Zillion 2.0: Having reviewed the Zillion TWS (2014 model) only last year the question is, is the 2015 Zillion TW anything different. While the original Zillion released in 2007 quickly became a legend and its successor released in 2014 herald a new age for this much revered reel, was there really much that changed in a year?
Is the difference between purely skin deep, or does the latest incarnation of this reel go far deeper? So let’s pop open the side plate, lift up the bonnet and take a look inside to find out. And most importantly let’s see how this new kid on the Zillion block performs on the water and in the hand.
From the Outside
Bold in its stance and solid in its foundation the Zillion once again draws its founding design principals from Daiwa’s Real Four design concept. The same concept that underpins the structure, design and performance of legendary reels such as the Certate, Saltiga, and Z2020, the influence of Real Four is very easy to see and feel in the Zillion.
This is clearly evident the first time you pick it up, with the Zillion’s strong and assured frame sitting comfortably in your hand. Featuring an aluminium frame and Zaion side plate, a combination that delivers a perfect combination of strength and lightness (215gm reel), the Zillion palms relatively comfortably, while the series of holes located on the top of the frame provide added purchase for your thumb.
In the hand and under load the Zillion frame and body is as assured as they come. A testament to extensive R&D that went into designing it, and the highly refined tolerances and build quality the Zillion is a reel that gives nothing in the way of flexing or unwanted body play.
While not the most streamlined, ergonomic or stylish looking baitcaster frame that Daiwa have designed the Zillion still has a body that grabs your attention and design lines that are unquestionably Daiwa-esque.
It’s What’s Inside the Counts
While a great body will always grab your initial attenuation ultimately it’s what inside that counts and will impress your for years to come. Real Four once again plays its part on the inside and combines this proven approach with some more contemporary baitcaster technologies and designs.
Daiwa’s precision designed Digigear technology combines with the Zillion’s large and large oversized gears to create a reel that’s outstandingly smooth and quiet when it comes to gear performance and function. Cranking performance and effort is further enhanced with Daiwa’s Air Rotation taking the cranking ease and performance of the original Zillion (non TWS models) to a new and higher level.
For those that don’t know what Air Rotation is it’s a design feature that was originally released on the Tatula baitcaster a couple of years ago. The foundation of Air Rotation is its precision designed and machined gearing. This enhancement in design in-turn delivers a level of cranking smoothness and lightness that is a distinct step up from what we had before.
This makes the new versions of the Zillion lighter, smoother, and easier to crank than the non-TWS Zillions before it, and that includes the Zillion J-Dream, a reel that I believe was the standout of all the non TWS Zillions.
When it comes to casting ease and performance the Zillion has few peers, and this is attributable to a two key design features, namely its TWS and free-floating spool. Despite what some naysayers may say and think of T-Wing the casting benefits are undeniable, with its larger less restrictive t-shaped line guide improving line flow, reducing line friction and enhancing spool rotational balance. In a nutshell TWS allows you to cast easier, further, and with less backlashes and problems. What’s not to like about that.
The spool plays a big integrated role with TWS and it’s Zillion’s new free floating spool that allows the maximum benefits of TWS to be fully realised. Being free floating in design reduces spool rotational resistance which in-turn allows the spool to spin easier and faster, and cast lighter weights more easily than it could before.
It’s these two features, TWS and the free floating spool, and Daiwa’s proven Magforce Z cast control system that help elevate the Zillion to another level in casting performance.
Other features that play an influential role in the Zillion’s new found level of design and performance are its UTD drag system, swept crank handle, and ratcheted star drag, and clicking cast control dial. A combination that delivers a level of refinement and control that traditionally has been the domain of high-end baitcasters such as the Steez and Z2020, not mid range reels such as the Zillion.
So there in short is the run down on the primary features of both the 2014 and 2015 Zillion. Two reels, which are 95% identical but have a few noteworthy differences. What are those differences and do they actually make a difference? Well let’s take a look and find out.
So What you Got?
The first difference most notably is the feature that’s stamped on the gear side plate of the reel, Mag Seal. While Mag Seal has been used for some time on spin reels in areas such as the roller bearing, rotor shaft, and main gear bearings, to enhance reel protection, longevity and performance, it’s a technology that has only recently been rolled out into baitcaster and overhead reels, and to date had only been used on more limited high-end models such as the Ryoga Bay Jigging and Morethan PE SV.
