Shimano Chronarch MGL Review

You have to hand it to Shimano. They’ve developed a long standing tradition for making excellent fishing gear that’s inspired fanaticism among their faithful followers. Earlier this season Shimano retired their Chronarch CI4 baitcaster and moved to the new Shimano Chronarch MGL.

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review
The Shimano Chronarch MGL is a joy to fish with.

Incoming full disclosure: I’m always a sucker when it comes to quality gear. While I’m not currently associated with a rod or reel manufacturer, it does afford me the freedom to play the field seeking great and reasonably priced equipment. What can I say? I like to fish around. So, when I had an opportunity to test out the new Chronarch MGL I leapt at the opportunity. But, will the new Chronarch MGL live up the Shimano name or fall short?

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review – Style and Specifications

I dislike reviews that focus heavily on a rod or reels appearance. Substance over style, I like to say. That being said, as guys, when we go out on a date our first impression is largely based on how the date looks. That’s the attention-getter. The date’s mannerisms largely determine if there’s any staying power. I find that equally true for our equipment. Out of the box the Chronarch MGL looks sexy. Its small aerodynamic profile looks sleek and ready for business. The Chronarch sports a gray casing with very small red to purple accenting flakes. The magnumlite spool and micro adjustment wheel features a no nonsense black finish.

For the gear head in all of us, the Chronarch MGL showcases an eight bearing system, a lighter 14 gram spool to aid in casting, and oversized brass Micro-Module Gearing. The smaller teeth in those gears enable more surface convergence area which, coupled with the aforementioned attributes, means you get a farther reaching cast and experience the patented smooth Shimano retrieve. The Chronarch also features a centrifugal breaking system adjustable from the outside, which ranges in sensitivity from 1 through 6 in sensitivity. External adjustment systems have always been a big deal to me. We’ve all been on the water those days where the wind is swirling. Sometimes you’re fishing with the wind and other times against the wind depending on the hour or minute. I like to have a quick, on the fly, adjustment system that swiftly adapts to those changing conditions.

I spooled up the Chronarch MGL (7.1 gear ratio) with 16lb Sunline fluorocarbon and I was impressed with the amount of line the reel held. Not so much that you felt like you were wasting line buried in the magnumlite spool and not so little that you felt like a wayward tree cast would leave you overly short on casting distance. In my mind, it hit the sweet spot perfectly.

I paired the Chronarch MGL with a Duckett Terex 7’ MH, and later the new Duckett Triad 7’3” MH. This is my main workhorse setup and, suffice it to say, I’ve put the reel through its paces over the last month. The initial setup and adjustment didn’t take long and Shimano includes documentation to help aid you if you’re not familiar with adjusting their reels.

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review – Performance

On the water I was quickly impressed with the Chronarch MGL’s comfort. It palms easily in your hand, even if your paw doesn’t measure up to NBA standards. Another big plus for me is it features an oversized handle.

Performance wise the MGL is a remarkable reel. Its smooth retrieval made it a joy to fish with. I immediately noticed, due to the aforementioned spool and gearing, it casts an impressive distance with a 3/8oz jig. Going from light to heavy in lure weight the MGL handled each challenge like the pro it is. From lightly weighted Senko’s to heavy flutter spoons the MGL pulled off each feat perfectly. Pitching into cover worked flawlessly and the Chronarch MGL delivers power to wench out a fish in heavy cover. I also found after a small quick adjustment I could also easily skip a jig under cover.

When it comes to a baitcaster’s drag some people prefer to forgo it all together. Tighten it down and horse’em out was my motto until I noticed I was ripping large holes in the fishes mouth and the hook would then easily fall out when the fish jumped. This made me re-evaluate my stance on drag. I’m happy to report that the MGL’s drag system is also top notch. It’s easily adjustable on the fly, via the star wheel, and it performed flawlessly. Translation? For me, it’s meant more fish pulled in and fewer rage rants shouted across the water.

The Chronarch MGL’s price point is around $280 to $300. It fills in the gap between very high end and modestly priced reels. Its components and performance left me very impressed, and feeling the price tag is certainly worth it. Matter of fact, I was so impressed that I now have a second to compliment the first.

— Review by Justin Phillips, contributor to Kayak Fishing Focus and tournament kayak angler.


Ask for Shimano at Academy Sports or local fishing tackle shop. In NW Arkansas ask for Shimano at Hook, Line and Sinker or at Southtown Sporting Goods.

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