Shimano Beastmaster MD 12000 A & Abyss SW Review

In this tackle review, Nick Jones puts Shimano's brand-new, big, and badass electric reel to the test.

The reel

The new Beastmaster MD 12000’s disclaimer had certainly piqued my interest:

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“Use of the maximum drag capacity will put significant load on rod holders and gunnels, please ensure these are suitable prior to use. Shimano is not responsible for any damage that might happen due to the use of this product.”

So, when the Shimano crew asked if we’d like to take one up to the Three Kings for some product testing, it was a no-brainer. Newly released into the NZ market, the Beastmaster MD 12000 is the strongest and largest electric reel Shimano has ever produced, engineered with a brief to provide power, speed, and durability for hauling up monsters from the depths.

At the heart of the powertrain (bearing the name MD or ‘Monster Drive’) is the newly developed GIGA MAX brushless motor. With a huge 43kg of drag, 2.5 times the torque of the 19 Beastmaster 9000 (which is no slouch in its own right), and a constant practical hoisting power of 38kg, on paper the new Beastmaster 12000 seems downright impressive.

The line capacity (1,200 of PE 8) is a big step up from the 19 Beastmaster 9000.

How did Shimano achieve these improvements? The solid 2.3kg reel sports a HAGANE body (a highly rigid body incorporating metals like aluminium and magnesium) that houses an improved, reinforced gear system, within which the reduction gear is supported by bearings to enhance efficiency and durability. Shimano claims the synergistic effect of the new motor, powerful drag system, improved reduction gears, and heat dissipation structure (heat is released from vents in the sideplate) provides unprecedented winding strength, speed, stability, and durability.

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The line capacity (1,200m of PE 8) is also a big step up from the 19 Beastmaster 9000, allowing anglers to explore even the deepest bass, bluenose, or ‘puka honey-hole.

The rod

The aptly named Abyss SW has been designed by the team at Shimano New Zealand to handle the Beastmaster 12000 when taming big, bad bottom fish. At the heart of the Abyss SW is a T45 blank. Built by rolling graphite tape at a linear 45-degree angle and reinforcing it with two sheets of graphite rolled at opposing angles, the blank of the Abyss SW achieves a significant reduction in weight while maintaining incredible hoop strength and sensitivity.

The Abyss SW has been designed by the team at Shimano New Zealand to handle the Beastmaster 12000's power.

To complement this robust construction, the Abyss SW range utilises high-quality components like heavy-duty Fuji SiC and SiN guides. In addition, the grip assembly of the game fishing models The Abyss SW 80-130 runs an AFTCO UB4 bent butt, conveniently designed to fish from the rod holder.


At the risk of overwhelming readers with tech chat, I’ll now pivot to the fun stuff – the on-water testing!

With the Beastmaster 12000 plugged into the recommended high-capacity battery, industrial-sized baits rigged up on industrial-sized droppers, and a lump of fish sign showing on the sounder on a deep reef north of the Three Kings Islands, the scene was set. Dropping down 64oz of lead was painless and only required a bit of thumb pressure to ensure there were no overruns. It was also simple to keep tabs on things with the Fine Dot LCD screen, even in glary conditions.

No need to be afraid of deploying XL baits with the Beastmaster 12000!

Bites were almost instant, and the Beastmaster 12000 was barely put to work on a double header of a 15kg kingfish and a modest ’puka. The ‘puka had its tail chomped off by a shark on the way up, although the speedy retrieval rate ensured we retained most of the fish!

On the next drift, greater bends on the rods indicated we’d hit the bass. The bigger fish provided the opportunity to see the Thermo Adjust drag in action. To suppress excess heat, the speed of the motor is automatically reduced by the Thermo Adjust Drag when the drag begins to slip on a big fish. We were also introduced to another feature, the e-Exciting Drag Sound, which makes a noise when a fish peels some line, adding another layer of excitement to the experience.

Even with some serious bass, the Beastmaster 12000 never really looked under pressure and certainly pulled up the fish more quickly than the Beastmaster 9000 we were using simultaneously. When the wind picked up later in the morning and a drift or two missed the fish, the quick and painless retrieval from 250-odd metres of 64oz of lead was also greatly appreciated by the crew!

Nick enjoyed success with bass and 'puka on both baits and lures.

Shimano has created one impressive electric reel in the Beastmaster 12000, and the Abyss SW rod provides the perfect foil. If you’re after an electric set that can handle the largest deepwater thugs, then the Beastmaster 12000 must be on your radar. I haven’t even touched on the potential applications for pulling heavy dredges/teasers when gamefishing, either.

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Shimano Beastmaster MD 12000 A Electric Reel



• GigaMax

• Thermo Adjust Drag

• e-Exciting Drag Sound


• Fine Dot LCD Display provides ultra-clear resolution in full sunlight

• Cross Carbon Drag   



Winding speed:

170 m/min

Braid capacity:

PE/m: 8/1200

Gear ratio:


Retrieve per crank:




Max drag:




You can find more information on the Beastmaster MD 12000 here.


Shimano Abyss SW Rod





Line weight (braid/bl):


Grip type:

Aftco Bent Butt

Guide type:

Fuji Sin

Blank type:

T45 Graphite

You can find more information on the Abyss SW here.



April 2024 - Nick Jones
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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