Getting in the Groove with Daiwa's T3 Ballistic
Field Tests: So how does that all pan out on the water? Well, as mentioned, we took the T3 Ballistic to the Amazon in 2011 and paired it both with a Phenix Recon C715 and a Kistler ZBone LE5 to find out how this reel would perform under rather extreme conditions.
Time to put it to the test.
Casting: Zander brought it up in his review of the T3 but it bears repeating here. The semi-controversial feature that makes this reel so unique, it's pop-up top plate during the cast, is actually a continuation of the reel's thumb bar. They are one in the same piece similar in design to Shimano's former Castaic flipping reel, so those who worry that something might go wrong mechanically with that pop-up hood design (i.e. that it will break) really have little with which to be concerned.
Don't forget to thumb that spool.
Performance wise, we already knew this design affords a different casting experience. Namely it's more a of a situation of less effort than actual net distance. Casting side by side with a Daiwa Zillion Type R down in the Amazon using similar powered rods, similar fishing line and similar lures, results on distance were, well, similar. But the effort in casting with the T3 Ballistic is definitely less as well as this reel affords a feeling that is just different when making a big cast.
The T3 Ballistic features externally adjustable brakes.
You would think if the reel requires less effort to make a cast, that if you really wail into one, you'd get ultimate distance, but somehow that formula just never works out for us. In fact, while in the midst of an attempt to get maximum distance on a cast with maximum effort, I discovered something about this reel that didn't quite fit with me ergonomically.
And Daiwa's latest Magforce 3D Braking System.
I palm my reels quite a bit both during a cast and a retrieve. On several occasions, when trying to launch my wood chopper lures as far as I could swing them, I found myself unintentionally pressing down with my right on the Ballistic's hood. You realize what this does right? Because that top plate is integrated with the thumb bar, and because Daiwa's thumb bars have always had a direct connection to the reel's free spool release, pressing down on the top bar re-engages the reel!
A look from behind with the hood down ...
Fortunately on each occasion no one got hurt and nothing broke, but the potential is there for broken knots, line, rods, and for hooks to end up imbedded where we least expect them as your lure swings back on a tight line and arcs towards your casting position.
... and one from behind with the reel in free spool and the hood
Retrieve: The T3 Ballistic is available in both left and right hand retrieve in two different ratios : 7.1:1 and 6.3:1. We tested the T3BLS100HL which is the 6.3:1, left handed model. Actual inches per turn (ipt) test yielded twenty six inches of line per turn of the handled when measured at a full spool with roughly ten feet of line out. Results will vary depending upon how much line is off the spool.
The T3 Ballistic is available in two retrieve ratios (6.3:1 & 7:1
in both left and right hand retrieve for both ratios).
The Ballistic's knobs are welded onto its handle and judging by the reel's bearing count, it's safe to assume there are no bearings under the Ballistic's handle knobs. A spin of each knob would suggest further that this is the case.
The handle is only 80mm wide and features knobs that are riveted
to the handle.
Actual feel of retrieve is acceptable but let's make it clear I much prefer the feel of my Steez
and Zillion reels during the retrieve than I do the T3 Ballistic.
At work with this reel in the Amazon.
Drag: Taking a look inside the reel reveals a little different take on the drag stack than we're accustomed to seeing in a Daiwa low profile baitcaster. The T3 Ballistic features just a single drag washer similar in concept to Shimano, but featuring a single washer made of carbon matrix material rather than something similar to the Dartanium washers typically found in the Shimano reels.
The T3 Ballistic's drag consists of a single washer reminiscent
of Shimano's design.
We tested the T3 Ballistic's drag to ten (10) pounds of maximum pressure which was more than enough to tackle even with peacock bass. Again, to me, it has much more to do with the smoothness of a reel's drag than the ultimate stopping power and when battling a peacock bass, the harder you pull, the more resistance you will encounter from these fierce fish and the better the likelihood something in your complex combination of equipment will break because there is no horsing in a peacock bass.
One of many peacocks courtesy of the T3 Ballistic.
So instead I backed off the drag and trusted the Ballistic's performance to eventually wear the fish down. This strategy worked and the Ballistic's drag performed as I had hoped - smooth and reliable with each pull.
This one went 14 pounds.
Next Section: Going Ballistic in the Amazon