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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


Reel Preview


A New Benchmark in Rigidity? A Look inside the Shimano Bantam MGL Baitcaster (continued)


This cold forged brake housing locks firmly into the frame by rotating it clockwise, and when screwed down makes very solid contact with the frame. The SVS Infinity Brake access on the Bantam is also superior to many other Shimano reels in that the dial is large and easy to adjust.


Every piece of this new reel feels solid


Another bonus side effect of this integrated design is that it should better transfer vibrations from the spool shaft directly to the palm of the angler. We are still testing but after just a few hours on the water and the results are promising. This reel feels and fishes quite unlike either the Chronarch or Metanium which it is sandwiched between when it comes to positioning and price.


Adding to the rigidity (and also the weight) is an aluminum handle-side sideplate

I found myself continually impressed with the cranking feel and refinement on this reel and during the lab tests I couldnít detect any backplay in our test reelís handle whatsoever. The Bantamís MGL spool weighs in at only 14.9 grams (.5 grams heavier than the MGL spool found in the Metanium) and comes with the silent tune bearing mounted on the shaft. and is anodized a dark grey to match the utilitarian and tactical look of the reel.


Inside we find the main MicroModule gearing


Once inside the reel we get our first look at the MicroModule gearing which has the small teeth we have grown accustomed to in Shimano reels which align nicely for smooth and positive gear engagement. The solid metal frame in the Bantam does an excellent job isolating these gears and X-Ship is also integrated for better gear alignment under pressure. Even in the lab when cranking under pressure I could feel just how powerful and solid this reel feels under load.


The drag rests inside and around the main gearing


When it comes to drag design the Bantam makes use of Shimanoís simple yet very reliable Cross Carbon Drag system which sandwiches the main brass gearing with a combination of carbon, dartanium and steel washers to deliver 11 pounds of rated drag under max pressure. In the lab we were already able to achieve 12.2lbs. of drag in our tests which is no surprise considering that Shimano seems to conservatively rate their drags.


The only thing that I didn't love about the Bantam's drag system is the implementation of the CI4 drag star which does feel a bit plastic-like and is the only thing that cheapens how the reel feels, and doesn't quite match up with the rest of the rigid theme. As much as I'd like an aluminum drag star we are already dealing with a heavy reel at this size so any added weight probably isn't a worthwhile tradeoff.


The Cross Carbon Drag makes use of various materials and surfaces to generate smooth stopping power

All six of the new Bantam MGL reels will hold from 135 yards of 30-pound test PowerPro, to 110 yards of 12-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon. Retrieving 26-inches of line per crank, the Bantam MGL 150 and left-hand 151 have 6.2:1 gear ratios - the 150HG and 151HG take in 30-inches of line with their 7.1:1 gear ratios - and the 150XG and 151XG, with 8.1:1 gear ratios, pull in 34-inches of line per crank. The Bantam reels retail for $349.99 each and are just starting to become available in limited quantities but should become widely available in the next few weeks.


This is probably the most solid and rigid low profile baitcaster the company has ever built, and it retails for only $349.99. Time to see how this design translates into real world performance...stay tuned

The new Bantam baitcasters channel the original but comparisons pretty much end there. This is a new reel for a new generation of anglers. While this is certainly not the lightest reel at 7.6oz. Shimano has gone in a different, and unique, direction to create a more solid and durable baitcaster, and one that could very well set the benchmark when it comes to rigidity, making it a potentially very good choice for power fishing applications including power cranking, frogging, flipping and pitching.


The rigid feel of a round reel but with the palming comfort and sensitivity of a low profile reel? This reel has more in common with a JDM Conquest than a Metanium when it comes to numerous design elements and certainly feel. Enough said, my interest is piqued and I am looking forward to seeing how this compact new Bantam performs in the field and when there is a fish on the line, which is exactly what I intend to do over the next few weeks. I haven't been this excited to fish a $350 reel in quite some time, and the uniqueness of the Bantam is definitely part of the reel's allure.


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