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Reel Review


Still on Fire? Daiwa’s New Fuego Baitcaster


Date: 5/17/17
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Daiwa
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.25 - BEST VALUE AWARD!

Once one of the hottest reels in the Daiwa lineup the Fuego Series has shown signs of making a comeback in recent seasons. First with a standard aluminum based Fuego and now with the even more aggressively priced Fuego CT. While the Fuego CT drops in bearing count it manages to come in under the 100 dollar price point and still deliver plenty of what anglers love about Daiwa reels, including a rigid aluminum frame, Magforce-Z cast control, and the company’s Ultimate Tournament Drag. Does the Fuego CT have what it takes to be a hot contender or is it time for this series to flame out?


Daiwa Fuego CT Casting Reel Specifications

Line Capacity (lbs / yds) 12/150, 14/120
Gear Ratio 6.3:1 (7.3:1, 8.1:1 also available)
Measured Weight 7.6 ounces
Measured Max. Drag 14.1 lbs measured max drag (13.5lbs. published spec)
Number of Bearings 5BB + 1CRRB
Features Aluminum Frame
Air Rotation
Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag UTD with 13.2 lbs. of drag
Magforce-Z cast control
6.3:1, 7.3:1 & 8.1:1 gear ratios
Infinite Anti-reverse
Large, 90mm swept power handle with cutouts for reduced weight
Origin Thailand
MSRP $99.99


The newest Daiwa Fuego isn't red at all, instead the CT reel is all murdered out


Impressions: Do you remember when the first Daiwa Fuego Baitcaster was introduced? This play on the original TD-Z debuted 15 years ago and retailed for $229 dollars. The Fuego possessed a lot of the same features and performance that angler’s loved about the premium TD-Z, all at a price that many more anglers could stomach.


The Fuego CT is all about value, providing plenty of Daiwa features for only 99 dollars


Together the original Sol and Fuego baitcasters were a one two punch that solidified Daiwa’s “near premium” offerings. Fast forward 15 years later and Daiwa has introduced their latest Fuego, only this time the new CT reel is not designed to be a high-end product but a value oriented one at only 99 dollars.


The reel may be affordable but still comes with the externally adjustable Magforce-Z cast control system

How did Daiwa get the price of the new Fuego under the 100 dollar mark? For starters you won’t find any magnesium on this reel, instead the frame is constructed out of aluminum, which is still a better option than many graphite framed reels at this same price point. The Fuego also makes use of the standard casting design versus the T-Wing system that is being implemented throughout Daiwa’s mid-high end baitcaster lineup.


No T-Wing here

In terms of form factor the Fuego CT is even sleeker than the standard Fuego, and actually shares the same platform as the more expensive Tatula CT. The new reel features a darker more sinister finish, and basically the entire reel has been murdered out so that the anodized red spool really stands out. I like the way the Fuego CT looks, and it reminds me of the classic Daiwa Black Widow reels. It also pairs easily with many rods, but for the field tests I spent the majority of time fishing it with a matching Daiwa Fuego rod.


Time to see what the Fuego CT can do on the water

Real World Tests: Together as a complete combo the Fuego CT reel and rod match up nicely in terms of styling and balance. Over the last two months I fished a variety of techniques, testing the reel’s ability to fish both light plastics and fast moving reaction baits. In terms of lines I spooled up with Trilene Big Game for our reaction tests and Sunline Shooter Fluorocarbon for finesse fishing plastics.


The Fuego CT paired with a Fuego casting rod

Casting: No T-Wing here! The Daiwa Fuego CT feels much more like Daiwa’s previous generation reels, but delivers very reliable and consistent casts with anything 1/8oz. and heavier on 10lb. line. The Fuego CT can handle finesse applications but really shines casting heavier hard or wire based baits. The Fuego CT comes with the company’s proven Magforce-Z cast control system that provides a predictable freespool with a very manageable cast from start to splashdown.


The Fuego CT casts a wide range of baits very well, each cast is predictable and consistant

Retrieve & Drag: The Fuego CT is available in the upper range of retrieve ratios including 6.3:1, 7.3:1, and 8.3:1, and the only thing missing is a power crank model, though the 6.3:1 gear ratio handles a wide range of applications very well, pulling in 26.3” of line per handle turn thanks to the oversized 90mm swept power handle.


The secret behind the quality casting is no secret at all, Magforce-Z is still among the best casting systems on the market

The Fuego CT is also quite smooth, but not nearly as smooth as other Daiwa reels we have fished in the past. I had a brief opportunity to compare the Fuego CT’s out of the box retrieve versus the standard Fuego reel and the standard was slightly smoother when cranked, which isn’t a surprise considering it has six additional bearings.


The handle side sideplate is reinforced plastic


There is an infinite anti-reverse in this reel but I observed some slight play in the handle between the connection of the handle and the master gearing, which equates to about 1mm in overall play, which is small but still perceptible.


The brass gearing features larger teeth that are durable but not as smooth as reels with smaller teethed gears that mesh better

The Fuego CT may be a value oriented reel but it comes loaded with Daiwa’s Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag which consists of oversized carbon washers sandwiched between the gearing. The result is plenty of stopping power and a very wide range of adjustment.


The heart of the Daiwa U.T. drag is a combination of washers and plenty of surface area

This drag performed beautifully during our lab tests, doling out nearly 14.1lbs. of drag pressure under full lockdown, which is .6lbs. greater than even Daiwa’s rated specification. In the field I caught multiple 4+ lb. largemouth that not only showcased the Daiwa CT’s sheer stopping power but also how smooth the drag system was under load. The U.T. drag is the real deal, and it is great to see that even Daiwa’s sub 100 dollar reels come loaded with a quality drag system.


The main gearing is all brass

Next Section: Plenty of Bang for the Buck!









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