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Reel Review (Comparison)


Clash of the Titans, the Shimano Trinidad and Daiwa Saltiga shootout
 

Date: 5/1/04
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Shimano, Daiwa
Reviewer: Team TT








Introduction: Itís the Clash of the Titans, and as far as epic battles go this one is second to none. The tried and true Shimano Trinidad goes head to head with the contemporary Daiwa Saltiga in a struggle for saltwater supremacy. TackleTour settles in for what is sure to be one of the most anticipated offshore tackle shootouts ever to step into the offshore ring.

 

Shimano Trinidad TN20 Specifications

Line Capacity 20/420, 25/300
Gear Ratio 6.2:1
Weight 20.4 (oz)
Bearings 6BB, 1RB
Additional Features Stamped Aluminum sideplates, Aluminum spool, star drag, dartanium drag, High Efficiency Gearing, Super Stopper, Assist Stopper, Adjustable handle, Adjustable clicker, rod clamp
MSRP $399.99

 

Daiwa Saltiga (SA40) Specifications

Line Capacity (lb/yds) 25/400, 30/270
Gear Ratio 4.9:1
Weight 24.3 (oz)
Bearings 6 BB, 1 RB
Additional Features Machined Aluminum one piece frame, machined side plates, infinite anti-reverse, anodized aluminum spool, grease impregnated drag, precision machined rod clamp, spool clicker, centrifugal anti-backlash control
MSRP $429.99


Impressions:
For years the Shimano Trinidad has been the benchmark in which all open faced conventional reels were judged by. The Trinidad can be found on countless charters, and in the weathered hands of saltwater record pursuers and casual offshore anglers alike. Daiwa shook things up with their Saltiga line of precision conventional reels, and since their introduction have attracted an amazing following among even the most demanding saltwater fisherman. The SA40 is one of the newer larger sized Saltigas now challenging the bigger sized Trinidad offerings.

 

The Saltiga SA40 and Trinidad TN20 are similar in size and weight class


The Real World Test: Putting these two titans in the ring is like setting up a major heavyweight fight, the Shimano Trinidad is the proven champion with so many KOís under the belt, while the Daiwa Saltiga is the fast rising star that isnít fearful of taking on anyone. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the main event as we put these two heavyweights through the paces in a series of stress and field tests to crown a TackleTour Champion.

 

TackleTour readers will recall that we reviewed the smaller Saltiga SA 20 one year ago. The SA20 was a small reel that was big game capable with use of today's thinner diameter superlines. The Saltiga SA40 is a full sized reel that is comparable in size to the Shimano TN20. The SA30 is slightly smaller, while the SA40 is just a tad bigger than the Trinidad TN20. We decided these were the most logical size reels to test, as these mid-sized offshore reels can be used to fish for the greatest range of fish species.
 

The Trinidad is among the most popular open faced reels, and is a benchmark of quality and design for offshore reels

 

Materials/Construction: These reels may be big fish fighters, but they are as refined and elegant as they come. Both reels are striking in design. The absence of plastic or graphite on both reels is a indication of the quality components employed on both these packages. Delve a little deeper and the Saltiga stands out in terms of refinement and assembly and composition. The Trinidad's forged frame and stamped sideplates are good, but the Saltiga's completely aero-space aluminum milled frame and sideplates are better. The Saltiga's sideplates are machined to perfection, and are bolted onto the frame via six bolts to ensure a seamless seal, while the Trinidad uses four bolts to secure its plates. In addition not just the machined spool is hard anodized on the SA40, so are the entire frame and plates. Overall the SA40 feels more rigid and refined thanks to the detailed machining the reel has undergone. (Category winner: Saltiga)

 

The Saltiga's platinum finish is in stark contrast to the majority of gold big game reels on the market, but then again this is not just another "me-too" reel


Package: Both reels come with a proprietary tool designed to adjust the reel on the fly, and open the reel up for routine maintenance. We found the tools to be extremely useful, as applying standard tools can unnecessarily graze and nick these reels. It is always good to bring a lightweight tool on those once in a lifetime trips to make sure that your reel is performing optimally.

 

The Saltiga comes with a soft reel bag, while the Trinidad does not. This bag is good when the reel is not mounted on a rod, basically for transport in another bag for those long haul drives or flights. We would love to see a neoprene reel cover come with one of these reels, as that would properly protect the reels once clamped on rods.

