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SOLID! The Shimano Bantam MGL Baitcaster


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Reel Review

Sweet to the “Core,” Shimano’s new premium magnesium baitcaster (continued)

Ergonomics cont'd: Overall the Core is a superbly sculpted reel and I fell in love with the way that the reel palms. The only real issue for fans of magnesium based baitcasters is the sheer weight. While the Core can be categorized as light, it doesn’t make it below the 6oz threshold, where the “ultralights” reside.


The tapered titanium levelwind insert helps make the Core an exceptional caster


Many of the published specs on both the Core and Metanium are actually incorrect. The Metanium Mg weights were actually published with incorrect conversion rates, and based on prototypes. Shimano’s engineers in Japan verified this finding, and confirmed that the Core does indeed weigh less than the Metanium Mg. The authentic weights based upon actual conversion rates are: CORE100MG: 6.081 oz, CORE100MGFV: 6.730 oz, METANIUM MG: 6.159 oz, METANIUM MG7: 6.138 oz. The Core 100MGFV weighs more due to the bronze drive gearing and PV power grips.


A look at the dressed up button on the Metanium Mg


Price & Applications: When it comes to the ultimate in lightweight reel refinement the Daiwa Steez is still the benchmark for magnesium reels. When you put the Core in your hand you think “that’s pretty light,” but when you put a Steez in your hand you think “I can’t believe how light that is.” The Core is however better suited for a wider range of applications, and while the Steez is more of a specialized reel, the Core is the more all round performer.


The Septon grips on the Core are comfortable, and the 100MGFV comes with even larger PV power grips


Is it really fair to compare the Core/Met to the Steez? Yes. While the Steez is no doubt the more refined reel, it also represents the flagship for the Daiwa baitcaster lineup. The Core is actually designed to compete more with the Steez than the more affordable Fuego, which matches up better with the Chronarch Mg.


The Core like the Metanium Mg is made in Japan


Which brings us to the subject of price. The Core 100Mg retails for $349.99, and the Core 100MGFV retails for 30 dollars more. Interestingly the Metanium reels can actually be had for $296.00 to $329.00 for both the Mg and Mg7, but domestic anglers will have to forgo the warranty, and of course no flipping model is available. Compare all that to the Daiwa Fuego which retails for a modest $229.00 and the Steez which costs a whopping $449.99.  


The 100MGFV's Instagage II flipping switch


So let’s break it down.. The Daiwa Steez is like the Ferrari F430 of magnesium based fishing reels, built with a singular purpose, to be the ultimate magnesium machine, but one that is better suited for certain applications and certainly not what one would consider for a daily driver. The Core is also a performance machine, one that should be respected, and though it carries a lower price tag it still has a blend of features and performance that can run with the big boys. In this way we consider the Core to be more akin to a Porsche 911 Turbo, which by no means is a cheap offering, and  while it isn’t as exotic as a Ferrari it has an awesome level of performance and yet is still civilized enough to be driven (or cast) everyday.


The Core manhandles even big bass, and can be used for fishing everything from weightless plastics to mid sized swimbaits



Shimano Core 100MG & 100MGFV Ratings (?/10)
[Ratings apply to the Metanium Mg as well]

Construction/Quality The Core is built surprisingly tough for a magnesium based reel. The materials used in the construction of this reel are top notch, and unlike many other magnesium reels this one can be used in light saltwater conditions. The gearing and drag can certainly handle it 9.5
Performance In terms of performance the Core met or exceeded all of our expectations. This reel is a pleasure to cast, and the retrieve while somewhat hollow in feel compared to the Calais is near as powerful. The Metanium gets extra bonus points in this category for using bearings in the handles rather than bushings, but the Core makes up some of that ground by weighing in lighter. The drag on the Core is fantastic for a Mg based baitcaster 9
Price The Core is not the cheapest reel and some anglers take offense to the fact that it actually costs more than a Metanium Mg (imported), but in the scheme of the competition it isn't priced out of line 8.5
Features The Core abounds with quality features from the Magnumlite spool to the tapered levelwind insert. The Core actually gets bonus points over the Metanium in this category as the 100MGFV features the useful Instagage II flipping switch, sure it isn't for everyone, but for power fishermen its a very nice option 9
Design (Ergonomics) The Core palms beautifully and is easy to fish all day long. It may not be the lightest reel out there, but it is among the most balanced when it comes to light weight and power 9
Application The Core offers anglers more power than they will be used to in a reel that is designed to be light. The protectant coating on this reel make it a good choice for anglers that fish fresh, brackish, and even light saltwater applications 10

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great blend of attributes (truly multi-application) L Not cheap, and the Core is actually higher in price than the Metanium Mg imported
J Excellent caster L No bearings in Core handles
J Fantastic drag for a Mg reel L Overall weight is higher than competing premium Mg based reels
J HEG gearing shines, great balance of speed and power  
J Exceptional ergonomics  
J Flipping option on Core  
J Finally, a premium Mg reel from Shimano (even looks enthusiast)  

Conclusion: The Core is different than most other magnesium reels in that it doesn’t sacrifice any power in the pursuit of reduced weight. What results is a reel that while not as lightweight as the competition offers an intriguing blend of ergonomics and functionality. When I look at the Core and the Metanium side by side I still wish the Core had bearings in the handles, but prefer the Core’s more enthusiast oriented styling, especially the red magnumlite spool. It also is nice to see a completely different version (100MgFV) being introduced just for domestic power applications with more robust gearing and the Instagage II thumb bar. The Core in many ways is actually similar to the Calais in design, and actually is able to stand on it’s own in terms of a new series in between the Chronarch and the Calais. When compared with competitor offerings it can easily match up with the Fuego, and even the past generation TD-Z in many respects. However if you compare it to the Steez many of the fans of magnesium based reels will find that the Steez does offer a distinctive level of sophistication that is yet to be duplicated. The Core however offers a better blend of features for anglers looking for a magnesium reel that can do it all. Is the Core perfect? No. Does it possess a perfect balance? Just about. For the finest balance of finesse and power in a magnesium reel we have seen to date the Core (and MetMg) is a worthy recipient of our Editors Choice Award, simply put, this is one “sweet” reel.

Looking for a Core? Check out Tackle Warehouse.











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