A Guide to Daiwa's insane World
Daiwa is crazy! That's the gist of it, you don't need to read the rest of the article. I hope that you've enjoyed reading this and tight lines everyone.
Well, since you're still reading, I assume that you have time for the long version. Here it goes;
At the time of writing, some of the most repeated questions I receive are about deciphering Daiwa's complicated high end line up. Not that all other companies are exactly innocent, but Daiwa throws you into the next level of confusion with overlapping models, different regional specifications, vague descriptions, and entire redundant generations. The following is an attempt to explain it all with details of the features and variations.
I will start from the very top. Daiwa's flagship reel is the Expedition, which comes in two high-speed models, 5500H and 8000H. The reel was introduced in 2014 and it currently has the highest specifications of all Daiwa spinning reels. The following is a list of its distinctive characteristics
1) The drag knob is the machined metal radiation knob
2) The main shaft is standard, without an extension above the threads
3) The spool has carbon sheet inserts in two locations
4) The handle joint is the classic shape
5) The body plates are star shaped
6) The cuts in the handle's hood are the classic shape
The drag system in the Expedition is called "UTD Hyper Tune", and according to Daiwa the drag washers are lubed with a special grease designed to perform on settings above 10 kg (22 lb) of drag pressure since this model is designed specifically for extreme jobs.
This Expedition is available in Japan and a number of countries, but for some mysterious reason it's not sold in several other markets including the USA. There is absolutely no logical explanation for that. Just a hint of Daiwa's eccentric decisions, which will get much worse. Keep reading.
In 2015 Daiwa released the latest generation of the Saltiga. Like the Expedition, these 2015 Saltigas have two mag-sealed ball bearings to seal the handle opening on both sides of the body, and a mag-sealed ball bearing in the line roller. They differ from the Expedition in the following ways
1- The body inserts are plainly shaped
2- No carbon sheet anywhere
3- The handle joint is shaped differently
4- The cuts in the handle's hood are different
5- The drag knob has a plastic outer casing (pressure disc in contact with the washers is metal)
These are external differences. The internal differences though are as follows
The main shaft has an extension above the threads which fits into a channel inside the drag knob. This feature is claimed to stabilise the spool, but I personally do not believe it has an effect in actual fishing. Why isn't this extension included in the Expedition? Because the radiation knob doesn't have a housing for that extension, therefore you can't buy a radiation knob for your 2015 Saltiga as it won't fit. On the other hand the knob of the 2015 Saltiga would fit the Expedition, although I don't know why anyone would do that except in an emergency situation of some sort.
The other internal difference from the Expedition is the drag. The 2015 Saltiga has what Daiwa calls ATD (Automatic Tournament Drag), which is the same washers only with a different type of lube that produces some initial slippage of the spool. As I discussed in the past, this has no tangible effect except in the smallest Saltigas when fished with fine lines. Read more details on it in this article.
Well, except that not all 2015 Saltigas are the same. In certain markets the reels are sold without any reference to the ATD, and the paperwork of those reels states that they have the UTD (Ultimate Tournament Drag) which is what Daiwa called the drag of the 2010 Saltiga. Now pay close attention to the following photos
The Saltigas with the ATD have blue highlights in the body plates
The ones with the UTD have all-grey body plates without the blue highlights
Less noticeable is the text on the drag knob. The ATD reels have "ATD Automatic Drag System" printed on the knob.
The UTD reels have nothing on the knob.
The ATD reels are sold in markets such as Japan, Australia, Germany, and France. And the UTD reels are sold in countries such as the USA, the UK, and New Zealand. I'm working off the top of my head here so I might need to amend the country listing later on. Note that some ATD reels might find their way into UTD markets and vice-versa.
An example from Daiwa's US site stating that the 2015 Saltigas sold in America have the UTD (Ultimate Tournament Drag).
The reason behind this weird decision was a mystery for some time with all sorts of rumours floating around, but finally I managed to get an explanation from a Japanese source who's in the know, and it's quite a funny one; it seems that Daiwa fears litigation since the term ATD implies some "automation", and seemingly people in some countries are too litigious for Daiwa to risk being sued by a bunch of disgruntled fishermen who find nothing "automatic" in the drag. Of course there is no way to be 100% sure short of an official statement, but I find this one to be very sensible and the source is highly reliable. Accurate's ATD is not an issue here since the trademark on that one was cancelled in 2010. Regardless, it goes to show that Daiwa's ATD is nothing but a marketing gimmick, since Daiwa sells the same reel as UTD in major markets without telling us that some 2015 Saltigas are inferior to others. If we were to believe that the ATD is such an advantage, then reels without it would naturally be disadvantaged, right?
To make sure readers whose first language isn't English don't get this wrong, I'm only highlighting the contradictory marketing rubbish. The drags of all 2015 Saltigas are equally superb regardless of the ATD or UTD marking. Also, do not be confused by the reel photos you see on a website that sells them. In many cases stock photos are used which could show reels with ATD marking when the actual reel sold doesn't have it, and vice-versa. Even official Daiwa sites in some countries show the wrong photos.
