Words: Sam Leys Images: Sam Leys & Kosta Linardos
Having recently reviewed Daiwa’s new TD Black MQ 2500 and being so impressed with it, I had almost convinced myself that I’d never need to spend more than $300 on a light tackle reel. Since completing this review of the $500 Revelry, my point of view has changed.
Daiwa fans will be aware of the seriously stacked line-up of quality light tackle reels that Daiwa has in its arsenal. Reels such as Exist, Certate, Luvias Airity, Luvias, Sol, Caldia and TD Black have the light tackle market covered, so the first question many would ask is why Daiwa needs another in the range.
What’s All the Revelry About?
First let’s break down what sets the Revelry apart from the others. The 21 Revelry is a new reel range that Daiwa has developed out of its Chinese factory, and includes eight models varying from 2000S to 5000D-CXH. There are two distinct categories with four FC MQ (Finesse Custom/Monocoque) models and an additional four HD MQ (Heavy Duty/Monocoque) models. These two ranges differ with the FC models forged from Zaion (Daiwa’s lightweight composite material) and the HD models from aluminium.
Hooked Up has one of the 5000 HD models in for review, which will be published in a later issue, but I nonetheless made the effort to compare them both. You can feel and see the difference between the two, as the FC series is lighter and does present a more finessed feel in the hand as the name suggests. I do love the fact Daiwa developed the HD range to cater to anglers who love the ‘old school’ heavier, robust feel of the aluminium body, which starts at the 2500 size. Meanwhile, some prefer the progressive, light, finessed feel that Daiwa has pioneered with the Zaion body and is offered with the FC series we have for this review.
So, where does it sit in the Daiwa line-up? Well, it actually fills a pretty large gap in both price and features. At $499 it’s $160 less than the Japanese-made, metal-bodied Certate, $100 more than the Sol MQ and $200 more than the TD Black MQ I recently reviewed.
If you’re after that finessed lightweight Zaion style reel, you’re not really a Certate kind of angler so your next option in this style of reel is the 20 Luvias – and that’s the apple we need to compare this apple with. The 20 Luvias is essentially a run-out model and the Revelry is its replacement. While there is still a good stock of the 20 Luvias to be found in stores, they’re limited. The 20 Luvias carries a RRP of more than $80 difference. While the 20 Luvias is made in Japan and features a single-piece bail and a slightly lighter Air Rotor system, there are no other differences, so you’re essentially getting the same reel but cheaper. You’ll also probably find a better deal in store than the advertised $499, which further separates the Luvias and Revelry.
So the next question, getting back to where I started, is why would you spend the $200 extra on the Revelry over the TD Black MQ, which I truly loved? Well, on spec the Revelry is lighter, has two extra bearings and is made from Zaion, not the Zaion V found on the TD Black (Zaion is a superior material, slightly more rigid and stronger). And while aesthetics are subjective, and I do love that all-black look, the Revelry looks way cooler. Its maroon and gold colour scheme harks back to the now-discontinued Daiwa Gekkabijin, a model that I always loved the look of.
On the Water
For this review, I was given the opportunity to test the 2500 FC MQ. Boasting 10kg of drag, the 2500 Revelry went to work and excelled on some structure-dwelling bream. Despite weighing in at a featherweight 185gm, the Revelry never flexes or bends under load. While I was only catching bream (albeit some large bream), I can confidently say you could target larger fish such as jacks, small barra and large flathead without the FC Zaion frame being overwhelmed.
This brings me to my next point, and you may be wondering, why does a 2500 lightweight reel designed to run PE0.8 need 10kg of drag? The 2500S in the same range has what you would think is a more suitable 5kg of drag. The 5kg of drag when fishing for bream or even EPs is going to offer a lot more control when adjusting drag in the heat of battle, but the 10kg of drag is going to last a lot longer over prolonged use. Secondly, if you’re the kind of angler who, like me, fishes heavier (around PE1) in the estuary and you fish areas such as Sydney Harbour, the Yarra or the Glenelg River where you have a good chance of hooking a huge mulloway, that extra drag may come in handy.
In use, the ATD drag system is a standout. Having flogged this reel for four weeks I wasn’t sure how well it would hold up. Yes, it is a $500 reel and you’d expect it to, but it handled rigorous testing with ease and as each fish came into the net I grew fonder of the Revelry. But having ‘skull-dragged’ big bream away from jetty pylons, using heavy leader and putting a lot of pressure on the reel for multiple trips where I fish hours on end and multiple days in a row, you do find out quickly. For the reel to feel brand-new and the drag to still be super-smooth at the end of its time with me was impressive.
I noticed the Revelry to be superior to the TD Black MQ in its general feel and performance, it’s more sensitive, smoother, and just feels better to cast with all day. Line management and casting performance are excellent, as you’d expect, and it has a great drag sound.
I personally like having a little extra weight in the reel, it allows you to have greater control over the action you impart on the lure. For example, if I was twitching a hard-bodied lure, the extra weight in the reel allows you to have greater control of the ‘stop-start’ action of the retrieve. I am therefore really keen to test out the 2500 HD before I’d decide which I would choose to own. Most anglers will know already what best suits their fishing, but for my style of fishing, I think the HD could be a better fit; regardless, the fact that I have an option in the same range at the same price point is excellent.
The Revelry offers an amazing reel for the angler who wants two, three or even four of the same outfits on the boat (such as tournament anglers) but doesn’t want to break the bank on a Luvias Airity or Exist. It boasts a heap of style, with performance and features found on reels at a much higher price tag. I have a serious addiction to this reel and will be looking to make a few a permanent part of the fleet.