 

The Saltiga delivers a knockout blow in this category once you compare the accessory reel clamps. The Trinidad ships with a graphite clamp, very similar to those found on lower end Tekota reels. While this clamp is functional, it isn't nearly as durable or attractive as the Saltiga's fully machined clamp. This clamp is a work of art in itself and is machined from the same premium bar stock aluminum. The Saltiga's clamp also makes use of larger, easier to secure bolts. Both clamps have recessed bolts, making the reels comfortable to palm. Overall the Saltiga comes with a more detailed and rich package of functional accessories. (Category winner: Saltiga)
 

The Saltiga's construction is more refined as both the frame and sideplates are milled from solid aluminum rather than forged


Casting: Its unlikely that these conventionals will serve as primary casting reels for most anglers, as they are more about live lining than tossing lures, but that doesn't mean that these reels can't chuck heavy metal. We found both of these reels evenly matched when it came to tossing jigs and offshore plugs. Both reels resisted backlashes well, and utilize a very similar centrifugal anti-backlash system that makes use of interchangeable brake collars. Both reels have a click free spool tension adjustment knob, making it easy to make quick corrections with different lure weights. With both reels, make sure to never excessively loosen the cap as this is a spot where corrosive saltwater can enter the reel. All in all both reels cast surprisingly well, making them even more useful for a wide range of applications. (Category winner: Tie)

 

Both reels feature excellent, easy to use tools. The Saltiga definitely has the nicer reel clamp, and it is also machined from top grade aluminum


Set & Retrieve: For round four we take a look at the set and retrieve capabilities of these two reels. Both reels feature a high quality click, accessible on the left side plates. The basic function of a good clicker is to deliver a audible warning when a fish strikes. While this feature can be used while jigging or mooching, it is most useful while trolling for fish like King Salmon and Tuna. You want to be on your rod the minute these fish take the bait, this is especially true with big Salmon, as most regional regulations require the use of barbless hooks, making it crucial to maintain constant tension on your line to prevent thrown hooks. Another function of the clicker is to put instant tension on the spool, preventing it from revolving too easily. This is where the Trinidad one ups the Saltiga. The Trinidad uses a clever adjustable clicker system that has 13 minute settings, allowing you to actually adjust the amount of freespool tension.

 

Once hooked up these two reels both feel very fluid and confident, boasting the exact same amount of bearings. Both use high quality corrosion resistant bearings, designed to take the abusive offshore elements. In a horse race the Trinidad's retrieve is second to none, this reel is fast! The Saltiga can crank in a impressive 35 inches of line with every turn of the handle, but the Trinidad's 6.2:1 ratio allows this reel to suck in line like a vacuum. The Trinidad is a great Salmon reel because it allows anglers to stay ahead of the fish, always keeping the line tight no matter which way the fish turns. The adjustable clicker also is a nice bonus for trolling duty. (Category winner: Trinidad)
 

The Trinidad is blazing fast, with a 6.2:1 gear ratio it is easy to keep tension on fish


Power: The Trinidad may have the ratio advantage, but when it comes to raw power the Saltiga has the upper hand. The Trinidad makes use of HEG (High Efficiency Gearing) but still is not able to deliver the same level of torque we observed with the Saltiga SA40. All of the Saltiga's main gearing is machined from high strength alloy, and delivers a very smooth yet powerful retrieve. We hooked 8lb downrigger cannonballs on huge swivels and lowered them to depths of 110 feet. When clamped down, the Trinidad felt capable, whereas the Saltiga was more akin to a high power winch. The Saltiga's 100% machined construction is extremely rigid eliminating any flex whatsoever in the drive train. Both reels offer handle length adjustment, so they can be set for a long throw when you need that extra muscle. The Saltiga would be a good choice for bigger fish like end of season Kings, and hard hitting Tuna. (Category winner: Saltiga)
 

The Saltiga casts surprisingly well for a reel of this size, and features a similar centrifugal backlash system as the Trinidad


Drag: Shimano has used Dartanium in many of their reels, and while this material is certainly overkill for freshwater reels like the Calais and Calcutta TE it is a little more typical when it comes to big game reels. Dartanium offers plenty of stopping power and a wide range of settings, but showed a little more slippage than other multi disk drags we have tested. On a pressure scale the Trinidad TN20 was able to deliver a very respectable 17-20lbs of drag pressure while the Saltiga was capable of generating 22-26lbs of pressure. What's the secret? Daiwa's multi disk drag makes use of grease impregnated washers sandwiched between stainless steel discs. The result is a column of pressure plates that effectively generate very precise counter pressure. Both companies have done a excellent job waterproofing the drags, and adjusting setting via the star drags was straightforward, simply rotate either of the star drags clockwise and you are rewarded with copious amounts of counter pressure. (Category winner: Saltiga)

 

Shimano includes a adjustable clicker adjustment on the Trinidad, allowing you to adjust clicker tension

 

Durability: As the fight goes into late rounds the Trinidad and Saltiga both appear to be holding up extremely well. Both these reels were pounded in our tests with more raw dead weight than you will likely every tow, complete submerges in saltwater stress tests, and deliberate over working of the clicker and drag mechanisms. The result...these reels are robust, and while not unbreakable...they will take great deal of abuse before showing any signs of harm. These reels can fish anything from Sturgeon and Halibut, to Salmon and Albacore, without breaking a sweat. In this category both reels shine. (Category Winner: Tie)

 

The Shimano Trinidad Knob is more attractive and nicely finished but ergonomically speaking the Saltiga wins this round

 

