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Reel Review (Comparison)

Near Ultimate Spinning Shootout - Shimano Sustain Versus Daiwa TD-S

Date: 1/2/02
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano, Daiwa
Reviewer: Team TT

Introduction: Both Shimano and Daiwa have an extensive line of reels ranging from affordable to premium. Many Anglers dream about fishing with the Stella or Team Daiwa-Z, but the price of $500 dollars for this experience is astronomical. For the rest of us there are the Sustain and TD-S. These reels are the next in line in both of the reel giant's lineups. We put these two reels head to head to find out who is the king of "near ultimate spinning!" 

Shimano Sustain (2000) Specifications

Line Capacity 6/170;8/120;10/100
Gear Ratio 5.2:1
Weight 10.3 (oz)
Bearings 5BB, 1RB
Additional Features Aluminum body, Aluminum Titanium lipped spare spool included, Super Stopper II, Dynabalance, Fluidrive II, Power Roller
MSRP $229.00


Daiwa TD-S (2000) Specifications

Line Capacity 6/135;8/110;10/90
Gear Ratio 4.8:1
Weight 9.7 (oz)
Bearings 5BB, 1RB
Additional Features Aluminum frame, ABS aluminum spare spool included, Air Bail, Twist Buster 2, Gyro Spin, Infinite Anti Reverse, One touch folding handle, comes with a Daiwa reel bag
MSRP $184.95

Impressions: Both of these reels employ the best technologies that the manufacturers have to offer. In fact the only thing that separates them from the premium Stella and TDZ are the number of bearings, weight, and price.

You can tell just by looking at both reels that they are premium. Both are completely aluminum with gold and titanium dressing, and it is difficult to find a single piece of plastic on either one. The reels both have a very different stance and profile. The Sustain looks sleek and sharp with a slender body, and narrow titanium lipped spool, and a pointed silver toned drag adjustment. In comparison the TDS is short and wider due to the enlarged ABS spool and compact body.

The Comparison:

Observations and setup:
For these tests we first spent hours comparing the two reels in the lab from a technological point of view, as well as logging in over 20hrs fishing time with each reel. We paired both reels with a GLoomis single piece 6'6" rod (SJR783), and 8lb Trilene XL for our field tests.

Note: In reality the Daiwa TD-S is .6oz lighter then the Shimano, but for this test we used one size larger TD-S 2500 because the handle was much more to our liking and comparable to the Sustain. All the Daiwa TD-S's below 2500 use the smaller single digit handle.

Casting: The Daiwa TD-S was the easier reel to cast long distances. The main reason for this was the ABS spool which allowed us to use up every last millimeter of the spool, up to the edge. The increased size of the spool facilitates a more generous amount of line is given per cast simply because there are fewer rotations of line necessary to be released. Daiwa claims this design also reduces the number of line tangles caused by excessive loops on normal spools.

The Sustain features a unique handle lever and a comfortable wooden handle

Casting the Sustain was also easy and after time we could feel the difference in cast smoothness over the standard Shimano reels due to the titanium lipped aluminum spool.

Both reels were compact enough that we could easily hold the rod and still have maximum line control with the extension of just the index finger.

The Sustain's titanium lipped spool makes extended casting easy

The Retrieve: Both these reels utilize the same number of bearings but the cranking on each reel feels very different. The Sustain is smoother on retrieves while the Daiwa feels more muscular, partly due to its gear ratio. While the Daiwa TD-S was able to retrieve lures quickly the Sustain was definitely the quieter reel.


The Sustain features an internal bail reset while the Daiwa has an external bail switch. If you look carefully at the Daiwa TD-S you will notice when the bail is open a small black switch protrudes out of the back of the aluminum rotor and must physically come in contact with the body in order to reset the bail to the closed position. This means that the bail must sometimes travel a full rotation before it is reset, and depending on what point the rotor is resting will determine how much pressure is necessary to physically reset the bail. Of course if you are in the habit of closing the bail by hand after each cast this will not effect you.

The Sustain features a more conventional bail while the TD-S uses a similar bail found in their top of the line TD-Z which is the patented "Air Bail." The "Air Bail" is enlarged and hollow, and has a titanium nitride finish. Because the bail is protrusion free loose line cannot be snagged. (Interesting to note that the higher end Shimano Stella features a similar bail design)

Both Reels utilize technology to eliminate back play in the handle completely, and both lived up to this claim. You can be sure that for every hook set both these reels are solid and have absolutely no give in the rotor.

