Monday, August 15, 2011

Team Daiwa Advantage and Light Jigging from a Pier

The Team Daiwa Advantage (TDA) reel is not very popular among anglers here in Asia. But not known to many, it is one of the better quality Real Four reels released by Daiwa in the US. This is especially true for the Size 3500A and 4500A. What's so special about these two reels? If you are familiar with the very popular Caldia KIX JDM reels, you will immediately see the resemblance. That's because they are almost exactly the same reels. Almost, because the TDA has one more bearing compared to the Caldia KIX. The TDA has a ball bearing on the roller instead of a bushing (in Caldia KIX). The first batches of TDA are all made in Japan, similar to Caldia KIX 3500 and 4000.

When I was looking around eBay, I found a Made in Japan TDA. It's almost new but with a small nick in the paint job. Understandable for a display reel. The good thing is that it is Japan made, very smooth, and never been used. Plus, it's 1/3 of the cost of a Caldia KIX.

As soon as I received the reel, I upgraded the spool bushing into a Shimano SARB ball bearing. Giving the reel additional smoothness in its drag. I plan to use it for light popping and jigging, I already rebuilt a popping rod from an 8ft Okuma Sentara Surf Casting blank and it looks ok with the reel. I sure hope it will also perform well. All I need to do is finish the wraps with flex coat. Hopefully, it would be ready by this coming weekend.

Going back to the reel, I tested it for light jigging on a pier in Puerto Azul one weekend. A few weeks back I got myself an Expert Graphite 8ft rod from Kenny's Tackle Shop from the South. It's a bit light for the reel but it did ok for testing that weekend. We were supposed to leave 3am but the rain was terrible, we ended up leaving 4am. Our estimate was that the trip which was just 56 kilometers from Manila, will only last 45minutes to 1 hour. But because of traffic, it took us almost 3 hours.

When we got to the spot, it was raining heavily and the water was stained from river runoffs. It was practically raining every half an hour. I tried topwaters and spoons but no takers. I guess the water is too dirty for the fishes to see the lures. I then switched to a skip bunny and got a small Bagaong (Terapon). Then the rain intensified and no more bites on the bunny.

I tried a few japanese jigs and no luck on most of them. Then I tried a 60gm blue jig and not long afterwards, I got a huge bite. It was an awesome strike. The fish pulled line like it was a bruiser. I really enjoyed the smoothness of the TDA's drag and how it's clicker sounded when the fish pulled line. The only problem was the net. Nobody remembered to bring a landing net. I was positioned way up in the abandoned pier and there was no way I can use my lip grip without going down the rocks near the breakers. After I was able to tire the fish after about 5 minutes, I went down near the water to reach it. I was able to see the fish after it surfaced. It was a Mangrove Jack and I estimated it to be above 2kg based on its length and girth. As I was reaching for the fish using my lip grip, the fish surged downwards and managed to pull the hook. It was absolutely disappointing. To make things worst, we heard a series of loud thud from the horizon and saw a few small bancas congregating from where the sound came. No doubt, they were dynamite fishers who were taking advantage of the cover of the rain. As soon as the dynamite fishers started with their massacre, the fishes all over the surrounding seemed to have disappeared. No bites and not a single sign of feeding fish.

At around lunch time, we noticed that the rain clouds were approaching from the horizon and we hurriedly put on our rain gear. We were barely able to put on our rain gear when it rained like hell. Our rain coats were barely preventing us from getting wet because the rain was falling on a 45 degree angle. We really thought that the rain would never stop. We almost gave up and were preparing to pack up and go home. After almost an eternity, the rain stopped. And, to our surprise, no more dynamite fishermen. At the back of my mind, I really hoped that the storm got them and sank their boats.

I went back to the same spot where I had a hookup and tried the same jig and slowly bounced it near the breakwater. At first, I thought I got snagged but then there was a strong pull. I knew immediately that it was a sizable fish but not as big as the first one. After a few runs, I managed to land it but not after getting wet while lipping the fish. It was not a Mangrove Jack. It looks like a red snapper but it was short and thick. 1.5kg.

After that, my cousin JB managed to catch a half-kilo grouper on jerk bait and I got another small Terapon on jig. After that, no more fish.

At exactly 4pm, we left Puerto Azul and drove back to Manila. The traffic had gone worst. Our 56km drive lasted for almost 4.5 hours. That's similar to driving Manila to Subic back and forth. We should have gone to  Subic instead. We don't think we will go back to Puerto Azul for a while. The traffic is not worth the trip. And there appears to be a really high pressure from illegal fishers on the area. Maybe sometime in the future, things will improve -- I hope.

I really like the TDA 4000. I will replace its bushing near the pinion with Ball bearing to make it a double-bearing supported pinion. This will improve the already smooth cranking power. After that, I will replace the cheesy knob with an aluminum power knob to make it more suitable for light jigging and popping. I will post all the upgrades on a separate thread.