Then we move on to the next model in this confusing affair, the Dogfight 8000 and 8000H.
The two Dogfights are cosmetically similar to the Expedition; carbon sheets in the spool, star shaped body inserts, classic handle joint shape, and the cuts in the handle's hood are the classic shape as well. These Dogfights though have the plastic cased drag knob, and the main shafts have the little extension above the threads as seen in the 2015 Saltiga. These reels are sold everywhere EXCEPT in Japan.
All the Dogfights do not have the ATD markings, despite sometimes being described as having ATD in literature.
Are you completely lost yet? Daiwa just made sure that you will be, by the recent introduction of the Dogfight 7000H. It's currently being offered in Japan, and will come to other markets later on.
Strangely this Dogfight was styled after the 2015 Saltigas; plain body insets, reshaped handle joint and hood cuts, no carbon sheets, vertical cuts in the spool, etc. At this point I should wonder why wasn't this 7000H "Dogfight" styled after the existing 8000/8000H "Dogfights", but I gave up and no longer seek answers. The 7000H has the extension in the shaft and the plastic cased drag knob, and has the ATD marking, which would be omitted if it gets sold in markets where ATD is "forbidden". Again, the radiation knob of the Expedition can't house the extended shaft, therefore it does not fit any of the 2015 Saltigas or any Dogfight.
There you have it. An absolute mess for no good reason at all, and I didn't even get into the fact that the 2015 Saltiga reels are sold selectively in different markets, so for example in France only 6 models are currently offered, 4 models in the USA, 9 in the UK, etc. In a sane world I'd have all the 2015 Saltiga models sold everywhere without that ATD marking, meaning that only one version would exist globally instead of two. I would also drop the high-speed Dogfight 8000H since the Expedition 8000H is there, and would leave the low-speed Dogfight 8000 but with a standard shaft and a radiation knob since the 8000 size would be used for extra heavy jobs where that knob shines. The Dogfight 7000H is redundant in my opinion, and I would replace it with a Saltiga 7000/7000H to maintain design and naming uniformity.
Moving on to the 2016 Catalina. I am doing something that I haven't done before here, which is talking about a reel that is yet to hit the retail shelves. I am doing this because the Catalina happens to be an established reel with a large following, and people are already making purchase decisions based on erroneous information that's floating about. The following is based solely on dealer samples, meaning that there could be changes when the retail reel goes on sale. The chances for that at this stage are remote, but it remains a possibility nevertheless so I needed to tell you this.
Firstly, unlike the Expedition and 2015 Saltiga/Dogfight, the new Catalina doesn't have the mag-sealed ball bearings at the handle's openings. This is for all intents and purposes a barely retouched 2011 Catalina in a fancy new dress. Cosmetics aside, the changes are the added extension to the main shaft, the ATD drag lube, and a mag-sealed line roller which now has a single ball bearing instead of two following the design of the Expedition/Saltiga/Dogfight. Even the cosmetics didn't change that much; they basically changed the colour and fashioned the spool cuts to match those of the 2015 Saltiga, while the handle and its hood remain the classic shape.
The handle's openings on both sides are protected by the same rubber seals as in the old Catalina (red arrow), and therefore the reel didn't gain in free-spinning and feels exactly like the 2011 model.
As bad as it is that the new Catalina is virtually the same old reel with 3 little tweaks, imagine how it will be when it's sold in markets where "ATD" is omitted so you won't even get that different drag lube. You would then be getting the old 2011 Catalina UTD, only with a mag-sealed line roller and a sad extension in the main shaft! This, gentlemen, is the epitome of the marketing rubbish we've been living with for over a decade; new generations that come in a timely fashion instead of when they significantly improve a product, support ends for older models in a timely fashion instead of when the tooling to make spares becomes uneconomical to maintain, catchy names of fictitious "technologies" such ad Hagane, XShip, ATD, or the upcoming hoax of the "Monocoque", all aimed at pushing you to buy the "latest and greatest" when they decide that you should do.
At this time Daiwa's rollout of the high end lineup is complete, but a fact remains that in a handful of years newer generations will make these reels obsolete, then in another handful of years support will stop, and today's gem would then become a very expensive paperweight. To add insult to injury Daiwa wouldn't make the magnetic fluid available to us, so even if you store your mag-sealed reel perfectly unused the fluid would break down in 5 years and without Daiwa's help you'll never be able to replace it. Daiwa and Shimano mastered that kind of planned obsolescence, and sadly others are learning and catching up. You know this planned obsolescence thing has always annoyed me, but now I'm completely ticked off by how far they took it, discontinuing a Catalina then sending us to buy what is practically the same Catalina only with "2016" put next to its name. Hats off to small operations such as Accurate Fishing whose TwinSpin has been in production for 11 years, and hope they won't ever jump on the wagon and make a "TwinSpin Hyper Testiclulux" next year then replace it two years later with a "TwinSpin with Bendover'ium technology".
Rant aside, I hope that this article helps you figure out the different models and geographical variations, and as always if you have any questions click the contact link and send them to me.
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March, 30th, 2016