Ergonomics: Ergonomics depend on the individual user, but we were able to come to a consensus within our staff. The Shimano Trinidad's knob looks and feels more high quality, with nicer padding and branding accents, but the Saltiga's oversized knob is more ergonomic. The Trinidad's handle is short, which is great for gripping, but the shaft portion of the knob is unnecessarily wide, making it more difficult to fit comfortably in the base of your palm, as the widened shaft may be large for the gap between some peoples fingers...especially when wearing gloves. The Trinidad is best used when in the front of your hand, with the fingers wrapped around the knob rather than the whole palm. The problem with this is that most anglers will want to palm the entire handle when cranking down hard. This is why big game reels like the Shimano TLD and Tiagra all feature very oversized knobs with just a small diameter knob arm. This is the case with the Saltiga, which utilizes a thinner arm, but one that is still padded with rubber. In the end it comes down to functionality or form, and we think that most offshore anglers are less concerned about how good the knob looks, and more interested in how comfortable the reel is when closing in on that trophy fish. (Category Winner: Saltiga)

 

The Saltiga is king when it comes to raw power, making it easy to winch in big fish

 

Price: Heavyweights donít fight for free, and these two ringers come with a substantial price tag. The Trinidad will cost you $399.99 while the Saltiga SA40 will set you back 429.99. On a flat number to number comparison the Trinidad would appear the winner here, but when you take into consideration the striking reel clamp and completely machined and anodized sideplates then the gap narrows. Is it worth it to pay 30 dollars more for these refinements? The answer is yes. There are a lot of saltwater loyalists out there, many of whom have grown up fishing either a Shimano or a Penn. The Shimano offering is still a great value, but now that Daiwa has taken the time to study the result is a reel that is designed and manufactured with a great level of refinement. To do this with a cost premium of only 30 dollars is quite impressive. (Category Winner: Tie)

 

Shimano Trinidad Ratings:

Shimano Trinidad (TN20) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Shimano Trinidad uses great materials but falls slightly behind the refinement of the completely machined and anodized Saltiga frame and sideplate implementation 9
Performance Good performance in all tests, just not as good as the Saltiga when it came to power and drag stress tests. The Saltiga SA40 does have a slight size advantage but is still the closest comparison. 8.5
Price A great price for a reel with a proven track record of excellence. This reel has been a benchmark for other reels for such a long time, and continues to be a good value overall 8
Features The Shimano Trinidad is a simple reel, as most conventionals are, but Shimano puts in a nice touch with the inclusion of the clever clicker adjustment. It would be nice to see the Trinidad come with a machined reel clamp out of the box 9
Design (Ergonomics) Ergonomics come down to preference, and while we believe the Trinidad knob is constructed of higher quality plastic rubber it is not as comfortable as the Saltiga when it comes to clamping down when cranking. But still receives a high score for nice presentation, and probably will appeal to many anglers 10
Application A good real for many applications, and with the adjustable clicker this reel is a good choice for double duty as a effective live liner and trolling reel. Make no mistake this reel can haul in the big ones 9

Total Score

8.91


Daiwa Saltiga Ratings:

Daiwa Saltiga (SA40) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Excellent materials and workmanship make the Saltiga an impressive entry into the saltwater market. I simply can't get over the detail in design! 10
Performance Performance is excellent across the board. Whether it is a solid consistent drag, or pure power the Saltiga will not let you down. While the Trinidad has the advantage in ratio, the Saltiga takes the blue ribbon in terms of raw power 9
Price At a MSRP of 429.99 the Saltiga is slightly more expensive than the Trinidad but right in line when you look at the total package 8
Features The Saltiga focuses on simplicity and solid design rather than packing a bunch of features into the reel, but still manages to incorporate a plethora of Daiwa technology into this package. This reel's package is better than the original SA20 we tested, thanks to the inclusion of the very attractive reel clamp 9
Design (Ergonomics) Lightweight and compact this reel is stunning when it comes to ergonomics. A real pleasure to fish over extended periods 10
Application A good reel for many offshore applications and with more power than you expect for a reel this size you can be confident that the Saltiga can tackle big game 9

Total Score

9.16


Pluses and Minuses:

Reel Comparison Pluses and Minuses

Shimano Trinidad

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Proven Performance L Not as powerful
J Blazing fast retrieve L Drag pressure not as strong
J Quality Components L Would like to see an aluminum reel clamp
J Adjustable clicker  
J Lower Price  

Daiwa Saltiga

                 Plus                                    Minus

J New and exciting design L Slightly more expensive
J Ultimate refinement, completely machined L Ratio optimized for power over speed
J Powerful reel  
J Ergonomic  
J Very nice machined reel clamp  


Conclusion: With a flurry of punches the Saltiga stands triumphant over the previous heavyweight champ. With a win in five categories, and a tie in three, the contender knocks out the Trinidad which was only able to garner a win in one out of the nine rounds. The Trinidad is a great reel, but the Saltiga is a superior one. With refinement like a Rolex, and torque like a Hemi, this reel deliver ogles of performance with only a slight price premium over the Trinidad. Whether you are looking for more refinement, power, drag performance, or well thought out ergonomics...the Saltiga SA40 won't let you down when there is a important fish on the line. In the end, this was one of those bouts where the long standing champ fought every step of the way, but was hedged by the newer more agile challenger. If we had to pick just one saltwater titan to bring on those offshore trips the Saltiga would already be in the truck.

 


 

 

 

 

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