Mag-sealed reels and the Top Picks listings
This is an explanation of my decision to exclude all mag-sealed reels from the Top Picks page.
Since 2010 Daiwa has been equipping some reels with mag-seals. These are basically circular magnets placed around moving parts with only a small gap between them, then a special fluid (ferrofluid) is dropped into that gap where it becomes suspended in the magnetic field creating a friction-free seal. These mag-seals have since been incorporated into an increasing number of Daiwa models ranging from mid-priced to high end models.
Daiwa never made that special fluid available for sale, which forces fishermen to send reels that have mag-seals to Daiwa's official/authorised service centres when the reel needs service. I've frequently mentioned this fact and reminded people to only buy mag-sealed reels if they live in a major market in which Daiwa has official presence, and since 2011 mag-sealed reels appeared normally on my Top Picks page if they reached the required score. During the years that followed I kept hearing complaints from anglers who live in countries where Daiwa is not represented, many of whom decided to buy certain mag-sealed reels after seeing them listed among my top picks. Those anglers had no real option to service these mag-sealed reels properly except sending them overseas to be serviced by Daiwa's authorised centres, something that was costly and slow and in certain cases some people even had to pay customs' charges when the reels came back into the country despite already owning them.
Other horror stories I received were documented cases of tackle shops and service people putting grease in place of the magnetic fluid during service, leading to corrosion since grease splits leaving gaps that are open to seawater and humidity. Not as bad but still bad, some people gave up and used generic ferrofluids made for other purposes, but because those fluids have different composition, viscosity, and magnetisation they didn't do a proper job leading to issues that varied in the degrees of severity. One of the most common failures of those alternative fluids is premature break up and drying within a year, which is not even a quarter of the service life of the fluid used by Daiwa. Not to mention that a reel with a replacement fluid would lose much of its resale value, assuming that the seller is a decent honest person who would inform potential buyers that the reel has an aftermarket fluid.
Despite all of that, I held on to my rule of not including ease of service in the process of scoring reels, since that would introduce many variables and force me to give each reel several country-specific scores based on how good the service is in each particular country. But then two things happened; the first was Daiwa's recent decision to make regional variants of some models, something that I explained in this article, which creates a potential for service complications even in major markets if your variant of a 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.
I thought about the whole issue for a while, went back and forth on ways to address it, and finally decided that it's better for everyone if I just exclude all mag-sealed Daiwas from the Top Picks page. Mag-sealed reels will still be tested, reviewed, and evaluated in other contexts where I can include a reminder of potential service difficulties for owners who have no access to official/authorised service centres, but they can't be featured on the Top Picks page where people might see them then make purchase decisions without fully understanding what servicing them might entail. Many readers have suggested that I should still include mag-sealed reels in the Top Picks but include warnings and explanations next to them, but I decided that this would fundamentally change the nature of that page which is a simple straightforward ranking of reels that I believe stand out.
Naturally my decision would be reversed if one day Daiwa makes the fluid available for sale just like the lubes and other care products they sell, but unless that happens.I can not in good conscience keep mag-sealed reels listed on the Top Picks page and risk causing eventual headaches to fishermen who have no means of servicing them locally.
February, 17th, 2017