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Enthusiast Review

TackleTour's Legion of SuperTTuned SuperReels: Enabled by Office ZPI

Date: 2/18/08
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Varied
Reviewer: Cal



Introduction: Winter can be a trying time for the Tackle Enthusiast. News regarding new tackle from the factories within Japan leaks out painfully slow until the sportfishing shows debut in February and the buzz in North America from ICAST is all but gone. It is a time best used to assess inventory and perform yearly maintenance on equipment - especially reels. But for the seriously afflicted Enthusiast, it is project time and time to think of how best to spice up tackle already within the arsenal and breathe new life into some tired old favorites. Add to this time of contemplation a new service offering by the well respected tuning factory, Office ZPI in Japan and look out! Join us on our journey with eight great reels and witness what fruit our winter time superttuning efforts bear. Introducing TackleTour's Legion of SuperTTuned SuperReels!


A custom painted Daiwa Alphas performed by Office ZPI, Japan


Office ZPI: For the past several years, ZPI has borrowed booth space from Lucky Craft during ICAST. I look forward to visiting their booth each year as it is one of the very few exotic tackle offerings on the floor of the show. In 2007, when we arrived at their booth, the very first thing Tsuyoshi Kato, CEO, and Mayumi Kato, Director, showed us was a custom painted Daiwa Alphas.


CEO Tsuyoshi Kato (left) and Director Mayumi Kato (center) show us ZPI's latest tuning parts at ICAST 2006


As they showed us this newly painted gem, they shared with us the news ZPI would soon be offering custom painting services. Cost for these services? In excess of $100. A hefty price to be certain, but the quality of the finish we witnessed at ICAST was nothing short of remarkable and every bit as impressive as my collection of 2004 TD-Z Custom reels.


Custom knobs showcased at ICAST 2007


We kept open the lines of communication, and when things slowed down at TT HQ during the winter, my custom reel projects began to take fruit. I culled my list of project reels to eight, planned out their upgrades, and sent six of them to ZPI for custom paint duties. The remaining customizations I performed myself with parts not only from ZPI, but Bassart, I'ZE, and spare parts from previous reel projects. Here are the results.


Reel #1, a custom Daiwa BigBait Special


#1 Daiwa BigBait Special: Touted as a big bait specialist reel with its deeper spool, oversized, 90mm handle, and robust pinion and main gear alloy, the Daiwa BigBait Special is one of many reels in my arsenal that's had difficult finding playing time. For whatever reason, the reel just does not excite me enough to use it and keep in my active lineup.


Daiwa BigBait Special Upgrades

Spool TD Zillion 100HL Swapped
Bearings Stock N/A
Handle I'ZE 90mm Swept Carbon $100
Knobs Daiwa Cork $20
Drag Stock N/A
Dragstar TD Zillion N/A
Paint ZPI Custom $135 (one color + disassembly & reassembly)
Approximate Cost of Upgrades

What better way to renew interest in this reel than to send it off to ZPI for a face lift? ZPI's custom painting services provide for up to two colors per reel and best of all, for a flat fee of $35, they'll disassemble and reassemble your reel for you. What's more, in the process of breaking down your reel, should you need any maintenance work done on your reel, they will perform this work for you as well charging back only for the parts they may need to complete your reel's overhaul. It's a complete turn-key operation!


Handle by I'ZE, spool taken from a Zillion 100HL


So what was the plan for my underappreciated BigBait Special? A custom, pearl white paint scheme by ZPI and the following components installed on my own once I received the reel back: an I'ZE 90mm swept carbon handle; a new dragstar displaced from a Daiwa Zillion 100SHL upgrade; and a gold spool taken from a Zillion 100HL. The result is a new, smart looking BigBait Special ready to compliment my JDM big bait sticks!


Magnificent paint by Office ZPI


#2 Daiwa Pixy: In 2003, Daiwa introduced the Limited Edition Orange Pixy. This reel was available in right hand retrieve only, and a select number of this particular reel then received further exclusive status via a special treatment by none other than ZPI. Of course, those who prefer left hand reels were out of luck, nonetheless, this upgrade included a custom magnesium spool, SiC bearings, and a carbon fiber handle. For a limited time, parts for the ZPI version were sold as aftermarket items so one could create their own ZPI version of the 2003 Limited Edition Pixy.


