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Shimano Digital Control - How to Get the Most Out of its 32 Different Settings

baitcasting reel distance control settingMaximum Distance

Ideal for surf casting or competition distance casting, but typically not used for normal fishing situations.

baitcasting reel distance control settingAll-Around Performance

Fewer backlashes, less effort and longer casting distances.

baitcasting reel distance control settingMore Control

Hit your target. The first time. Skip and pitch with accuracy, thanks to Digital Control.

baitcasting reel distance control settingCheat the Wind

Into, across or downwind, dial the DC Braking System in to the optimum setting for any wind situation.

baitcasting reels

The Next Step: The 4x8 Digital Control Brake System

The original DC system had one pre-programmed braking curve on the DC circuit board inside the reel. The eight settings along this curve worked by increasing or decreasing the amount of braking force. It was an excellent, all-around curve, ideal for most bass fishing or inshore applications. However, the original DC system was not ideal for slow spool speeds, such as when skipping or pitching. The pre-programmed curve also limited competition casters and surf-casters, even at the lightest settings. We also knew that many anglers still turned to spinning reels under extremely windy conditions, when baitcasters are notoriously difficult to control, even with the most educated thumb.

So we developed the next step in the evolution of Digital Control, the 4x8 Digital Control Brake System. For this new system, Shimano thoroughly analyzed casting mechanisms for various environmental and mechanical conditions. Then we divided these situations into four different modes and created four profiles to handle them: Extreme Distance Mode X, a very specific profile that allows for more than 50,000 RPM; Long Distance Mode L, an all-around profile for most fishing applications; Accuracy Mode A, an excellent profile for skipping or pitching; and Wind Mode W, a profile for casts into a headwind. Each Mode has eight different brake-strength settings for a total of 32 brake settings.

baitcasting reel distance control setting

X Mode: Extreme Distance

The X mode is designed for casting extreme distances in perfect environmental situations. This profile uses a braking curve designed for casting low-profile metal lures like jigs and spoons. It's ideal for surf casting or competition distance casting, but typically not used for normal fishing situations.

The brake setting raises the spool's RPM's by making use of casting energy immediately as the lure is released and adding almost zero brake force during the middle stage of the cast. It manages an extremely high "muzzle velocity" that's difficult for a fisherman to control. The X Mode is designed to be used with an 8- to 9-foot rod and an aggressive two-handed casting motion.

Settings X-8 and X-7 are ideal for casting heavy vibration plugs or spoons with a two-handed cast and a tail wind, or for casting metal plugs with two-hand cast in a side wind. An 8- to 9-foot rod should be used. Brake settings lower than X-4 cannot be used under normal conditions. These settings are for expert casters and strong tail wind conditions. The X-2 and X-1 settings utilize extremely low brake forces and work only in absolutely perfect conditions.

baitcasting reel accuracy control setting

A Mode: Accuracy

The biggest limitation of the first generation DC Braking System (Calcutta TE DC) was that it only contained one braking profile (similar to L Mode), which is not good at low-spool-rotation speeds. With A Mode, the new generation DC Braking System has enough brake force to deal with low-spool-rotation speeds. A Mode does not utilize compensation braking like X and L modes. Instead, it continues to brake during all portions of the cast. It's the strongest brake mode and is designed to prevent overruns by reducing spool rotation immediately after the cast and then continuing to add tension after the middle stage of the cast. This brake mode is ideal for accuracy casting styles like pitching and skipping.

The A Mode also has some other useful applications. It is excellent when fishing crankbaits while using a TC4 or fiberglass construction rod. These rods typically have a slower recovery rate than graphite rods, which is why many anglers prefer to use them for crankbaits. The slower recovery rate allows the bait to "dig" and provides some "give" when a fish bites. However, it is not the best type of rod for casting.

The A Mode is also suited well for use with fluorocarbon lines. Fluorocarbon lines are typically stiffer than monofilament, and do not flow as well off of the spool. The A Mode will cast distances longer than ever before possible with these rods and lines.

baitcasting reel long distance mode setting

L Mode: Long Distance

L Mode controls backlashes immediately upon releasing the bait and analyzes spool rotation during the middle portion of the cast. Most anglers will choose to use the L Mode for the majority of fishing applications. This setting is ideal for low-air-resistance plugs like pencil baits, vibration baits and topwater plugs. It also serves as an all-around mode for most bass fishing baits (from soft plastics to hard baits). It provides more control than a VBS-equipped reel, adds distance and requires less effort to cast. The end result? Fewer backlashes, less effort and longer casting distances.

L Mode is divided into three categories. Settings L-8 through L-6 provide a short period of strong braking. Settings L-5 through L-3 provide short periods of low brake force. And settings L-2 and L-1 provide a short period of considerably low brake force. The standard setting for lightweight lures with low air resistance, like small pencil baits and minnow plugs, is L-7. The standard setting for heavy, specific gravity lures, like sinking vibration plugs, is L-4.

Adjust the brake force to a stronger setting when using fluorocarbon line or casting into a headwind.

It's not abnormal to see a backlash begin to occur only to be quickly eliminated. This is called crowning. Crowning is a result of the DC system hard at work. The DC system is allowing the spool to spin as fast as possible, but not allowing the line to come off of the spool faster than the bait is flying.

baitcasting reel wind mode setting

W Mode: Wind

When a wind gust hits, it slows down the lure, not the spool. So when the spool is spinning faster than the lure is taking line, a backlash occurs. The W Mode facilitates long casts into gusty or heavy headwind conditions never before possible with a baitcasting reel.

A typical magnetic or centrifugal weight brake is either on or off; it cannot adjust according to the movement of the lure. The W Mode prevents backlashes immediately after the lure is released and then adds or subtracts tension on the spool to adjust for the flying position of the lure during the middle of the cast.

By constantly updating the amount of brake force depending on how the lure acts in the wind, the W Mode increases casting distance with less chance of backlash.

The W Mode is also ideal for fixed center-of-gravity lures (no sliding weight), flat-sided crankbaits, large spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, or any other lure that does not cut through the air. These types of lures either tumble during flight, or can alternate between slicing through the air and gliding. This causes an inconsistent flight speed and has a similar effect on the spool speed that wind has on a low-profile lure. The W Mode analyzes the spool speed and adjusts the amount of braking force to ensure that the spool is spinning just fast enough to allow line to keep up with the lure but not surpass it, causing a backlash.

Another unique aspect of the W Mode are the 8 different settings: Settings W-8 through W-2 use a compensation style brake that utilizes strong brake force, and turns the brake on or off depending on the line tension. However, the W-1 setting is actually using the L Mode profile with a setting similar to L-7. This allows for a quick external change from W Mode to L Mode, without having to open the sideplate and change the Braking Profile Mode. This use is ideal for a situation when the angler is using the W Mode, casting into the wind, and suddenly a fish boils behind the boat. The angler can quickly switch to W-1 (which acts like L-7) and have excellent casting performance with a tailwind.

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