say I was a little reluctant to spend $330 for the Shimano
Calais Bait Cast Reel when I first saw it is an understatement.
I have since discovered that this reel is the definition of the
term ďYou get what you pay forĒ. I have been fishing with
them for a little over a year without the slightest hint of a
problem and now consider it to be one of the best fishing
investments I have ever made.
Its 10 stainless
steel ball bearings and 1 stainless steel roller bearing make
this the smoothest, longest casting, reel Iíve ever used. They
also insure that this reel will hold up to the pressure of
the150 or so days a year that I fish, for many years to come.
The machined brass gears are so smooth when you crank this reel
it takes a bit of getting used to. There is not the slightest
bit of resistance in the handle whatsoever. Every other reel
Iíve ever used has a certain amount of resistant when you turn
the handle. Not this one, itís as smooth as silk.
The body of this
reel is of a 1pc. die cast aluminum construction with a polished
chrome finish. It has a variable 6-pin centrifugal brake system
so sensitive you can throw the lightest of baits or the biggest
crank-bait in your box without any problem at all. You can set
it to free spool and itís perfect for pitchiní those
4Ēlizards with a 1/8 oz. weight that are so deadly in the
spring. The instant anti-reverse engages the reel with the
slightest turn of the handle and it doesnít allow the spool to
turn even a fraction of an inch. The Dartanium drag washers in
this reel are by far the smoothest Iíve ever used. The Calais
also has a model with magnesium spool for an additional $20, but
the ones I use have an oversized aluminum spool.
A couple of very
cool features of this reel are the positive ďclickĒ in the
spool tension and drag adjustment and an attached access door to
the variable brake system. When you adjust the spool tension or
drag they have an audible click that holds your setting in place
and prevents it from changing due to vibration, bumping it or
anything else that usually manages to mess these settings up.
The access door to the variable brake system stays attached to
the reel when you unscrew it to change settings. This prevents
you from dropping it in the lake like you do with other reels
with this type of brake system. Not that Iíve ever done that.
Okay, I have and it pretty much sucks, but I donít have to
worry about that anymore.
They come in left
or right hand models, have a 5.0:1 gear ratio and weigh just 9
ounces. I use the left hand models for pitchiní, buzz-baits
and anything else that requires me to have immediate contact
with the reel handle as the bait hits the water. This prevents
me from having to switch it from my right (casting hand) to my
left to engage the reel.
The only real
gripe I have with this reel is a feature that all Shimano reels
have. That feature is a thumb bar that only goes about ĺ of the
way across the width of the spool. For some reason Shimano must
think that the people using the left-hand models are only
casting with their left hand and visa-versa because the gap on
the left hand model is on the right hand side of the spool. This
really isnít a problem as the gap is only about ľĒ wide or
so and just feels a little weird at first. After a while you
never seem to put your thumb on that part of the bar or just get
used to it because I donít even notice it anymore. The right
hand model has the gap on the left side of the spool so it never
comes into play if you cast with your right hand. I donít know
why Shimano has this feature on their reels, it seems kind of
lame, but they all do and itís really not a problem. The only
other thing I would change about this reel is I would like to
see a model with a larger spool capacity.
The Calais holds
125 yds. of 14lb. line which is plenty for most things but falls
a little short for Carolina-Rigging. Most of the time when Iím
Rigginí I like to use 12-24 lb. Fusion line and a ĺ oz.
weight on a 7í medium-heavy All Star Titanium Series rod and
really send that sucker out there. This reel falls a little
short of handling that as the spool is almost empty after a cast
that long. Other than that this is my reel of choice for every
other pattern I fish thru out the year.
I realize the
price tag on this reel will prevent many fishermen from ever
considering it. It is not the reel for a guy who only fishís
every now and then. But for the guy who spends most of his free
time on the water and has his yearly tournament schedule planned
by the second week in January this reel is the one youíve been
looking for. I can honestly say itís worth every cent youíll
pay for it. You just donít realize what youíve been missing
until you get this reel out on the water. I donít care what
kind of reel youíre using now; youíll be amazed at the
performance of this one. Itís kind of like comparing a
Cadillac to an Escort. Some guys are perfectly happy driving
Escortís and thatís cool. If youíre only driving around
the block every now and then, the Escort is all youíll ever
need. But if it seems like you spend more time in youíre car
than at home, the luxury of the Cadillac goes beyond being a
convenience and becomes a necessity. If you take this stuff
anywhere near as serious as I do, you owe it to yourself to give
the Shimano Calais a try. Youíll be glad you did.