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ICAST 2013 EXCLUSIVE - Reel Review

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

Air Rotation: In one of Daiwa's early "Project T" videos, they introduce the concept of "Air Rotation" by spinning the handle of a prototype Tatula and showing how freely that handle spins without additional assistance. Their marketing material claims this is enabled through more precise, digitally designed and cut gearing. When I viewed this feature, my immediate thought was they probably added another bearing to the pinion gear similar to the recent implementation by one of their competitors.

Daiwa touts their new "Air Drive" system as being the result of more precise, digitally designed and cut gearing.

There's little we can do to verify claims of precision gearing, but I did take the reel apart to see if I could find another bearing under the pinion gear. Lo and behold, there indeed are two bearings supporting the pinion which in and of itself could explain that new, smoother, Air Rotation sensation.

We think it has more to do with this extra bearing installed to support the pinion gear.

Standard Features Checklist: Otherwise, on our standard checklist of features, the Tatula comes with an external dial for brake adjustment, two bushings that can be replaced with bearings on the level wind, one bearing and one bushing under each handle knob, a micro-click enabled dragstar, no reel cover, and a small bottle of oil in the box.

Features Ratings for Tatula

Ext Brake Adjust? (1-2)
Level wind. Bearing (1-2)
Knob Bearings (1-3)
Micro Clicks (1-3)
Reel Cover (1-2)
Oil (1-2)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Design & Ergonomics: If there's one area of disappointment I have with this reel it's in its weight. Daiwa engineered this reel to be durable. As such it features an aluminum frame and handle side plate, and brass gearing. Because of this, our test sample weighted in at 8 ounces (manufacturer's specification is 7.9 ounces).

The Tatula is specified at 7.9 ounces. Ours weighed 8.0.

It's not terribly overweight but by comparison, Abu Garcia's Revo SX is specified at 6.7 ounces, Shimano's Curado G 7.2 ounces, Lew's Tournament Speed Spool 7.9 ounces, Quantum's Energy PT 6.9 ounces, and Okuma's Citrix 8.6 ounces. The frame and side plate materials may or may not be comparable between all these reels, but the Tatula's weight is in the middle to upper end amongst this class of reels. My usual expectation of Daiwa is that their reels are amongst the lightest in their class, not average, but it appears concerns over long term durability won out this time.

The Tatula's spool is a little wider than a typical Daiwa low profile reel taking advantage of the T-Wing levelwind for longer casts.

The Tatula features a slightly wider spool than other Daiwa Reels. Measuring 25 millimeters in width, its spool is 2 millimeters wider than that of the Lexa 100. This extra width is provided mostly for casting performance as line comes off the top of the spool more easily during a cast than the middle where the line gets compacted. But with the advent of wider spools on non-disengaging level winded reels comes the issue of line spooling off the reel at sharp angles. Naturally, Daiwa's T-Wing level wind mitigates against this occurrence.

With a wider spool comes a wider body as well.

Actual line capacity on this spool is less than that of the Lexa (2.09 cubic inches on the Tatula vs 2.18 cubic inches on the Lexa), and overall, the Tatula is 5 millimeters wider than the Lexa making it a slightly larger reel to palm. Mounted on a rod, the extra width is apparent, but not quite to the point where it's cumbersome. Nevertheless, we definitely recommend handling the reel mounted on a rod in a tackle store prior to purchase.

Even so, the Tatula is not difficult to palm.

For Zillion fans, it's interesting to note the Tatula's dimensions in width and height match up almost identical to the Zillion, but for some reason in hand, the two reels don't quite palm the same. Again the Tatula feels just slightly larger than the Zillion with your hand wrapped around.

The reel's handle measures 90 millimeters and comes with newly designed Daiwa knobs.

On the more positive side, what the Tatula has going for it is its stock 90 millimeter handle giving its owner more leverage than with a standard 80 millimeters handle found on most reels. While the reel's overall width is more than a reel like the Lexa, the Tatula's height on the rod is about the same. The knobs featured on this reel are something new for Daiwa as well. They're flatter than the old Daiwa rubber coated cork knobs and feature a wide, paddle design popularized by Shimano.

Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Tatula

Handle Length (1-5)
Knobs (1-5)
Palming (1-5)
Overall Weight (1-5)
Ease of Breakdown (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

The level wind worm gear on the Tatula is supported by two plastic bushings. Tuners will like the upgrade opportunity afforded by this design.

