you can access all the screws holding the handle side sideplate in place! No thank you.


come closer and closer

 

until your courage I melt

 

Ergonomics: It's all give and take in this department with the DC7. While its size (identical to that of the standard Antares or Calais 200 - not the Antares AR) is a disappointment, this is one of the pitfalls of an extreme brake control system - the need for line capacity. Overall, it is still a very comfortable profile to palm. The reel is heavy by some standards, but the confidence the reel's rigidity inspires is undeniable. The old-school fighting dragstar clicks, as does the cast control knob, but the handle is too short for the reel's rate of retrieve - again a wash.

 

enjoy my leatherette wrap

 

and access concealed


Other than the reel's mirror like finish, there's nothing that truly shines about it, ergonomically, without finding something else to even things out. Hopefully, either in future renditions, or if Shimano Japan chooses to trickle down the DC technology, we'll see some small tweaks and adjustments to really set this reel apart from the rest.

 

following the very first cast
 

your inhibitions shall yield

 

Application: Most would consider a super high speed reel a rather specialty item suited mostly for burning baits through the water or for situations where you want to take up slack line as quickly as possible. Thanks to Shimano's HEG gearing, however, the DC7 is quite an all purpose reel suitable for any number of applications. Add to the mix the DC7 is rated for both fresh and saltwater use, and this reel is almost as versatile as they come. Throw in a longer handle and we'd really be singing its praises, but for now, we're just happy to finally see the DC system, and a refined version at that, implemented in a low profile baitcaster!

 

Ratings:

Shimano Antares DC7 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Just about the best Shimano Japan has to offer 10
Performance If casting and retrieving is your game, technically flawless. If you're looking to present finesse baits, you may want to look elsewhere 9
Price The most expensive, full production low profile baitcaster of which we know. Like some other JDM reels the import version can be had cheaper than the domestic, but anglers will have to give up the local support and warranty, something that seriously must be considered since the Calais comes with Shimano's Platinum Premier service plan 7.0
Features FINALLY! DC in a low profile baitcaster. 10
Design (Ergonomics) Lots of give and take in this department but when it comes down to it, put a 90 mm handle on this reel and we're ready to roll! 9
Application Salt and Freshwater safe but best in casting applications 9

Total Score

9.0

  
Pluses and Minuses: (added elements from Calais 4x8 DC review)

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Incredibly innovative cast control system L High cost of ownership
J Exceptional in the wind, beat the elements and keep fishing L Overall weight is higher than standard Calais A
J HEG gearing shines, great balance of speed and power L Not very simple to breakdown for periodic maintenance, something that must be considered with an import
J HEG gearing really shines in this reel L Handle length is not a good match for the reel's retrieve speed
J Tank-like construction  
J Super stout drag!
J Comes with a really nice reel cover
J Digital Control in a low profile baitcaster... wicked  

 

Something wicked this way comes...

 

Conclusion: The flagship Calais DC was the first domestic reel to ever win the TackleTour “Ultimate Enthusiast” Award, and while Shimano’s primary goal is to build the best reels possible, there is no doubt in our minds that the Calais DC is the first domestic reel from the company that addresses the enthusiast tackle segment head on. Still there are some anglers that will value the Japanese domestic Antares DC7 as the true "enthusiast" offering, and for those anglers Cal says....

 

From the shadows does it rise,

the second of its kind,

borrowing from its lineage,

it's not one to stay benign,

resist as you might,

they all, eventually succumb,

a forewarning to pay heed,

for something wicked this way comes...



 

 

 

 

 

 
 





 

 



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