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Reel Review

Red Hot styling and the performance to match...the Team Daiwa Fuego

Date: 3/21/05
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Daiwa
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 9.0 + Editors Choice

The Fuego is Daiwa’s latest freshwater magnesium reel, and blends the light weight of magnesium with a surprising amount of line capacity not normally found on smaller reels. The Fuego borrows its frame and profile from the TD-Z, as well as some of the handle components from the TD-A, but once you cast this reel it becomes obvious that the Fuego’s performance is entirely it’s own.

Daiwa TD Fuego Specifications

Line Capacity (lb/yds) 12/140, 14/120, 16/100
Gear Ratio 6.3:1
Weight 7.4 oz.
Bearings 6BB + 1RB
Additional Features Free floating perforated aluminum spool, Magforce-Z, infinite anti reverse, low profile, seven disc composite drag, titanium nitride line guide aperture, Autocast clutch
MSRP $229.95

The world "Fuego" means "Fire" in Spanish, and the new Daiwa baitcaster is dubbed the "Fuego" for its combination of bright red coloring and tremendous performance. The Daiwa Fuego is one of the first Japanese baitcasting reels ever to be released here in the US prior to Japan and was first introduced at ICAST at the same time as the SOL last year. Since hitting retail stores this reel has been so hot that many retailers and e-tailors have found it challenging to keep enough reels stocked to meet the overwhelming demand. From the first look the Fuego is immediately recognizable as it bears an almost identical profile to its big brother the Daiwa TD-Z.


The Fuego features the sleek profile of the TD-Z with new bright red side plates


The Fuego features a magnesium frame for weight reduction, but we were surprised that the reel doesn’t sport the same utilitarian star and handle as the SOL, and instead make use of the larger handle and drag star found on the supertuned Daiwa Advantage. Overall the reel looks compact in size, and is quite attractive with the inclusion of bright red sideplates. Unlike the SOL the Fuego was introduced with both right and left hand versions from the get go. Both reels are mirror images of each other with identical componentry and the same overall weight.

The Fuego sits low on the Fuji reel seat

The Field Tests:
We put the Fuego through the same battery of tests that the SOL recently endured. We stress tested the reel in our lab then went out for some bass fishing on the California Delta and a number of local bass lakes over a period of three months.


Complete Rig for Daiwa TD Fuego Field Tests

Rod GLoomis MBR782C
Reel TD Fuego
Line(s) 10, 12lb. Yozuri Hybrid


Though ill advised, we also couldn’t help testing the Fuego in saltwater by fishing grubs for rainbow perch inside the San Francisco Bay, just to see how well the Magnesium frame would hold up in light salt applications.


The Fuego has a titanium Nitride coated line aperture making it superline capable


Casting: The Fuego looks like the TD-Z but does it perform anywhere close to it? We casted the Fuego on the docks with plugs side by side with the TD-Z and were impressed. The premium TD-Z still beats the Fuego in terms of total distance but not by much. The TD-Z seems to start up a bit faster than the Fuego, but the accuracy of the Fuego is right on par. That’s awfully impressive considering that the Fuego retails for 120.00 dollars less than the TD-Z. The free floating spool design is implemented well on the Fuego, and separates instantly from gearing the moment the Autocast clutch is disengaged.


The Fuego features the reliable autocast clutch and a perforated free floating spool for quick startups


When we finally started fishing with the Fuego we found the reel to be even more inspiring. Anti backlash cast controls are easy to set on the fly and the Fuego features Daiwa's most advanced system, Magforce-Z. The Fuego one-ups the SOL mechanically as the SOL still makes use of Magforce-V. MagForce-Z uses the same basic design as Magforce-V, but does so slightly more efficiently. To increase maximum casting distance and exactness Magforce-Z applies smooth magnetic braking only when really necessary. The new system allows the spool to start up faster and achieve a higher top speed and a spin longer before the magnetic drag kicks into affect.


The Fuego palms easily and comfortably


Retrieve: The Fuego retrieves very much like a trademark Daiwa, more precise and refined than silky-smooth. The Fuego is smooth, but in a way that you still feel exactly what is going on at the end of the line. The Fuego makes use of 6BB and 1 RB to deliver a superior feel, with absolutely no backplay in the handle whatsoever. The bottom line is if you like the retrieve on SOL and TD-A you will also be keen on the retrieve that the Fuego exhibits. Like most other Daiwa reels the Fuego sits rather low on the vast majority of rods making it easy to palm. The entire profile seems to comfortably rest within your hand. During our field tests we hooked into a number of bass that proceeded to run towards the boat. The Fuego made it easy to keep up with these sprinters and made up the line deficit quickly, allowing us to maintain tension on the fish. The reel features a blistering fast 6.3:1 gear ratio which matches the ultra fast supertuned Team Daiwa Advantage. Because the reel was so quick it is ideal for burning spinners or cranking jerkbaits, but we had to constantly remind ourselves to slow it down when slow crawling plastics.

