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Enthusiast Review:


Daiwa Big Bait Special? Not So Much (continued)

Casting: So the moment of truth. Just how does the BBS stack up when casting large baits? I brought both my superTTuned and new BBS reels with me on our recent trip to Mexico fishing El Novillo Lake. I fished the newest of my two BBS reels spooled with 20lb Triple Fish Camo and took a few test casts to get the reel dialed in before really letting loose. I tied on an old staple, my 7" Triple Trout, and let her go. Long story short, I was pretty disappointed in the reel's casting performance. Overall, it cast fine, but the distances I was getting were sub par.

The BBS makes use of outdated MagForce V and sports a fixed inductor on its spool.

So, I reached for my older BBS, spooled with 25lb Toray Super Strong Nylon and tried it thinking maybe the line had something to do with the reel's performance and while casting was a little better, it was still not up to what I considered current standard. Case in point? Any of the reels in the current, developing high speed reel shootout can and do school the Daiwa BBS in casting performance. I only reference them because these were the reels I had on hand for immediate comparison.

The knobs on the BBS are typical of what's found on US Domestic model reels including the US Zillion and Fuego.

Retrieve: On the retrieve, the BBS's undersized gearing felt fine though I didn't load up with an El Novillo monsters to really test its power. Just the same, the fact it was able to retrieve big baits and cranks without feeling overloaded was reassuring though I'm sure that's thanks in part to its low 5.7:1 retrieve ratio. Though I'd prefer two, the single bearing under each knob certainly contributes to the smooth feel this reel has when cranking its handle.

Cal is not a fan of these knobs at all. Fortunately, they are screwed on and hence easily replaced.

Drag: Again, not having loaded up with any of those good sized, El Novillo Northerns, I didn't get a chance to test the drag of this reel under real world conditions, but back in the lab, I was able to measure max sustainable drag at approximately 9 pounds. That was pretty much on par with how our original Zillion reels performed back in early 2007, though I did notice on that sustained pull of about 9 pounds, there was a lot of initial studdering of the BBZ's drag.

To open up the reel and gain access to the spool simply unscrew the center of the cast control knob...

Design & Ergonomics: The original TDZ's profile is amongst the most comfortable low profile reels to fish and the BBS benefits fully from this lineage. Its 90mm cranking handle is very appropriate for the reel's intended application though I much prefer the smooth, rubberized or natural cork knobs found on the other Daiwa JDM reels.

...and it pops up like this allowing you to pivot the sideplate off of the frame.

Application: So, is the BBS a suitable reel for big baits? Maybe four or five years ago when it first came out, but if I were looking for a reel with a similar profile in today's market, I'd reach for the Daiwa Zillion Crazy Cranker instead. With the Crazy Cranker, you get an even lower retrieve ratio, larger gearing for better cranking torque, an updated drag system, the same 90mm cranking handle, and all for a couple of hundred dollars less. The one caveat is line capacity. If that extra 2mm in spool depth is important to you, then your only choice would be some kind of braid with mono or fluoro leader.

The spool then easily lifts out of the reel.

Availability: The Daiwa TDZ Big Bait Special is still in production in Japan and relatively easy to source. Though not listed at either Japan Tackle or Pro Shop Otsuka, if you send either or both an email inquiry regarding this reel, I'm certain at least one of them could source it for you, and if not, I'm sure they could get you the Crazy Cranker as more than suitable substitute.

Here you can see the fixed inductor of the BBS's spool.


Daiwa Japan TDZ Big Bait Special (BBS) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Solidly built 7
Performance Uninspiring 6
Price You pay a premium for what? 3
Features A larger capacity spool is the only bonus I see for this reel. 6
Design (Ergonomics) A very familiar form factor, but the knobs have to go. 6
Application Outdated at best 5

Total Score

Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
(For a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

Pluses and Minuses:


J A familiar and comfortable form factor L Overpriced
J More durable pinion gear L Outdated Cast Control
J Slightly more line capacity than a standard Zillion L Undersized Gearing
  L Overall performance is uninspiring


Conclusion: The legend with some reels grows better with age especially when they fill an unattended niche in the market. The Daiwa Pixy is a prime example of this affect. Unfortunately, for me, the TDZ BBS does not share this same acclaim and is simply an outdated reel commanding a premium at a time when an almost identical replacement can be had at far less of a cost. I realize the BBS has a fervent and loyal following, but honestly, I just don't see it - especially not from a performance perspective.


The BBS certainly performs well enough to allow you to catch fish, but there are better reels out there for a lot less money.


Cosmetically, great it's black, but that whole treatment on the handle sideplate of the bronze color mixed in with black doesn't do it for me either. It's not befitting a reel in the four to five hundred dollar price range. And sure, you can find it for less if you're patient and wait around, but you're still putting forth all that effort for a reel that in my opinion is old and obsolete. Pick up a Crazy Cranker instead and see if you don't agree with me, or, if you're fine with right hand retrieve reels, check out the new Shimano Curado E5 or Chronarch D5. I've fished both these reels, and they together with the standard Zillion are a lot more worth my while than the BBS.










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