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Reel Review (Shootout)


Who is the baitcasting king? The ultimate shootout between two incredible flagship reels!
 

Date: 5/9/02
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano, Daiwa
Reviewer: Team TT








Introduction: Shimano and Daiwa produce a wide range of baitcasting reels that from economical to their flagship models. The flagship baitcasting reels from these reel giants are the stuff that dreams are made of, chock full of features, incredible detail in design, and pure works of art. To deliver their flagship  baitcasting reels both manufacturers have chosen very different design paths and created their own unique interpretation of ultimate performance. In this shootout we closely examine both the Shimano Calais and Daiwa TD-Z, and only one can be crowned the "Ultimate Casting King!"
 

Shimano Calais 200 Specifications

Line Capacity 8/230;10/210;14/120
Gear Ratio 6.2:1
Weight 9.1 (oz)
Bearings 10BB, 1RB
Additional Features One Piece aluminum body, aluminum spool, super free system, super stopper, VBS
MSRP $329.99 (349.99 for MG spool ver.)

 

Daiwa TD-Z 105H Specifications

Line Capacity 8/130;10/100
Gear Ratio 6.3:1
Weight 6.2 (oz)
Bearings 11BB, 1RB
Additional Features Magnesium frame and side plate, aluminum/ceramic spool, super speed shaft, Magforce-V system, infinite anti-reverse,
MSRP $349.95


Impressions: These are two very unique reels that employ the latest and greatest technology from both Shimano and Daiwa. Both reels are attractive in very different ways: The Shimano Calais is nothing short of a work of art that is designed with a fluid organic shape. The Daiwa TD-Z is more compact and features a more geometric design. 
 

With very different approaches to ultimate baitcasting design both reels are incredibly detailed in design


The Calais is a reel of substance and feels solid in your hand, while the TD-Z is incredibly light. You can tell just by looking at both reels that they are premium. Both use the highest quality metals, no cheap plastic here....every component on both these reels is polished, machined, and coated for fluid movement and durability down to the very guts.

The Comparison:

Observations and setup:
This is by far the longest field test the team has ever conducted on a pair of reels. The field and lab tests that went into this shootout included a week of lab tests, extensive field testing, and over 2 months of fishing in various conditions. We paired both reels with a GLoomis single piece 6'6" GLX rod (MBR783C), and 12lb Trilene Big Game for all our field tests.
 

(left) the TD-Z aluminum-ceramic floating spool, (right) the Calais standard spool and VBS


The Spools: The difference in these reels starts in the heart of the reel..the spool. Shimano has two different spools that actually can be interchanged if you order the other. One is the standard spool that has a high capacity, and the other is a magnesium spool, both connect to gearing via an axle. The TD-Z has a innovative aluminum ceramic spool that is feather light. The TD-Z spool is a free floating spool that physically disconnects from the gearing on casts.
 

Accessing the spool on both reels requires opening the left side plate, the TD-Z's side plate completely separates while the Calais's side plate rotates open

 

The Shimano spool is slightly more reliable as the gearing instantly sets into the spool, and the aluminum on axle design is stronger. The Daiwa on the other hand is lighter, loads quicker on casts, and is the more advanced system.


The Frames: Both frames are completely made of metal. The Shimano Calais is finished to be very shiny, while the Daiwa TD-Z has a matte finish due to the choice to use magnesium. In our tests the Calais was the more rigid reel, and the TD-Z offered more feel to the angler. The TD-Z has a very compact frame in comparison to the longer more artistically rendered Calais. In the design of the frames Shimano chose to emphasize design and durability, the Calais is a sturdy reel that resists damage well. Daiwa on the other hand went for weight and functionality. The TD-Z features the lightest frame on the market. The only tradeoff for the incredible weight is the inability to use the TD-Z in brackish water as saltwater is corrosive to magnesium. This is true of the magnesium spooled versions of the Calais as well.

 

One thing we liked about the Calais frame was the access sideplate that pivots away but remains attached. The TD-Z requires anglers to remove the plate completely when accessing the spool. However the need to remove the sideplate on the TD-Z is much lower than the Calais because all cast controls are on the outside.
 

The TD-Z frame is ultra-light and functional while the Calais is durable and artistically attractive


Casting and cast control: The Calais uses the same VBS system as their other baitcasting reels which provides consistent and reliable casting control every time. While the VBS is proven effective big points go to the TD-Z on this one for the implementation of Magforce-V. We are not always fans of cast control but the TD-Z does it right. The adjustments of the control can not only be made from the outside but can be adjusted in very fine increments on the fly. The Magforce effectively retracts resistance from the floating spool on casts and re-applies magnetic resistance as the spool slows, the result is a longer cast.

 

Both reels are incredibly accurate on the cast. We were able to cast the TD-Z slightly longer than the Calais due to cast control and the method in which line exits the line guide and reel face. Both reels feature high quality line guides made of material like Titanium Nitride, but the line on the Calais does physically touch the lip of the reel when cast because the line guide is hidden half an inch behind the front of the reel.
 

