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Reel Review

Bass Pro Shop's miniature Microlite serves up plenty of performance

Date: 6/27/04
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Bass Pro Shops
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.25

Introduction: Sure it's possible to use a 2000 size spinning reel for panfish and backcountry trout, but to truly relish the fight that these petite fish put up ounce for ounce, and employ stealthy finesse fishing techniques it's best to go with a ultralight reel. While many anglers feel reserved about shelling out big bucks for such a tiny reel, Bass Pro Shops puts together a quality product that just might surprise you when you consider how much reel you are getting for so little money.


Bass Pro Microlite Supreme Specifications

Weight 9.1oz
Gear Ratio 5.2:1
Bearings 6BB + 1RB
Line Capacity (lb/yds) 4/120
Additional Features Aluminum spool, titanium nitride lip, Instant anti-reverse, wooden handle knob, PowerLock instant anti reverse, extra spool
MSRP $39.99

Impressions: There are an assortment of ultralight reels on the market but many of them ask anglers to make a lot of sacrifices when it comes to features and performance. Typical reel attributes like instant anti reverse or even a smooth retrieve are considered luxury features on these pint sized performers. The emphasis has always been on size reduction, not refinement or attractive design. Bass Pro Shops has a knack for putting together products that are well balanced when you consider price and overall performance, and the Microlite Supreme is a yet another notable example.


The Bass Pro MicroLite Supreme looks like the previous generation Shimano Sustain, in fact the handle and knob are near identical in design


My first impression of the Microlite Supreme was that it appeared to be a miniature replica of the previous generation Shimano Sustain. The colors, gold highlights, alloy handle, and wooden knob all emulate the pricey Sustain.


Complete Rig Microlite Supreme Tests

Rod BP Microlite 4'8" IM-6 Rod
Reel BP Microlite Supreme
Line 2, 4, & 6 lb P-Line Fluroclear

Real World Tests: Testing the MicroLite Supreme entailed a backpacking trip to the base of the Eastern Sierras, where ultralight finesse fishing is ideal for tackling small timid brown and brook trout, we could see just how well the MicroLite performs. To reach the best parts of the clear water streams we needed to backpack in for a few miles. Making the MicroLite a good choice, due to its small size, especially when paired up with a matching BassPro MicroLite Supreme ultralight rod.


The BPMS easily fits in the palm of your hand, but serves up plenty of performance for a reel of this size

Casting: While it is possible to run up to 8lb line on the BPMS (Bass Pro MicroLite Supreme), putting anything bigger than 4lb line on the BPMS  results in a severe reduction of casting distance. The spool is simply too small for thick lines and the small diameter promotes a great deal of memory in the line. When spooled with 2-4lb line the BMS is easy to cast and surprisingly refined for a reel of this price.

This reel is made for tossing minute baits at petite fish, and that's exactly what we used it for. After tying on a variety of blue fox and Panther Martin spinners we casted the BMS in the backcountry during the entire trip. it's amazing that some streams with as little as 5 inches of water can still hold 12 inch trout. It was in these situations that the BPMS excelled. Casting distance is not the most important factor with a ultralight reel, accuracy and reliability are. There's nothing worse than having a reel that can't put your tiny lures into the right pockets, poor casting usually results in simply scaring fish. Also when in the backcountry a inferior reel can put a real damper on any trip, as most anglers a couple miles into the wilderness will not be packing an extra reel. Thanks to the titanium nitride lipped spool, cast after cast the BPMS was able to position all our lures precisely where we wanted them.


Detail in design is apparent, and we were impressed with the titanium lipped spool


Retrieving: The BPMS sports a total of six bearings in its construction, and the retrieve is quite smooth. If retrieved very quickly there is a unmistakable "gear" feeling, but it isn't intolerable by any means. In fact if I had to rank the BPMS in terms of refinement I would put it high up on the short list. The PowerLock instant anti reverse is fantastic, and quick sets are easy, as there us no play in the rotor or handle at all. With a 5.2:1 gear ratio I was able to get spinners moving quickly in the water, and work most fish up to 14 inches in size with little difficulty. The reel is comfortable to hold and operate but the one major flaw in this ultralight reel is that it isn't all that light. Constructed of reinforced graphite rather than aluminum this reel weighs in at 9.1oz. The Ultralight Tica Cetus that we reviewed a year ago weighs only 6.3oz in comparison.


The reel is made up from reinforced and coated graphite rather than aluminum, this increases overall weight unfortunately


The Drag: While you won't be fighting salmon with this tiny reel, it certainly feels like you are when you hook into any fish over 12 inches. By downsizing your tackle you have the opportunity to play each and every fish for every bit of fight they have to offer. A powerful drag is not a necessity on a ultralight reel, and when fishing with 2-4lb line it is always a better idea to go slightly loose on your drag to allow the fish to run rather than snap your line. It is nice to know that while a brawny drag is not a requirement, the BPMS delivers a hefty one just in case. Complete with a range of settings the BPMS's simple multi plate drag mechanism is reliable and delivers more than enough stopping power for your freshwater quarry.


The wooden knob is a work of art, and while many anglers now prefer soft rubber knobs we still find the wooden knob to be reliable and unproblematic to use


Applications: The BPMS is a good reel for a variety of applications including backcountry fishing where a smaller reel is both easier to pack in, but also allows you to utilize thinner diameter lines and consequently smaller, more effective lures and finesse fishing techniques. When your not hiking the BPMS can serve up plenty of performance as a panfish reel, capable of tackling bluegill and crappie.


The BPMS allows anglers to use ultralight lines and lures, making it possible to target just about any body of backcountry water


Kudos to Bass Pro for including a second aluminum spare spool with the BPMS. This allows anglers the freedom to spool up with 4lb for the majority of their applications, and 2lb when requiring even greater casting distance, or desire to tie on miniature tubes.


Bass Pro Shops Microlite Supreme Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Overall a quality reel that makes use of no plastic in its construction. Would be perfect if the body was made from aluminum rather than graphite 8
Performance Performance was excellent in all categories and the BPMS proved to be reliable and quite refined. Especially when you consider the 40 dollar price tag 8.5
Price A great price for a reel that offers plenty of features and performance 9
Features The PowerLock instant anti reverse is top notch, and we were impressed with the implementation of titanium nitride on the lip of the spool 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) It looks alike a mini Shimano Sustain...and that isn't a bad thing by any means. While most reels have steered away from the attractive wooden knobs in favor of soft rubber padded ones, we still find the wooden knob to be well-designed and effortless to use. The downside to this reel's ergonomics is that we wish it was lighter 7.5
Application Great ultralight reel for trout and panfish of all sizes. A slightly lighter weight would make it easier to carry for those especially long trips into the backcountry where every once counts 8

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Very attractive design L Heavy for an ultralight
J Reliable and accurate L Slight "gear" feeling in retrieve
J Anti Reverse is top notch  
J Great Price  

Conclusion: The Microlite Supreme delivers plenty of features and refinement that are well worth the reasonable 39.99 dollar price tag, proof that Bass Pro Shops is serious when it comes to delivering a quality ultralight reel. The features and design of this reel are well thought out, and throughout our backcountry tests the BPMS performed admirably. The only real complaint we have about the BPMS is its overall weight, which should be 2-3oz less for a reel of this size. Had Bass Pro used aluminum instead of graphite the reel would have been  near perfect, but then again, one of the reason's that BPMS is priced so aggressively is because Bass Pro sought for a superior balance between price and product offering. Overall the Bass Pro Microlite Supreme is a worthy reel, one that we would not hesitate to recommend for near any angler searching for a miniature reel to cope with panfish or brook trout.









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