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Reel Review

Getting in the Groove with Daiwa's T3 Ballistic (continued)

Durability: Because we use each product and strive publish our impressions in a timely manner, the question of durability with most products goes unanswered. This was one of the reasons we opened up the Autopsy section of our site so as to better torture and dissect lures. With rods and reels especially though, we rarely if ever bring up the topic of durability any longer - unless something happens.

And this one weighed 12 pounds.

Daiwa's T3 Ballistic held up fine during our entire stay down at the Amazon in 2011. Aside from that glitch I discovered in the reel's ergonomics during maximum effort casting, there were no performance issues with the reel.

Despite the reel's success in the Amazon, the T3 Ballistic is not Amazon Certified - check out that groove in the front plate.

But when I returned home and took to the task of breaking down my tackle to prep everything for continued testing in local waters, I discovered something very unexpected with my T3 Ballistic. The front plate or bar of the reel had a small notch in it.

Line comes out of the reel, very low to that front plate - too low.

This reel spent a good deal of time on my Kistler ZBone LE5. This rod was custom built and features a layout of guides that spiral around the rod to the left. The first guide up from the reel seat on this rod is off center as it is placed to prepare the line to meet the other guides which continue to rotate around the blank until they are square with the underside of the rod. This positioning puts a slight downward angle on your line as it exits the reel.

Another angle slightly from the side.

Apparently this angle does not agree with the Ballistic because that's the only way this reel could have been damaged in this manner - by the braided line rubbing back and forth in this spot during a battle and actually grooving the front plate.


Daiwa T3 Ballistic T3BLS100HL Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Definitely not as polished as the higher end T3 7
Performance On pure performance this reel does fine. As we saw in the higher end T3 this reel delivers a very unique feel and is capable of casting a wide range of baits. Overall the Ballistic does perform like a scaled back T3 and we also noted the line coming out of the reel at a very low approach angle and actually cutting into the frame 7
Price $250 is today's mid level price point and we feel this price is "fair" for this reel


Features MagForce 3D, T-Wing line guide. We ranked this just slightly below the standard T3 because of the lower level of refinement but overall an "great" showing in terms of feature-set 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) Ergonomics on this reel are also a tier below the standard t3 with the weight being over 1oz heavier, which may not seem like much but is definitely noticeable. The finish on the reel, while very interesting to look at, also doe not feel as refined as the higher end T3. Finally, the handle knobs should be removable on a reel of this price point 6
Application If everything were ironed out, this would make a good general purpose reel. The T3 does use higher end bearings than the T3 Ballistic and offers more corrosion resistance when it comes to the bearings themselves 7

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Casts with ease - Line comes out of the reel too low leaving the reel susceptible to grooving when using braid
+ Good strong drag - Handle knobs shouldn't be riveted on a $250 reel
+ Pop up hood is actually a very simple design - nothing extra to "go wrong" - Handle on the Ballistic not nearly as refined as the T3 and looks and feels more like those found on value reels


Conclusion: I mentioned during the introduction to this article how polarized the early comments and impressions were on this reel from people who had basically only seen photos and video of the T3 and T3 Ballistic but had not held or fished one. I came down on the positive side of these opinions because I always appreciate companies that are progressive with their designs and who are willing to take a chance with something that's different - as long as that something different makes sense. The T3's line guide makes sense. But we here at TackleTour always reserve final judgment until we are able to hold a product in our hands and actually use it.


The T3 Ballistic took some damage in our tests...

Earlier this year, I gave the Abu Garcia MGX a pass because I was using it under conditions for which it was not intended. A lot of people did not agree with my assessment and interpreted the situation a lot more black and white. That's their prerogative. The T3 Ballistic doesn't get a pass.

... but the flip up "hood" proved very reliable

I still like the concept behind this reel but Daiwa needs to address the grooving issue. Putting this reel up against peacock bass accelerated the wear and tear it would have seen under normal conditions, but I'm not convinced this will not happen under normal conditions because the line comes out of the reel in a very low a position. We are currently conducting more long term tests on the T3 and T3 Ballistic to further examine this.

Fished in normal applications it performed fine but we're not convinced that grooving incident won't happen back home under certain circumstances

The potential accidentally to re-engage the reel during a cast is if you hold it in a similar fashion to me is another issue of which to be aware. The sensation is similar to accidentally closing the bail on a spinning reel in the same motion and just shouldn't happen.

... and while we're at it, while attractive in photos, we found the handle assembly rather lack luster and not quite on par with a reel at this price point.

Lastly, the handle and drag star on the T3 Ballistic reel are not befitting a reel in this price range. The higher end T3 looks and feel much more refined and while the drag star I can almost overlook the handle really looks and feels like something that should be on a reel half the price of the T3 Ballistic, and riveted knobs on a reel that retails for two hundred fifty ($250)? I don't mind that Daiwa is using plastic bushings, but at least allow customers the option of removing the knobs and replacing the bushings with bearings if they choose so they can avoid the need to buy an entirely knew handle if this is something they really want. For a reel that is supposed to be progressive, this is very old school.

It's tough because I enjoyed how this reel performed, yet it has its issues, and at this price point could still use some more refinement

The sad thing about this all? I still like this reel. There's definitely a different sensation when you make a cast with this reel. The line does come off the reel more easily and less effort is required to make your cast. It performs well once the cast is complete and if you're into that kind of thing, it delivers a surprising amount of maximum drag pressure. But when I have that TackleTour hat on, I have to look past those experiences and call it like it is. I think T3 Ballistic just needs more refinement.

Looking for the Daiwa T3?
Try Tackle Warehouse and Hi's Tackle Box










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