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Reel Review

The new Bass Pro Signature Series Flagship, is it worthy of the Johnny Morris name?

Date: 8/25/05
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Bass Pro Shops
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 7.91

Getting a new BassPro Master Catalog is like getting a gift in the mail. It’s always enthralling just to see the latest products available for order, and Bass Pro’s own branded BPS reels have become much more appealing in the last three seasons. No longer are the BPS solutions merely re-branded OEM reels, the new offerings are designed specifically to meet Bass Pro specifications and requirements. We take a look at the flagship BPS baitcaster, the Johnny Morris Reel, to see just how this sleek new creation stands up to other major manufacturer’s solutions.


Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Reel Specifications

Line Capacity (lb/yds) 12/140
Gear Ratio 6.3:1
Weight 9.02 oz.
Bearings 9BB + 1RB
Additional Features Di-Cast Aluminum frame, anodized frame, anodized spool, forged handle and drag star, dual braking system
MSRP $159.99

The new JMR (Johnny Morris Reel) from Bass Pro is a major departure from the previous 04’ model. The previous model was larger and bulkier while the new reel is far sleeker in design. It’s nice to see that Bass pro carried the design down through its new lineup. With the new Rick Clunn, Extreme Lite, and Pro Qualifier reels Bass Pro has a complete fresh look to their entire lineup. In the catalog and on the web the reels come across as very eye-catching, all showcasing higher bearing counts, and new features like the dual cast control system. So alluring were these reels that within days of their launch I found myself adding the flagship Johnny Morris Baitcaster into my cart on basspro.com.


The Johnny Morris reel is sleek and reminds me of a Shimano Calais in finish

In five working days I received the JMR packed carefully in a large cardboard box. The first thing I thought when I pulled the new baitcaster out was how substantial the reel felt, this is no lightweight. The finish of the reel was stunning and it immediately reminded me of a Shimano Calais in terms of both finish and weight. The perforated spool is very nice and features gold anodized touches around the edges and drilled areas. Something was eerily familiar about this reel, and the more I looked at it the more I couldn’t help thinking while the basic frame was certainly unique many of the components seemed recognizable. It was only that I started spooling the reel up did it hit me. The knobs on the JMR were identical to the Pflueger President, upon closer instruction we determined the handle and drag star were as well.

Where have we seen these knobs and handle before? Oh yeah... the Pflueger President

The Field Tests:
We tested the JMR for five months fishing a combination of the California Delta and regional lakes. During our test the reel was completely submerged and we tossed everything from weightless rigged plastics to oversized crankbaits in our pursuit for largemouth.


Complete Rig for Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Reel

Rod Shimano Crucial CRC-C70M
Reel BPS Johnny Morris Reel
Line(s) 10, 12lb. Yozuri Hybrid


The palming side of this anodized reel


Casting: The JMR freespools similarly to the President. When the braking system is set to zero the freespool seems to spin without end. The most innovative feature on the JMR is the dual cast control system. Imagine bringing together Shimano’s reliable VBS and Daiwa’s easy to operate Magforce technology. The JMR uses the combination of centrifugal weights and an externally adjustable magnetic system to effectively apply spool control throughout the entire cast. The centrifugal weights handle the initial rotation while the magnetic system kicks in at the tail end of the cast.


The JMR features a wide easy to thumb opening

How well does the system work? The reel backlashes easily due to spool overrun when all brakes are set to zero, but turned up to 20% casting is easily brought under control. I prefer to adjust the centrifugal weights looser than I do with the Shimano VBS, so that I can still take advantage of a wide range of settings via the external magnetic control. The centrifugal weights are adjusted by clicking up and down plastic weight adjusters which are exposed on the magnetic plate on spool. The magnetic system increases resistance by bringing circular magnets closer to the plate on the spool.

The JMR seats nicely on just about any rod


Together we found both systems offered a wider range of settings than we normally see in most baitcasters. This system does need to be carefully adjusted to your specific requirements because it is easy to over and under-tune the settings. Once we had it dialed in we hit between 110 to 130 feet with 1/2oz plug and a solid cast. There was a variance in casting distances between casts, and we found the reel less consistent than a Shimano or Daiwa but nonetheless a very accomplished caster.


Quick and easy access to the internal centrifugal cast control system with the takedown sideplate


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