By Kosta Linardos – Hooked Up Magazine.
I will not deny I’m a “gear snob”, even though it’s totally justified as fishing
reels are essentially my work tools. I love Japanese reels and all my favourite reels are made in Japan. The Japanese just do it better, there is no denying it.
The Freams isn’t made in Japan, but China, where cost of production is lower than Japan allowing Daiwa to take many of its best design features from its high end reels and implement them into the new Freams without slapping it with a hefty price tag. The new Freams incorporates Digigear, Air Rotor, an ABS spool, Twist Buster, Air Bail and most importantly the new Freams is Magsealed.
Now anyone into their reels will probably be familiar with these terms but you can be forgiven for not knowing what any of them mean.
While they are all great names used to market features of a reel, in Daiwa’s case they all have merit. I’ll quickly break it down for you and if you want more detailed info jump on Daiwa’s site and have a further read.
Essentially Air Rotor, the ABS spool, Twist Buster and Air Bail all aid in providing sensitivity and better line management. Put simply this means that line comes off the spool with ease and efficiency when casting and comes back on the same way. The advantages of these features is that you cast longer, with more accuracy, experience less issues such as wind knots and it keeps your very thin and expensive braid in better condition so you’re
not losing fish and dealing with tangles. Does this all work they way Daiwa says it should? Yes, a definite yes. I own many of their reels and the difference in all round use and line management is significant and noticeable.
Digigear and reel gears in general are the one feature most anglers don’t give a second thought to (with great emphasis unnecessarily placed on max drag pressure) yet gears are so important. Daiwa’s Digigear system provides smooth operation and allows for years of use with consistent performance similar to the day you bought it. You know that reel you have that just feels grindy, clunky and isn’t smooth? That’s average gears that have been worn out. Magseal is a very awesome feature that has been around for five years now debuting with the 2010 Certate. Basically it’s a magnetic oil that can shut out saltwater and therefore seals the reel from salt intrusion. I have been using my 1003 10-series Cerate for four years now, I’ve given it a hard time and it still is an amazing reel so I can attest to how well the Magseal feature works. This feature was previously only available on reels that cost in excess of $400, so the fact it’s now available in a reel that sits well under $300 is very cool.
ATD and Daiwa’s secret formula oil
Automatic Tournament Drag is a new feature for 2015 that is included on all the new Daiwa reels. With a standard drag system the first seconds or many metres of drag that is taken from the reel will be at an increased pressure to what the drag pressure is actually set at and then it will eventually settle back to its set pressure. So for example let’s say you had your reel set at 1kg of drag pressure, when the fish first runs, that pressure will increase, and it could be anywhere from 100 grams of pressure to a whole kilo depending
on the reel and external factors such as temperature and how much use the reel has had prior to that strike. Depending on what kind of fishing you’re doing and what line class you’re using, this increase in pressure could lose you fish. ATD stops that pressure from increasing from the initial strike. So how does it work? Well I had to call Daiwa to find out as there is nothing special looking about the drag knob or the spool. I learned that it does
this purely via the use of the oil Daiwa use in the drag washers. What that oil is and how it works is much like the formula for Coca Cola and Maccas special sauce-it’s a protected secret. I assume that the type of oil can somehow keep a consistent temperature and friction in the drag washers and the lack of heat and friction doesn’t cause that initial increase in drag pressure. A very cool feature! But does ATD work and do you notice it? The truth is no, I couldn’t notice it on my Exist I recently purchased or the Freams, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, it most likely means it does work. Drags on both reels are super smooth and I experienced no inconsistencies on any initial strikes from fish. It’s a feature that will be much appreciated
by anglers that fish super light lines with super light leaders. It will also be greatly appreciated on the opposite end of the scale when fishing extremely heavy drag settings where that initial run for the reef can often end with something broken.
At 250 grams it isn’t a super light reel but it isn’t heavy either. The metal body adds weight but provides a tough and durable shell. Although it’s a tough and robust reel it hasn’t come at the sacrifice of sensitivity and I assume that the Zaion air rotor system has a large part to play in this. The 4+1 bearings provide smooth operation and while it shares certain features with Daiwa’s high-end reels it is nowhere near as smooth, however, for the price
it’s a very smooth reel. Line management is excellent and it performs just as well in this department as what the high-end models do. It is a joy to cast with and the 4.8:1 gear ratio lends itself well to a variety of fishing styles.
I’ve had the Freams in my possession for three months now and I’ve predominantly used it to target squid of which the 2004 size is perfect. Squid fishing can get pretty messy and the reel has often been covered in salt water, ink and bait and I’ve just lightly hosed it off at the end of each session.
The only gripe I have with the Freams is the hinged handle design. If you don’t actually undo it and wash it inside the hinge at the end of each use
in saltwater it will begin to discolour and eventually rust. With all the other features they included in the Freams I thought they may have used the one piece handle but I guess it’s a more expensive system. At the end of the day no matter how well protected a reel is you always need to take the time to clean it properly or it will fail.
You get a lot of reel for the money with the Freams. It has been designed so anglers on a budget can get a great reel packed with high-end features that offer increased sensitivity and most importantly durability. There isn’t a lot on the market that offers these kinds of features at this price and its great to see they have implemented some of their best tech into an affordable package.