Once you spool up your baitcaster with line, you are ready to get down to business. Learning to use a baitcaster takes some time, so don't worry if you get frustrated at first. We all go through that.
Let's get to know your reel. On the Shimano Callisto, you have two main controls which dictate casting performance. The first is the cast control knob located on the right hand side of the reel next to the handle. The second is a magnetic spool control on the opposite side.
Let's make sure we are both on the same page. Tighten both of those settings. Turn the cast control knob towards the front of the reel (clockwise) until it's snug. Set the magnetic spool control to 10. This is the maximum brake setting. Shimano's included instructions recommend setting the magnetic spool control at the mid-point. Once other adjustments have been made, the magnetic spool control can then be adjusted. For most purposes, my two reels rarely require less than a magnetic setting of six.
How do these two systems work? They control how fast and free the spool moves. Think of them as casting brakes. Cast control systems apply friction. Magnetic braking systems apply a magnetic force against a moving spool and adjustments change the distance between the spool and the magnets. If you happen to have the included instructions for your Shimano Callisto, there is an excellent diagram on one side showing which adjustment needs to be made based on when and where a backlash occurs. However, the instructions can be a little confusing for the beginner.
I will briefly explain this diagram. If you notice backlashes occurring at the beginning of your cast, adjust the VBS controls (magnetic spool control). If backlashes seem to occur at the end of a cast, adjust the friction setting (cast control knob). With practice, you will be able to tell which adjustment needs fine tuning. You may find that doing the exact opposite will optimize casting, especially with this particular reel. Play around with the controls and see what works for you. The braking system for the Callisto is somewhat different from the VBS brakes on other Shimano baitcasters, like the Curado, which employs a centrifugal braking mechanism via a series of collars set in an on or off position.
Every time you change lures, consider that you might need to adjust these settings before making a cast. If you have read my review of the Shimano Callisto, you might recall that I felt no two Callisto reels were made alike. Both of my reels end up requiring different settings. Hey, it's a $40 reel. You can't expect perfection.
The general method to adjust for lure weight is relatively simple. Tie on your lure of choice. Take up line to bring the lure up so that it hangs a few inches from the rod tip. Hold the rod at a 45 degree angle in the air in front of you. Tighten the cast control knob. Push down on the Quickfire thumb bar to disengage the spool. Slowly turn the cast control knob to decrease the friction on the spool. As you decrease the friction, the weight of the lure will eventually overcome the amount of friction and it will begin to fall. Let the lure slowly fall to the ground. Watch the spool as the lure hits the ground. The spool should only turn about one revolution. If it does not turn, you are still set a little too tight. If it turns too much and line keeps coming off, tighten the cast control a little. When you find a happy medium, the reel is adjusted to the weight of the lure. Again, you can tinker with this setting a little more. You shouldn't turn the cast control knob so much that the lure plummets to the ground. Once you figure out how these two settings work, most adjustments will be very minute. A very slight turn of the cast control knob can make a huge difference.
The Shimano Callisto uses a star drag. Drag dictates how much give the reel provides when engaged. When a fish pulls against your own force, the drag is what keeps the line from slipping. When the drag is set too loose, the fish gets to be the boss and will probably escape. When the drag is set too tight, there is a chance that the line could break. A good drag setting also ensures a solid hookset. There are ways to properly adjust the drag, but I tend to tighten it down until I am unable to pull line off myself with a firm tug. A little bit of give can be good though.
1. Shimano Inc. "Magnetic/Friction Adjustment." Shimano Callisto Instruction Guide. 2006.
2. Shimano Inc. Image: Cast Control Knob. Shimano Callisto Instruction Guide. 2006.
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