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Enthusiast Review

A Detailed Look at Two, Special Edition Zillions: The Daiwa/Deps ZDV Zillion and Daiwa Zillion HLC (continued)

Pitching and Casting: Despite its special tuning the HLC's noticeable improvement in casting is marginal at best. In fact, at times, it was difficult to tell any difference existed between the HLC and ZDV in terms of casting. Likewise between the HLC, ZDV, and 100SHL. This was all with standard sized baits in the range of half an ounce and with big baits up to five ounces. Unfortunately, nothing any of these reels demonstrated really separated one from the other.

The brake adjustment for both the ZDV (shown here) and HLC are the same as that on all Daiwa MagForce reels.

Both reels are capable of tossing smaller swimbaits. Here, Cal is tossing a 3.5 ounce bait with the HLC mounted on a Megabass swimbait stick.

Retrieve: On the retrieve, the ZDV initially felt much smoother than the HLC but when compared to our 100SHL the difference was less noticeable. Then I remembered the 100SHL received bearing upgrades in the handles and the ZDV comes stock with those bearings so that explains why they felt similar. I was hoping the difference could be attributed to the different main and pinion gear alloys, but that was no the case.

The HLC comes stock with this 90mm curved carbon handle.

The dragstar on the HLC is curved to accomodate a swept handle should you decide to swap the standard handle out for one.

Still, with its shorter handle, the ZDV feels a tad tighter and more solid than the HLC and 100SHL. Maybe this difference can be attributed to the more solid gears or maybe just the combination of shorter, tighter handle together with bearing supported knobs and bearing support at the worm gear. I'm thinking it's the latter. Interestingly enough, the shorter handle did not bother me on the ZDV.

The ZDV makes a fine match for the Evergreen Balista

Features & Design: We've pretty much touched on all the features and designs in both reels although one area we did not really touch upon was each reel's finish. The ZDV's, in particular, is rather interesting and features a hand buffed, bead blasted finish. This process is supposed do deliver a finish that is more durable than just standard paint though not as refined in appearance.

The ZDV's handle (left) is noticeably smaller than that of the 100SHL (center) and HLC (right).

If the ZDV's finish could be described in one word, it would be "grunge". It has the appearance of a worn pair of jeans, or a tattered sweatshirt turned inside out. You certainly have to be a fan of this type of style to appreciate the ZDV's unfinished looking exterior and unfortunately, it is not really any more durable than that of the painted Zillions. I was able to easily scratch the ZDV's finish while hooking a swimbait to its top bar for quick stowage prior to a run across the lake. There was no real dig of the hook point into the ZDV's exterior, but merely an accidental brush with the hook's point with the end result being a hairline scratch.

The ZDV's finish reminds us of a pair of worn, and tattered jeans...

While the HLC is polished and refined.

The Zillion HLC, on the other hand, has a very refined, painted finish that shines even more than the standard Zillion's finish. I hesitate to say it's any more durable than the standard reel but no accidents have occurred during field tests with this reel to put the HLC's shiny surface to the test. I doubt it is any more durable than the standard finish.

Though touted as more durable, the ZDV's finish scratches surprisingly easily.

Availability: It's unclear whether Daiwa or Deps controls the distribution of the ZDV Zillion, but for now, the reel is difficult, at best, to find. Word had it this reel was produced in very limited quantities and nothing we've seen at the typical retailers for JDM reels suggests otherwise. The HLC, on the other hand, appears readily available for purchase.



Daiwa Deps ZDV Zillion 100HL Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Feels marginally more solid than the standard Zillion 7
Performance Smooth retrieve reminiscent of a Shimano 8
Price Limited or not, over 75% premium over a standard Zillion? 3
Features Upgrades to drivetrain but nothing for casting performance? 7
Design (Ergonomics) You have to be into grunge to appreciate this reel's cosmetics 6
Application Good choice for heavy cover, smaller swimbaits, and general purpose use 7.5

Total Score

Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
(For a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Solid Reel L Too high of a premium
J Very Smooth L A bit heavy
J Great for the collectors L Many will not like the short handle


Daiwa Zillion HLC 100HL Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Feels like the standard Zillion 7
Performance Casting performance was not noticeably better than the standard Zillion 6
Price Too much of a premium over the standard Zillion 3
Features Whether it was noticeable or not, we appreciate the effort on the brake system, but at the reel's price point, we'd have expected bearings in the knobs 6.5
Design (Ergonomics) We like the lighter weight 7.5
Application Good reel for general purpose and smaller swimbaits 7.5

Total Score

Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
(For a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Nice finish L No bearing supported knobs
J Nice longer handle L Very pricey
J Nice weight reduction over standard Zillion L Not very noticeable performance gains


Conclusion: When the various incarnations of the TDZ Limited Edition reels debuted starting back in 2002, the premium over standard edition versions was roughly thirty percent (30%). This premium reached almost fifty percent (50%) for some of the limited versions of the popular Millionaire CVZ reel. The Alphas Ito Ai was a mere twenty percent (20%) more than the standard Alphas at its debut.


The HLC had little difficulty subduing this ten pound striper when matched with the Megabass F8-78DG Super Destruction.


At the time the ZDV and HLC debuted, standard edition JDM Zillions were selling for right around the $250 mark. These two special edition reels debuted right around $450, and for the ZDV, the price quickly escalated from there. That's an eighty percent (80%) markup from the original. Certainly collectors will not have a problem paying this premium for two very collectible reels - especially the Deps ZDV Zillion. But are these reels any more special than the original TDZ Type R or the Millionaire I'ZE Light? If anything, given the annual release of special edition reels from Daiwa, the entire concept is getting severely watered down.


The short, 74mm handle on the ZDV made things challenging with this eight pound striped bass, but what a great match with the Evergreen Balista


Bottom line? If you're a collector, or enjoy fishing with a piece of equipment that is somewhat unique, the price point probably won't bother you too much. But if you want true, tangible differences in your premium equipment along with the afore mentioned qualifications, you will likely be disappointed. I know I was. Of the two, the Deps ZDV is more worthwhile from a performance perspective. It proves to me Daiwa can build a reel that feels like a Shimano. Trouble is, that's not what I look for in a Daiwa, and if you want this same sensation but cannot locate a ZDV to purchase, try installing some quality bearings in the handle and wormdrive of your Zillion. The HLC appeals to my tastes aesthetically, but the marginal increase in casting performance just doesn't justify the eighty percent premium. When will it end? Well, certainly not here. It is, after all, a brand new year, and Daiwa will be bringing us the new Zillion PE. Price? An estimated $450. Who's buying?










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