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Reel Preview

Preview: Daiwa's Saltiga Blast, A premium heavy action spinning reel made more affordable

Date: 2/12/06
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Daiwa
Reviewer: Zander

Introduction: Daiwa's original Saltiga SA-Z is a "premium" saltwater spinning reel in every sense of the word. From the top to bottom  the SA-Z is designed and built like a serious heavy action reel, and has the price tag to match. With a retail price of over $700 per copy the SA-Z is targeted at the saltwater spinning enthusiast, but what about those consumers looking for Saltiga-like design and performance, but demand a lower price? For 2006 Daiwa answers the call with the SA-Z's more cost-conscious sibling, introducing the Saltiga Blast. 


Introducing the new Saltiga Blast, the more affordable but still very capable premium heavy action spinning reel


Still a true Saltiga?: When we first heard about the Blast thoughts of a stripped down reel unworthy of the "Saltiga" moniker came to mind. The Saltiga SA-Z was such a refined work of art, why mess with the winning solution? The answer comes down to demand. While the Saltiga is certainly one heck of a spinning reel it is a considerable investment even for devoted saltwater spinning enthusiasts. Cue the new Saltiga Blast. Entering into the 2006 lineup the Blast seems to carry over the vast majority of what makes the Saltiga SA-Z so fantastic. Sure it doesn't have the complete set of features that the original has, but it does have about 75% of them, and a price tag of 399.99, which is only about half that of the original. So the question is...is the new Blast truly a Saltiga, or merely a stripped down aspirant. Let's break it down...


The Blast features a high quality aluminum frame and rotor similar to that of the Saltiga SA-Z, but loses the striking machined aluminum handle


Materials: Lets first look at the materials used in the construction of the frame and guts. Like the original the Blast makes use of a rigid aluminum alloy body and rotor. When we look deeper we find the same Digigear designed stainless and bronze alloy gearing. What's absent is the beautifully machined aluminum alloy handle, which is replaced by a more commonplace molded aluminum one. Other differences include the reduction of bearings from the 14+1RB the SA-Z offers to 9+1 the Blast has. Material wise the Blast isn't a huge departure from the SA-Z, the changes will mostly affect refinement rather than performance. 


The Blast also has a machined titanium nitride spool, but gone are the striking blue colored accents and porting on the ABS design. Both reels make use of "Twistbuster" and the hollow stainless Air Bail


Features: When we turn to features we see a similar parallel to that we first observed when comparing base materials between the two reels. Like the original the Blast features a zero friction mainsheet, a tubular stainless Air Bail, a manual bail for more reliability, a sealed water resistant drag, twistbuster, and a dual full time anti-reverse system. The SA-Z does feature a more water resistant body complete with more advanced seals. Other differences include the spool design. The SA-Z's spool is one of the most striking on the market, the color blue color and porting on the spool is downright gorgeous. The spool on the Blast is the same shape, and also features ABS design, but is overall much more understated. Gone are the colored highlights and weight reducing porting. Both spools are machined and feature titanium nitride lips for superior handling of braided superlines.


When you compare the similarly sized 4500 model reels the difference in weight between the two is insignificant, with the Blast weighing only .40oz more. Feature wise the Blast offers almost all of the features the SA-Z offers, but not quite the same level of elegance.


Side by side the two handle designs, the ergonomic knobs remain the same


Price & Applications: When it comes to price the Blast shines. The Blast still isn't a cheap reel, but for what anglers can expect for the money versus the Saltiga it certainly appears to be a very good deal. Here is a product that offers a vast majority of all the features and performance of the ultra-premium SA-Z at only half the cost. So what's the catch? Unfortunately the Blast is not available in the full range of sizes as the SA-Z. There are five sizes of SA-Z reel ranging from the medium sized 4000 to the mammoth 6000. The Saltiga SA-Z 's are extremely powerful reels with gear ratios of 4.9:1 for the medium sized reels, to 4.3:1 for the largest sizes, and even a option for a ultra fast 6.2:1 ratio on the 6000 GT version. The Blast is currently available in only the 4000 and 4500 sizes, and features a mid speed ratio of 5.1:1 which is intended to better cater to a wider range of applications.
Conclusion: So who should consider the Saltiga Blast? Anyone looking for a serious heavy action saltwater spinning reel with a reasonable price tag. Daiwa states the Blast offers anglers Saltiga engineered performance and durability, in a no frills package. I somewhat disagree, I think the Blast offers Saltiga engineered performance and durability with plenty of frills, just not the full spectrum of refinement and elegance that the Saltiga SA-Z exudes. If you are a serious angler that knows exactly what you want to use your spinning reel for then you are a strong candidate for the original SA-Z, granted you are willing to invest 700 plus dollars on a single reel. On the other hand if you are serious about saltwater spinning and fish a wide range of species, and are looking for a quality product at a equitable price the Blast is calling your number. Whichever you are it is nice to see Daiwa offer a more complete spectrum of premium offerings for the saltwater spinning angler, and even nicer to see that a great deal of the magic that radiates from the original SA-Z has found its way into the 2006 Saltiga Blast.









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