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A Shining Star Amidst a Milkyway of Reels: The Antares by Shimano (continued)


Design & Ergonomics: My one reservation with the old Calais/Antares reels from Shimano was their weight. I always appreciated their fine performance, but their weights, relative to other available reels was just too much and as a result, my collection of these reels stayed at home or in my rod locker the majority of the time. This new Antares, while still not a super light weight, is much more manageable and comfortable to fish.


A dragstar with nice, flat points makes buttoning down the drag a much more comfortable task.


This reel is also comfortable to palm - though not as comfortable as the Metanium. Handle length at 84mm is really good for a JDM market reel, and breakdown for this flagship reel from Shimano is about average. Shimano likes to hide screws the screws that hold the handle sideplate to the frame on the inside of the reel. This to no doubt have cleaner lines on the outside, but it makes can make the task of breaking down a reel a little cumbersome.


Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Shimano Antares 2012

Handle Length (1-5)
Knobs (1-5)
Palming (1-5)
Overall Weight (1-5)
Ease of Breakdown (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Disassembly of the Antares requires a little experience and confidence for the task and it all begins with this socket tool - included in the box.

Application: This reel can truly handle it all. The only limiting factor is line capacity which is why it only scores as "average" for big baits. Spool up with some braid and top the braid with a leader of 20lb mono and you might take care of a lot of those line capacity concerns. Otherwise, there's not much else I wouldn't try with this reel other than pure finesse techniques.


Even the innards of the Antares are somewhat flashy.



Shimano Antares 2012 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality About as perfect as a reel can get out of the box 9.5
Performance I cannot get enough of this reel 9.6
Price Everyone knows flagship status comes at a price. Especially when the product in question comes from either Shimano or Daiwa. Considering this is a flagship model AND it's built in Japan, cost of ownership is high but still somewhere between "fair" and "mediocre"... 5.5
Features Representative of Flagship status 9.29
Design (Ergonomics) The most comfortable Antares yet 8.0
Application This reel can almost do it all 8.8

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Incredibly smooth - you have to experience it to believe it - Cost of ownership is high
+ Available in North America and Japan! Global branding is a good thing! - Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), once you handle this reel, you might not care about the cost of ownership
+ Finally an Antares that does not weigh like a tank  
+ Incredibly versatile reel  


Conclusion: In this age of Internet shopping, there's something to be said for having the opportunity to hold a product in your hand and check it out before pulling the trigger on its purchase. I knew of the new Antares when Shimano Japan debuted this latest version back in 2012, but the exchange rate between Japan and the US was so out of whack, I had zero motivation to purchase this reel just for the opportunity to check it out and see what was new. I saw something about the Micro-Modulus gearing and X-Ship and SVS-Infinity, but honestly, to me, all the terminology with new product is simply marketing hype. I make my purchases and evaluations with an open mind - show me the performance with the product in my hand and then I'll make my judgment. But of course, this wasn't possible with the Antares, because I'm not located in Japan.


Be very careful when asking to check this reel out at your local tackle store - you might have difficulty putting it back down.


Then in the Fall of 2013, Shimano America Corp., made the unprecedented move of bringing over this reel together with the Metanium blowing away the grey market and fully supporting these products with a standard warranty and service program. Still I resisted. That is, until the moment when I saw this reel at my local tackle store, asked to check it out and held it in my hand. Immediately I noticed the reduction in weight due to the Mg frame. Then I turned the handle and it was game over. It is hands down, the smoothest reel I've ever handled and fished. I was already familiar with SVS Infinity, Shimano's next generation braking system, so the revamped braking system was just icing on the cake.


Shimano officially raises the flagship bar with their new shining star, the 2012 Antares.


If you, like me, value all factors in a top end reel - weight, size, comfort while palming, smoothness, ease of casting, a flip open sideplate rather than one that can fall into the water, bearing supported knobs, knobs contoured to your fingers, an easy to maintain finish, a cover to protect your high priced reel when not in use, and all the other intangibles, then I cannot recommend this reel enough. "Antares" is the name of a supergiant red star in the Milky Way Galaxy. Shimano obviously knew this when choosing the name for their flagship baitcaster. The second I turned the handle on this reel, I knew it would win our Ultimate Enthusiast Award, but after fishing it, it's proven to be this Editor's Choice as well. Well done Shimano, and thank you for this shining star in your constellation of improved product. The benchmark has officially been raised.


Looking for a Shimano 2012 Antares? Try one of these reputable sources:


Tackle Warehouse : Hi's Tackle Box Shop










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