UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Champlain

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Review: Shimano Bantam MGL Baitcast Reel

Review: Shimano Bantam MGL Baitcast Reel
Shimano Bantam

When you buy a new reel, you expect it to perform for years to come. No doubt there are plenty on the market that meet those expectations, and one of the newest options that I think has the guts to join the club is the Shimano Bantam MGL.

It’s touted as a smooth, tough reel, which many Shimano aficionados have come to expect, and I got the pleasure of putting one through the paces.

Here are my thoughts.

 

Built like a rock

There are reels at every price point that just feel flimsy or delicate when you put them in your hand. The Bantam is not one of those reels.

The minute I picked the Bantam up I got the sense that it could handle any abuse I threw its way. I think what makes the reel feel so strong is the Core Solid Body design. In other words, the frame, level-wind guard and B-side plate are all one piece. It’s one of the biggest selling points of the reel and seems like it should help the reel to last for a long time.

Of course, with durability comes some density. The Bantam is not the lightest reel out there, coming in at 7.6 ounces, but it isn’t too much heavier than a lot of 150-size reels. Certainly it’s nowhere near the heaviest. Besides, I’ll take extra tenths of an ounce any day to know my reel isn’t going to fall apart after a few rough boat rides or lots of use.

 

Easy adjustment

The Bantam has four internal manual brakes on the side that can be engaged or disengaged by clicking them in or out, which is pretty standard with Shimano reels. The nice thing, however, is that with the side plate shut there is a dial on the outside of the reel that lets you fine-tune your adjustments even further.

The brakes were very easy was to dial in when changing baits. When throwing topwaters and switching from plastic baits to lighter balsa, moving the dial from a 2.5 to 2.25 setting made a huge difference in increasing my casting distance. On the flip side, if I was throwing into the wind, rolling the dial up a click greatly reduced the likelihood of a backlash, yet still allowed for good casting distance.

 

Precise feel

While the Bantam (7+1 bearings) doesn’t have as many bearings as other high-end reels, it didn’t seem to lack in performance. There wasn’t any slop on the retrieve from the gears or handle (which I’ve experienced a few times from comparable reels), which reinforces the sense that the reel is designed to last a lifetime. The Micro Module Gear system likely helps with that. The gears have more teeth that are smaller than others on the market, and as a result, I got an effortless feel when winding all day long.

 

Spinning reel-quality drag

Sure, smooth reeling and casting are good, but what really impressed me with the Bantam was the drag. The drag system was one of the smoothest I’ve used. I worked on a bunch of smallmouths just to put the drag to the test, and it never missed a beat when a fish charged hard from the boat.

The Bantam offers a maximum of 11 pounds of drag (which is pretty standard), so it’ll do just fine flipping or frogging, but anything in open water or light-line situations seem to be where you get your money’s worth.  

 

The verdict

Overall, this reel is pretty sweet. For durability, anglers have trusted round baitcasting reels for years, and the Bantam seems to come from similar DNA but in a low-profile package. It fits the bill for pretty much any situation you can throw at it, and having a buttery-smooth drag makes it even more appealing in lighter-line scenarios.   

Of course, price can be a limiting factor for a lot of anglers, and with the Bantam coming in at $349.99, it’s a serious investment. While I wouldn’t go out and buy 10 of them at a time, if you’re serious about fishing, it’s definitely worth saving your pennies to add one or two to your arsenal.

 

Details

Company: Shimano

Series: Bantam MGL

Available gear ratios: 6.2:1, 7.1:1, 8.1:1

Ball bearings: 7+1

Spool capacity: 110 yards of 12-pound-test monofilament

Weight: 7.6 ounces (6.2:1, 7.1:1) or 7.8 ounces (8.1:1)

Warranty: one-year limited warranty

Price: $349.99

Tags: kyle-wood  tech-tackle-reviews 

Review: Strike King Thunder Cricket

Review: Strike King Thunder Cricket

Ever since Z-Man released the ChatterBait anglers haven’t really had the need to broaden their vibrating jig horizon – and not for lack of options, but simply because the ChatterBait is so good that you don’t really need anything else. With the launch of the Z-Man ChatterBait Jack Hammer a few years ago and the instant buzz surrounding it, the bar was set high for any other vibrating jigs entering the market. READ MORE »

Dudley Wins Historic 4th AOY

Dudley Wins Historic 4th AOY

Taking to the second to last day of the 2019 FLW Tour season, David Dudley finally did it again, triumphing over John Cox to win a historic fourth FLW Tour Angler of the Year title. Winning his first AOY in 2008, and then going back-to-back in 2011 and 2012, Dudley is now the only pro with four titles to their credit, surpassing both Clark Wendlandt and Andy Morgan. READ MORE »

Review: Jackson Kayak Bite

Review: Jackson Kayak Bite

In the burgeoning fishing kayak market, there’s still a pretty large gap, on the whole, between entry-level boats (think $500 or less) and the top end of the market. It’s hard to find a really good kayak that blends quality, stability and affordability for anything less than $1,000. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Pros caught fish everywhere from in the middle of flooded jungles of brush to deep main-lake drops. The top finishers pretty much all power fished with soft plastics, crankbaits and frogs. READ MORE »