Magforce-Z cast controls are easy to adjust on the fly


Drag: Daiwa's latest series of drags are capable of supplying ample pressure while remaining composed and consistent under the load. The answer rests in the wet composite seven disk drag system which is composed of both fiber composite and steel washers. We found the Fuego's drag to be both easy to adjust and quite full-bodied for a reel of this diminutive size. The Fuego is delivers almost 5.4lbs of max counter pressure, and is easily adjusted with a metallic drag star. This drag star is the exact same one found on the famous TD-X and contemporary TD-A reels. We were surprised Daiwa went with these larger drag stars because they are heavier than the simplified one found on the SOL, but on the upside anglers get a superior clicking mechanism for more accurate drag adjustments.


The Fuego features the same large handle grips found on the TD-A


Ergonomics: The Fuego feels as if it were made to palm, yet because it features a relatively wide and flat perforated spool it is capable of holding 140 yards of 12lb test or 120 yards of 14lb test, making it possible to draw on the Fuego to pursue larger species like striped bass. Whether the Fuego or the SOL's frame is superior ergonomically is really a toss up, both reels are easy to palm and comfortable to fish. The SOL is the more radically designed of the two, as the Fuego sticks close to the TD-Z's contour. The only thing we can really highlight between the two is that the Fuego's enlarged handle grips are slightly better than the SOL's, which are smaller and demonstrate less tack when wet. Overall the Fuego is quite good ergonomically. Daiwa could have made the reel a bit lighter if they chose the more simple drag star and handle on the SOL, but at a weigh in of 7.4oz the Fuego is still respectable. The new Shimano Chronarch Mg50 is quite a bit lighter at 5.9oz but the reel isn't able to match the Fuego's line capacity or ultra fast gear ratio, and also costs 20 dollars more.


The Fuego's fast gear ratio is more than enough to keep up with fast moving mid sized bass


Durability: Daiwa and Shimano both make magnesium based reels and both manufacturers treat their reels with some form of coating to improve resistance to salt, but Shimano says that reels like their new Chronarch Mg are saltwater approved. When asked about this Daiwa stated that if washed off after use in brackish water their reels would hold up as well, but prefer to take the high road and not endorse the use of their TD-Z and Fuego in absolute saltwater. In our tests we subjected the Fuego to both brackish and salt conditions, and proceeded to rinse the reel after each outing. At the end of three months the reel still looks and performs as good as new. Other than the obvious limitations that come with using Magnesium the Fuego is enormously hard-wearing. The aluminum handle and drag star are more robust than the one’s found on the SOL, the multi-disc drag delivers the same pressure after three months, and the stainless steel bearings have remained smooth and problem free after countless casts.


We don't recommend saltwater use but we stress tested the Fuego in light saltwater applications fishing for perch, and with a rinse after each use it did survive nicely


Magnesium reels of all types are best suited for fresh or brackish water use at most. Even with significant coatings once the reel’s surface becomes scratched, even at the reel seat for example, they will be partially exposed to salt corrosion. The Fuego is an excellent bass reel, lightweight, offers great line capacity, and is extremely accurate…even when casting lightweight lures.



Daiwa TD Fuego Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Fuego's build quality is undeniable. The construction is flawless and we just love the fact it looks like a more aggressive TD-Z 9
Performance The Fuego steps up where the SOL leaves off. Where the SOL is excellent at fishing light lines the Fuego is excellent at fishing just about any line. The profile is not as exciting as the SOL but the line capacity, blazing speed, and Magforce-Z are hard to resist 9
Price The Fuego is the same price as the SOL and at 229.95 the reel is among the cheapest magnesium based reels on the market. We liken the Fuego to a mainstream version of the TD-Z, and with the quality of features the reel offers it is a good value 9
Features The Fuego is full of features including Daiwa's new Magforce-Z anti-backlash system 9.5
Design (Ergonomics) If you like the TD-Z then you will like the Fuego. The reel could have been a tad bit lighter if Daiwa made use of a lighter handle and drag star but overall the reel exhibits great ergonomics 9
Application Though we tried using the Fuego in saltwater, and it performed well, we recommend that this reel be used only in freshwater applications. All magnesium reels are prone to increased corrosion from salt regardless of coatings 8.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J A "TD-Z" for the masses L Not as light as some competitor magnesium reels
J Affordable magnesium reel  
J Sleek profile  
J Excellent line capacity  
J Good value  

 The Fuego delivers excellent performance, quality ergonomics made famous by the TD-Z. The Fuego possesses a lot of the same features and performance that we love about the premium TD-Z, all at a price that most anglers can afford. In terms of magnesium reels there are few on the market that can beat the Fuego's price point. This reel has all the features that make Daiwa reels so popular among mainstream and enthusiast anglers and even though the reel is small and compact it manages to pack in plenty of advanced features including a lightweight magnesium frame, a free floating high perforated spool, 7-disk drag, and Magforce-Z. We liked the Team Daiwa SOL quite a bit, but we adore the Fuego. The Fuego has more line capacity than any other magnesium reel in its class, and possesses the same scorching fast 6.3:1 gear ratio as the flagship TD-Z, delivering a rare balance of performance and versatility. All in all the Fuego is the real deal, with red hot good looks and heaps of performance to back it up. Daiwa has yet another winner on its hands, and continues to put the industry on notice when it comes to refinement and innovation.


Until Next Time....Tight Lines










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