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I've searched the forum here and read the preferences some of you have regarding tackle, so forgive me if this has been beat to death. I'm doing an Ontario fly-in fishing trip late June and want to take another setup besides my spinning rig for casting for (hopefully) big pike and trolling. I came upon a deal on what I think is a decent casting rod (Fenwick HMG) with two tip sections in medium and medium heavy and would like a reel to match up. I'm a relative newby to baitcasting tackle, I have a small inexpensive Ryobi rod/reel combo that I've been practicing with and I'm able to cast without too many birds nest as long as I'm using heavier (>1+oz) lures. I want to get a reel that has a decent line capacity and will be cast friendly to someone that doesn't have a lot of experience with them. Searching online and reading reviews I sort of lean towards the round body type, in particular the Abu Garcia C4 and the Shimano Calcutta B series. I'd like to stick with a left hand crank because that's what feels more natural to me, having used open faced spinning reels all my life. I don't need professional quality and would like to keep it under $200. It will only be used a couple times a year at most, but don't want to get something that I want to throw overboard trying to make it work. So what do you more experienced baitcasters recommend I look at?


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I recommend the Calcutta.


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Do they make a left hand crank Calcutta?...mb


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I don't know where you're going in Canada but assuming you'll be on some larger chain or lakes your success on large Northerns in late June would be spotty at best. Large Northerns over 15 pounds become cold water fish so they'll head for deep open water once the water temperatures warm. You'd be left with access to smaller fish in shallower water. Now if there are Muskies where you're going, I'd suggest targeting them as they stay relatively shallow all summer.

Your choice of a Fenwick HMG rod is a solid choice. I've used Fenwick HMG rods for over 50 years with great success. As for reel, you want something with a good adjustable magnetic anti-reverse. The anti-reverse should all but eliminate tangles when casting when adjusted correctly. Most of your better reels in the $100 to $150 range should work fine.

If you're right handed, stick with a right handed bait casting reel. Fishing is truly an ambidextrous sport.

Don't be afraid to go a little lighter on your rod and reel combo. In my opinion that's what makes fishing truly exciting. You'll also be able to make longer casts with a slightly lighter setup.

Best wishes for a successful trip!

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Originally Posted by Magnum_Bob
Do they make a left hand crank Calcutta?...mb


Yes. I've found 200, 250 and 400 sized reels in LH (201, 251 & 401)


[quote=walt501]I don't know where you're going in Canada but assuming you'll be on some larger chain or lakes/quote]

We'll be on a lake in the Albany river system, mainly targeting walleye, but casting for pike is always fun. I've had some experience June fishing at similar latitude on the Ogoki river system and we always seemed to find a couple biguns still cruising the shoreline, but catching those 3-5 pounders is always a blast!


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Tmich If I may ask what lake or lake area in Ontario? I have guided northwestern Ontario all my life if your heading that way. I’ve never really gone east towards Thunder Bay or beyond.
Rods are rods in the heavier sets to me, sounds like you have chosen well. I think in the price range the Revo series of reels may be a good choice? Folks in my boat like those a lot.
As I’ve gotten long of tooth I’ve put the bait casters aside more and more and for pike up there a good medium heavy/heavy spinning rod in 7-7’6” does very well. So easy with the flip of a wrist to send a lure out to the waiting fish.
There are weed beds in many lakes and if you get into them move your boat quietly over and work your fish out. Sometimes your in boulders but again work the fish out and your fine. Nice to work lighter gear with patience than the heavy stuff.
Most important is asking ahead of time about all the fish where your going. Knowing the bait fish will tell you exactly where to fish and a lot of times how to fish.
Sure hope you do well.
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Sorry I see the area now. I’ve not been over there. Looks like fun!

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I think you’re right on track Tmitch. I’ve made a half dozen trips to fly-in lakes in northern Manitoba, specifically for big pike. I’m going back for two weeks beginning in late July. What I’ve settled on for reels is the Shimano Calcutta Conquest 200DC. That is a right hand reel but there is a left hand option. They are excellent reels a bit more pricey than you’re looking for. The size though, 200 series is ideal for big pike. They are certainly up to the task. As important as the reel is, the rod is more important, in my opinion. I wouldn’t want less than a 7 foot, medium heavy action rod. Leverage is huge with big pike. I’m talking fish over 40 inches. I would also suggest using braided line, at least 30 lb test an of course a steel leader. Those fish will destroy everything! It’s good to have extra and I would encourage you to buy the best you can afford. You don’t want to go to all the expense of getting to a lake that’s 200 miles from the nearest road and have cheap gear let you down.


