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Reel Review

 

A Masterpiece - Shimano's Metanium 150 B Baitcaster (continued)

 

Casting: When it comes to casting the first thing to consider is how much more compact than the previous generation and the fact it features a shallower MGL III spool. When shrinking the dimensions of any reel the sharper angles between the spool and the line guide can adversely affect distance, but there are things that can be done to mitigate this including improving the geometry between a narrower spool and guide, or even adjustments to the diameter and shape of the line guide itself (just think Daiwa TWS T-Wing). Then there is also the cast control system, and while the Metanium DC is an excellent all around caster it can be outcast by the Antares, which features a more conventional, albeit highly refined, cast control system.

 


The Metanium 150 B is an excellent caster. Capable of handling lightweight baits, and long distance with ease. With certain lines, heavier baits, and open settings it is possible to spool the reel on casts

 

During our tests we found the new Metanium, much like the magnesium based Antares, to be an excellent caster. It took just a few casts to determine that it is not only a great long distance caster, but also really good for the light stuff.

 

The sauce behind the new Metanium's casting has less to do with the body design of the reel and more to do with the MGL III Spool and SVS infinity braking design, which together provide not only consistent long distance casting performance but also exceptional handling.

 


The Metanium gets the MGLIII spool which is a thin spool that is designed to reduce start up inertia between 15-17% versus the standard MGL spool

 

Where the Metanium DC beats this new reel is in terms of casting control. The I-DC5 system provides more settings in which to address environmental conditions, but I still think that the new Metanium reel is the better overall caster. The new reel not only feels more refined but it casts smoother, and quieter, with well isolated spool bearings which minimize vibration, and casting energy loss. The Bantam was already a good caster, but the new Metanium is definitely better, and does a good job getting close to what the Antares offers in terms of casting distance and feel, and at a much lower price!

 


The MGL Spool weighs in at 14.1g. This is a narrower spool design

 

Retrieve: The Bantam raised the bar when it came to a solid and rigid feel in an ultra-compact baitcaster with the CoreSolid design, which integrated the B-side plate, level wind guard, and frame all into a unified construction, the only real knock on that reel was that it was a bit on the heavy side. Even though the Bantam is not a light reel anglers could look past this with how well the reel palmed during retrieves, and amazingly powerful it felt under load. This new Metanium takes things to the next level.

 


The solid frame design not only improves rigidity and ergonomics but also benefits sensitivity, especially with a material like magnesium

 

While the Metanium may not feel as solid, simply because it is lighter, I found that the CoreSolid frame did go a long way towards making this a very rigid feeling baitcaster. I can confidently say that it is the most solid feeling magnesium reel that I've ever fished. Retrieves are smooth and the MicroModule gear and pinion gear are so well secured that torque is transferred seamlessly.

 


Even though the Metanium 150 B is designed to be a light reel it still makes use of a heavier, but more robust, brass gear

 

At first when I compared the Bantam MGL to this new Metanium I felt the Bantam was more powerful under load, but I'm not sure that is the case after fishing both reels for an extended period. The difference is that the Metanium is lighter and more sensitive.

 

I relished every tick, strike, and battle with the Metanium, and it reminded me why magnesium, even during the age of fancy composites, is still such a great choice for freshwater reels.

 


The finely cut teeth on the MicroModule gear gives the reel a smooth and powerful feel

 

While many manufacturers have migrated towards carbon composites or fancy plastics for their high-end reels, there is just an undeniable solid and sensitive feel that comes with the use of magnesium, and with a one piece design like the one found on this new Metanium that unique experience is gets magnified. 

 


Spend time with the new reel and it is clear Shimano has achieved something pretty special with the new Metanium

 

Drag: Similarly to the Bantam this new Metanium employs Shimano's Cross Carbon drag which is designed to deliver both smooth and refined drag performance under pressure. In our lab the drag measured out at 12.1lbs. of drag pressure, which is over Shimano's own rating of 11lbs., and just .1lbs. shy of what we tested on the Bantam, so basically identical.

 


Though small the reel features nice large knobs which provide plenty of grip when power fishing

 

The Metanium's cross carbon drag delivers very smooth and consistent performance under load, and during our tests was more than enough for the vast majority of bass fishing applications. The only exception being fishing large swimbaits, or punching, when a little more on the upper-end could be useful.

 

Shimano has gone in a different direction than many competitors when it comes to their drag designs, and rather than use a massive stack of washers to increase surface area, and targeting max drag pressures north of 20lbs., the company instead focuses on delivering smoother drags. The cross carbon drag found in the Metanium won't win any awards for max pressure but it is indeed refined and reliable.

 


The drag within the Metanium makes use of carbon and steel washers. It doesn't have a lot of surface area making it smooth and easy to maintain but doesn't offer a lot of top-end pressure

 

Ergonomics: In many ways the new Metanium is more alike the Bantam than it is the other Metaniums when it comes to ergonomics. The CoreSolid design gives the reel a very compact form factor, one that palms absolutely beautifully.

 

Fish the new Metanium for a while and then go back to the previous Metanium MGL, or Metanium DC, and those baitcasters which once looked and felt so sleek immediately seem much more voluminous in hand.

 


Side by side the previous Metanium 150 suddenly looks and feels huge

 

Shimano does a few interesting things stylistically, and ergonomically, with the new Metanium. When you compare the lower half of the reel it is near identical in form factor to the Bantam. The upper portion above the levelwind, and wrapping around the spool, comes to much more of a point than the Bantam, and immediately ties this new reel to the other Metaniums. This seemingly minor change is not only cosmetic but also changes the side of the reel and makes it sleeker looking, and helps make it feel slightly smaller in hand, even if the lower section of the reel where you normally wrap your fingers is the same width.

 


The bottom of the reel is all Bantam, the top features a more sleek pointed look that ties the reel to other Metaniums

 

Visually I still think that the Bantam MGL is the more unique looking reel, but the squared off front of the reel is also more polarizing. The Metanium makes minute tweaks in the design to give the reel a more traditional style, while appearing more sleek in the process. Even the finish on the Metanium is more traditional, and will not stand out as much as the shinier, more raw-metal looking, Bantam.

 


Ergonomically the Metanium does feel a lot lighter than the Bantam, and the unique feel of the reel reminds anglers why magnesium is such a great material for freshwater oriented baitcasters

 

The use of magnesium in their reels is something that Shimano, and Daiwa, still do better than every manufacturer. In the Metanium the company ups the ante once again by delivering the weights savings and sensitivity of magnesium with the power and torque that rivals aluminum based reels.

 


Visually I still think the Bantam is the more aggressively styled, and recognizable, reel but the Metanium is sleek and stealthy looking

Next Section: A Masterpiece?

 

   

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