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ICAST 2019 Update Coverage

One for the Enthusiasts: The Shimnao Antares A70 Baitcaster with MGIII


Small but Mighty, the Megabass Dark Sleeper Swimbait
SOLID! The Shimano Bantam MGL Baitcaster

Selecting the right Rod, Reel, and Line for Your Walking Bait Arsenal


Enthusiast Review

Tackle Your Enthusiasm with Shimano's Metanium MGL (continued)

Retrieve: Click that handle over, engage the spool and you feel (or actually don't feel) the micro-modulus gears take over. Over the last fifteen to twenty (15-20) years, Shimano has built among the smoothest - if not the very smoothest - low profile baitcasting reels on the market. I didn't think it possible for them to up the ante any further than they already carried it, but the micro-modulus gearing is the reel deal and I'm really happy to see it begin to trickle down into other lines - it is a difference maker.

Standard and HG Met MGLs come with an 84 mm handle. The XHG reportedly comes with a 96mm handle.

Power: Not only do those micro-gears make a difference in how smooth a reel feels, but together with the company's now standard, oversized gears, they deliver really good power. The retrieve ratio I tested on the Metanium MGL was the 7.4:1 (HG) model and I had little difficulty retrieving deep diving cranks like Strike King's 10XD. I've used the other gear ratio models in the previous generation Metanium and found they too have excellent power.

A look inside at the aluminum micro-teeth enabled gear.

As far as I can tell, the gears between the previous model and the MGL are the same. In fact, the only real difference I can see are in the reels' finish, the spool, and the internal workings of the non-handle sideplate. Otherwise, they are the same reels.

Single drag washer behind and inside the main gear.

Drag: The manufacturer specified maximum drag for the Metanium MGL is 5kg - this is typical of Shimano's bass reels. This equates to roughly 11lbs. Out on the water, the drag performs as one would expect on a drag from Shimano - smoothly and consistently.

Two bearings per handle.

Shimano uses their typical drag system with the Metanium MGL consisting of one washer on the back side of the main gear, and another washer inside the main gear. It's been a proven formula for the manufacturer, and why change what is working?

But no bearing at the levelwind worm gear.

Design & Ergonomics: As I touched on earlier, the only discernible difference between the 2013 Shimano Metanium and the current Metanium MGL really is in the spool and the mechanics within the non-handle sideplate to enable that spool to function. Of course, the reel's finishes are different as well but as far as shape and weight, they are practically identical.

The Metanium MGL is among the most comfortable reels to fish.

Our Metanium MGL did weight in at 6.2 ounces instead of the manufacturer specified 6.1 and the MGL version is specified with 10+1 bearings where the 2013 was specified with 9+1. Ironically, the 2013's spool weighed only 12 grams where the MGL's spool weighs 14, yet the MGL casts better.

It sits very low on the reel seat.

Price & Applications: The Metanium MGL is a reel built for the Japanese market, but is available in the US through select tackle stores with a full warranty as part of Shimano's program to slowly globalize their product offering - if you buy it internationally, chances are your reel will not be officially supported by Shimano. It's priced the same as the 2013 model ($419 domestically or 44,100 JPY = $364 right now at JapanTackle.com!!) and available in three different retrieve ratios to support a wide range of applications - including saltwater according to the manufacturer (I shy away from using Mg reels in saltwater environments no matter what the manufacturer recommends, Zander on the other hand does not and frequently fishes them in brackish conditions without issue).

I just can't get past the bright silver paint.



Shimano Metanium MGL Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Very refined reel 9
Performance Shimano continues to up the ante 10
Price Magnesium framed reels are expensive, there's no getting around it 6
Features Mg frame + MGL spool and micro-gearing 9
Design (Ergonomics) Among the more comfortable reels I've fished 8.5
Application Good for a wide variety of applications 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:


+ Metanium, as a platform, continues to perform - Color choice is a little bright for my liking
+ Casts especially well thanks to the MGL spool - Sideplate detaches fully
+ If you don't care about warranty, it's available internationally for a very good price at the time of this writing  

The Metanium MGL is every bit the 2013 reel was to me and even a little bit more in terms of performance.

Conclusion: The Metanium MGL is every bit the 2013 reel was to me and even a little bit more in terms of performance. My one hang-up with the reel? That bright silver finish is hard for me to look at. It reminds me of the spray paint you used to apply to those old, plastic model airplanes back in the 1970's. A reel this refined deserves a finish that's a little more sophisticated. Were it not for that, the Metanium MGL may have won a TackleTour award, but with the emergence of the Chronarch MGL, I think that reel steals some of the impact away from the Metanium. Still, the Metanium is saltwater approved by Shimano and while I personally shy away from using magnesium framed reels in saltwater, that backing by the manufacturer is certainly a big plus in the Met MGL's favor.


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