We all know the old cliché, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Well, Shimano’s line of Calcutta round baitcasting reels wasn’t exactly broken, far from it actually. But their engineers wanted to develop a new round casting reel that used less material and still provided anglers with all the durability, power and smoothness they've come to expect from Shimano.

Round baitcasters certainly have a place in the current fishing marketplace and have for years. Typically, they appeal to the anglers who want a sturdy reel that can hold up against multiple species in either freshwater or saltwater.

So what would draw someone to consider a round baitcaster for their everyday bassin’ (or walleyein’ or muskiein’) needs considering the glut of low-profile models out there? The new Calcutta D gives you everything you need – a combination of power and rigidity that exceeds previous models.

Since its unveiling at ICAST in July, I’ve tested the Calcutta 200D (5.7:1 ratio; 9.35 ounces), the smallest of the three new D series models.

The first noticeable feature is the smaller-than-expected footprint than is normally seen in its round counterparts. The new S-Compact body, made of one solid piece of cold-forged aluminum, allowed the reel designers to reduce the taper from the handle side to the B side by 15 percent over previous Calcutta models. It looks and feels like a 100 series reel.

Simply picking the reel up, you immediately notice the less-bulky feel in your hand. It’s got plenty of curb appeal as well. Its no-frills, polished aluminum finish pairs nicely with its do-everything performance.

Four casts into its initial outing, a musky latched onto my 4-inch Yum Dinger and the reel was more than up to the challenge. I wish I could say the same for my line. I hadn’t even toyed with the drag yet, but was able to dial it back without missing a beat during the duel. The cranking power was evident with each turn and in the heat of battle, there’s no worrying about your hand slipping off the handle as Shimano equipped the Calcutta with Power R Grip II knobs, which are ample-sized and dense, yet soft enough to not wear your fingers out.

Speaking of drag control, X-Drag is another new feature on the Calcutta D series. Shimano installed the handle closer to the reel body and moved the drag control outside the handle, increasing leverage and torque and reducing lateral tilt during fights with big fish or when throwing bulkier baits.

I tried an assortment of deep-diving crankbaits and even tied on an umbrella rig, and each time there was no dropoff in performance. This reel is built for man-to-fish combat. It can cast into next week, thanks to its X-Ship technology, which cuts down on friction, and it retrieves so smoothly and effortlessly, you start to wonder if it’s even in gear.

While I haven’t needed to look under the hood, access to the internal braking adjustments is accomplished by removing two screws that secure the side plate to the reel body.

The 200 model will retrieve 25 inches of line per crank and will handle 190 yards of 10-pound test mono or 130 yards of 50-pound braid.

The Calcutta D round baitcaster comes in three sizes (200, 300 and 400) and three gear ratios: 5.1:, 5.6:1 and 5.7:1; and is availabile in both right- and left-hand models. It retails for $339.99-$379.99 and is available at the BassFan Store.


> To learn more about the reel and other Shimano products, click here.

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