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Reel Review

Lock and Load with the Daiwa T3 T-Wing System (continued)


Ergonomics: The T3 is very sleek and yet it palms very well in hand because it is such a low profile. The T-Wing design makes the center of the reel look slimmer but there is plenty of space for your thumb to feather the spool during casts. Weighing in at 6.5oz. the T3 feels lightweight and balances out well with most of the rods we tested including Daiwa’s own Steez and Zillion rods as well as the new GLoomis GL2 series sticks. The one anomaly I encountered during testing was on Daiwa’s own Steez Flex-Lite where at full lock the reel’s feet was so small that I could detect some noticeable give in the seating when there was a fish on the line. I don’t know if mass production will address this on the reels or there is a tolerance issue on our Flex-Lite rod, but we didn’t experience this on other Steez rods or any rod equipped with a Fuji seat.


A look at the RCS spool


Overall the T3’s ergonomics are excellent and the urethane covered cork grips used on this reel are still my favorite Daiwa implementation, and the reel features all the clickies allowing for quick and easy adjustment on the fly. The only setting that requires anglers to turn the reel over is the Magforce 3D master switch, but most anglers will likely leave the reel set on a particular setting all day long and just tweak the more detailed MagForce setting. 


The T3 palms easily thanks to the low profile and ergonomic sideplate design


Price and Applications: The T3 offers anglers plenty of performance but at a price, $429.95 to be exact. That’s certainly not chump change but there are a lot of justifications for the premium price including the innovative T-Wing system which not only delivers on both short and long distance casts but the sheer level of refinement that the T3 exhibits, and let’s not forget the indefinable fun factor here, just flipping the T-Wing open is enough motivation to keep casting all day long.


The pad on top of the T-Wing provides anglers with a more positive tactile surface when palming or resetting the reel into retrieve position


The use of Zaion also makes the T3 extremely corrosion resistant, and the reel can easily pull double duty as an inshore reel. The T3’s CRBB bearings are designed to take on the elements and remain smooth over the long term, and the tournament drag is capable of taking on bigger and harder fighting fish without breaking a sweat.


A better look at the Zaion constructed clutch bar


For those anglers that want the T-Wing feature and are willing to sacrifice refinement Daiwa’s T3 Ballistic reel exhibits the same form factor and basic functionality in a 5BB+1RB configuration, weighs in at a heavier 7.8oz., and will retail for $249.99. The T3 Ballistic is also available in 6.3:1 and 7.3:1 gear ratios and right and left hand retrieve. Styling-wise the Ballistic reels look very similar and the main differences are a black finish on the T-Wing opening and a more traditional, less ported, swept handle design.


An anodized aluminum cast tension knob with clickies is a nice touch


As of today the T3 is still not available in the U.S. but shipments are looming and the reels will be available mid November. A number of e-tailers have begun taking pre-orders and the waiting list is already building up for this reel. The Ballistic model will likely far outsell the premium T3 but only a side by side comparison can really quantify if the price delta is worth the difference in performance and refinement.


The T3 features a swept handle design and urethane coated cork knobs for comfort


Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Daiwa T3 1016H Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A "great" rating here, the use of Zaion makes for a lightweight yet durable reel and we look forward to seeing more baitcasters use this material moving forward, that being said the feel of magnesium in hand still feels more refined 8.5
Performance The team at Daiwa has put together a very innovative reel with the T3 series and not only does it cast very well the reel delivers a unique "feel" to anglers and the MagForce 3D cast control system does a great job providing a wide range of settings making it possible to employ this reel for everything from finesse to power fishing applications 9
Price At $429 dollars per reel the T3 is certainly expensive and getting dangerously close to the ultra refined Steez series. The reel still gets a "good" rating here however because it does deliver something unique and quite unlike other reels in Daiwa's own lineup and competing offerings. Those anglers that want the T-wing feature but don't want to shell out over 400 dollars have the option of the more cost-effective T3 Ballistic reel 7
Features The T3 is one of the few reels that can get a "unbelievable" rating in terms of features. the T-Wing is a standout by itself but Daiwa beefs up this reel with plenty of other premium features including the quality drag system, premium Japanese gearing, Zaion frame and sideplate, and the MagForce 3D cast control system.  10
Design (Ergonomics) Great overall ergonomics, the reel is light and comfortable to palm and the simple yet elegant urethane covered cork knobs are very comfortable 8
Application The T3 can be used for a wide range of techniques and the additional corrosion resistance afforded to anglers with the Zaion construction and CRBB bearings makes the T3 a good choice for inshore applications as well. 9

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:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Extremely innovative design - A premium reel with a price to match
+ Longer casts and still great for delicate presentations, this reel can do it all - While the Zaion does offer excellent rigidity and corrosion resistance it still doesn't quite have the feel of metal when used on reels
+ MagForce 3D delivers a wide range of settings, more than anglers even need  
+ A quality drag system  
+ Extremely entertaining to fish, its hard to put this one down  


Conclusion: From first glance the Daiwa T3 reels may appear a little gimmicky but the design and implementation delivers on multiple fronts. It would be a stretch to call the T3 a game changer but this new series does address low profile baitcasting with a very innovative design that not only improves sheer casting distance but also puts a new spin on casting “feel.” Simply engaging and disengaging the system is a thrill and anglers will feel like they are loading and firing a weapon with each and every cast.


The innovative Daiwa T3 baitcaster performs well, delivering both casting distance and accuracy and is so fun to fish it is hard to put down


The T3 may not be as refined as a Steez reel but is easily among the most refined baitcasters in Daiwa’s ever growing premium lineup. These reels are definitely designed for enthusiasts, and within a day of use this reel feels natural in hand and is so fun to fish that anglers may find it hard to put down. While we haven’t been able to compare the T3 Ballistic model side by side yet it is great to see that from the time of launch Daiwa is making a more affordable version for anglers that want to employ the same fundamental design, but for those anglers that absolutely crave the best the T3 is the way to go as it makes use of higher grade components, including Japanese cut gearing and corrosion resistant CRBB bearings. The T3 series of reels are an easy choice for our Innovation Award and I continue lock and load the T3 with a variety of lures on the Delta. It doesn’t matter if it is a far flung ripbait or pitching a plastic into heavy cover, the T3 gets the job done in style and is a worthy addition to any baitcasting enthusiast’s arsenal.


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