Shimano’s new Core 101 MG baitcaster reel is amazingly light. But how did it fare when put to the test? Read on!
The CORE MG 101 (I like the lefty model — the right handed is the 100 MG) weighs in at an unbelievable 6.1 ounces thanks mainly to a magnesium frame and sideplate. The CORE’s an extremely sexy looking number packed full of Shimano’s top-of the line features.
- Ultra-Lightweight Magnesium Frame and Sideplate
- Magnumlite Spool Design
- Cold Forged Aluminum Drag Star
- Cold Forged Aluminum Handle
- Drilled Handle Shank
- Septon Handle Grips
- Tapered Ti Levelwind Insert
- High Speed 6.2:1 Gear Ratio
- Lightweight Aluminum Drive Gear
- Paddle Grips
On the Water Test
For the test, I chose the left-handed CORE 101MG (if you’re into flippin’ or go with the 100MGFV). With it’s 6.2:1 gear ratio, I figured it would be fast enough for what I will mainly do with it — throw swimbaits, topwater and ripbaits for stripers. But I also had a devilish little plan to put the reel through some serious torture later — just to see how it would fare.
I took the CORE out with me on some guide trips to give its first going-over and was immediately blown away by what a difference the lack of weigh makes. It almost feels like a toy and my clients were equally impressed. Without adjusting anything, I took the thing straight out of the box and tossed big Pencil Poppers and small ripbaits with no problem. Normally, I have to adjust the magnetic cast control on my reels when I switch from the bomb-like poppers to the light jerkbaits, but the CORE chucked them both with ease.
In fact the thing cast so well that — and here’s a first — I have yet to backlash the thing (and believe me, I can “professional override” a reel with the best of ’em at times!). The reel casts very smoothly and the stripers pulled enough line to let me know that drag worked nicely.
But the knock on magnesium reels is often that they’re not all that durable and the drags can be somewhat suspect, so I decided to abuse mine. I took it on a recent trip to chase giant steelhead in British Columbia, where I figured it would be subject to more trauma in a week than a normal bass reel will see in a lifetime.
The steelies of BC pull harder than any steelhead I’ve ever encountered and the CORE’s drag got a severe workout. The reel features 11 pounds of drag and, I’ll say this, every ounce of it was buttery smooth when I’d hook a rampaging steelie (my best on the reel was this chrome hen that fought like a stampeding buffalo).
Initially, I was concerned by the reel’s line capacity — 110 yards of 10-lb., but I spooled up with 20-pound Power Pro Braid and it was fine. One afternoon, I hooked a hot steelie of about 16 pounds in a shallow tailout that immediately turned tail and blazed downstream through a riffle on a sizzling run for about 50 yards. The reel handled the situation with ease and line capacity was never an issue — and that’s when I realized I not only had my new favorite bass reel… but my number 1 steelie rig as well.
Just as an aside (and this will appeal to steelheaders), the magnesium side plates of the CORE seemed to be less cold to the touch when we were fishing on frosty mornings than say the aluminum sides of a Calcutta or Ambassadeur…a nice feature when you’re steelie or winter bass fishing.
What can I say? I gave the CORE 101MG a workout, coated it in roe slime and even dropped it in the water and she came out smellin’ like a rose. As I noted earlier, I’ve got a new opening day starter in my rotation.
Though I have a bunch of other high end reels, they all feel clunky next to the CORE and I’m having a tough time using anything else. And that leads me to really the only drawback of the reel, which is its $349.99 suggested retail price. A little spendy to be sure, but it is a damn nice piece of equipment. Get one HERE