Please scroll down to the final update.
This statement is about my decision to remove the Saltiga, Dogfight, Expedition, and Catalina reels from my top picks.
Since 2010 Daiwa has been equipping some of their reels with mag-seals, which are basically a circular magnet that fits around the part that needs to be sealed, and in the little space between them a special fluid (ferrofluid) is suspended in the magnetic field. After that it was incorporated in more Daiwa reels from high end all the way down to low-medium range.
Daiwa though never made that fluid available for sale, which forces fishermen to service any reel that has a mag-seal only at Daiwa's official/authorised service centres. I've frequently mentioned that fact and reminded people to only buy them if they live in a major market where Daiwa has official presence, and the reels went on my top lists as usual starting 2011 after Daiwa addressed some initial issues that I highlighted in the review of the 2010 Saltiga. Nevertheless, I kept hearing from anglers who live where Daiwa is not represented, who still went ahead and bought mag-sealed reels for various reasons after seeing them in my top picks, usually because a local shop told them that it will service the reels with the genuine fluid supplied by Daiwa.
Those anglers would later find out that it was just rubbish, and they would then struggle to send their reels overseas to get them serviced by Daiwa's authorised centres, including in many cases having to pay customs duties when the reels came back into the country. That meant that in addition to the costs involved in sending the reels overseas, they also had to pay import duties for the second time on reels they already owned and previously paid customs for. Other horror stories I received were documented cases where local shops would put grease in place of the magnetic fluid during service, then the reels would corrode badly since grease splits and parts when the reel operates leaving the internal mechanism open to seawater and humidity. Not as bad but still bad, some people gave up and used generic ferrofluids sold for other purposes, and since these fluids have different composition, viscosity, and magnetisation, they do not do the job properly, in addition to killing the resale value of the reels because a good honest owner who lists the reel as having a replacement fluid would scare off purchasers.
I tried hard to maintain my rule that service issues should not be a factor in how I score a reel, because that would introduce many variables and force me to give each reel from every manufacturer a country-specific score based on how good the service is in a particular country. Then two things happened; the first was Daiwa's recent decision to make regional variations of some models in their high end lineup, which I explained earlier this year here, creating a potential for service complications even in major markets if your variation of the mag-sealed reel isn't the one sold locally. The second was my recent visit to ICAST show, described here, where I got to talk to a number of dealers from different countries who reiterated the same issues I heard from individual anglers who can't service their mag-sealed reels, whether it's a normal service after years of use, or one that's needed after an accident such as a drop in the sand or inadvertent contamination with lubes/solvents during maintenance, etc.
So, while my rule stands that ease of service is not a factor in how I score a reel, I decided to make an exception and remove the mag-sealed reels because of their unique situation where in a majority of regions there is simply no way whatsoever to service them. This has no bearing on how I view the reels' performance or quality. It's directly related to the service availability and in order to avoid disappointing those who come directly to the "Lists" page or those whose first language is not English and don't read the whole site where I advise buying them only in major markets. Naturally that would change if one day Daiwa makes the fluid available for sale just like they sell all sorts of spare parts, accessories, and their branded oils and greases, but unless that happens I can't in good conscience keep them up there while fishermen in most countries continue to be denied any means for service.
July, 21st, 2016
Several months after I made that original statement, I listened to readers' suggestions on the subject then decided to reinstate the reels in the top picks but with a warning next to them about the unavailability of the fluid and the potential difficulties they might face when they need have the reels serviced. Now, a few months later, I became aware that Daiwa refuses to sell several parts that people could need to service the reels themselves if they can't ship the reels overseas for repair or service. These parts are; all mag-sealed bearings of the body and line roller, the main shaft, parts of the mag-seal unit around the pinion, the screw-in cap retainer of the pinion assembly, the drive gear, the pinion, and the left and right "body engine" inserts. They also do not sell the proprietary lube of the ATD drag washers of the Saltiga/Catalina and the similarly proprietary lube of the "Hyper Tune" drag of the Expedition.
This is just too much. I can see that they might be doing this to prevent people from upgrading previous models to mag-sealed models, but it leaves owners of the new models who live in countries where Daiwa doesn't exist in an impossible position. They can't even do simple repairs or part replacement because Daiwa wouldn't sell these listed parts, that's of course on top of the original issues created by their refusal to sell the magnetic fluid. Repairs aside, it simply doesn't make a shred of sense that no one, no matter where they live, can obtain the drag lubes originally used in their reels! There are many reasons why we'd want to lube our washers be it some accidental water exposure or just the normal cleaning and maintenance after hard usage. You didn't buy an ATD or a Hyper Tune drag just to be forced to downgrade it with different washer lube.
This is why I said no to book offers over the years. This site is dynamic and will always respond to information that come to my attention, and I will never be too shy or embarrassed to reverse previous stances for the benefit of my fellow anglers. I like the reels and they have some marvellous engineering, but Daiwa's decisions regarding the sale of certain parts, lubes, and the illusive fluid are so crippling I'm left with no option but to take them off for good.
February, 17th, 2017