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Enthusiast Reel Review

Shimano's Next Generation Metanium XT

Date: 5/24/2006
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano Japan
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 8.50

Introduction: Whenever tackle giant Shimano has a new product ready for debut, the anticipation surrounding the release is incredible. So, imagine the build up when it was announced that the erstwhile Metanium XT, the anchor in Shimano's baitcasting lineup, was up for a total redesign and engineering. Add to this buzz, the unprecedented release of the United States market version, Chronarch B, prior to the debut of the new Metanium XT, and Shimano Japan must have sent scores of their very own dedicated consumers into a tailspin. It's been a good year now since all the anticipation has come and passed, and it's time to share our thoughts on the new Metanium XT from Shimano.


Introducing the new Metanium XT by Shimano Japan


Shimano Metanium XT Specifications

Line Capacity (lbs / yds) 12/120
Gear Ratio (actual retrieve) 6.2:1 (25 inches per turn)
Measured Weight 8.2 ounces
Measured Max. Drag 7lbs
Bearings 6 + 1 roller
Features A-RB bearings, stock 84mm long handle, SVS cast control, HEG gearing, Dartanium Drag
MSRP $300

Impressions: Unfortunately, despite the hype and anticipation, I was not very excited over the prospect of the 2005 Metanium XT. The new shape is not as sleek and refined as the former model and the finish, though supposedly more durable, leaves something to be desired. We had hoped Shimano Japan might adopt the mirror-like Antares finish for the new Metanium XT, but they did not. Instead, the Metanium XT sports a very understated, utilitarian, dark grey finish. We were hoping for something with more sparkle or shine considering the reel's price. Another check was to see if Shimano had done anything about an issue that has plagued all their baitcasters to date - backplay. Certainly, by now, we'd expect them to eliminate the small amount of play their reels have when holding the spool and moving the handle. Unfortunately, our 2005 Metanium XT still has this problem. With all these doubts and disappointments headed into testing, just how would this new reel fair?


Spooled, mounted, and ready to go, our Metanium XT mounted aboard our G.Loomis BCR893C

The Field Tests:
Trying to remain optimistic, we wasted no time in spooling our 2005 Metanium XT with 12lb Yozuri Ultra Soft and mounted it to a series of different rods finally settling on our G.Loomis BCR893C GLX Senko Stick. Then it was off to our local waters for our usual battery of tests.


The Metanium XT maintains easy, open access to the spool


Casting & Pitching: One area of improvement over the former model we can most certainly identify is the casting and pitching performance of our 2005 Metanium XT. Finally, Shimano delivers performance worthy of this reel's classification as their middle-high end offering. With pitching and casting smoothness rivaling that of the Antares AR, we were quite impressed with the ease by which we were able to present our baits. As with the majority of their reels, the smooth, flawless casting performance is thanks, in part, to Shimano's familiar variable brake system (SVS) which uses a set of six centrifugal weights to aid the angler in controlling the spool during each cast. Unfortunately, the angler still needs to open the sideplate to access these brakes and adjust their settings. Both good and bad, is the new, simple to use and access locking lever to open the sideplate. Good because there are no more struggles with the flip out, locking handle and worries about overtightening the sideplate. Bad because the sideplate is not quite as secure as with previous models - more on that later.

Gain access to the reel's SVS Braking System by flipping this lever


Once in the lever is in the "open" position, the sideplate pops open


Swing the hinged sideplate aside and gain access to the Shimano's familiar braking system


A small and pleasant surprise we discovered on this reel is the use of a micro-click adjustable cast control cap. This seemingly innocuous feature is a great aid allowing for precise and accurate adjustments both while casting and, more importantly, pitching. With the advent of this clicking adjustment, anglers can alleviate fears of setting the tension too loose and eventually, losing the cap accidentally. Until now, this bonus was only available on Shimano Japan's top end Conquest and Antares reels.

The monolithic sideplate of our Metanium XT


Retrieve: Another welcome improvement over previous model years is the stock 84mm handle. This handle delivers a copious amount of leverage making full use of the over sized, high efficiency gearing. Signature Shimano smoothness can be felt through the handle and into the gears as we retrieved our baits with what we measured to be an impressive 25 inches of line recovery per turn of the handle. Indeed, retrieving some crankbaits we used quite regularly with our old Metanium models proved difficult at best with the '05 as the speed was just a little too much for some of the cranks to handle.


A closer look at the rather dull, dark grey finish of the Metanium XT


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.


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