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Enthusiast Review


Shimano Japan's New Gateway JDM Reel (continued)

 

Casting Range: The very first bait I cast with this reel was the a Megabass S-Crank 1.2. This bait weighs somewhere around three eighths (3/8ths) of an ounce and I spooled the reel on my very first cast! This new MGL spool by Shimano featuring their newest SVS Infinity braking system is unreal! The Casitas can easily handle baits down to one quarter of an ounce and quite possibly less. It has BFS potential disguised in a workhorse build.


The brakes can also be fine tuned from the outside.

Brakes: This is not the first Shimano reel I've fished with the new MGL spool. The new Metanium MGL is no a little longer review arch than the Casitas MGL but in both cases, I've been really impressed with this latest iteration of Shimano's brakes. In previous iterations, the SVS Infinity brakes numbered from four to six red colored brakes that resembled mini lever arms on the spool's rotor. Actuating the brakes varied from either a slide over at the base and snap to turn on or just a smile simple snap open.


The MGL spool is more shallow than the USDM counterpart (~12.6 vs ~13.2 cubic centimeters of storage.

In this latest iteration featured on the Casitas's MGL spool (same as on the Curado 70, Scorpion 70, Metanium MGL), there are four translucent lever arms that simply flip over to turn on or off. This new brake system is also quieter than the previous iteration and does not require as much day to day or trip to trip lubrication of the braking surface on the inside of the non-handle sideplate.


We were surprised to find an extra bearing at the base of the pinion gear.

Features: The Casitas MGL does not fare very well in our standard list of features primarily because it does not have any bearings under the handle knobs or at the levelwind wormgear. It does, however, feature a micro-click enabled dragstar and an external adjustment for the afore mentioned brakes. A nice little feature we found while disassembling the reel was an extra bearing around the base of the pinion gear along with the usual one under the cast control cap. From our understanding, this extra bearing is the primary benefit of Shimano's X-Ship, but for some reason, this reel is not branded with that feature.

 


No bearing at the levelwind wormgear.

 

Features Ratings for Shimano Casitas MGL

Ext Brake Adjust? (1-2)
Levelwind Bearing (1-2)
Knob Bearings (1-3)
Micro Clicks (1-3)
Reel Cover (1-2)
Oil (1-2)
Total
Possible
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)
2
1
1
2
1
2
9
14
6.43


No bearings under the handle knobs either.

Design & Ergonomics: The Casitas MGL is very close in size to the Scorpion 70. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the two reels shared some of the same parts. Their form factors are almost identical. The front of both reels are different however, and the screws holding the handle sideplates into the body have different threading so there are some immediate differences as well.


The Casitas MGL sits very low in the reel seat.

Handle length on this reel is pretty standard at 84mm and the handle knobs, though not contoured for left or right hand retrieve, are very comfortable nonetheless. Palming and overall weight of the reel rate above average for me and ease of disassembly and reassembly are about average.


This low profile makes it a super easy reel to palm.

Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Shimano Casitas MGL

Handle Length (1-5)
Knobs (1-5)
Palming (1-5)
Overall Weight (1-5)
Ease of Breakdown (1-5)
Total
Possible
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)
3
4
4
4
3
18
25
7.2


The reel's knobs are not contoured for left or right hand retrieve but they are very comfortable to grip nonetheless.

Application: About the only technique this reel is not built to support is the launching and retrieve of big baits. There simply is not enough line capacity in this diminutive reel for that task. Otherwise, it's more than capable of any other technique that requires say, 6-14lb test monofilament, copolymer, or fluorocarbon to fish. Want to spool it up with some 50lb braid and use it for some close quarter Texas rigging or jig fishing? Absolutely, it will shine in those techniques as well.

 

Application Ratings for Shimano Casitas MGL

Horizontal (1-5)
Vertical (1-5)
Finesse (1-5)
Big Baits (1-5)
Topwater (1-5)
Total
Possible
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)
4
5
4
1
4
18
25
7.2

 

Ratings:

Shimano Casitas MGL Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A very nicely assembled reel 9.0
Performance This reel surprised me 8.8
Price Careful, it's an affordable JDM reel! 8
Features It may not have a lot of bearings, but it has them where they're needed 6.43
Design (Ergonomics) Super comfortable to fish 7.2
Application A good JDM workhorse reel 7.2

Total Score

7.8
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
+ Affordable JDM! - Minimal bearing count
+ Shimano's MGL spool is money - Some may not care for the composite frame and body
+ Compact and easy to fish all day  

  

Conclusion: Roughly fifteen (15) years ago, when that original Scorpion 1000 reel was available for right around $150 imported from Japan, it proved to be a gateway product for many a JDM enthusiast. That was a long time ago and as with all things, the price of each new iteration of this same model line has increased incrementally to where a Scorpion 70/71 now runs closer to $200. Enter the Casitas MGL - for right around the same price as the original Scorpion 1000, you're getting a compact, lightweight reel with performance far above its price point. The very same qualities that made that original Scorpion so popular.


Looking for a workhorse JDM reel? The Casitas MGL will fit the bill and not break the bank.

Sure, it's made with a composite body and frame that feels like plastic, and sure it has a low bearing count, but make one cast with this little wonder and you'll forget all about those short comings. Sometimes you have to forget about the specifications and just fish the product, and if you take the time to fish Shimano Japan's Casitas MGL, you will discover what we've known for a couple years now - Shimano is definitely back.

 

Looking for a Shimano Casitas MGL? Try Japan Tackle



 

 

 

 

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