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TackleTour Editor's Picks 2020


TackleTour's Editors Picks for Favorite Reels, Rods, Lures, Swimbaits, and Line in 2020


Date: 12/1/20
Tackle Type: Various
Manufacturer: Various
Reviewer: Team TackleTour



Introduction: While many of us cannot wait to be done with 2020 this unique year has reinforced how enjoyable, and valuable, time spent fishing and outdoors can be. Tackle manufacturers have not been idle and there has been a lot of encouraging tackle introductions this year, and some that were introduced some time ago that have continued to prove their worth with each and every trip. We often receive questions via email and instagram about which particular piece of tackle the crew is leveraging in their own rotation, or would recommend. There's is always much out there to explore, acquire, and fish, and while each angler's local water and application is unique, we decided it was time to ask our Editors to lay down their favorite picks for which reels, rods, lure, swimbaits, and lines that they are personally fishing this season.

The Bantam MGL was Zander's most used reel in 2020

Zander's Casting Reel Pick - Shimano Bantam MGL: The Bantam MGL is a pretty unique reel. When I first started fishing the reel it became pretty clear that Shimano had created something special with the CoreSolid design, as the reel felt incredibly rigid for a reel of this size. I originally dinged the reel for weighing too much at 7.6-7.8oz. (depending on retrieve ratio), but the more I fished the reel the more I feel that the weight premium is a worthy tradeoff for the solid feel, cranking power, and overall refinement that the Bantam MGL brings to the table.

The Metanium MGL is undoubtedly the superior reel when it comes to overall refinement and ergonomics, but when seeking a solid feel, and with price considered, the Bantam MGL is a better overall value. I also prefer the Bantam MGL's more edgy styling and metallic finish. It just has more character. 

The Bantam MGL also comes in a wide range of gear ratios including 6.2:1, 7.1:1, and 8.1:1, so you can employ this reel for everything from slow crawling jigs to burning wakebaits.

The Bantam MGL offers plenty of rigidity for cranking power and is a great option for power fishing contact baits, deep cranking, and working swimbaits

In Shimano's entire lineup the Bantam MGL stands out as one of the most unique baitcasters, and I also think it is one reel that looks great on just about any rod. I've also found it powerful enough to be used as a workhorse swimbait reel, bringing the solid feel of a round reel in a much more ergonomic and palmable form factor. Demand has been pretty high on these compact reels, and they have routinely sold out all year, but at $349 dollars the Bantam MGL is worth waiting for. I started out with one, and have purchased three more to power my personal arsenal.

Shimano's Metanium MGL 150/151B is Cal's new favorite

Cal's Casting Reel Pick - Shimano Metanium MGL 150/151B: As you review my picks, keep in mind I do tend to lean a little on the high end. It kind of comes with the title of Enthusiast Tackle Editor. I'll kick of my picks with the Metanium MGL in the casting category.

Shimano’s Chronarch platform has been a long time favorite of mine. There were a couple of versions through the years that lost me, but overall, this has consistently been my favorite Shimano casting reel. The JDM version of this reel had a different name, Metanium. In 2013, these two model lines diverged when Chronarch became a Ci4+ platform and the Metanium a dedicated magnesium reel.

From bottom to topwater...

They can change the names, but this tier of casting reels remains a favorite of mine within Shimano. This past year, the manufacturer updated Metanium with their CoreSolid body and MGL III Spool. It is light, rigid, available in three retrieve ratios (4 if you count the JDM PG variant), and super comfortable to palm.

... to smaller swimbaits, if you have the nerve, the Metanium MGL B is extremely capable.

It has become my favorite reel to pair with my enthusiast sticks. We’re talking Kistler Z-Bone, Evergreen International Super Stallion Inspirare and Black Rose, Gan Craft Killers Dead Sword, Megabass Destroyer Javelin and Orochi XX Braillist. I’ve used it punching through weeds, popping topwater lures, pitching Senkos, and even the occasional smaller bodied swimbaits. Shimano’s Metanium MGL 150/151B is easily my casting reel pick for 2020 and it is available right now at TackleWarehouse.

While there are more refined spinning reels the Daiwa Ballistic LT still represents the sweet spot in the lineup

Zander's Spinning Reel Pick - Daiwa Ballistic LT: In the last two years I feel like Daiwa has really stepped up their spinning reel game. While I certainly do enjoy fishing higher-end reels from Daiwa, including the Luvias and Certate, the sweet spot in the Daiwa spinning lineup continues to be the venerable Ballistic LT. At $239 dollars at Tackle Warehouse it is $39 dollars more than the Tatula spinning reel but absolutely worth the premium with the addition of Magsealed components, which improve resistance to the elements, and long term performance.

The Ballistic LT handles light line beautifully and performs well across finesse bass and trout applications

The Ballistic LT feels natural in hand, and thanks to the ZAION composite housing it is not only lightweight but also rigid and corrosion proof. I've found the Ballistic reels to be excellent for finesse fishing with their ability to manage light line very well, and enjoy using the reel for both bass and trout fishing where I routinely spool up with 6lb. and 4lb. fluorocarbon line.

There are more refined, and more expensive spinning reels, but when it comes to excellent bang for the buck the Daiwa Ballistic LT reels possess the features that really make a difference in performance and durability, and is available at a reasonable price for mainstream anglers.

Daiwa's Exist LT continues to impress at the top of the food chain

Cal's Spinning Reel Pick - Daiwa Exist LT: It is so easy to get a quality spinning reel these days without spending a lot of money. Trouble is, when we’re talking about MY personal favorite, I’m going to spend a lot of money. A scoring metric based on price simply does not exist when I’m shopping for myself. With that in mind, it really comes down to that enthusiast spinning reel shootout we conducted in 2018 between Shimano’s Stella FJ and Daiwa’s Exist LT. The Exist LT won that shootout by a narrow margin, but in reality, with all the points of comparison cast aside, emotionally, the Exist was a clear winner. That made it an easy choice as this editor’s pick for our 2020 list. You can find Daiwa's Exist LT at TackleWarehouse.

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