Application: With the range of retrieve ratios available in both left and right handed models, it's obvious Daiwa designed the Tatula with a very broad range of applications in mind. Given what we've experienced in terms of performance, they've pretty much hit the target. This is a very good reel capable of supporting a wide variety of presentations and retrieve styles - simply pick your retrieve ratio and run with it.

Application Ratings for Tatula

Horizontal (1-5)
Vertical (1-5)
Finesse (1-5)
Big Baits (1-5)
Topwater (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)


The Tatula features one bushing and one bearing per knob.



Daiwa Tatula Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Just about as solid as you can get in terms of quality 9.0
Performance Very respectable performance in just about every category. Breaks the mold of what we are used to in a lot of Daiwa reels but the overall reel delivers in all the key areas. The reel still features forward thinking design but they do provide tangible performance benefits 8.4
Price Priced firmly amidst a very hotly contested segment of reels 8.0
Features Scored on standard features, very good, with the engineering advances covered under performance 7.1
Design (Ergonomics) Just a tad heavy for a Daiwa 7.6
Application A great choice for a wide variety of applications 8.8

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:


+ Far more performance than you'd expect from a reel at this price point - Just a tad heavy for my taste
+ Air Rotation is a very very good thing - Some may find it a tad wide as well
+ Stealth T-Wing casting system  
+ Not only does this reel feature MagForce Z instead of regular MagForce, it has a greater range of adjustment as well  


Conclusion: There's nothing like the buzz surrounding a new product. That's why ICAST is so much fun and so much work for us. Daiwa started the buzz early this year on their new Tatula Project T video teasers and made sure it was followed up by some real, independent analysis by getting us one of their project reels several months before ICAST. Out of the box, the Tatula is unimpressively average, but take it out for a spin on the water and it's one to demonstrate the five second rule has no place here. No, instead what you need to do is spool it up, mount it on your favorite stick, tie on your favorite bait, wind up for that first cast, and let go. The resulting sound you're likely to hear is "wow" as it unexpectedly escapes from your own lips. Everything else before and after that is a blur because what you'll find yourself doing is reeling your bait back in quickly to try that again - forget about the fishing... wow.


Daiwa took a leap of faith in sending us a Tatula prior to ICAST, and we followed up by looking over every millimeter of the reel.


Gone is that hollow feeling of the Zaion framed T3, gone is the disturbing pop up front plate of the former T-Wing system. Instead what you have with the Tatula is a levelwind system that makes sense and really delivers on that long, easy casting promise. Unless you make an effort to check out the front of the reel it's also virtually transparent to the user.


Daiwa's reel designs are not always widely understood or accepted, but they rarely have an issue with rocking the boat or upsetting the norm.


Yes the Tatula is a little heavy, and yes it's a little wide, but yes, it's also far more competitively priced than anything Daiwa has ever produced with similar casting capabilities and it's built for the long haul. Throw in their new "Air Drive" gearing enhancements, and the performance benefits far outweigh the reel's other challenges.


The new Tatula and its slightly tuned sibling, the Tatula Type R have tangible performance benefits that promise to really shake up that workhorse segment of the bass reel market.


Daiwa's reel designs are not always widely understood or accepted, but they rarely have an issue with rocking the boat or upsetting the norm. The tuned rotor on the former Steez 103 was not something everyone could tame, the twitching bar on the Viento was odd and awkward, MagForce 3D can only be experienced if you have the ability to afford their higher end offering, and the convertible T3 was simply too upsetting and expensive for consumers to trust. Of course, their offset handle design introduced with the Steez and Zillion reels several years back has literally swept the industry, but aside from that consumers have largely complained that Daiwa seems to concentrate their innovative technology on high end product basically ignoring the bread and butter $125 - $199 market.


If you've been holding out for an affordable, durable, high performing reel from Daiwa and were resigned to the belief it may never materialize, we're sorry to tell you, your wait is over.


Well, no longer. The Lexa was a step in the right direction, but it's a very simple reel and consumers wanted more - we always do. Daiwa is listening. The new Tatula and its slightly tuned sibling, the Tatula Type R have tangible performance benefits that promise to really shake up that workhorse segment of the bass reel market. Aesthetically and ergonomically, they're what you'd expect from a reel in their respective price range, but out on the water they are more with characteristics aligning more closely to a thoroughbred than a workhorse. So if you've been holding out for an affordable, durable, high performing reel from Daiwa, and were resigned to the belief it may never materialize, we're sorry to tell you, your wait is over.









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