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SOLID! The Shimano Bantam MGL Baitcaster

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Enthusiast Review

 

Aldebaran is Next to Receive Shimano's MGL Upgrade (continued)

Retrieve: The Aldebaran MGL is available in two retrieve ratios, 6.5:1 and 7.4:1. I fished the HG, or 7.4:1. This reel features old school Shimano smoothness. What I mean by that is the Aldebaran MGL does not come with micro-gears and the main gear is made of aluminum, so while the reel is still smooth by any measure, it's not nearly the same as the newer generation Shimano reels equipped with micro-gears.


The Aldebaran MGL comes with a standard 84mm handle.

The Aldebaran MGL's frame is made of magnesium and the two sideplates are Ci4+ (carbon fiber composite) material so that, coupled with the aluminum main gear delivers a more connected feel when compared to something like a Conquest that's just buttery smooth. But that connected feel is still more refined than any number of other reels I've fished with aluminum gears.


A look at the Aldebaran MGL's aluminum gear.

Power: The Aldebaran MGL is not a reel you're going to want to use for deep cranking applications or even for punching through thick, nasty, mats of overgrown weeds. Nor is it built for those applications, but if you are adventurous enough to try, it is not a reel that will lock up a deep diving crank. Fished in open water situations or in and around scattered cover, this reel delivers more than enough power.


The drag stack is traditional Shimano on one end, but also a larger than normal carbon disc nestled within that main gear.

Drag: The rated maximum drag on the Aldebaran MGL is four and a half kilograms or roughly ten pounds, so once again, it is not a reel intended to be fished in dense or heavy cover where your goal is to set hook and horse a fish out into open water. Otherwise, actual drag performance when set at normal resistance is smooth and consistent just as I'd expect any Shimano reel to perform. The reel is supplied with a single, carbon washer nestled within the main gear, held in place by a metal washer. This is a pretty standard drag stack for the manufacturer, but the actual size of that carbon washer is also larger than normal offering more surface area for that drag to act.


The reel's knobs are supported by two bearings each.

Design & Ergonomics: The Aldebaran MGL weighed in at only four point eight ounces (4.8oz) back at the lab. It is an incredibly light reel although interestingly enough, the 2015 Aldebaran came in at four point seven ounces (4.7oz) when we tested it back in 2016. Either way, it is astonishing to know these reels are under five ounces in weight and can handle such a wide range of applications.


The full combo weight of this reel matched to Phenix's FTX 71MH came to only 8.1oz!

What's even more insane is when you can find a super light fishing rod to match this reel. Case in point? The full combo weight of this reel matched to Phenix's FTX 71MH came to only eight point one ounces (8.1oz)! That's less than the first generation Daiwa Zillion all by itself!


The Aldebaran is still manufactured in Japan.

Price & Applications: At the time of this writing, the Aldebaran MGL was only available in Japan but that all changed this ICAST when Shimano officially launched the Aldebaran MGL 50. If you want the MGL 30 you need to find a source like Japan Tackle that sells JDM reels and ships them to addresses all over the world. International prices will vary depending on exchange rates, but the JDM price for this reel is 45,300 JPY (which equals roughly $349 at the time of this writing).


For now, the Aldebaran MGL is a JDM only product. With the goal of globalizing their product catalog, this status can change by the time this article is published.

Tackle Warehouse has the Aldebaran MGL 50 for $419.99, and while this reel is certainly not cheap it is worth every penny when you consider the level of refinement the reel offers. Compared to other JDM reels it might even be considered "affordable."

 

Ratings:

Shimano Aldebaran MGL Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Super clean and the new paint scheme gives the reel an even higher end feel 9
Performance Really good all around 9
Price Affordable by JDM standards, but getting up there when compared to other options 7.5
Features Those three initials, MGL, from Shimano continue to impress 8
Design (Ergonomics) Super light, super comfortable, almost feels like there's nothing on the fishing rod! 8
Application If you're using 10lb or less line, this reel will support a wide range of applications ... just don't try to spool up with 60lb braid and go punching with it 7.5

Total Score

8.17
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:

Plus

Minus
+ Super Light - Spool is pretty shallow so best with 10lb or less nylon mono or fluorocarbon or equivalent braid
+ Very refined look and feel  
+ Capable of BFS applications as well as presenting standard baits  


The Aldebaran MGL wins this Editor's Choice Award.

Conclusion: This is one of those products you have to actually fish to believe or at least pick up to understand how light a sub five ounce reel really is. Matched on that Phenix Feather series casting rod, it's hard to believe you're actually holding a rod with a reel mounted on it (or vice versa!). Once again Shimano's MGL refresh of a tried and true platform results in an even more compelling reel to fish. The only aspect of this reel that will trip some people up is that shallow spool, but even then, it's not as shallow as some BFS specific reels I've fished. You can actually get a decent amount of 10lb test fluorocarbon on this reel and fish it as part of a general application combo which, by the way, is how I prefer to use the Aldebaran MGL.

 

Looking for the Shimano Aldebaran MGL 50?

Try Tackle Warehouse


 

 

   

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