Shimano Calcutta CT400
Regarded by many Cantrebury salmon anglers as the best up-river salmon reel you can buy. The Shimano CT-400 was first introduced in New Zealand during 1995.Two smaller versions of the Calcutta, the CT-100 and CT-200, have been available for many years. These were, and still are, beautiful little reels. Precision made with the angler in mind, their casting smoothness is almost in a league of its own. Great though the 100 and 200 are, they were really trout reels which held insufficient line for serious salmon angling.
‘The CT-400 can hold about 260 yards of 15 lb line, which is any amount for salmon, even in the fast water at the mouth of the Waitaki River!
The Calcutta CT-400 really comes into its own as a casting reel. For this purpose it is about the closest thing to perfection yet seen in salmon fish ing tackle. The first time I cast a ticer with it I was amazed at just how far the thing went I hadn’t even attempted to tune the casting brake!
The reason casting is so effortless, is that the reel has two stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing, combined with the lightness, of its one piece rigid aluminium frame and precision aluminium spool.
The gear ratio is 4:7.1 which means you retrieve plenty of line for each turn of the handle.
The Calcutta CT-400 also has a number of impressive modern fea tures. In my opinion, the best of these is the Quick Fire II clutch bar.
As you can see in the picture this is positioned directly behind the spool itself. This mean that as you lower your thumb down onto it to disengage the gearing. This is the most natural position of all because your thumb is at the same time in per fect position resting on the spool ready to make the cast. In other words you can control both the spool and clutch with your thumb alone. There is no need to place your thumb on the spool and then press the clutch button as you would otherwise do on an ordinary reel.
There is a cast con trol knob on the end plate. You use this to add friction to the spool to check the cast and prevent overruns. The setting de pends on the weight of ticer or zed spinner you are fishing with. The best advice is to have this done up fairly tight to begin with and then loosen off as you become more profi cient. Having the cast control knob backed off too far is the main reason the novice experiences trouble cast ing this type of free spool reel. It is best to put up with reduced casting distances until you get the “feel” of the reel.
The reel is designed to be easily and quickly disassembled for maintenance and spool change. Although it can be taken apart by unwinding two thumb screws, I don’t advice you do this unless you have been shown the proper way to go about it or are confident in what you are doing. It is easy to accidently loose the small spool brake weights. Ask the shop to show you the inside of the reel if you are at all uncertain. The possible loss of small parts from its insides must always be born in mind and watched carefully. After all, this is a precision instrument!
The main and pinion gears are cut from solid brass. Don’t forget that Sliimano have long been world leaders in bicycle gearing manufacturing. This knowledge goes into their fishing reels and creates a silky smooth, and yet very robust product.
The Calcutta reels are fitted with paddle handles. Or if you prefer, handles with two knobs. These counterbalance each other and prevent wobble when winding flat out. The handle knobs are made from a delightful grey rubbery plastic that yields to your grip and yet remains firm. I like this type better than plain hard knob handles.
The reel is fitted with what Shimano call their Super Stopper anti-reverse drag mechanism. This eliminates handle play. The drag incorporates titanium/cotton material and is enhanced by the use of molybdenum, an element used in the construction of high speed tools! The drag is super smooth. It lacks even a hint of grabbing when jerked suddenly under pressure.
The Calcutta also has a greatly improved spool brake. Shimano call it their Variable Braking System. It can be adjusted by sliding 6 brake weights inside the end of the spool. By sliding these to the “on” or “off” position you can tailor the braking to suit your own requirements. If
you are new to this sort of free spool reel you can greatly reduce the backlashes (birds nests) you experience by having all the brakes in the “on” position. The reel even comes with a second set of heavier, green coloured weights that you can use instead if you are a complete novice!
The reel foot is slightly recessed so that the reel has a low profile on the rod.
The Calcutta CT-400 comes complete with: a soft felt carry bag, a spanner/screw driver tool, a second set of heavier braking weights, plus some spare weights, a bottle of very light clear oil, and set of instructions. There are, for those who might be interested, 85 parts that make up this reel.
Overall this is an impressive fishing reel. Its beautiful gold finish and rounded corners give it a striking and elegant appearance. The mechanical features are more than a match for its good looks. It also has a high quality precision feel to it.
When the fish aren’t biting you can always admire your reel.
The weight of the CT-400 is just 320 grams, making it a joy to cast with for long periods. It would be equally at home as an up-river salmon reel as it would be performing lengthy casts into the surf. Though I would use a reel with a bit more line capacity when fishing for salmon in the surf,. many anglers I know use their Shimano Calcutta CT400 quite happily in this roll, where out and out casting distance is so important.
The Shimano Calcutta CT400 retails at around NZ$500. This brings to mind the obvious question, is it good value for money? I first tested and reviewed this model back in 1995 with a reel given to me by the New Zealand Importers Douglas Johnson and Company. I have fished hard for salmon with this reel for ten years. Other than being stripped down and throughly cleaned each year it has never had anything in it replaced other than a pawl. I have caught at least two dozen salmon with it over this time. In my opinion it is excellent value for money!
Line capacity: 14lb/260 yards, 17lb/200 yards, 20lb/160 yards. Gear Ratio 4.7:1 Weight 11.3 oz. 2 x ball bears and 1 x roller bearing.