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The Shimano Torsa, a dream come true in terms of versatility for offshore anglers

Date: 6/29/05
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: Zander

Introduction: Shimano has a fondness for breaking barriers with technological innovation. Last year the company took "conventional" baitcasting to a whole new level with the very "unconventional" Digital Control technology brought to reality in the sophisticated Calcutta TEDC reels. This year it looks as if its now turn for saltwater anglers to have something to celebrate. The Shimano Torsa is a dream come true in terms of flexibility for offshore anglers, this incredibly innovative new reel promises to deliver more speed, more power, more versatility, and improved castability, all with a greater level of refinement than ever before seen in a single premium offshore reel.

The extremely versatile Shimano Torsa...there's nothing conventional about this new offshore dream come true


Evolution of a dream: The roots of the Torsa go back over five years when Shimano America's Vice President Dave Pfeiffer first saw the need for a small, high speed, high power lever drag reel, with excellent castability. While the company currently has a number of reels that excel in a number of these areas there is nothing on the market that offers anglers all of these capabilities in one easy to use package.

Size should not limit a lever drag reel, thought Pfeiffer, who fishes the Southern California coastline in small, highly maneuverable boats. Fishing like that, anglers have to react fast. There’s no place for heavy tackle. But, at any given time you still want to catch big fish. Anglers need the power and drag of a large reel. Star drag reels, which are extremely castable and typically smaller than most lever drags, were not the answer. When trolling a star drag reel with heavy line, you can’t adjust the drag the way you can with a lever drag reel. On the other hand, the small lever drags on the market were just smaller versions of the larger reels: Slow, bulky reels that did not offer much in terms of castability. Ultimately, nothing existed that fit the needs. So, Pfeiffer asked his team, “How do we build a reel like this, from the inside out?”

The Torsa features an oversized sideplate and spool. The handle side of the spool is actually larger than the sideplate side!

Fishing has never seen anything quite like the Torsa™ a High Speed, High Power lever drag reel that’s extremely castable and features Rapid Fire™, an interchangeable, technique-specific cam system. Most importantly, its evolution began on the water. “In the past, you would come up with the appearance of the reel first, then pack it full of specs,” said Jeremy Sweet, product manager for Shimano American Corporation. “But with this reel we let the design develop from the targets and goals.” This is Shimano’s driving philosophy for Torsa. “We didn’t say the market needs these specs and then moved to build it. Instead, we went out on the water and said ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could build a better lever drag reel?" 

Instead of putting the project in the hands of a lever drag designer, Shimano Japan put one of their top engineers on the job, Kenichi Kawasaki, a baitcasting reel designer with expertise in castability. Kawasaki is a true fishing fanatic who put everything he had into this project. The result is perhaps the most exciting big game reel the industry has ever seen to date, and without question certainly the most innovative.

Speed & Power: When designing Torsa™, one main goal was to redefine all current ideas about speed and power. Traditionally, lower gear ratio means more power, and higher gear ratio means less power. So with the release of Torsa, Shimano included the largest gear they could build. This gear is 22% larger than the Trinidad drive gear and 67% larger than the venerated TLD 25. The amount of power generated by Torsa's "drivetrain, oversized handle shank and Ergonomic Power Grip is unbelievable. Power of the reel is a Super Stopper one-way roller bearing with Assist Stopper back-up ratchet anti-reverse system. The system has no backplay for solid hooksetting power and the reliability of two anti-reverse systems. "The oversized drag washer, can generate" incredible drag pressures for a reel its size, and is created using the same proven material used in" the Tiagra series of 2-Speed lever drag reels.


Most innovative of all is the Rapid Fire Quick Change Drag Cam System (multiple cams shown here)


Castability like a baitcaster: Once again, Shimano set out to change another aspect of the reputation of lever drags: Poor Castability. Due to how lever drags are constructed, they are inherently poor casters. The drag washers, drag plates, cooling shields and bearings are included in the spool assembly. This increases the overall weight of the spool. A heavy spool is bad for castability because it takes much more energy to get the spool to begin to spin. This is called startup inertia. Why is this bad? Once the spool begins to spin, the resistance drops rapidly. So there is a very inconsistent spool speed and an excellent chance for backlash. As a result of the typical lever drag design, the lob cast evolved. However, for most other applications, anglers were forced to use Star Drag reels when they needed to cast small baits, due to their excellent castability. With Torsa™, the tables are now turned.


