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Enthusiast Reel Review


Shimano's Next Generation Metanium XT (continued)
 

Drag: Shimano again ups the ante in this Metanium XT with a robust 7lbs of maximum drag pressure measured in our lab. With previous models, we were only able to achieve 5lbs of pressure on a full spool. Throw, on top of that, Shimano's Dartanium drag system and the precision and reassurance of a micro-click adjustable drag, and you have performance nearing nirvana. As one would expect, on the water operation in our test model was flawless.


The Metanium XT sports raised abrasion guards at the top of the reel

 

The rubberized thumbar of the Metanium XT is very comfortable to use

 

Ergonomics: Though not as sleek in appearance as the older models, the new Metanium XT is perfectly comfortable to palm. At just about 8.2 ounces without line, this reel is also at a comfortable weight. It's not the lightest aluminum framed reel on the market, but thankfully, it's also not the heaviest. There was one area of discontent we had was with this reel and that was the sideplate. As discussed earlier, in order to release the sideplate and gain access to the spool, one must flip a lever on the bottom back of the reel. This lever actually works very well. But what we discovered, perhaps due to this new design, is while palming the reel and retrieving our baits, the sideplate tended to move and shift under our palm from time to time giving us the impression that the sideplate was coming loose and was ready to open. It never did, but this kind of loose feeling is very uncharacteristic of Shimano and a rather large area of disappointment with us.

 

The very attractive cast control cap and forged handle of our Metanium XT

 

Another look at one of the reel's more impressive details

 

Design: As mentioned earlier in this article, the overall design of the reel, aesthetically, left something to be desired by our staff. However, that's not to say the reel is not without its positive points. The forged handle, gnurled cast control knob, polished aluminum highlights, to name a few, are all positive aspects of this reel. In addition, the rubberized thumb bar provides a very comfortable surface to press against during a full day and weekend of casting and pitching. Quality components and touches abound in this reel.


A closeup of the attractive nameplate on our Metanium XT

 

The Metanium XT's coated levelwind

 

Zander's take: It was interesting to fish the Metanium after fishing the Chronarch 100B for such a long time. In comparison the Metanium does feel lighter and slightly more refined, but the Chronarch definitely feels more robust and durable. The Chronarch's coating is much more heavy-duty and resistant to abrasion than the Metainum's painted exterior. This reel bucked the trend of having all the reels introduced in Japan first, and for US anglers the Metanium is not really a step up from the Chronarch. It is different, and it does have that unique refined feel to it, but it is hard to argue that it is actually "better." This of course won't stop collectors, nor should it...the Metanium XT is a fine reel, and one that is vintage Shimano. Now, whether or not it will have the enduring enthusiast appeal of the previous generation reel remains to be seen.


Ratings:

Shimano Metanium XT Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Were it not for the loose sideplate on our test model and the backplay of the handle, we might have given this reel a near perfect rating here. 9.5
Performance Our Metanium XT lacked nothing when it came to actual performance, but the reel does not have some of the nicer features of the US version including the ION plated finish 9
Price MSRP is quite high, but the reel can be had for much less if you shop around. You also have to consider the US version is so similar and costs less 7.5
Features This reel is loaded with top notch features. While it doesn't have the ION plated finish of the US version it does have weight reduction making it .8oz lighter than the US model 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) If they only maintained the old shape and provided a more lustrous finish. Slightly more ergonomic than the US version because of the lighter weight... but you do sacrifice some durability 7.5
Application Fresh and Saltwater safe. This reel doesn't have as hardy gears as the Chronarch B but can be used in both environments 9

Total Score

8.50

  
Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Top notch performance L We'd have enjoyed a more attractive finish, US version more durable
J Stock 84mm handle L We preferred the shape of the old Metanium
J Smooth smooth smooth L A bit pricey considering the Antares AR is not much more
J Respectable weight  

 

As this 4lb largemouth bass discovered, Shimano produces another incredibly smooth performer in the '05 Metanium XT

 

Conclusion: Things did not start off well at all in our relationship with the 2005 Metanium XT. But approaching our tests with an open mind, we soon discovered that not all is as it seems when it comes to Shimano Japan. We still miss the old profile, but there is no denying the stellar performance that is delivered by the reel's inner workings, and despite the reel's bulky build, it is surprisingly a very comfortable reel to palm. Purchased at MSRP, one could argue that for another $50 to $75 you can have Shimano Japan's flagship, Antares AR, so why bother? But this reel has come down in price at several of the online merchants and is now available at a price rivaling the pre-2005 Metanium XT's. At these prices, this reel is a serious player and very worthy of consideration. Is it a classic in the making? Only time will tell.

 

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