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Reel Review

Not Built to Suffer Fools Gladly : Daiwa's Z200/Z2020 Platform (continued)

Casting: My litmus test for how well a reel casts has never been with lure weights over half an ounce. In my view, any reel intended for use in applications suited for black bass can easily handle casting duties with lures weighing half an ounce or more. Some may not be able to handle the strain of pulling a five ounce lure through the water, but that's a separate issue from casting.


Where a bass-sized casting reel really shows its merit is how well it handles casting and pitching duties with lures down to one quarter of an ounce. Just about any reel you pick up off the shelf can do well with lure weights down to three eighths of an ounce in both pitching and casting. Matched with the right rod, most will cast quarter of an ounce lure weights respectably, but pitching is another story.  It takes a decently fast spool to be able and pitch a one quarter ounce lure. Below one quarter of an ounce is where the elite reels dwell - especially if they can both cast and pitch lures in this range.

Kin with a 14lb male peacock bass.

We'll stop short of classifying the Z200/Z2020 as an elite reel, but it is certainly more capable than we expected. Out on the water, in typical big bait, big fish situations like in the Amazon, this reel more than held its own casting half ounce hair jigs and big wood choppers. Honestly it fared no better or no worse than my favorite reel through two trips, its sibling the Zillion Type R.

And oh yes, we took the Z200HL down there too.

But to get a better feel for this reel's abilities, we brought it back to the lab, paired it up with an Evergreen Kaleido TKLC-66MFX Black Racer and tested it with lures and casting plugs from three eighths down to one eighth of an ounce.

It's safe to say, the Z200/Z2020 platform is Amazon Certified.

Long story short? I was genuinely surprised at how well this reel was able to both cast and pitch a quarter ounce casting plug. Granted, these plugs are designed for optimal performance so results with an actual quarter ounce crankbait might vary, but this is an exercise we conduct with most reels we put through the TT wringer and the Z200/Z2020 came through surprisingly well.

If its size doesn't bother you, this is about as perfect a reel as you can choose for a trip down to the Amazon because it will cast, with ease, the entire range of baits needed in pursuit of these mean spirited fish.

Set in max brake mode with the casting dial turned to 20, I was able to sling the quarter ounce plug a good seventeen paces, which equates to just over fifty feet. Not a huge distance but switch the brakes to “all around” mode, I gained another ten to fifteen feet. In “longcast”, I was able to complete a sidearm cast and launch the plug almost eighty feet! If I adjusted the casting dial down a few notches, I'm sure I could have gained even more distance but I was already quite satisfied and really, pleasantly surprised by these results.

A look at the Z200/Z2020's casting brake assembly.

I was not able to achieve any results of note with a lure combination that weighed approximately one eighth of an ounce, but up at three eighths of an ounce, on “all around” mode, I was easily able to cast to distances of ninety feet. The Z200/Z2020 is a casting machine.

The handle and dragstar from the Z200HL.

Retrieve: The Z200/Z2020 comes in two retrieve ratios, a 6.4:1 and a 7.2:1. The left handed Z200 is only available in 6.4:1, but if you want a 7.2:1 lefty, you can order a Z2020SHL from Japan. We tested the actual difference in IPT (inches per turn), on a full spool to be three and a half (3.5) inches: the Z200HL measured out at thirty and one half inches (30.5”) while the Z2020SH measured out at thirty four inches (34”). Again note this was with very little line taken off the spool so naturally results will vary depending upon how much line you have out on your cast.

This is a look at the Z200HL's 6.4:1 main gear.

The reels themselves are very smooth and very powerful in either retrieve ratio aided by the very long ninety-millimeter (90 mm) handles. The Z2020 features two bearings under each knob while the Z200 had one bearing and one plastic bushing per knob.

The Z200HL comes with a pretty standard, Daiwa drag stack that delivers up to twenty pounds of drag pressure.

Drag: An interesting difference between these two reels is the Z2020 actually carries over the clicking drag from the Ryoga 1016 and the Z200 does not. Also, in the lab, we tested the Z2020's maximum drag at fifteen pounds of pressure while the Z200 topped our scales at twenty pounds. For those who like to brag about the max drag in their reels, those are impressive numbers, but for me what matters most is how that drag performs.

Surprisingly, the Z2020's drag is completely different. It consists of only one washer, has a lower maximum pressure ...

Black bass rarely put your drag to a true test. Peacock bass on the other hand will tear you up if you try to play that maximum drag game with them. Instead, you need to back off the drag and rely on smooth performance to wear your catch down. The Z2020 and Z200 both performed flawlessly in this regard and have very fine performing drags.

.. and has an audible clicking sound as drag is being pulled out (note the teeth on the inside of the gear).

Design/Ergonomics: This is where it hurts. For those in the market for a low profile reel with sufficient line capacity of large diameter lines, the Curado 300 sets the bar followed closely by the Revo Toro and Winch variations. I've used both reels for a brief period of time and stopped because they're just too big to comfortably hold for extended periods of time - and I wear size large gloves.  So instead I go with a Pluton, Luna, Calcutta, or my Daiwa Zillions. I have little problem with big round reels, but there's just something about the larger sized low profile reels that don't work for me.

The Z200/Z2020's range is impressive - we were able to cast and work this little Evergreen International frog bait on an oversized Phenix stick thanks to the Z200HL.

The Z200/Z2020 is no exception. The reel's weight does not bother me, but its form factor doesn't quite work for whatever reason and it only really surfaces as an issue when I need to grip the rod and reel tightly to really work a lure quickly - like when fishing for peacock bass. Because the reel is so tall and wide, my hand tires quickly from gripping it and I end up switching to a smaller sized reel.

The Z200HL's spool (left) vs the Z2020SH's spool (right). Somewhere in there is a 4 gram weight differential.

Next Section: JDM versus USDM










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