Review: LIVETARGET Tennessee Craw

Review: LIVETARGET Tennessee Craw

With the number of great crankbaits on the market or discontinued and still in high-demand, new crankbaits have to be pretty good to earn a space in a tacklebox. While I wouldn’t say the LIVETARGET Tennessee Craw is a surefire classic, after a few days of fishing it, I know I’ll be throwing it a lot more. READ MORE »

High Water, Good Fishing at Rayburn

High Water, Good Fishing at Rayburn

Thanks to Mother Nature, the second stop of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division, which was originally scheduled to take place on Grand Lake, will now take place at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Rayburn was supposed to host the division finale, but extreme high water on Grand forced the swap. The tournament, which is presented by Mercury Marine, kicks off on Thursday. READ MORE »

Spawn in Full Bloom on Table Rock

Spawn in Full Bloom on Table Rock

Stop No. 2 of the Costa FLW Series Central Division should shape up to be quite the catchfest. Coming off of the division opener on Kentucky Lake, where pros were challenged with tough fishing, this week’s event, which is presented by Power-Pole and hosted by Explore Branson, should be stellar in terms of both numbers and quality of fish.  READ MORE »

2019 Lake Chickamauga Preview

2019 Lake Chickamauga Preview

Lake Chickamauga in east Tennessee is a big-bass playground where anglers regularly catch trophy fish that surpass 10 pounds. In early May, it'll host the FLW Tour for the third time in six years. Previous events were held in June, so this stop promises to offer a different look at the Chick. READ MORE »

Review: iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer

Review: iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer

Built to FLW Tour pro Aaron Britt’s specifications, the iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer rod is a mid-priced spinning rod that’s specifically designed for tossing small swimbaits on light heads. READ MORE »

2019 Grand Lake Preview

2019 Grand Lake Preview

Grand Lake is situated in Northeast Oklahoma among the foothills of the Ozarks. The impoundment was created in 1940 when the Pensacola Dam was finished along the Grand River. The 46,500-surface-acre reservoir now hosts plenty of recreational opportunities, but more importantly, is also home to some of the best bass fishing in the country. READ MORE »

Review: Lew’s Speed Spool LFS

Review: Lew’s Speed Spool LFS

The Lew’s Speed Spool LFS is a re-design of the Speed Spool, and it’s a very affordable casting reel that works quite well. It hit the market in the fall of 2018, and though it doesn’t visually stand out and it’s lacking in nonessential bells and whistles, the reel is more than capable of getting the job done for under $100. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Seminole

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Seminole

Prespawn bass were the main storyline for the third stop of the FLW Tour on Lake Seminole presented by Costa. Finding areas that held concentrations of staging bass was vital to fishing all four days and most of the pros rode individual spots to their respective finishes. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Seminole

Top 10 Baits from Lake Seminole

Vibrating jigs and Texas-rigged soft-plastic creature baits, along with a few finesse baits, were the primary tools used to catch prespawn bass from hydrilla beds on Lake Seminole in March. Learn how to put more early spring fish in the boat with the lures used by the top 10 pros. READ MORE »

B. Lat Becomes a Champion

B. Lat Becomes a Champion

The final day of the FLW Tour presented by Costa on Lake Seminole was fireworks from start to finish. All day long, Braxton Setzer, Sheldon Collings and Brian Latimer traded blows, landing one big one after another. In the end, Brian Latimer weighed 21-3 for an 80-15 total – enough to hold on to his lead and earn the first Tour win of his career. READ MORE »

Latimer Leads the Charge

Latimer Leads the Charge

After a fog delay to start day three of the FLW Tour presented by Costa on Lake Seminole, Braxton Setzer set off fireworks early, sacking up more than 20 pounds within minutes of his first cast. On the other hand, Brian Latimer was slow and steady, catching his bass throughout the day to assemble 23 pounds even by the afternoon. Heading into the final day, Latimer leads with 59 pounds, 12 ounces, and Setzer is 1-10 behind with 58-2. READ MORE »

Beavers Moves Ahead on Seminole

Beavers Moves Ahead on Seminole

While the weather may have been nicer on day two of the FLW Tour event on Lake Seminole presented by Costa, the fishing fell off to a degree. Overall, the weights were lower across the board, and getting off to a good start yesterday proved to be vital today. READ MORE »

Setzer Sets Seminole Pace

Setzer Sets Seminole Pace

Despite frigid temperatures at takeoff, day one of the FLW Tour presented by Costa at Lake Seminole produced the standard slew of big bags. In first, Braxton Setzer sacked up 25 pounds, 15 ounces, and Joseph Webster and Bradford Beavers both caught over 25 pounds as well. READ MORE »

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

FLW Tour rookie Miles “Sonar” Burghoff kicked off his freshman season with a strong performance on Sam Rayburn, where he just missed fishing the final day with a 12th-place finish. Now, the Tour is on a system he is more than familiar with, having spent countless hours on Lakes Toho and Kissimmee while attending college at the University of Central Florida. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

Whether it was a canal or small sections of the lake, each pro in the top chose to hunker down in an area and milk it for all it was worth in the season opener of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division presented by Power-Pole. Here’s a look at how the action unfolded. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Okeechobee

Top 10 Baits from Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee wasn’t her normal self in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener presented by Power-Pole. Bites were few and far between, but the top-10 pros dialed it in and got it done. Winner Nick Thliveros relied heavily on a crankbait and so did others, but Florida faithful’s like swim jigs, soft plastics and topwaters also fared well. READ MORE »