(Editor note: For archival reasons I have republished this review from my main buyer’s guide. The MGXtreme is now difficult to find retail)
This is the flagship freshwater spinning reel from Abu Garcia.
It does not come cheap with a recommended retail price of over $400. This makes it nearly double the price of excellent performing reels such as the Shimano Stradic or Vanford.
Facing such stiff competition, the MGXtreme has to be special to justify its price tag.
Let’s find out.
First Impressions: Featherweight Design and Superior Construction
My first impression after handling the MGXtreme is that it feels light, very light. The 20 size weighs in at only 5.6 oz. This is even lighter than the featherweight Daiwa Exist.
This extreme lightweight is thanks to the frame being constructed from a combination of carbon fiber and magnesium alloy.
Smoothness and Performance: Comparable to High-End Competitors
It feels silky smooth, but this is the case for most spinning reels and is almost a guarantee for any reel costing over $100.
I know many readers would like to compare it against the likes of the Daiwa Exist or the Shimano Stella. Well, there is not much in it, and under normal fishing conditions, I doubt anyone can really tell the difference.
When playing with the reels at home, it does seem to have slightly more resistance than the two flagships.
Line Management: A Minor Setback
When spending $400 on a reel, I expect close to perfection. Abu has fallen somewhat short in this area, and the line lay is not really any better than their more affordable reels.
The line lay seems rather average to me, and I could see line memory and overall performance suffering with time. I will say Shimano, Daiwa, and even Penn have them beaten in this area.
Drag System: Carbon Fiber Excellence
It comes with a carbon fiber composite drag, which is fine.
It also comes with plenty of accessories, including a spare spool. The MGXtreme comes with a spare spool (which is shallower than the main spool, making it a good option when fishing with braid). I can remember when a spare spool was the norm, now it is a rarity. I really must applaud Abu Garcia for including one.
It also comes with several different handle options, a cork knob, and a foam handle. Which one is better is entirely down to personal preference.
Durability and Longevity: Ideal for Freshwater Fishing
It is built extremely lightweight.
Firstly, I personally will not use this reel anywhere near saltwater. I cannot trust an Abu Garcia magnesium reel anywhere near the sea.
The reel features aluminum gears, which are extremely lightweight but are a bit softer than other gear materials. These softer materials might limit the longevity after years of hard fishing.
Verdict: A Premium Reel for Abu Garcia Fans
So how does it compare?
Well, it is the best spinning reel that Abu Garcia makes. It is extremely lightweight and feels nice in the hands. I am certain most freshwater fishermen will not be disappointed in it.
If you are a fan of Abu Garcia and are after a premium reel, then go for it.
Considerations for Potential Buyers
For everyone else, at full retail, this is a tough sell. It is several hundred dollars more than a Shimano Vanford that is simply a better-performing reel.
Although it does come with plenty of customization options, including a spare spool and extra handle knobs, which helps justify the price difference.
If you have a use for both spools and can find it discounted, I can recommend it.
Conclusion: Recommended Ultralight Spinning Reels
To see my most recommended ultralight spinning reels, check my guide here.