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ICAST 2013 EXCLUSIVE - Reel Review

Daiwa's New Workhorse Has Thoroughbred Tendencies : Tatula (continued)

Power: Power in a reel is sometimes difficult to discern. Really what it comes down to is how much leverage the reel affords you when reeling your catch or a bait with a lot of resistance in the water. With the Tatula and its 90 mm handle, power relates back to the new, Air Drive feature. Not only is the Tatula unusually smooth for a reel in its price point, but because it's so smooth, turning the handle requires very little effort.

The stock, 90mm swept handle of the Tatula.

For the best leverage in a Tatula reel, you're going to want the low gear ratio 5.4:1 offering, but even with the 6.3:1 that we tested, this reel had a lot of leverage and didn't feel strained at all in a variety of situations fishing cranks, chatterbaits, swimbaits - anything we could find in our box that would provide a degree of resistance. The Tatula pulled them all and did so very easily..

Brake adjustment range is from 1 - 20, not 1 - 10.

Casting Range: Click the thumbar of the Tatula over, make a simple, easy roll cast, and you're in for a real treat. If there's one thing the T-Wing enabled Daiwa reels can do and do very well it's cast a bait. There's just no two ways about it. The width of the T-Wing level wind in casting mode is about as wide as you can go without removing the level wind all together, and anyone who's been big game fishermen knows how well an open faced reel can cast. The downside to those reels is you have to use your fingers to guide the line back onto your spool to avoid buildup in any one area of the reel - not an issue with Daiwa's T-Wing levelwind.

Despite the benefit in casting performance, Daiwa's first generation of reels featuring the T-Wing level wind were met with resistance for what was perceived to be too many moving parts. In reality, the pop up front plate of the T3 reels were integrated with the thumbar - a very solid and sound engineering design.

The first generation T-Wing reels were met with resistance because of Daiwa's pop-up front plate implementation. Even though it was a soundly engineered feature integrating the thumbar and front plate into one solid piece, consumers shied away from the reels unable to wrap their minds around the reel's unconventional mechanics.

So why the funky level wind to begin with?

In the Tatula, Daiwa's implementation of the new TWS features no moving frame parts. Instead, the line guide itself flips ninety degrees from cast to retrieve position. It's an almost transparent implementation. In fact, if you didn't look at the front of the reel before a cast, you would probably not even notice it happening.

The T-Wing system mitigates against the occurrence of your line coming off the spool at sharp angles during a cast thus enhancing the casting experience - greater distance with less effort.

The result? Spooled with the afore mentioned 16lb Sunline Supernatural Monofilament and mounted on the Zillion TDZL691MHXB casting rod, I was able to comfortably cast and pitch lures down to one quarter of an ounce in weight. This is not a threshold I'd expect to reach with a reel in this class. Instead, three eighths (3/8) of an ounce is the usual norm. I was truly surprised.

The Tatula takes the easy casting performance of the former T3 ...

Optimistic as to the Tatula's capabilities, I dug through my tackle bag and pulled out a 4 inch Roboworm Straight Tail worm, outfitted it with a centering pin, and tied it to the end of my line to see if the Tatula could cast this offering unweighted ( ~ 1/8 oz ). I was unsuccessful. Paired with lighter line and a rod with a softer tip, perhaps, but one quarter of an ounce is an excellent threshold for a general purpose baitcasting reel.

.. and enables it entirely within the reel's frame.

Brakes: The Tatula features Daiwa's latest single adjustment magnetic braking system, MagForce Z. The range of adjustment on the reel's external dial implies a greater magnitude of control than what I've typically seen on a Daiwa reel. Normally, Daiwa reels feature a demarked range of one to ten ( 1 - 10 ) on their external brake adjustment dials. I typically fish these reels with the dial somewhere in the middle depending upon what I'm doing, but when I start out with a new reel, I set it high until I get a feel for the reel's capabilities. This helps to avoid crippling, first cast professional overruns. I can't even remember how many a products' testing days have been cut short due to this malady because I obviously don't always remember the protocol.

Unlike the Lexa, the Tatula's spool features a dynamic rotor that moves in and out of the casting brakes depending on the speed of the spool.

