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Reel Review


So much Hype - The Beast that is the Daiwa Zillion 2021 (continued)


Retrieve - All Hype?: As I delved further into this test I learned more about Daiwa's "Hyper Drive Design" which consists of the Hyper Drive Digigear, Hyper Double Support pinion gear, Hyper Tough Clutch, and the body of the Zillion itself now called the Hyper Armed Housing. That is seriously a lot of hype-r features!


The only way to really see how if the new Zillion lives up to the hype is to see how it performs with fish on the line


First let me describe just how the Zillion feels when retrieved. It really feels different than any other Zillion to date. Many anglers that fish Daiwa reels routinely describe that the reels bear a very "connected" feel, which essentially means that while the reel is smooth you can clearly discern the gear mesh with each crank of the handle.


A look at the brass gearing in the U.S. spec Zillion


In comparison reels from Shimano feel smooth with less detectible friction, and more like they glide when they are cranked on. I feel like the new Zillion feels much more like the latter, and offers the most solid feeling retrieve of not just any Zillion, but any Daiwa baitcaster to date. This solid feel is a result of the new gear design, what Daiwa calls "Hyperdrive Digigear," which is designed to make the teeth of the gears more efficient at transferring power, therefore making the gear set feel smoother and more powerful. We surmised that the gears had been re-engineered but wanted to really understand what had been changed. Marc Mills and Tom Slater, Daiwa's Product Development Manager in Australia, both helped peel back the curtain and explained that the re-design comes from the actual physical shape of the gear teeth themselves, which at their core have wider tips and narrower bases than the previous design.


In comparison the JDM reel makes use of aluminum alloy for the gearing


By widening the tip of the gear and narrowing the bases Daiwa is aiming to lower what is called the "pressure angle" of the gear teeth when they mesh together with the pinion gear. By effectively lowering this pressure angle the gear becomes more efficient at transferring power and this is actual reason why the Zillion's new gears feel smoother and more powerful under load.


Regardless of whether the gear is brass or aluminum they are both cut with the new wider tip geometry


I also found during tests when I was cranking virtually any lure, whether it was a light finesse jig, or a heavier swimbait, this new Zillion was definitely quieter than other Daiwa reels. Older Daiwa reels, and the Tatula for example, have gear teeth that meet at a steeper angle. This older design not only increases the pressure angle but also the amount of gear noise.


Comparing the Daiwa Zillion's wider and flatter new gear teeth design (JDM Zillion on right) with the older teeth design from the Tatula SV TW (left). Notice the changes in geometry not only in the top of the teeth but the narrowed bases to reduce the pressure angle as the gears mesh within their respective reels


It is also important to note that this Hyperdrive Digigear is a design that can be made in any material, and why the same execution is found on the brass gears in the US model, and aluminum alloy gears in the JDM version. The reason for the varying gear choices is the differences in applications. Daiwa believes that the stronger brass material is better suited for larger lures, heavier lines, and power fishing techniques that are popular in America. In addition the average fish that are caught with the reel are also larger so it made sense to equip the reel with more robust gearing.


When I compared the US and JDM versions side by side I found them almost identical in both feel and noise, which only further solidified the benefits of this new gearing design, regardless of material.


A look under the handle sideplate. This reel's frame and sideplate are crafted from aluminum which helps give it a very solid overall feel


Then there are the other "Hyper" features that do provide benefits but seem to be over-hyped. Hyper Double support is a two bearing support system for the reelís pinion gear which eliminates side-to-side movement in an effort to provide smooth gear rotation and retrieve. The feature is real but was created years ago and has been implemented in many other reels, and continues to work well in this latest Zillion.


Exploring the reel in the lab helps shed light on how it should perform but after catching fish on the reel over the last two months I've started to appreciate what Daiwa means when they call the Zillion a "special" reel


The "Hyper Tough" clutch similarly was also created years ago but is more recently becoming heavily marketed. Daiwa has continued to refine their clutch mechanism to improve durability and performance. The only thing that I can really say about this system is that the tolerances are very good and the clutch system feels great and deploys with a precise feel and rewarding audible click.


Like many other higher end Daiwa reels the company uses their composite Zaion material to reduce weight and corrosion resistance


Then we get to the "Hyper Armed Housing" and this is essentially marketing-speak for a metal frame that provides the rigidity to properly isolate all the internal components. This is the "feature" that I think has the most hype-factor, and while this new baitcaster is the cleanest Zillion build that I've ever seen the basic construction of the reel is still a traditional frame plus dual sideplate design. This is different than Shimano's CoreSolid design for example, which features a frame that integrates more of the traditional non-handle sideplate into the machined body of the primary frame.


While there is a lot of hype surrounding the features of the new Zillion that doesn't change the fact that the combination of these "features," and exceptional tolerances, combine to deliver the smoothest, most powerful, and quietest retrieving Zillion to date.


It doesn't matter whether you are retrieving a weightless rig, deep diving crank, or swimbait, the Zillion's new gear design combined with the refined aluminum housing make for a surprsingly smooth and powerful feeling retrieve. In this area the new Zillion is an absolute beast

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