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Enthusiast Reel Review

 

Return of the Enthusiasm : Shimano Japan's Calcutta Conquest (continued)

Real World Tests: As I shared my interpretation of this design with Zander, he just gave me a look as if to say, "Dude, you need to get out more," or "I need to find myself a new Enthusiast Tackle Editor, Cal is out of his gourd," or even, "No more enthusiast tackle for you!" Either way, we promptly scheduled a trip to get me out of my own head and onto the water with this gem. I spooled the Conquest DC 101HG with some 50lb Daiwa J-Braid, tied a 15lb Sunline Defier Armillo top shot, and matched the reel with my Megabass F7-71X7 Aaron Martens 71.


The 2019/2020 Calcutta Conquest DC is built with i-DC5

Casting: Remember when Shimano's digital cast control system was a very simple, intuitive, single dial adjustment on the non-handle sideplate? Yeah, that system is as dead and forgotten as the original iPad. Like the iPad, there are now several versions of Shimano's DC system (i-DC4, i-DC5, 4x8 DC). The 2019/2020 Calcutta Conquest DC is built with i-DC5. This is the same DC braking system found in the 2015 Metanium DC and comes with two areas of adjustment.


It begins by flipping open the sideplate and selecting one of three settings

You begin by flipping open the non-handle sideplate and setting the three position lever to your line type: PF = Braid : N = Nylon : F = Fluoro. I like to think of this as PF = least brake force, F = most brake force. Once, you've selected your setting, close the reel back up and use the external dial to fine tune the brakes: 1 = baits over 3/4oz, 2 = ~1/2 - 3/4oz baits, 3 = ~3/8oz - 1/2oz baits, 4 = ~1/4 - 3/8oz baits, and finally W = windy conditions or most brake force. I simplify this in my mind as well and just think of it as a 5 step braking system with 1 being the least amount of brakes and W being the most.


This dial on the outside is then used to fine tune the DC system

I started with the least amount of brakes inside, and the external dial set to four. My first experience casting this reel was actually out in the street after setting up the line because I wanted to test my connection knot through the guides. I quickly tied on a five eighths ounce casting plug and made a quick roll cast with the snap of my wrist. That casting plug flew out with such force, I almost took out a squirrel. I should have aimed more carefully. Fortunately for that squirrel, I needed to redo my knot.


This angle shows the size difference between the two sides of the reel

Out on the water, that super easy casting experience continued and I remember thinking, if it weren't for that DC whine, I would swear I was fishing an MGL equipped Conquest instead of a DC. Imagine my surprise later, reading up on the reel's features that it does in fact have an MGL spool. That super easy release of your lure with minimal casting effort is unmistakable and somehow even more deadly and mesmerizing when combined with Shimano's digital control braking system. DC reels used to have difficulty with lighter baits, but no more.


During my first trip out on the water with this reel, I remember thinking, if it weren't for that DC whine, I would swear I was fishing an MGL equipped Conquest instead of a DC


Turns out, that IS an MGL spool in the new Conquest DC!

Shimano's i-DC5 braking system enables the reel to handle baits as low as one quarter of an ounce. This is a capability I validated when testing the 2015 Metanium DC. During that reel's review process, I respooled it with six pound test copoly, mounted it on a BFS stick and was able to cast and pitch a seven gram (~1/4oz) bait fishable distances with a cross wind. I did not go through the same exercise with this reel because the braking systems are identical and this reel's spool is actually one gram lighter. It will perform the same, if not slightly better than the 2015 Metanium DC. Besides I was having far too much fun fishing it the way I had it set up. It was really difficult putting this combo down at any point during the day.


If given a choice between MGL or DC, I'd choose MGL. Turns out the two are not mutually exclusive


The latest Conquest DC is available in two sizes with two options in retrieve ratio for both. I acquired the high speed, 100 size with a gear ratio of 6.8:1

Retrieve: In both sizes (100 & 200), the new Calcutta Conquest DC is available in two different retrieve ratios. Those are 4.8:1 & 6.2:1 for the 200, and 5.6:1 & 6.8:1 in the 100. I acquired the left handed (101), 6.8:1 (HG) reel. Clicking over its 84mm handle connects you to a brass gear cut with micro-module teeth for what has become a new hallmark for smooth in Shimano reels. I should note the smoothness achieved by Shimano's micro-module enabled reels is not a night and day difference between their older reels. It is simply a degree or two better. In fact, depending on how closely you pay attention, you may not even notice it right off the bat, but if you fish a micro-module enabled reel long enough, and then go back to a reel with standard gears, the difference in refinement will be immediately apparent. That's how they get you.


The stock handle measures 84mm center to center on the handle posts

Power: Another benefit these micro teeth deliver is better power. Round reels are often thought of as ideal for cranking because of their good, low speed power, but in truth, gear size in today's low profile reels make up for this and often surpass the need for low gear ratios. Case in point, we've spoken with a lot of bass pros who use 7.1:1 reels for deep cranking. Shimano's Calcutta and Calcutta Conquest reels are no longer truly round on the handle side and have, for a long time been more like the suns from Tatooine or maybe more accurately, representative of a partial eclipse.


The main gear is made of brass and measures 37mm in diameter

This design opens up the opportunity for Shimano to use a larger than normal gear that when equipped with those micro teeth results in better than average power for a reel of this size. The slower available gear ratio still makes for an excellent, dedicated cranking reel for those of us who prefer that old school approach. The faster retrieves still have plenty of torque and are, by today's standards, right on the edge of standard retrieve and slow anyway.


The reel is equipped with Shimano's latest, Micro-Module Gear tech

Drag: If maximum stopping power is your game, the Conquest 100 platform is not your answer. Shimano rates this reel with a max four kilogram drag which translates to just over eight and three quarters pounds of pressure. Performance on the other hand is smooth and consistent as one might expect.


The drag is built for smooth, consistent performance but is only rated for roughly eight and three quarters pounds of max pressure


The digital control mechanism and non-handle sideplate detach all in one piece with the flip of a lever

However, one feature that took me by surprise is this reel has an audible, clicking drag. This feature use to really annoy me in a casting reel, but it's becoming more common in JDM models, especially the round ones. I'm uncertain as to the application for which it is designed other than maybe bait fishing, but it is beginning to grow on me. Maybe I've been watching too much Wicked Tuna.


Disassembly can be tricky. The handle nut is recessed within the handle



This is a similar design to the handle of Antares, but Shimano provides a tool with that reel (shown). There is no such tool provided with the Calcutta Conquest. Fortunately, a properly sized socket wrench will suffice.

Next Section: A return of the enthusiasm...

 

   

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