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Reel Review

What happens when beauty and brawn come together perfectly, the Calcutta CTE300

Date: 09/04/05
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 9.08 + EDITORS CHOICE!

Introduction: The original Calcutta reels had a well earned reputation for quality and performance and the Calcutta TE's ushered in a new echelon of refinement for the esteemed family. Up till now most of my experience with the Calcutta TE's has been with the smaller freshwater oriented GT and DC reels. I was raring to go to test one of the saltwater positioned TE reels, and ultimately opted for the mid sized CTE300. 

Shimano Calcutta CTE300 Specifications

Weight 12.5oz.
Gear Ratio 5.0:1
Line retrieve per crank 25in
Bearings 4 Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing
Line Capacity (lb-yds) 12-240 / 14-190 / 20-120
Additional Features Solid Aluminum frame and side plates, aluminum spool, High Efficiency Gearing, Dartanium Drag, Super Stopper, Non-Disengaging levelwind system
MSRP $339.99

When Shimano introduced the TE’s freshwater anglers established a newfound love for the Calcutta series. Here was a lineup of reels that had the power of a saltwater round reel with the refinement of a low profile baitcaster. Since then the TE DC versions have only further increased the freshwater following for the Calcuttas. We decided it was time to turn the spotlight back to the saltwater variants and see how well they stand up to the test of time. The CTE300 (Calcutta TE 300) falls right between the CTE200 and the CTE400. Surprisingly while both the 200 and 400 come in both right and left hand retrieve the CTE300 is currently only available in a right hand configuration. The reel is quite a bit larger than the GT models and major differences include the absence of the Lo-Mass drilled spool in favor of a deep spool for more line capacity, oversized knobs, and a clicker recessed into the sideplate. 


The Calcutta CTE300 is the perfect size for rockfish and just about any Salmon


Materials: The CTE300 is extremely refined, and looks is among the most eye-catching saltwater levelwind reels I have ever fished. The reel is devoid of plastic components and features a machined aluminum frame and a stamped aluminum sideplate. Unlike the GT models which feature a drilled crossbar the CTE300 is solid in design, stressing frame rigidity over weight reduction. Weighing in at 12.5 the reel is still relatively light for a reel of this size, though it certainly is heavier than the freshwater GT versions.


The CTE300 is all aluminum and features a machined frame and stamped sideplate for superb rigidity, overall the reel looks and feels very refined


The Field Test: We committed to an 11 month test of the CTE300, effectively fishing for 2 seasons targeting a combination of Salmon and Rockfish. The CTE300 is built to be the transition reel between the light and heavy series of TE reels. We fished the reel with 25lb mono for Salmon trolling & mooching, and 30lb PLine Spectrex IV braid for all our bottom fishing. We then paired the reel with the Lamiglas Backbouncer to bear the burden of heavy 3-8oz jigs.


Complete Testing Rig for Shimano Calcutta CTE300 for Field Tests

Rod Lamiglas G1303-T
Reel Shimano Calcutta CTE300
Line 25lb Trilene Big Game
30 lb. PLine Spectrex IV


Even though this TE has no "super free" it still can cast small to huge lures with no problem

The first thing I noticed when casting the CTE300 was that it felt very different than the smaller GT models. The reason is that these reels do not have Super Free to reduce friction between the pinion gear and spool shaft on outcast. Why remove SF on this TE reel? The answer in all honesty is that it is not necessary in a reel of this size. Since the CTE300 is aimed at saltwater anglers the reel will be used to toss much larger and heavier lures than anything the sub 200 size models will ever see. The weight of these lures is more than enough to guarantee a lengthy cast. Using 4oz Megabait jigs we were able to get about 50 feet with a lob cast and near 75 when we really put our arms into it. All of which really is moot considering most anglers interested in the CTE300 won’t require vast casting distances for their applications.


The CTE300 features a non-disengaging levelwind, a low profile, and all metal construction

What I did find absolutely eminent was the implementation of the non-disengaging levelwind system. This is only found on the CTE300 and larger TE sizes and allows the levelwind to track back and forth during the cast which reduces drastic line angles that cause unwanted friction and backlashes on these wider-spool reels. The upshot is improved line management, a better overall line lay, and a cleaner more effortless cast and/or vertical drop.

The non-disengaging levelwind helps lay line down without aggressive angles which ultimately helps anglers cast trouble-free


Retrieving: In terms of retrieve the CTE300 feels poles apart from the GT models. Mostly due to the fact the bearing count is cut in half. This reel is more about raw power and reliability than a super silky retrieve. With that said the CTE300 still boasts among the smoothest retrieves of all the saltwater round reels I have ever tested, and feels about twice as smooth as a standard Calcutta. Where I really noticed the difference was in the connection to the gearing. On the GT models I feel like the retrieves are fluid while the CTE300 feels more commanding and accurate. I felt like the handle shaft was “bonded” to the master gearing. Each turn of the handle translates precisely into unadulterated line winding power. This became immediately apparent the first time I found myself hauling a sizeable Ling Cod up from the depths. The oversized HEG (High Efficiency Gearing) helps move bass on the GT versions, but on the CTE300 it is really a blessing when it comes time to turn a King Salmon or elevate a massive Ling.


The quick takedown sideplate allows access to the VBS

The CTE300 is the ideal size for salmon and is the smallest size available with an audible clicker. The clicker switch is recessed into the right sideplate so you barely notice it, yet it can effortlessly be deactivated with a flick of your finger without taking your hand off the handle during the fight. We found the 5.0:1 ratio excellent for coaxing rockfish out off structure and hauling them up quickly.

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