Product Insight : Zillion TWS a.k.a. Tatula Z?
The Guts: Given our discovery that the frame and sideplates for the reels were the same, the next step in our investigation was to take the reels apart and discern the internal differences and similarities. We know there's a difference in the spools, so there has to be internal differences to accommodate the spool designs, but were there other differences? For this we headed back into the lab, stripped the two reels of fishing line, and went to work with part by part comparisons.
Both drag stars are the same size and shape, but the Tatula Type R's (left) drag star has an integrated nut while that of the Zillion TWS (right) has the more traditional, two piece design.
Handles? - identical.
Taking the reels apart, the first minor difference we see is in the way the drag star interacts with the actual adjustment bolt and clicker. In most reels, the dragstar is merely a cosmetic piece used to engage a square bolt that tightens down on a spring applying pressure to the main gear and drag washers. This is how the dragstar works on the TWS. On the Tatula Type R the dragstar and bolt are integrated with one another.
At first glance, it sure looks like the internals are the same.
The clutch wheels also look the same though the drag washer between the clutch wheel and main gear is larger for the Zillion TWS (right).
Opening the reels up and taking that first look at their internals, they appear virtually identical. The main gears are identical. The clutch wheels are identical. Differences include the pinion gears, but this is made to accommodate the two different spool designs, and the drag washer between the main gear and clutch wheel (the washer on the Zillion TWS is larger). The drag washers located inside each main gear are identical.
We confirmed the main gears (left and center), and clutch wheels (right)
are indeed identical.
The effective shape and teeth on the pinions are identical, but their designs are different because of different spool designs (Tatula Type R on the left, Zillion TWS on the right).
Taking the identical drive shafts out, we reveal the tripping mechanism for the TWS lineguide is beefed up in the Zillion TWS, and the TWS line guide itself, as pointed out in the Zillion TWS's review, is slightly different. Just the same, there are too many similarities to consider the Zillion TWS an entirely different platform from the Tatula Type R or even the original. They share very similar guts (with some parts being identical), the same frame and sideplates, and all three reels (Tatula, Tatula HD, Zillion TWS) are made in Thailand leading us to conclude that the Zillion TWS is merely a slightly upgraded Tatula featuring a free floating spool and a slightly refined TWS system branded as a Zillion to justify the higher price tag.
The tripping mechanism for the Zillion TWS's (right) levelwind is beefed up compared to that of the Tatula Type R (right).
Conclusion: We promised you the good, the bad, and the ugly with the Zillion TWS. The good news is this reel tested well and is actually a very solid performer. The bad is the news that due to a lack in refinement, the Zillion TWS was just edged out by the Chronarch CI4+ in our head to head shootout. The ugly is instead of being a TD Zillion modified to accept the TWS line guide, it appears this reel is
much like a Tatula upgraded with a free floating spool design, a shallower TWS, and a beefed up levelwind tripping mechanism
branded with the Zillion name.
And of course, the actual TWS levelwinds themselves are slightly different. Daiwa made the Zillion TWS's levelwind more shallow on the backside.
What more is there to say? In theory, the free floating spool concept makes a lot of sense. Less friction on the spool during rotation should translate into better casting performance, hence a different reel with a different name and price point. Unfortunately in our side by side, on the water, and inside by inside, within the lab comparisons, there was little to distinguish the Zillion TWS from the Tatula Type R. Add to this the fact I actually prefer the standard Tatula over the Type R,
price considered, and we're talking about a reel in the Zillion TWS that feels
so similar in hand and on the water as a reel half its price! Is this reel worthy of the "Zillion" moniker or is it really just a Tatula Z?
We've given you enough information to come to your own conclusion, but we
were hoping for more from the new Zillion.