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Reel Review

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

Drag:  The Shimano dartanium drag has been proven on both saltwater and freshwater reels. This material delivers plenty of stopping power and our test reel was able to cough up 16.7lbs of counter pressure, that's a little more than double what a CTE50GT is capable of. The nice thing about the dartanium drags is that they stay relatively cool under pressure so that they can deliver smooth consistent pressure for longer periods. This is much more important when fighting saltwater species that have the power and room to run. Another benefit to the dartanium drag is the extensive range of settings. We were able to tune the drag in precise increments of .23lbs of pressure.

HEG gearing makes pulling rockfish out of structure effortless


Durability: When it comes to durability the CTE300 is as good as they come. The reel makes use of enlarged gearing and complete metal construction for increased torque. Our test reel went through hundreds of fish and still looks as good as new. While not recommended we hung the reel over the side of the boat and completely submerged it in saltwater every three months for deliberate stress testing. While some saltwater did penetrate the inner workings of the reel a simple rinse was enough to ensure the reel would continue to deliver unfailing performance. While I am positive this reel is capable of functioning even if abused, most anglers will aspire to preserve the refined smooth brand new “out of the box” feel. Regular maintenance is the key, and after submitting your warranty card you will receive coupons for discounted clean and lubes and priority 48-hour turnaround times from Shimano’s authorized service centers.


The recessed clicker is a nice feature that is easy to disengage quickly when fighting Salmon

Ergonomics: This reel is an ideal crossover reel for any mid sized species where a levelwind makes sense. That is why I am surprised that Shimano only offers the reel in a right hand configuration. Overall the reel has excellent ergonomics for a reel of this size, and still sits surprisingly low on most rods. The TE 200 size and below reels all make use of a soft rubber grip while the CTE300 employs an enlarged Septon grip which is harder but offers quite a bit more tack when wet. The takedown sideplate is a thing of beauty, and allows anglers to access the reliable VBS system quickly and shield the system from the elements. The only things we would have liked to see added on this reel is a clicking mechanism on the drag star and spool cast control knob, akin to the ones found on the DC.

Even Lings are little match for the brawny gearing and reliable drag of the CTE300

Price: Shimano has something special in the CTE300 and the lack of response from the majority of the competitors is extraordinary. While the competitors have products both on the smaller and larger size few of them have a retort to the well engineered CTE300. I can name on one hand how many other reels actually compete with the CTE300 in terms of size, refinement, durability, and most importantly…. sheer performance. Perhaps the new Daiwa TD Luna will help make things a little more interesting. For $339.99 the CTE300 isn’t inexpensive, but it is worth every penny.


Shimano Calcutta CTE300 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Wow! The CTE300 is a work of art and you can really see the machined angles within the frame. This reel is as good as they come when it comes to quality metal round reel construction 10
Performance The CTE300 performed extremely well in all our tests. Few fish were actually any match for the reels combination of HEG gearing and the souped up dartanium drag 9
Price At a MSRP of 339.00 the CTE300 is not a cheap reel, but certainly worth the money. There are few competitors in this size category that even have a quality offering to pit against this reel 8.5
Features The CTE300 removes some of the refined features in the GT version like Super Free but makes up for it with a quality clicker and non-disengaging levelwind 9
Design (Ergonomics) Overall ergonomics are excellent. Would have loved to see a micro-click adjustment of the drag and cast control like the DC, but then again this predecessor costs quite a bit less. Overall easy to use and easy to clean 9
Application A good transition reel that can cover any mid sized species where a levelwind makes sense 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Excellent Construction L No microclick drag star
J Beats the competition L No microclick spool adjustment
J HEG gearing = Great Torque L No Left hand version available
J Feels extremely "connected"  
J Dartanium drag performance  
J Built to last!  

With the extended field test of the CTE300 complete my fondness for the Calcutta TE series of reels has just reached a new plateau. While not as silky smooth as its smaller GT siblings this reel feels refined in a very different, yet equally inspiring fashion. I felt 100% connected to all my lures with gearing that feels like it is put together with the tightest of possible tolerances. When fish were hooked up, whether they were a huge King Salmon or a hefty Ling they were simply no match for the HEG gearing and beefy dart drag. This is one reel that manages to dispense an equal amount of refinement and power. There are no sacrifices here other than the investment of 340 dollars. After fishing for nearly a year with the CTE300 the reel still looks, feels, and performs as good as the day it came out of the box, which is a fervent testament to the reel’s build quality, especially when you consider the deliberate hardship the reel endured in our stress tests. Shimano TE reels have been given accolades from our editors in the past and the CTE300 continues that practice with a well deserved Editors Choice. When it comes to a mid sized premium saltwater levelwind reel the Calcutta TE 300 is as good as they come.











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