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That Shimano Calcutta Conquest 200DC sounds like an interesting reel with the digital brake control. How well does it work eliminating backlashes? Pretty pricey new but I've found a couple used on ebay that are closer to my price point.


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I’ve bought mine on eBay. No baitcasting reel is 100 percent backlash proof, but that one comes closer than anything else I’ve used in the last 50 years. Adjust it correctly and keep your thumb lightly on the spool and you’re not likely to have much trouble with it.


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I agree on the Calcutta DC. Mine's left handed and if there's an easier baitcaster to use I sure don't know what it is. The DC feature has crept down the model line-up as well, if the lower price helps out.


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Might be tough to keep that Calcutta under $200.

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Thanks guys. A new Calcutta DC is definitely above my price point, however looking at used ones on ebay brings it closer to the mark. Something I've noticed is that a lot of the Shimano reels for sale there are located in Japan. I looked at the Curado DC and SLX DC Shimanos at Cabelas over the weekend but their spools seem pretty shallow for much line capacity.


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My understanding was that, at least originally the Conquest Calcutta 200DC wasn’t marketed in the US. As I said previously, I bought mine off eBay and each of them came from Japan. I don’t know if they’re currently available in the States or not. All the literature that comes with the reel is in Japanese but the functions are the same as other similar reels, so I didn’t see that as a problem. The quality is first rate.


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I'm a big fan of Calcutta 400 B and D round reels. I have 4 of them on various Muskie rods, but do have one 250B that is on my 8' MH St Croix Premier. It's spooled with 50# cortland master braid and I use it to throw small bucktails, topwaters, and to twitch small crankbaits. It has served me well for 6-7 years now. I think it would be a great reel for dedicated northern pike rod. I've caught Muskies to 47" using it and never had an ounce of trouble.

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Well I found a Calcutta TE 201DC on ebay for under my price limit and it's on the way to me. So the next newbie question is what do I spool it with? So many choices these days.......mono, flouro, braid and combinations of them. I'd rather keep it simple and spool with a single line. What works best for you guys? Only thing I've ever used is Trillene mono on my spinning rig


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30-50# braid.

I prefer Cortland Master Braid.

Next would be suffix 832.

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I don’t think you can go wrong with what Ky221 recommended. I caught a lot of fish using Trilene XL and was satisfied with it. By chance, I realized how much easier braid cuts through the cabbage and other vegetation. The Trilene wouldn’t cut it and the vegetation just kind of clumped up on the line, and I’d end up pulling it out of the rod tip. I’ve had pike tangled up in the weeds too. The braid cleanly slices through everything. It will cut you too! For that reason alone, I switched to it. The lack of stretch and added strength are a bonus to me. I like the fact that braid doesn’t have a memory too.


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I use Stealth. I minimum size 65lb if not more but my tips depend on fish in the boat so with client error involved heavier is better.
I use the same on my personal musky gear, that in 80lb. I do not know your reels capacity, that plays in. Another reason I use the heavy braid is backlashes which are inevitable are much easier to clear. I will give up a little casting distance for that any day.

A fellow I know owns the company that makes Fins? braid. He has been asking I use it but the closest I’ve come to that is reading any reviews I could find and most all were very positive. I do not know what weights that comes in.
Info on braid cord I’ve learned is it all comes from the same source. Different companies simply have it “finished” to their spec coating and color. Hope this helps.

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Thanks for the recommendations, I appreciate all the information. Do you guys do anything with braid to keep it from slipping on the spool? I've heard/read to put some mono on first and something about a wrap of electrical tape? Or is it even a problem? I don't feel I need anything over 20# test weight wise but is it more about line diameter on these level winds? Again sorry for all the newbie questions, just trying to reduce the learning curve a bit


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