Words & Images: Sammy Leys
At the beginning of summer, I was handed the new Daiwa TD Black MQ reel to review. This is a reel that had really caught my eye as I flicked through the 2021 Daiwa product catalogue some 12 months ago. However, I must admit I was still a little sceptical about the reel before I had even made a cast with it. Daiwa’s idea of LT (light and tough) sounds great on paper but how would it translate into the real world of fishing in a unit that falls in the sub-$300 price category? We’re instructed to give products hell when we review them for Hooked Up, and not hold back with criticism. After months of testing my scepticism was unfounded – it’s a bloody great reel.
The TD Black MQ range has five models varying from 2000S to 4000D-C. I was given the 2500S, which boasts 5kg of drag and weighs a mere 165 grams. The biggest feature of the new TD Black is Daiwa’s revolutionary Monocoque body (MQ), which not only mitigates against saltwater intrusion, but also allows for the use of larger gears in the reel, therefore increasing durability and torque.
Further additions such as the ever-reliable Magsealed body provide the ultimate protection against saltwater intrusion, and the Zaion Air Rotor and machine cut screw-in handle keep the reel light and refined.
I think it’s important to note that Daiwa has hit the mark with affordability vs quality by keeping the cost down of the new TD Black MQ reel, with the smaller models priced at under $300. It is a testament to the company, bringing expensive reel technology into the middle-lower price range, while ensuring its products remain affordable.
My first experience with this reel was fishing big plastics for flathead over the sand flats of Lake Tyers. I was really ripping and twitching the plastic erratically, imparting as much action into the lure as I could. This technique really places a lot of strain on the gears and the drag of the reel. This somewhat moves a 2500-size reel in this price range out of its comfort zone but at the conclusion of the five-day trip, where I was chasing flatties on big lures all day, the reel felt as good as the day I was given it.
Casting and retrieve performance were excellent, though the heavy weights I was casting weren’t a great testament to line management or casting proficiency, so my next trip was targeting bream and estuary perch in urban Melbourne. Paired with a 6ft 9in TD Zero rod, I fished surface lures along the rocky edges of the Maribyrnong River, and casting the light surface lures showed the reel’s performance to be effortless with excellent line management and casting performance. Pulling bream after bream away from structure highlighted the Monocoque body and larger gears and the excess torque and zero flex this system offers. It gave me the confidence to winch fish away from structure and concentrate on the fishing rather than think about the gear I was using. That feeling of a smooth free-spinning reel while casting coupled with strength and torque while under load during the fight is really what every angler wants from a reel.
This reel is bloody tough and feels just as smooth fresh out of the box as it does dragging a big bucket mouth EP from jetty pylons. The opportunity to use and abuse the new TD Black MQ was one that I really enjoyed and after three months of use, it’s safe to say I’m no longer a sceptic of LT reels. I honestly believe the LT concept combined with the MQ body is a big game changer in the middle-lower price point for light tackle reels. The TD Black MQ is truly light and tough, looks awesome in its all-black aesthetic and – from what I can tell – can be pushed to its limits without failure. Go out and buy one – you won’t regret it.