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Reel Review


 

SOLID! - The Shimano Bantam MGL Baitcaster

 

Date: 9/12/18
Tackle Type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: Zander





 

Total Score: 8.25 - INNOVATION AWARD

 

Introduction: It has been over four decades since Shimano released their first baitcast reel, the Bantam, and since then a lot has changed not only within the industry. It has become increasingly difficult to differentiate, and in many respects while baitcasters continue to push the refinement envelope the basic formula for these low profile reels remains vastly unchanged. The new Bantam is something new, something quite unlike anything else in the Shimano lineup, and bridges the gap between low profile baitcasters and aluminum round reels.

 

Shimano Bantam MGL 150XG casting Reel Specifications

Line Capacity (lb/yds) 12/110, 14/90
Gear Ratio 8.1:1 (6.2:1 and 7.1:1 also available with Bantam 150 and Bantam 150HG models)
Line retrieve per crank 26-34 inches depending on model
Weight 7.6oz (150 and 150HG) - 7.8oz. (150XG)
Bearings 7S A-B, 1S A-RB
Additional Features Micro Module Gearing, CoreSolid Body, MGL spool, SVS Infinity, Super Free Spool, Shimano Stable Spool Design (S3D), Silent Tune, Cross Carbon Drag, S A-RB
MSRP $349.99


The Bantam looks different than any other Shimano baitcaster and it starts with the integrated frame and non handle side

Impressions: The Bantam 150 MGL was one of the biggest introductions at last year’s Bassmaster Classic and since then has been one of the most talked about baitcasters on the market. From first glance the Bantam looks quite a bit different from other Shimano baitcasters, and is more seamless and solid looking. Though it is officially an update to the existing “Bantam” Series it really stands apart from previous generation reels when it comes to design and construction.


The first thing I noticed about the reel was that it was more compact than it looked in most pictures

To create the new Bantam baitcaster Shimano combined multiple design elements to integrate the B-sideplate, frame and levelwind guard all into a single aluminum unit. This was all done to create a reel that is more rigid, and feels more like a traditional cast or machined round reel, but with the enhanced ergonomics of a low profile baitcaster. Shimano calls this their “CoreSolid Body design.”


Instead of a takedown sideplate the reel has a screw in brake housing. The non handle side is all integrated into the frame. This is what Shimano calls their CoreSolid Body design

In pictures the Bantam appears larger than the reel actually is when seen in person. In fact when I first held the Bantam I was surprised by the reel's compact profile and footprint. This reel has a very solid construction and yet it is small and sleek enough that it just disappears in your hand when palmed.


The handle side of the Bantam, not a lot of color on this reel

I found the Bantam very attractive from a styling perspective, and the metallic finish only helps reinforce the “solid” Hagane aluminum design. There are no color highlights on the Bantam, unless you consider darker shades of gunmetal and grays distinct highlights. The reel looks clean and tactical, and is easy to pair with just about any color rod.


Even the frame is more compact and angular than other Shimano baitcasters

It is interesting how many features that Shimano was able to squeeze into this reel and while the one piece construction takes center stage Shimano has crammed a whole lot of their latest features into this reel, including Micro Module Gearing, X-Ship, a Cross Carbon Drag, SVS Infinity cast control, and even the outstanding MGL spool design.


A look under the cold forged brake housing and you can see the MGL spool. Brakes can be adjusted on the spool and more detailed settings can be made externally to the cast control

I cannot remember a Shimano baitcaster that I have been more excited to fish over the last few seasons (save the Curado 150 DC), and one of the biggest questions I had was whether or not the reel’s unique construction actually delivered any performance improvements, or a differentiated fishing experience, versus more traditional multi-piece baitcaster designs.

Shimano Bantam MGL Casting Reel Manufacturer Specifications
BANTMGL150 Right 6.2:1 7.6 7S A-RB + 1S A-RB 12/110, 14/90 $349.99
BANTMGL150HG Right 7.1:1 7.6 7S A-RB + 1S A-RB 12/110, 14/90 $349.99
BANTMGL150XG Right 8.1:1 7.8 7S A-RB + 1S A-RB 12/110, 14/90 $349.99
BANTMGL151 Left 6.2:1 7.6 7S A-RB + 1S A-RB 12/110, 14/90 $349.99
BANTMGL151HG Left 7.1:1 7.6 7S A-RB + 1S A-RB 12/110, 14/90 $349.99
BANTMGL151XG Left 8.1:1 7.8 7S A-RB + 1S A-RB 12/110, 14/90 $349.99


Ready to fish both Bantam reels with a variety of rods, lines, and baits

Next Section: Solid Performance?

 

 

   

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