The Long Range Special Cam ships standard with the Torsa, this is the drag that was originally designed for the Tiagra


Starting with meticulous machining of the Cold Forged Aluminum spool, the overall weight of the spool was drastically reduced to lower the startup inertia. At the same time, most of the mass is distributed outward. This results in the spool spinning longer, much like a premium baitcaster." Proven VBS technology uses centrifugal force to slow down the spool at the beginning of the cast, then reduces the braking force as the spool slows. This gives a much more consistent spool speed, which translates into a more manageable cast. And lastly, the handle side of the spool is taller than the non-handle side. This extended spool lip gives the angler a very consistent surface to thumb during the cast. All of which results in a superior more manageable cast.


Notice the difference in the drag curve which is instantly achievable with the B.F.S. cam, there are a total of 7 other cams available


Innovative Rapid Fire Quick change drag cam system: Most revolutionary of all is the Torsa's incredibly inventive quick change drag system. With the new Rapid Fire Quick Change Drag Cam System this versatile reel can change to cater to specific techniques. By simply putting the reel into freespool and backing off the preset knob, the angler removes the drag cam from the reel. Then, by inserting one of 8 available Rapid Fire drag cams, you completely change how the reel is set up to fish within a matter of seconds. No tools required, and no screws to fall onto the deck of the boat. From light line world record seekers, to braided line fanatics looking to tackle huge fish on small tackle, to the specific needs of chunk fishermen in the Northeast, Torsa can do it all. 

The drag cam fits into the center of the reel and is easy to identify based on color and label on the cam


The Torsa comes equipped with the L.R.S. (Long Range Special) Rapid Fire Drag Cam, which was made popular by reels in our Tiagra line. There are 7 other cams available at your Torsa retailer depending upon your target fisheries. Each of these cams dial in a specific drag curve to match your intended application.


Changing the cam is quick and easy. 1. Move the drag lever to free, 2. Unscrew the drag cam, 3. Seat and thread the new cam, 4. Move the drag lever back into Strike position


Pricing & Availability: As you can expect the Torsa will carry a price tag that corresponds with the reel's first-rate performance, innovation, and refinement. In a surprise move Shimano released this reel before ICAST 2005 and is actually starting to ship them now. They are just becoming available at many e-tailers, and should start showing up in the cases at retail stores shortly. There are currently four sizes available ranging from the TS16N (28.6oz) to the TS30 (31.1oz). All models feature 8 BB + 1 RB (all A-RB) and the frames are constructed out of cold forged then machined aluminum components. These reels with the L.R.S. drag cam included will range in price from $669.99 to $699.99.


In addition to the standard L.R.S. drag cam Shimano will offer the 12# Light Line Special, 6# Light Line Special, 50# Bottom Fishing Special, 20# Bottom Fishing Special, Kingfish Special, White Marlin Special, and the Chunk Fishing Special. These cams will be sold separately and retail for 49.99 each.


Never before have saltwater anglers had such a combination of power, speed, refinement, drag control, and castability in one single reel

Conclusion: After rigorous field testing Dave Pfeiffer remarked "I knew then we had something, there's no other reel on the planet with this type of versatility." So versatile in fact that Shimano envisions that the evolution will never end for this reel. The original Rapid Fire itself was designed with input from anglers on the water, and Shimano expects that as more offshore anglers start to use the Torsa and expand its boundaries they will come back to the company with ideas for more cams and more techniques. In this way the reel's versatility truly can expand to meet the unique needs of a great many saltwater anglers. Perhaps Jeremy Sweet, Product Manager at Shimano America said it best when he remarked "A lot of people's fishing techniques have evolved because of tackle. Now we are making the tackle evolve to the angler's techniques." One thing for sure is that for many saltwater anglers the Torsa is a dream come true, and there are going to be a great many anglers firing up their cars to dash to their local the tackle shop and be the first to snatch up one of these sweet new reels. Hey Honey, where's my keys?









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