If you’re like us, you are quite particular about your fishing equipment. Quality gear makes the experience more enjoyable, and you don’t have to be a tournament pro angler to see the difference between an inexpensive reel and a premium one. Fishing with a premium reel, like the KastKing Mg12 Elite baitcast reel, is like driving a winding road with an exotic sports car versus using an old clunker station wagon—It gets you there with more control, better handling and a much bigger smile on your face. The Mg12 Elite put a huge smile on our faces and is easily one of the best baitcasting reels we’ve used. It can help take your fishing to the next level, too.
Not familiar with KastKing? You soon will be. KastKing is the fastest-growing brand in fishing, with a growing stable of professional anglers on staff and some of the most innovative equipment on the market.
Do you remember the first time you ever used a baitcast reel? You likely either used too much thumb and only cast out a few feet, or too little thumb and got hammered by the dreaded bird’s nest. You then either sat there for what seemed like forever trying to work the loops out of the spool or ended up reeling in as much as you could, cutting the line off and putting the rod and reel away. Backlash sucks, and it happens to everyone at some point. KastKing has done something about it with their Auto-adjustment Magnetic Braking system (AMB). You still need to use your thumb, but there is plenty of space for that.
Magnetic braking is exactly what you think it is—the motion of the spool as line is coming off is acted against by a magnet that uses its attraction to slow down the spool speed. Not all magnetic brakes are equal, and the AMB system from KastKing is one of the best solutions yet for slowing the spool speed to match the line speed. How it works is pretty cool. There is a ring that is attached to the spool that is designed to increase the surface tension from the one-piece ring magnet as the spool picks up speed. Some other reels use magnetic tension you have to adjust as well as the actual spool tension adjustment. The Mg12 has a simple magnetic tension adjustment wheel on the outside of the reel, and easy access to the internals of the reel for cleaning and other maintenance. However, for the most part, this is an easy-to-use reel that gives you amazing control without having to put too much thought into the act of casting.
There are a lot of things to like about the KastKing Mg12 Elite, but we have to talk about the thing that we noticed right off the bat—the weight, or lack thereof. The Mg12 Elite weighs just 4.8 ounces thanks to the amazing design of the magnesium-alloy frame and the 7075 aluminum main gear. We’ve back-bounced for King salmon in the Kenai River in Alaska with sinkers that weighed more than this reel does. That may seem like an odd comparison, but it really hit home for us just how light this reel truly is. When the box came in the mail, we wondered if the box was empty at first. The frame’s design and materials make it lighter than an aluminum counterpart, and yet stronger than a carbon fiber equivalent.
With the reel weighing so little, it helps fight fatigue when fishing all day, especially when you’re making a lot of casts. It is also a great reel to use with rods that have minimalist handles. We paired our test reel with a 7.5-foot KastKing Speed Demon Pro rod designed for casting swimbaits. This is a medium-heavy rod set up to handle 10-25lb line and up to a 1 oz. lure. The trick with a long rod like this is to find a reel that works with the rod’s balance point. The rod has a fairly minimal handle, and the reel doesn’t contribute much to the weight, so it has a great balance point. That balance point is important for strong hooksets. This rod/reel combination is spectacular for bass and northern pike.
Gears and bearings
The KastKing Mg12 Elite uses a 7.5:1 gear ratio. This means that for every turn of the handle, the spool will rotate 7.5 times with an inch per turn ratio of 26 inches of line. This makes the Mg12 a pretty fast reel, which is something we like for different techniques. Some anglers opt for a slower gear ratio for swimbaits, as it lets them really slow the retrieve. A faster reel, like the Mg12 gives you more options. For example, you’re working a bait and pick up a short strike from a big bass, but there is no hookset. A fast reel lets you get the bait back to the boat faster, so you can cast out again and see if the fish will go again.
It used to be that reels with a lot of bearings in the drive were difficult to keep clean, so you’d have to constantly worry about dirt getting in and wreaking havoc on the reel’s internals. KastKing gave the Mg12 Elite an 11+1 bearing drive with double-shielded, stainless ball bearings. This makes the Mg12 Elite insanely smooth, but you feel that smoothness the most in use. If you compare it to other reels on the rack, it may not instantly feel like it has 11+1 bearings, but in use on the water, it instantly becomes apparent. And what’s better still, the system is double shielded against intrusive dirt and debris. We have been abusing it since we got it—We even let our teenager take it fishing with him and his buddies for a few days—and it still operates as smooth as butter. It was a little nerve-wracking to abuse a reel with this kind of price tag, but what good would it do if it didn’t hold up?
The KastKing Mg12 Elite will hold 8/110 yards of 8lb mono, 100 yards of 10lb mono, or 65 yards of 12 lb. For most of this testing, we used 10lb. KastKing Fluorokote fluorocarbon line with a .28mm diameter. This was actually the first time using the KastKing line and it was impressive, both for performance and cost—yes, we actually went out and bought the line! If you want to use braided line, and there are a lot of good reasons to use braid, the Mg12 Elite works great for that, too. It will hold 160 years of 20lb braid, 85 yards of 30lb, and 65 yards of 40lb.
There is a star drag wheel on the handle and you can add up to 15.4 pounds of drag force. The drag has a nice audible click when you adjust it. The handle itself is carbon fiber with soft rubber knobs. We intentionally got it wet to test feel and there was good grip when wet, so fishing in the rain won’t be an issue. There is also an adjustment knob for spool tension that has audible clicks, and it is right behind the handle.
If you can’t tell, we really like this reel. It is pro-level quality with features and adjustments that really let you tailor it to your fishing style. What is really cool about this reel is that even if you’re not a pro angler, the reel is still going to deliver outstanding performance. You’d be able to take full advantage of the magnetic spool braking for backlash control, and really feel the smooth action. It can help make you a better angler, especially when it comes down to cutting down on downtime when fishing and more time actually fishing. You’ll make more casts and therefore likely catch more fish. That answers the biggest question for us with any reel—Is it worth it? If you’re spending more time fishing and less time monkeying around with stuff instead of the actual act of fishing, then the answer has to be yes.
We would also add that KastKing is one of those companies that is leading the charge when it comes to innovation. We are very excited to see what is around the corner from them, as they have been teasing us with news of major advancements in smart fishing technology that are coming soon in the form of the new iReel One Smart Fishing Reel that will soon be hitting tackle shop shelves everywhere. When we can see and feel how advanced a reel like the Mg12 Elite is, we have to be pumped to see what is coming next and we have a feeling that the iReel One Smart Reel will be a game changer. Luckily we, and you, won’t have to wait long to see it. Like we said—KastKing is an innovator and leader in the angling industry.
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