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Enthusiast Review


Daiwa's Stealthy New 2018 Ryoga


Date: 6/24/18
Tackle Type: Reel
Manufacturer: Daiwa
Reviewer: Cal


From the Millionaire to the Luna to the Pluton, Daiwa is no stranger to freshwater sized, round baitcasting reels. In fact, the Pluton was an Ultimate Enthusiast Award winner with us back in 2009 as was its JDM counterpart, the Ryoga in 2011. For some unexplained reason, however, after establishing itself as a shining star in Daiwa's lineup, the Pluton was discontinued serving instead as a comet shooting across the pages of the manufacturer's product catalog.

A high end, fully machined, freshwater sized round reel is returning to Daiwa's lineup.

Earlier this year, in the hype machine that serves as the prologue to ICAST each and every year, tackle operatives throughout the Internet, hunting for pre-release information caught wind of a refreshed reel from the manufacturer announced during the Japanese tackle shows. Feeling and longing for the globalization of Daiwa's product catalog, these operatives began posting photos and throwing out conjecture that the reel would be coming to North American shores.

It is the 2018 Ryoga.

Much to their delight, shortly after these bold predictions were made, Daiwa USA began to tease with stealthy, partial photos of the reel taken in artistic lighting reminiscent of the auto brand Infinity's strategy prior to their debut in the US. Unfortunately for Daiwa, the global market makes it nearly impossible to keep any new product a secret and they soon abandoned this marketing campaign choosing instead to host a social media give away of the reel!

Formerly only available in Japan, the refreshed Ryoga is anticipated as a global product to be announced at ICAST 2018.

In the meantime, we worked our sources over in Japan and actually acquired one of these gems to fish, test, and review. So, in anticipation of its release at ICAST, here now is our review of Daiwa's new 2018 Ryoga.


Daiwa 18 Ryoga 1520L-CC Specifications

Line Capacity - Rated 20lb/110yds
Retrieve Ratio
Inches Per Turn (IPT) - calculated
13 - 24
15 - 28
Weight 9.5 oz
Spool Weight 16 g
Handle Length 90 mm
Bearings 13
Bearings per Knob 2 bearings
Levelwind Bearings 2 bearings
Rated Max Drag ~13 lbs
Origin Made in Japan
MSRP 56,500 JPY (~$515)

Daiwa continues the machined aluminum frame & sideplates for this reel.

Impressions: For those unfamiliar with the platform, Daiwa's Ryoga served as the basis for the USDM Pluton back in 2008. The original intent for this reel is as an inshore product but of course fishermen, especially bass fishermen, don't pay attention to this. This reel has also served as the basis for Megabass's LIN10 variants and perhaps borrowing from the design cues of the associated brand, the new Ryoga features a stealthy black motif.


Loaded with some Sunline FX2 braid and ready for action.


Daiwa continues the machined aluminum frame and sideplates for this reel and new for this model refresh is their version of Shimano's micro-module gearing. Daiwa's terminology for this tech is Hyper Mesh and is touted as delivering fifty percent more teeth increasing both durability and smoothness. Also new for Ryoga is the use of the company's MagSeal bearings and their Zero Adjuster spool tension knob.

The 18 Ryoga could be the smoothest reel I've ever felt from Daiwa.

Real World Tests: For now, the Ryoga is available in two sizes, the 1016 and 1520. Both are roughly equivalent to the previous generation Shimano Calcutta/Conquest 200 in body diameter, but the 1520 is slightly wider than the 1016. So think of the 1016 as a 200 and the 1520 as a 250. We acquired the 1520L-CC - a 5.4:1 retrieve ratio reel that holds approximately 110 yards of twenty pound (20lb) test line (as stated on the reel's spool). I spooled it up with Sunline FX2 Braid in Green/Blue and mounted on a new, Megabass Orochi XX F5-75XX EMTF.

Initial casting tests were made with the help of Megabass's Vatalion.

Casting: Daiwa's 18 Ryoga comes with a combination MagForce V/Z braking system with 20 points of adjustment via a dial on the non-handle sideplate. It is a braking system that's very easy to learn and delivers predictable results. The 18 Ryoga does not perform as well as an SV equipped reel to which many will argue this is not a reel intended for finesse applications - and it is not. However, Daiwa's SV system is capable of so much more than just finesse. Still, for larger baits like Megabass's Vatalion L.O.U.S. crank, it's more than sufficient once you dial in the correct brake setting.

Standard on the 1520L-CC is a 90mm handle.

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