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Enthusiast Reel Review

Does the Founder of Megabass Japan Still Have What it Takes? : The Ito Monoblock 100XR/100XR-L

Date: 9/21/08
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Megabass/Daiwa
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.5


Introduction: At one point in time, there was nothing that would get the collective TackleTour Enthusiasts' juices flowing faster than the announcement of a new reel from the collaborative studios of Daiwa Japan and Megabass. Fervor surrounding the 2005 Alphas Ito Ai was incredible until photos began to leak and folks were taken aback at the reel's stark appearance. Despite glowing reviews to the Alphas Ito Ai's performance, many stayed away in favor of waiting for the "next" reel.


Presenting the Daiwa Megabass Ito Monoblock 100XR/100XRL


Enter 2007, two long years since the introduction of the Alphas Ito Ai, and four years since the original TD-Ito Series were introduced. The Ito Monoblock 100XR / 100XR-L was announced and the anticipation grew once again. Only this time, Enthusiasts seem to be playing an even longer "wait and see" game. Is it the cost? Is it the aversion to round reels? Are folks in disbelief that the Monoblock is any different than the M-Ito introduced four years ago? Finally, we are here to find out. Presenting our review of the 2008 Daiwa Megabass Ito Monoblock 100XR/100XR-L.


Ito Monoblock 100XR/100XR-L Specifications

Line Capacity (lbs / yds) 12lb (0.32mm)/100yds
Gear Ratio 5.8:1
Measured Weight 7.1 oz
Measured Max. Drag 9lbs
Number of Bearings 10
Size of Spool/Sideplate Bearings 11x5x4 / 8x3x4
Features Tapered Spool Inductor, Externally adjustable brake system, machine-cut knobs, aluminum clutch bar
MSRP 74,550 JPY

Impressions: It is no secret among the TackleTour collective that I am a big fan of round reels so I was rather eager to hold the Monoblock in hand and inspect it closely. Cutting to the chase, I was not disappointed. In fact, I was a bit taken aback the very first time I pulled this gem out of its packaging. The precision machining effort taken to produce this reel is evident all around by the clean, flawless lines that define this reel's makeup. There, really, are only two items that seem out of place. The first is the "ito" log on top of the reel. Prototype shots show this logo in traditional form on top of the reel, etched into the top bar. The production reel features a much more rounded font cut through the top bar not etched. We much prefer the look of the prototype.


Early prototypes showed this "Ito" etched into the top bar in Megabass's logo'd font rather than the rounded letters shown here for actual production.

The second area item that feels only slightly out of place is the tension adjustment knob for the spool. It stands out for its rounded shape and rather unique texture which when taken together resembles the exhaust fan cap found on top of a house.

A look at the offset handle of the Monoblock

Aside from these two items, the reel is an industrial design engineer's dream - clean lines, polished surfaces, no fancy colors. It is not difficult to appreciate the appearance of this reel but very difficult, right off the bat to resist the urge to purchase two.

The custom machined knobs bear the correct "ito" font and logo

The ito Factor: But what does this reel really bring over the previously released M-Ito 103/103L? After all, both are based on the 100 sized Daiwa Millionaire CVZ and both feature the upgrade of an external brake adjustment. Well, to start, the Monoblock features a tapered rotor and flat spool (hence the 100 designation rather than 103). This tapered rotor appears to be the same as found in the 2005 I'ZE Light only the I'ZE light has the v-shaped spool as well. The M-Ito features a standard Millionaire CVZ Spool.

It's subtle, but if you look closely, you will see the rotor on the Monoblock's spool is indeed tapered.

The Monoblock also features a custom, machined handle with custom, machined knobs each bearing the properly logo'd "ito" on their surface, and the reel is held together with a series of hex-wrench headed screws adding to its industrial design appeal.

The 2003 M-Ito 103L (left) and Yuki Ito's more recent interpretation of Daiwa's Millionaire CVZ, the Ito Monoblock (right).


In the final analysis? All parts between both reels are pretty much interchangeable lending credence to those who prefer to wait for a different reel despite the upgrades in the Monoblock over the M-Ito considering Yuki Ito has sort of already "done that" when referring to the 100 sized Millionaire CVZ.


Parts are interchangeable.


Real World Test: Needless to say, despite the re-tread platform, the Ito Monoblock proved intriguing enough for us to move forward with our evaluation. We strung our Monoblock up with some 17lb Sunline Shooter Defier monofilament and off we took for an extended test drive of this machined marvel to see what kind of fun it packs.


Complete test rig for Ito Monoblock Field Tests

Line 100yds 17lb Sunline Shooter Defier Mono (0.33mm)
Rod(s) Megabass F7-76RDti White Python


Of course, there was one remaining issue. The Monoblock landed at TT Headquarters smack dab in the middle of our 2008 Swimbait Rod Wars. With the evaluation of all these big bait sticks going on, there wasn't much time to toss the Monoblock, hence the delay in our review. Needing to find a common ground, we subjected this machined marvel to the application for which it was designed - topwater.


Rigged and ready to go aboard the White Python

Pitching and Casting: Of course, topwater in the big bait environment meant tossing baits like the Black Dog Bait Company Lunker Punker and GoTo Minnow. Surprisingly, the Monoblock handled these big baits with aplomb barely breaking a sweat. The round, knurled thumbar provides a very positive surface for your thumb at the beginning of a cast, and the machined frame of the Monoblock is rock solid through the cast.

Topwater reel you say?

Conversely, tie on a jig or six-inch Senko, grab hold of the external sideplate, dial down the MagForce control, and the Monoblock becomes a pitching machine - all thanks to that tapered spool inductor reminiscent of the TypeR+ tuned I'ZE Light.

You know what that means...

Retrieve: Once your bait touches down, it's an easy reach to the very short, 70mm handle where you can click over and re-engage the spool. A quick turn or two or three following this "click" reveals an ultra smooth retrieve thanks, in part, to the bearing supported, custom machined knobs.

...it's Lunker Punker time!


Unfortunately, the 70mm handle is noticeably short on this reel exacerbated by the ultra-thin diameter of those bearing supported, custom machined knobs! There were countless times my hand just slipped off the knobs and I had to fumble around to find them again both while fighting a fish and just working my bait back to the boat. The handle and knobs look great with this reel, they're just not all that functional.

Yes, the Monoblock really can be used to toss this, and other big, topwater baits.

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