I remembered with the Tatula, turning the dial almost all the way up while only half glancing at the numbers on the dial ranging from one to twenty ( 1 - 20 ). When I made my first cast with this reel, my cast was severely chocked off. Thinking it was user error, I tried again only to experience the same result. That's when that demarked range really clicked in my head. I studied the dial and reset it to 10 which improved things, but not to the extent I'd normally expect with the brake dial turned to half power.

This design is the bread and butter of Daiwa's MagForce V and Z reels and is a much more refined braking system than standard MagForce.

The next step, naturally, was to back off even further so I set the dial to 4 - where I'd normally have it on a reel with which I'm already familiar. I cautiously made another cast that ended up sailing further than I expected, and with no regrettable results under my casting thumb. I tried again, only with a little more force and the results were even better. With a Zillion or especially a Steez, cast with that same force and the dial turned to one quarter power, my day with that reel might have been over. Instead, with the Tatula, my cast sailed further than I expected, and within control. I was genuinely impressed, but in hindsight, casting brakes aside, this is exactly the experience of casting a T-Wing enabled reel.

Performance Ratings for Tatula

Retrieve (1-5)
Drag (1-5)
Power (1-5)
Casting Range (1-5)
Brakes (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Features: The Tatula represents a couple of new mechanical features in Daiwa's lineup of reels. Both have already been mentioned in this article - the next generation T-Wing System (TWS), and Air Rotation. For a closer look at both features, we took to the lab to disassemble the reel.

Daiwa's first generation T-Wing enabled reels had a very stealthy look that resulted in the line coming out of the reel at a very low angle.

The Tatula does not share this difficulty featuring a more traditional levelwind position.

TWS: Daiwa's latest implementation of their innovative T-Wing level wind takes the phenomenon of transformation internal. The T-Wing level wind features two modes each specific to the reel's two functions - casting and retrieving. In a nutshell, during a cast, the level wind is enabled in wide mode so as to eliminate sharp angles when line is peeling off the spool and trying to get through the typically narrow line guide. These angles create friction that in turn reduces casting distance. During retrieve, the level wind transforms to narrow mode so as to distribute the line back onto the spool in a uniform manner.

And that's a good thing because the former low angle while not an issue on a conventionally wrapped rod, on a spiral wound rod if you're spooled with braid, you could groove the front of your reel like in the above photo.

The first generation of these reels featured a rather simple engineering solution to these two modes, but one that was far too transparent resulting in a disturbingly different look and feel as to how casting reels normally operate. The pop-up front plate of the reel turned a lot of consumers off who complained that with all those perceived moving parts, something is going to go wrong.

The Tatula's level wind in retrieve mode - it looks more or less like a standard level wind.

Ironically, the pop up front plate was a very simple engineering solution. Instead what I found wrong with the reel's design had nothing to do with the reel's transformation between modes, but rather its use in an unexpected circumstance - on a spiral wound rod and the reel spooled with braid. The downward direction of the braided line coming off the reel's spool resulted in a groove on my T3 Ballisitic's front bar after repeated battles with Peacock Bass.

Click the thumbar for a cast, and the level wind flips over into casting mode.

With the Tatula, comes a new solution. Instead of the top plate popping up between modes, the level wind itself now rotates internal to the reel flipping to wide mode during a cast and returning to narrow mode during retrieve. This is a far more simple solution visually, which naturally means it is a more complicated engineering effort internally. Remember that moving parts concern?

The transformation is enabled internal to the reel through a lever attached to the thumbar and a specially designed level wind gear housing..

Internally, there are three specialized pieces enabling the transformation: 1. A lever attached to the thumbar; 2. A rotating worm gear housing; 3. the level wind itself. Taken as a whole, it's definitely a more complicated engineering solution than the original with one potential source of failure being the connection between the lever and rotating worm gear housing. Otherwise, the end result of this engineering effort is a transformation process that's infinitely more transparent to the user than that of Daiwa's original T3 reels and one consumers are more likely to buy into - especially at $149.95.

The mechanics are more complicated but hidden to the end user as opposed to the original T3 pop-up design.

Next Section: What is Daiwa's "Air Rotation?"









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