August 23rd, 2022
By Bryan Kidd
- Abu Garcia Zenon MG-X Casting Reel
- Offered in two gear ratios (6.8:1 and 8.3:1) in both Right and Left handed models
- Bearings: 10+1
- Weight: 5.1 oz.
- Line Capacity (lb./yds.):
- Mono: 12/110
- Braid: 30/110
- MSRP: $449.99
Unfortunately, in recent past, the name Abu has not been quite as prominent as it was with the introduction of the Revo series.
In 2006, Abu Garica released the Revo series of low profile baitcast reels. Equipped with oversized brass gears, metal frames and blisteringly powerful drag. These reels quickly made a name for themselves and went straight at its competition, reels like the trusted Curado now had a new name to compete with.
As the years progressed the reels changed faces quite a bit and took on new technologies like the IVCB (infinitely variable centrifugal brake) braking systems and X-craftic alloy bodies. With the push for lightweight steering the market, Abu released the MGX reel along with its 3rd generation of reels. The MGX was a magnesium framed IVCB packed powerhouse. Personally, I was a supporter of the LTX model (JDM finesse version) it was the same frame with a shallow spool and the traditional magnetic brakes. (more on that later).
This is where in my opinion, the market share got a little shaky. (don’t shoot the messenger). The 4th gen reels went with a larger frame, almost all centrifugal braked and little to no metal frames. The only saving grace was in the new MGX frame. This frame was found in the flagship reels like the MGXTreme, ALX and premier. The core Revo series was left with gaudy frames and obnoxious handles. This seemed to be the standard in the industry for a few years.
All that aside, Abu brought in some well-known fresh talent and are on the upswing of revamping their reels. We’ve already seen some of this in the Zenon spinning reel and the Zenon rods.
Introductions out of the way, I got my hands on a new Zenon MG-X casting reel at the Bassmaster Classic. I wasn’t immediately impressed to be honest. I was still a little off put by the recent letdown that was the 4th gen reels. A black eye so to speak on a reel platform that I loved dearly. I made it well known that abandoning the MGX frame in favor of the cheaper plastic Roxani frame was one that made me switch brands.
Fast forward to Icast. I got another chance to view these reels. Both Andrew Wheeler and Justin Poe (product manager and director of rods) were oozing over them so there may be something to them? Well, I just recently was able to get out on the water to find out for myself.
I have to start off by saying that the box game is strong here. I wasn’t expecting this. I’ve had high end the Extreme came with a similar pack but the box itself is a nice step up. I was hoping that the reel inside continued this high expectation.
Out of the pack the reel was extremely light (5.5oz). No oil in the box which is a staple at this point? Never mind the lack of oil the knobs were sticking out more to me. Two fingers wide? Still on the massive handle kick I see. But the shape made up for it a bit. The new knobs adopted an I shape that is common on competitor reels (cough Daiwa cough)
The reel felt smooth but more importantly it felt connected. Little to no play in the handle gave it a very positive feel to the handle turn.
The reel comes with a clicking drag which was a real nice addition that I am coming to enjoy on my reels. The reel has the IVCB braking. This is not my favorite as I am not a centrifugal lover. I prefer magnetic casting like the Magtrax or the Magforce (Daiwa). That is my personal preference from availability of reels as I grew up and experiences with all of the platforms.
I had to get this reel out on the water to really get a feel for it. Ive been blown away by feel before just to be let down so I loaded the reel up and headed to the testing lake.
I strapped the reel onto the closest rod I could grab. It happened to be a G. Loomis GCX 803c JWR. I have a bunch of GCX that I am putting through their paces for reviews. I loaded the reel with 16# Sunline shooter and tied on a 3/8 oz pb&j Dirty Jigs jig with a watermelon powerbait chunk.
The reel was able to bomb the jig with ease and after a bunch of tinkering. I was able to reach out to fairly good distances. The reel was a little wild as the spool was really touchy and fast. Ive seen this same thing with other high end Revos and even the Steez before. The reel internally was dry and as such it was like trying to tame a racecar with a brick on the gas. I was able to calm it down to normal by lubricating all the spots that were indicated in the manual with Abu Garica reel oil.
After that brief intermission the reel performed as I would expect it to. It felt reminiscent of the MGX but with amuch more ergonomic frame. The edges have all been rounded and the face plate moved out. This should be great for those of you who like to palm with a finger across the face.
Casting was good, I was able to bomb casts, pitch and roll cast with ease. I was able to get the reel to skip but it was not the most efficient platform I’ve used to do so.
The knobs didn’t make me nearly as uncomfortable as I thought but I did hit my wrists on them in a fast uncautioned reel. I managed to catch a bunch of fish on it so far and so far I am not mad at it. My pro cons list is below to sum up my experience.
Pros & Cons
- Light weight and ergonomic
- Clicking drag
- Angle off spool allowed better casting without drag off the spool
- Ability to switch between casting methods without adjusting the reel (within reason)
- Shape allowed finger across the face without hitting the levelwind.
- Didn’t feel any part rubbing or poking my hand
- Clutch was solid and not shaky like some other Revos
- Price may still scare some people off
- No model without centrifugal brakes (fight me)
- The large handle and knobs are not for everyone
- Frame currently only in the Zenon models.
- This is not the frame that is adopted for the gen 5 Revos. The new revos went with a bold ergonomic design, the I knobs similar to the Zenon.