Daiwa Pixy Upgrades

Spool ZPI CP-301 $150
Bearings ZPI SiC $40
Handle ZPI 85mm Carbon $85
Knobs Daiwa Cork $20
Drag Carbontex & TDZ Washers $10
Line Guide TDZ $22
Worm Drive Bearing & Collar Upgrade $12
Paint ZPI Custom $135 (one color + disassembly & reassembly)
Approximate Cost of Upgrades

While the carbon fiber handle for this reel is still available, the special, magnesium spool has been out of production for quite some time. I've been fortunate enough to get my hands on a handful of these spools over the past couple of years. With that in mind, I decided to replicate the 2003 Orange Pixy tuned by ZPI, but of course, in a left hand retrieve model. How better to do this then by sending a brand new, silver Pixy to ZPI for a custom paint treatment. I included a 2003 Limited Edition Pixy for good measure as a color matching sample.


Look, twins!


When my ZPI custom painted Pixy returned, I took it yet another step further with additional upgrades to produce a reel that has been given the nickname amongst our readership as the "Pixzilla".


A look at the stock wormshaft bushing and collar piece (one piece component) found on the Daiwa Pixy and Daiwa Alphas reels


Here are the replacement bearing and collar ready to slide into place


What in the world is a "Pixzilla" you ask? Well, first, you take a stock Daiwa Pixy and replace the line guide with that of a TDZ. During this process, you also replace the plastic bushing that supports the wormshaft with a bearing and spacing collar (Daiwa Part numbers F05-5601 and G01-0701 respectively).


Perfect fit


Once you have that portion of the upgrade complete, it's onto the drag stack. There are a number of ways Pixzilla-ites perform this upgrade, but the simplest seems to be replacing the stock fiber and metal key washer with an assortment of metal and Carbontex washers.

We replace the top two washers of the Pixy stock drag. The bottom eared washer is left in place.


The metal washers are TD-Z eared and key drag washers (Daiwa Part numbers F79-6101 & F79-6301 respectively) of which you'll need two each. While the Carbontex washers are a product of SmoothDrag (Daiwa Baitcaster #1). This particular upgrade increases the drag performance to about five or six pounds of pressure. With more aggressive tuning that may include polishing of the metal drag washers, TackleTour forum member D.R. Fielding is reporting consistent pressure of eight pounds or more. A bit overkill for the Pixy, but achievable nonetheless.


The aftermarket Carbontex washers by Smooth Drag are our #1 choice for the Pixzilla upgrade.


While this added pressure is nice reassurance, the reason I perform this upgrade is simply for more consistent drag performance. Something I did not realize I needed until one of my Pixies arrived with a drag stack contaminated with oil. It would literally howl when engaged and studder like there was no tomorrow. Of course, all this happened post completion of the Pixy review articles we've done. The drag upgrade described above and illustrated in these photos eliminates this potential.


The new drag system (6 washers on top) compared to the stock Pixy drag (bottom 2). The new system is stacked in order from left to right with the last washer on the right, ending up on top as you load them into place.


Critical in the Pixy's drag upgrade is matching the stock drag stack (right) with that of the new drag system (left).

So what does all this accomplish? As described, the drag upgrade delivers more consistent drag performance without worry of contamination. The line guide and wormshaft upgrade delivers cosmetics enhancement plus smoother operation of the reel as you crank. The end result as displayed in this article, of course, is the one and only, left handed, orange "Pixzilla" in existence - at least of which we are aware and until someone else is willing to go through the roughly $774 ($300 for the reel + $474 for the upgrades) expense of building one themselves!

Perfect bookends, an original upgraded 2003 Orange Pixy (left) and its mirror image (right)


Only $774 (excluding shipping costs). Only on TackleTour is such madness even considered let alone executed.









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