The Daiwa TD-S features a titanium "Air Bail" and a easy one switch foldable handle

The Drag: Both in the lab and in the field with equal pressure applied to both reels, the Daiwa TD-S proved to have the superior drag. The TD-S produces the smoothest performance with almost no fade and also beat the Sustain in terms of adjustment. The TD-S was much better at being tightened in very small increments, where as we had to rotate the Shimano Drag much further for desired settings. The TD-S also makes a more harmonious "pinging" sound rather then "clicks" when the drag is engaged at high speed.

The Daiwa TD-S features a incredibly precise drag adjustment

The Details:

Shimano Sustain: The Sustain is the sleeker sexier reel with all of the features found in Shimano's reliable line including super stopper II, Dynabalance, and Fluidrive. What makes the Sustain so incredibly smooth is Shimano's "Floating Shaft" system which supports the spool shaft with multiple ball bearings. The handle of the Shimano Sustain is beautiful and a unique statement in itself, and the reduced bulk only adds to the sleek thin profile of the Sustain. Shimano also adds an extra aluminum spool into the package. 


Daiwa TD-S: The Team Daiwa-S is just as beautiful and functional as the Sustain but is a much more angular bulky reel, but looks and feels more powerful. While not as smooth as the Sustain, the TD-S is an excellent caster and features an incredible drag system. The inclusion of the "Air Bail" makes the TD-S even more appealing, and connects it to its big brother the TD-Z. Daiwa sweetens the package with an extra aluminum spool, a Daiwa protective reel bag, and a one touch foldable handle.

Shimano Sustain Ratings:

Shimano Sustain Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Great construction, and good choice of materials, especially the titanium lipped aluminum spool 9
Performance Performance is excellent, and the smoothness of this reel can even compete with the Stella which retails for 489.00! 9
Price Definitely a premium reel, and Shimano charges 229.00 for the opportunity to fish with one. This is over 100 dollars over the next in line Stradic 8.5
Features Good features that set the Sustain apart from the rest of the family, including its titanium lipped spool and unique handle. 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) The ergonomic handle and super slim construction make it a easy reel to fish with. We were surprised it weighed 10.3oz, it looks like it should weigh less then 9oz! 9
Application A good reel for every occasion the Sustain can be used in fresh or saltwater with no problem (though we would reserve it for freshwater finesse fishing) 10

Total Score


Daiwa TD-S Ratings:

Daiwa Team Daiwa-S Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Great quality that is a big step up from the now updated SSII line. The construction is rock solid and the Daiwa is as tough as it looks...but is surprisingly light! 9
Performance Performance of the casting and drag are incredible. We have never seen a reel that you can make such minor and effective drag adjustments. 9
Price Daiwa charges a reasonable price for the TD-S (184.95) which is only 40 dollars more then the next in line SSII, its great to see a premium reel like this under 200 dollars 9
Features All the features of a premium reel plus a folding handle, and a unique Air Bail that not only is a smooth performer on the water but will get your friends talking. Extra value features like ABS spool, folding handle, and carry bag a plus! 9.5
Design (Ergonomics) The TD-S isn't the most elegant looking reel but the design is one of perfect function, and the ABS spool and compact body make for easy fishing 9
Application Great for every occasion the TD-S is strong enough to tackle almost any fish with style 10

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

Reel Comparison Pluses and Minuses

Shimano Sustain

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Beautiful streamline design L Price is high
J Reliable performance L Refinement of drag
J Titanium lipped spool L Weight could be less
J Spare Spool  
J Ultra smooth  

Daiwa Team Daiwa-S

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Reasonable Price L Could be smoother
J Perfect Drag L External bail reset system
J "Air Bail" L Small handle in sub2500 models
J Spare Spool  
J Lightweight  
J ABS Spool for casting  

Conclusion: These are both incredible reels and picking a winner was extremely difficult. Both are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of design. While the Sustain is sleek and sexy the TD-S is muscular and aggressive, both offer great features that live up to the claims of premium performance. Ultimately the Daiwa TD-S wins the title of "Near Ultimate Spinning" thanks to a lower price and added value features that not only set it apart from the Sustain, but all the other reels on the market. The patented Daiwa "Air Bail" and "ABS" spool are added value innovations that increase the performance and value of the Team Daiwa-S.


Until next time....Tight Lines!









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