With the 2015 Zillion we finally see Mag Seal technology descend down the baitcaster range into a mid range reel. A downward integration of technology that addresses the protection and performance issues of baitcasters, particularly saltwater baitcasters where the highly corrosive and abrasive effects of saltwater intrusion are highly detrimental to the performance and life span of a reel.
Bearings are one of the most at risk components in a reel, particularly those bearings that have the greatest exposure to water and the elements, such as those located on, and close to the spool. The pinion gear bearing is one such bearing that suffers the effects from ongoing exposure to the outside world and constant work, and the 2015 Zillion addresses this by replacing a traditional open styled bearing with a more evolved and protective Mag Seal bearing.
Sealed for ultimate protection from the elements and all things that destroy a bearing and in-turn compromise reel performance and longevity, the integration of Mag Sealed technology into the 2015 Zillion’s is a step up in protection from its 2014 predecessor.
The next thing on the list of new features is the Zillion’s new 1516 size spool. Silver in colour compared to the black of the 2014 Zillion the 1516 offers a shallower spool capacity, making it more suited to light line applications and times when you don’t need excessive amounts of line. As an angler who rarely fishes heavier than 20lb line or has a need for any more than 120-150m of line the shallower spool is preferable than the deeper 2014 Zillion spool. Interestingly the shallow silver spool actually weighs more (17gm v 19gm) than the black version. Who’d have thought it!
The 2015 Zillion delivers a bit more when it comes to the bling factor with a silver metal star drag replacing the black Zaion star drag of the 2014 model, and is equally matched in its metallic industrial look by a metal cast control dial cap. The 2015 Zillion also features a gold T-Wing rather than the silver found on the 2014 model.
The 2014 Zillion’s large, paddle-style handle knobs (US style) have been replaced by traditional (JDM style) black rubber coated cork knobs. A more understated design that I find both functionally and aesthetically more appealing. As a reel that is essentially a step up from the 2014 Zillion I expected the handle knobs to feature two bearings in each knob. Unfortunately they were the same as the 2014 model with an inner bearing and out bushing in each knob. While only something small it does play a small incremental role part in the level of smoothness and fluidity you feel when winding the handle, especially in finesse contact applications.
Where it Counts
All these elements combine on the water to make the Zillion an incredibly smooth and effortless baitcasters to use. Casting distance is maximised, while casting effort is reduced thanks to TWS. Lures, both light and heavy, can be cast with ultimate ease. I could launch larger sized bass lures (5/8oz High Pitcher, IK 400) vast distances with limit effort, while lighter lures (Megabass Griffon, 1/8th jighead) could be delicately pitched and underhand roll cast into small gaps with close to the ease and effort of my PX68 and Steez SV.
On the crank the Zillion is as smooth as they come, with the precision gear benefits of Air Rotation and Digigear clearly evident. Could I feel the effects of the Mag Sealed pinion gear bearing compared to the non-Mag Sealed Zillion? To be honest no. But then again Mag Seal is about ensuring protection and performance for the long term rather than purely delivering supreme performance when you first take it out of the box.
Would I opt for the Mag Seal Zillion over the non-Mag Sealed version? Absolutely. Why? Because choosing a reel isn’t purely about performance it’s also about protection, security, and of course long term performance. And the 2015 Zillion has the edge over the 2014 model when it comes to that.
Does it Work?
While the Zillion is a great reel in terms of its design and performance I’m hesitant to call it a fantastic reel. When it comes to technology, design and performance it’s definitely a step up from the original Zillion. Ascetically though it doesn’t quite wow me like I want to be wowed, and it doesn’t quite hit the mark that has made Daiwa baitcasters legendary.
On the rod and in the hand it also doesn’t palm as well as I would have hoped either. But then again I’ve grown accustomed to smaller reels such as the Steez and Alphas so a larger framed reel always challenges me when it comes to palm-ability.
For anglers less size sensitive and perhaps less unnecessarily analytical than me the 2015 Zillion is a reel to be admired and reel to be enjoyed. A leap forward in design and an evolution in baitcaster performance and function this a reel that has helped establish a very new and impressive era for the famous Zillion name.