Both these reels offer perfect thumb placement, but casting the TD-Z for extended periods is easier with it's ultra light weight


The Retrieve: The Calais is the silkier reel on the retrieve. The handles on the Calais actually have greased bearings for a more fluid feel. While the TD-Z is not as silky smooth as the Calais it feels refined in a different manner. The TD-Z feels like you are connected to the lure, every turn of the handle transmits the feel at the end of your line to your fingers. In this category both reels are evenly matched and preference will be the determining factor. Anglers who love refined smoothness will want the Calais, while anglers who want sensitivity will opt for the TD-Z. Both reels are fast enough for almost all lure presentations, even blazing top water action.

 

Most of the editors liked the grips on the Calais better than the TD-Z because of their contoured shape and soft grip in comparison to the more geometrically shaped and harder TD-Z grips. For palming applications the editors liked the TD-Z better because it was lightweight and caused less stress to the wrist, and since it is about 20% smaller than the Calais it fits better in the contour of your hand.
 

Something you rarely see...the guts of Daiwa's Magforce V system on the inner sideplate of the TD-Z


The Drag: The best way to test a drag on good baitcasters to put your thumb on the spool and crank the handle at slow to medium speed under multiple drag settings. If the drag performs well it will still crank evenly at higher tension settings.

 

No complaints on either reel here...both the Calais and TD-Z have great drags. Drag settings on both reels are easy to adjust in small increments via forged aluminum star drags. Drags just don't get much better than this. Even when fishing for hard hitting stripers in reservoirs fish would run and both these drags offered shudder free performance consistently.
 

The Calais has a greased bearings and soft ergonomic grips for a outstanding smooth cranking power


The Details:

 

Shimano Calais: The Calais is the sexier reel with slamming good looks that are sure to cause some anglers to skip a heartbeat. When field testing this is the reel that caught the most attention. The Calais is the ultimate refined reel and can be compared to a Lexus or a Cadillac...offering the highest level of comfort, refinement, and reliability.

 

Truly a work of art the Calais is a real attention getter

 

The downside to the Calais is the sheer weight of this reel...its relatively heavy for a premium reel, and a lunker in comparison to the ultra light TD-Z. It also does not offer a huge increase in performance than the next in line Chronarch SF.

 

The TD-Z is the perfect size and shape for palming

 

Daiwa TD-Z: The TD-Z is a technological wonder with all the latest features in a light package. While it may not be as visually striking as the Calais it makes up for it with performance. The TD-Z can be compared to a Acura NSX or Corvette...offering an incredible amount of speed and performance in an ultra lightweight package. the downside to the TD-Z is the refinement and inability to use this reel in brackish water, limiting it to pure freshwater applications only.
 

Shimano Calais Ratings:

Shimano Calais Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Great construction and excellent quality in a durable package...the ultimate refined reel 9
Performance Performance is excellent, this is a super smooth reel 9.5
Price This is a premium reel in every sense, and at a price tag of 329 dollars its priced like one 9
Features Pretty good features that are proven in the Shimano line but nothing remarkably different than the other Shimano reels 8
Design (Ergonomics) The ergonomic handles and bearings in the handle make this a pleasure to retrieve, but the large pointed body are not as good for palming 9
Application A good reel for every occasion as this reel is durable and can be used to fish both fresh and brackish water, as long as you don't use the magnesium spool. The only downside is the weight. 9.5

Total Score

9.0


Daiwa TD-Z Ratings:

Daiwa TD-Z Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Great quality and good use of innovative new materials. While not as durable as an aluminum reel the magnesium construction is unique 8.5
Performance Performance of the reel is outstanding, casting this reel is achieved with a quick flick of the wrist 9.5
Price The TD-Z is a flagship reel, and you have to pay premium to fish with it 9
Features All the high tech features you could ask for in a package that sets it apart from the TD-X because of small size and ultra light weight 9
Design (Ergonomics) The TD-Z may not be the most visually striking reel but for fishing it is a well thought out tool. The TD-Z is the perfect size and shape for comfortable palming 9
Application Great for long days where continued casting can take a toll on your wrist. The only downside is the inability to use in brackish water. 9.5

Total Score

9.08


Pluses and Minuses:

Reel Comparison Pluses and Minuses

Shimano Calais 200

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Beautiful artistic design L Price is high
J Reliable performance L No huge performance gain over  other Shimano reels
J Durability L Weight
J Ultra smooth  
J Flexible ability to fish  

Daiwa TD-Z 105H

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Incredible light-weight L Price is high
J Ability to palm easily L Inability to use in brackish water
J Advanced technology  
J Ultra sensitive feel  
J External cast control  


Conclusion: Talk about a close match up! These two reels are incredible. Choosing one over the other was a tough task. Based on the overall feature-set, applications, and performance the Daiwa TD-Z narrowly hedges out the Calais to claim TackleTour's "Ultimate Casting" title. It is interesting how these two industry leading companies have a completely different interpretation of a flagship reel. What it comes down to it is the Shimano Calais emphasizes "form" while the Daiwa TD-Z emphasizes "function." Only if we could combine the smoothness and refinement of the Calais with the size and weight of the TD-Z...then we would have a perfect 10. Until then, both these reels are worthy flagship models, and choosing one will come down to your preference of what are the most important requirements. Will you choose form or function? For us the ability to cast a feather light combo all day without any stress to your arm or wrist is truly a spectacular experience making the TD-Z our number one choice as it has the right balance of advanced features, performance, and weight that should reside in a flagship high performance reel.


Until next time....Tight Lines!


 

 

 

 

 

 
 





 

 



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