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Original Bantams
Bantam Mag

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2000-2009 Phil White

The Original Bantams

Shimano introduced their Bantam line of reels in 1978 at the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturer's Association (AFTMA) trade show. The only offerings in their 1978 catalog were the Bantam 100 and the Bantam 100EX. In 1979 Shimano followed up with larger versions of the original Bantam 100. Other versions followed in the early 1980's.   

All photos are thumbnails. Just click the photo for a larger version.

Bantam 100. This reel became an instant classic. The silver color and wooden crank knobs set it apart from other casting reels. It was offered from 1978 until 1984 in its original form and with the Super Gear upgrade, which had paddle knobs.
Bantam 100EX. This reel also came out in 1978. It's blue color and lure control button set it apart from the other original Bantams. It was listed from 1978-1982.
Bantam 200. This was a larger version of the 100. It was touted as a "Steelhead and Snook" reel. Listed from 1979-1983.
Bantam 201. This was a left hand version of the 200. It appeared in 1982 and lasted only until 1983. Shimano called these reels a "true right handed casting reel." It is interesting to note that this is the only original Bantam with an anti-reverse switch.
Bantam 300. The 300 was not just a larger reel. It was considered the high speed Bantam. The gear ratio was the same 4.7:1 but it had a larger diameter spool to increase the retrieve rate. It was listed from 1979-1983.
Bantam 400. This reel was considered a light SW, Musky and Northern reel. The original versions of the 300-500 reels had brown rubber knobs, but they were soon replaced with black knobs. It was listed from 1979-1983.
Bantam 500. This large reel was touted as a Salmon, surf and medium duty trolling reel. It was listed from 1979-1983.
Bantam 1000. This reel was designed as Shimano's "Tournament Reel". It was light weight at 6.8 oz. and had paddle knobs. It was listed from 1980-1983.
Bantam 10. This was an attempt to make a less expensive Bantam. This reel is black and has spool bushings rather than ball bearings. It was offered from 1981-1984.

This photo from the 1979 Shimano catalog give a good illustration of the relative sizes of the various models. From the 12:00 position they are: 500, 400, 200, 100, 100EX, and 300. Click the photo to see an enlarged version.

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