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Reel Review

Daiwa's Ultralight Spinmatic-X

Date: 2/20/01
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Daiwa
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 6.9

Introduction: There are times when it just makes sense to use ultralight gear. Whether backpacking out to untouched waters or just carrying a combo everywhere in the trunk of your car, ultralight gear should be flexible enough to perform well in a wide range of situations. Daiwa produces a line of Ultralight reels under the family name "Spinmatic." We decided to put the Spinmatic X (the reel in the middle of Daiwa's ultralight lineup) to the test.

Daiwa Spinmatic-X Specifications

Line Capacity 2/185;4/100;6/60
Gear Ratio 5.1
Weight 5.1 (oz)
Bearings 2BB
Additional Features Aluminum spool, twist buster, gyro spin
MSRP $29.95

Impressions: The Daiwa Spinmatic-X is a attractive reel with a couple of the features that makes the Daiwa line of reels so great. The inclusion of the Daiwa "Twist Buster" and "Gyro Spin" was a real plus. The amount of metal found on this reel is surprising considering the price. At a overall weight of 5.1oz the SMX is not the lightest reel out there but is acceptable. The overall dimensions of the reel are excellent. The best part is that reel is smaller then a CD and easily fits in the palm of my hand, making it extremely portable...even small enough to put into a jacket pocket.


The SMX looks like a high performance Daiwa reel, but does it perform like one?

What is "Twist Buster": Twist Buster is Daiwa's innovative line twist reduction system. It reduces line twist problems on spinning reels
via a special collar that is designed that a line always travels a certain place at a right angle to the roller pivot. In addition, the T.B. line roller has a special taper. With the use of this taper, twisting of the outer line which is caused by rotor rotation can be greatly reduced giving the opposite rotation of the rotor rotation to the line when rolling up the line. The result...less line twists.

What is "Gyro Spin": Gyro spin is a Daiwa package that includes:
~ Infinite Anti-Reverse (zero handle back play for solid hooksets);
~ Gyro-Tangle-free bail (no line tangles around bail mechanism);
~ Ball Bearing Line Roller (smooth, steady line payout on drag);
~ Gyro-Spin Balanced Rotor (wobble-free retrieve);
~ Micro Adjustable Drag (improved washers for precise calibration);
~ Long Cast Spool (cover more water to reach extended strike zones);
~ Lifetime Bail Spring (no more broken springs)

The SMX easily fits in the palm of my hand

The Test: Combined with a Fenwick HMX S66L-2 we took the SMX to Stevens Creek Reservoir for casting tests. The reel was surprisingly smooth considering the use of only two bearings. The reel was also light and small enough to cast for long periods with little effort.

One thing that immediately came up was the amount of back play that we were observing in the handle. Because this reel featured Gyro Spin we shouldn't have experienced any backplay, but we were getting a noticeable amount after every cast. In fact the reel made a "clack" every time the handle was reversed.

The drag on the SMX was one quite impressive aspect for a reel of this size and we were able to adjust the drag in quite small increments. Another plus was that even while reeling at high speed there was little effect on the well balanced spool which never showed any noticeable signs of wobble.

Casting performance was good, and with 4lb line we were able to get fluid casts every time.  But one real issue started coming up after each cast. When we were ready to retrieve the lure the bail would sometimes only come back half way and the reel would rotate and wobble until we manually put the bail back ourselves.

On subtle retrieves the bail fails to flip completely back and rests halfway

We later discovered that if you crank the handle back quickly the bail would snap back, but on slow and subtle retrieves the reel simply lacked the momentum to snap the bail back over the spool. We were not sure if we had a defective reel so we visited our local fishing store where we were not only able to duplicate the problem but was also told that a a number of customers had witnessed the same flaw.

At the store I was able to get my hands on the Spinmatic-Z which is gold in color, features  5 ball bearings, but is the exact same size and weight as the SMX. The Spinmatic-Z was much smoother and accurate then the SMX, and the bail flipped back every time.


Daiwa Spinmatic-X Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Decent construction that makes the SMX look like a high performance Daiwa reel, low use of plastic in a reel of this price is a plus 8
Performance Performance doesn't match the Spinmatic-X's sharp looks. The Gyro Spin infinite anti reverse doesn't seem to be working and the bail return is sloppy 4.5
Price Just O.K. price for a ultralight reel, there are lots of reels out there in this price range, and many aggressively priced ultralight combos 6.5
Features The Twist Buster works well and we experienced very little line twist, but the Gyro Spin doesn't live up to the performance usually found in other Daiwa reels 5.5
Design (Ergonomics) The design of the SMX is a good, and the lightweight reel is small enough to put into a jacket pocket, but large enough to use for some real fishing 8
Application To have a reel with you anytime and anywhere is a real possibility with the SMX being so light and small. Good for backpacking and/or just carrying in your car 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Good Size L Bail return problems
J Smooth for size L Noticeable Back Play
J Good use of metal components L Gyro-Spin not living up to name
J Twist Buster  

Conclusion: The idea of having a ultralight reel is a good one, after all you never know when you might come across that secret fishing hole. For the money the Daiwa Spinmatic-X is a decent performer but is not without some problems. The two main gripes we had with the SMX were the sloppy bail return and the back play in the handle. If you are in need of an affordable reel the SMX can probably accommodate your basic requirements but we recommend testing other aggressively priced ultralight reels and combos, or spending an extra 20 dollars to buy the much more refined, 5 Bearing, Daiwa Spinmatic-Z.

Until next time....Tight Lines!









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