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The Gold Standard for Round Reels Gets Dual Cast Control System - The Calcutta Conquest MD


Date: 1/22/23
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: Zander

Introduction: The Shimano Calcutta Conquest is the gold standard by which so many other round reels are judged. This flagship series has a well deserved reputation for both refinement and reliability by both freshwater and saltwater anglers all over the world. This season Shimano launches new 300 and 400 sized Calcutta Conquest MD series reels which feature a number of major advancements including a SVS MD hybrid cast control system and interlocking levelwind feature, and is specifically designed for fishing swimbaits and other giant lures.


Shimano Calcutta Conquest MD Specifications

Calcutta Conquest 300XG
Calcutta Conquest 400XG
Weight 12.7 oz. 12.9oz.
Rated Line Capacity (Mono) Yd.
14lb/180 : 17lb/150
14lb/260m : 20lb/160
Retrieve Ratio
Retrieve Hand Right
(Left also available)
(Left also available)
Bearings (S-ARB) 11BB + 1 RB 11BB + 1 RB
Max Drag (Rated)
18 lbs
18 lbs
Brake Type
External Brake Adjustment?
Yes - Magnetic portion of SVS Tune
Yes - Magnetic portion of SVS Tune
Additional Features Infinity Drive, X-Protect, MicroModule Gearing, Hagane body, S-Compact Body, S3D Spool, SilentTune, Audible Drag, Cross Carbon Drag Infinity Drive, X-Protect, MicroModule Gearing, Hagane body, S-Compact Body, S3D Spool, SilentTune, Audible Drag, Cross Carbon Drag

The Calcutta Conquest series gets a major update that includes a number of new features designed to improve casting and line management

Gold Standard: Shimano's Calcutta round reels, and sibling Conquest reels in Japan, have long been the gold standard when it comes to round reel performance and refinement. There are other companies that can also be considered pioneers of round reel design, or have brought truly compelling circular baitcasters to market, and products like the legendary Abu Garcia Morrum and Daiwa Ryoga platforms come to mind, but few companies have been as consistent when it comes to continually refining their signature line of round reels as Shimano.

The new Calcutta Conquest MD reels will be available in two sizes, a 300 which weighs 12.7 ounces...

As Shimano has continued to unify their global portfolio more of the "good stuff" started coming to US shores, and to emphasize this the Calcutta and Conquest brands also coalesced. As swimbait fishing has continued to grow in popularity in the U.S., and has really become a major segment on it's own, the need for more powerful reels with higher line capacities and improved handling of heavier baits has also increased. While you can technically use almost any baitcaster for swimbaits reels that are designed specifically for casting larger baits are much better suited for this application. Some of the most popular mainstream swimbait reels include the Curado 300K, Curado 200DC, Daiwa Tatula 300 and Daiwa Lexa. All of these reels are low-profile reels with high capacity spools and larger gears and drags designed for bigger baits.

...and a larger 400 size which has 30% more line capacity and weighs 12.9 ounces

At the upper end of the market enthusiasts favor the precision, refinement, and performance of reels like the Shimano Calcutta Conquest, Shimano Antares MD, Daiwa Ryoga and Daiwa Z2020. The problem is that many of these reels are that they are expensive and often hard to procure, and often need to be imported from Japan.

Circular baitcasters like the Calcutta Conquest have long been favored by anglers that want the ultimate in rigidity and power, and are willing to sacrifice some of the ergonomic benefits of lower profile baitcasters for that refinement. These reels are typically designed with a focus on quality and refinement and draw upon their saltwater roots to also provide exceptional durability.

Aluminum forged and machined round reels are known to provide a lifetime of service and there are many anglers that still fish their original Conquest and Calcutta DC reels over a decade later.

In Calcutta Conquest tradition the reel is constructed out of aluminum and is treated for extra corrosion resistance. One of the main benefits of circular reels is their excellent strength and long term durability

Building a Monster: When it comes to swimbait reels there are many enthusiast swimbait anglers that consider the 2018 Antares DC MD "Monster Drive" one of the best swimbait reels ever made. It was an enthusiast class baitcaster delivered strong big bait performance with DC cast control. Unfortunately this reel is only available as a JDM offering, but that didn't stop U.S. anglers from importing them. Interestingly the Antares MD also gets a refresh this season and the new Antares DCMD will now feature MGL spool III and the company's new 4 x 8DC MD Tune cast control system. This low profile baitcaster will have a more compact body that bears the same form factor of the  Exsence DC which was launched last season. As in the past there are currently no plans to bring Antares MD DC reel stateside as of now.

This week Shimano Japan also announced a new Antares DC MD which features the low inertia MGL spool III

The good news for domestic swimbait anglers is that the Calcutta Conquest in contrast is coming to the U.S., which is not a surprise given the Calcutta Conquest's larger international audience as the series has long been favored by both freshwater and saltwater anglers in all markets. Swimbait anglers that fish the largest glides and wakes love the Calcutta Conquest's combination of casting ability, winding power, and reliability. These reels also cater to baitcasting purists, which still prefer the rock solid build and beauty of a machined aluminum round reel. Even though this new Calcutta Conquest looks much like the traditional circular reels of the past it features some new technologies that will make it even more interesting for big bait applications.

Like the previous Antares MD this new reel makes use of digital cast control and will feature the new 4 x 8DC MD Tune. Unfortunately this reel will only be available in Japan

For starters the new Calcutta Conquest MD is the first U.S. reel to be introduced stateside with the "MD" moniker. When the Antares MD was introduced it designated the "Monster Drive" because it was designed with superior casting ability for bigger baits to target bigger game in both fresh and saltwater. The new Calcutta may not use a DC system but embraces this big bait orientation with SVS MD Tune, a new hybrid braking system that includes both centrifugal and magnetic braking systems working in unison.

The good news is that swimbait anglers stateside will have access to the new Calcutta Conquest MD which is the first reel to make use of the hybrid SVS MD Tune breaking system

Next Section: The SVS MD Tune Casting System Explained









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