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Enthusiast Reel Review (Comparison)

Introducing Round One of the First Ever Tackle Tour SuperCast Shootout!! : The Abu Garcia Mörrum Ultra Mag S2 SX1601C vs Shimano Conquest 101DC


Date: 7/13/05
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano Japan & Abu Garcia
Reviewer: Cal







Total Score: Conquest 101 DC 9.08; Mörrum Ultra Mag S2 SX1601C 8.08

Introduction: If there is one style of fishing reel that spawns the occasional, heated, love-hate debate among bass fisherman it is the old-style, round baitcaster. Eclipsed in general popularity long ago by the sleek, sportscar-like, low profile reels, the round baitcaster remains a favorite among many traditionalists. One tackle manufacturer to garner such loyalty with their steady offering of these circular workhorses is Abu Garcia. Countless anglers, this editor included, first cut their casting thumbs on the spool of an Abu Garcia casting reel.

Close to two decades ago tackle giant, Shimano, launched a renaissance of the round baitcaster with the introduction of their now ubiquitous Calcutta fishing reels: the first of their casting reels to feature the Shimano Variable Brake System, a technology that would eventually trickle down to their low profile lineup with the introduction of the Shimano Chronarch a year or two later. Shimano continues to debut new technologies in their Calcutta lineup before trickling down the proven winners in their low profile offerings. Yet despite this preferential treatment, their low profile baitcasters are still more popular amongst today's anglers.

2005 marks the year Tackle Tour has chosen to pay homage to the round baitcaster and launch our very own renaissance as we take four top end, overseas offerings from three different manufacturer's and shoot them out against one another in our very first Tackle Tour SuperCast Reel Shootout.

The Contenders in our First Ever SuperCast Reel Shootout: Abu Garcia Mörrum Ultra Mag S2 (top left) vs Shimano Conquest DC (top right) : Daiwa Millionaire I'ZE Light (bottom left) vs Daiwa Millionaire Ringa (bottom right)

The Qualifiers: We sought out the greatest, but not necessarily the latest, three manufacturers had to offer in their overseas market: The Abu Garcia Mörrum Ultra Mag S2 SX1601C; The Shimano Conquest 101 DC; The Daiwa CV-Z Millionaire Ringa; The Daiwa Millionaire I'ZE Light. Next, we considered potential upgrades for these top end reels: spools, bearings, handles, and knobs. We installed some of these available upgrades then spooled the reels up and took them out for a series of head to head matchups all with the goal of crowning Tackle Tour's first SuperCast champion - the Ultimate Round Baitcaster.

Round One: Our first matchup pits the Swedish made Abu Garcia Mörrum Ultra Mag S2 SX 1601C versus the Shimano Conquest 101 DC.

The conservative sideplate of our Mörrum Ultra Mag S2 SX1601C

Abu Garcia Mörrum Ultra Mag S2 SX1601C Specifications

Line Capacity (lbs / yds) 10/100 (ZPI Spool)
Gear Ratio (actual retrieve) 6.3:1 (25 inches per turn)
Measured Weight 7.1 ounces
Measured Max. Drag 4+ lbs
Bearings 8 + 1
Features Machined Aluminum Frame, MicroAdjust Cast Cap & Drag Star
Upgrades ZPI Carbon Handle + Daiwa Cork Knobs and Bearings, ZPI RC-416-RS MG spool & brake kit
MSRP ~$500
Cost of Upgrades $280
Total Market Value of Test Model $780


The distinctive sideplate of our Conquest 101DC

Shimano Conquest 101 DC Specifications

Line Capacity (lbs / yds) 10/135
Gear Ratio (actual retrieve) 5.8:1 (23 inches per turn)
Measured Weight 8.4 oz
Measured Max. Drag 4+ lbs
Bearings 10 + 1
Features Digital Control Braking System, Duralumin Spool, MicroAdjust Cast Cap & Drag Star, ARB Bearings
Upgrades ZPI Carbon Handle + Shimano Septon Ball Bearing Knobs
MSRP ~$550
Cost of Upgrades $70
Total Market Value of Test Model $620

Abu Garcia Mörrum Ultra Mag S2: This reel represents Abu Garcia's top end offering in a bass sized round baitcaster for their overseas market. The reel features a machined aluminum frame, 8 bearings, and a micro-click adjusting drag star and cast control cap. It is a precision, Swedish engineered masterpiece and the base for the 2005 limited edition Abu ZPI AE74. While we were not quite zealous enough to acquire the AE74 for our shootout, we did manage to procure the ZPI spool and magnetic brake upgrade for this reel along with a ZPI carbon handle and the Daiwa cork knob and bearing kit. Our Ultra Mag S2 is now a precision, Swedish engineered masterpiece supertuned with Japanese racing parts!

The Swedish Made Ultra Mag is precision even in appearance

Shimano Conquest 101 DC: In March of 2004, we introduced you to the then, brand new, Calcutta 200DC featuring the world's first digital control braking system. For 2005, Shimano has introduced two new sized Calcutta and Conquest reels featuring this same, revolutionary braking system. The 100-size DC performs even better than its 200-size counterpart and was a natural choice to represent Shimano Japan. Our one upgrade to this reel was an 85mm ZPI carbon handle to replace the stock, 70mm handle that came with the reel.

The Conquest 101DC has softer edges but more detailing than the Ultra Mag

The Comparison

Setup: We paired each of these reels on matching heavy weight GLoomis MBR844C GLX casting rods and spooled them with 10lb Yozuri Hybrid line. The MBR844C is G.Loomis's 7' heavy casting and finesse flipping rod and is suitable for any a variety of techniques ranging from jigs to weightless plastics and some larger crankbaits - a very versatile rod given its rated action and one that is very well matched with each of these reels.

An overall shot of our supertuned Mörrum Ultra Mag S2 SX1601C

Pitching: Un-reel, is the term that comes to mind. Pitching performance on both of these reels is superb and both reels offer the ability to present baits ranging from one quarter of an ounce to well over a full ounce. We topped out the comparison with a 1.8 ounce swimbait. Of the two reels, our supertuned Ultra Mag gave us the feeling it might be able to go slightly less than one quarter of an ounce if we changed rods. As it was, on our G.Loomis MBR844C GLX, the River2Sea Standin' Yabbie 50 was as small as we dared to go with either reel. Thanks to their easy pitching performances, both reels left us with the question of who needs to cast? Winner: Morrum

An overall shot of our Conquest 101 DC

Casting: Well, the answer comes when absolute maximum distances are desired. It's a well documented fact the Shimano digital cast control system allows incredibly far casts. The interesting discovery during our shootout was our supertuned Ultra Mag S2 matched our Conquest DC cast for cast with the same baits under the same wind conditions. The only slight qualification is the ZPI magnetic brake system on our supertuned Ultra Mag S2 had a little trouble controlling the spool under conditions of moderate headwinds. The Shimano DC system was flawless, even under headwinds, and of course, anyone who has cast the Shimano DC system is familiar with the hypnotic sound the brakes make when engaged in controlling the spool. Winner: Edge...Conquest

We found the thumbar of the Ultra Mag a bit tall to our liking (see inset)

Retrieve: Shimano has made an undeniable reputation for providing among the smoothest retrieving reels one could ever hope to fish. The Conquest 101DC fits that mold perfectly. We felt our supertuned Ultra Mag S2 was also well above average in this department, but it gets edged out when compared next to the Shimano. Both reels possess a small degree of backplay in the reel handle - a disappointing trait in reels as highly touted as these two. Winner: Conquest

The Conquest 101DC sports a very comfortably positioned and padded thumbar

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