Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Restoring a Daiwa Saltiga Z4500H

On very rare occasions, I would visit Olx.ph, a local online store for mostly second-hand stuff hoping to find interesting fishing items, which most often than not, the search would end up with nothing. Then out of the blue I decided to search for the term Daiwa reel. I almost went ape when I found this Daiwa reel. The ad did not say that it was a Saltiga but just Daiwa Z4500H. As far as I know, there is only one Z4500H and that's a Saltiga. I quickly checked the photos and it was indeed a Saltiga. I immediately called the seller and made arrangements for the following day to check it out. Long story short, I drove 2 hours the following morning to check it up close. As expected, the reel was in a very poor shape. It was completely rusted and the handle and the knob would barely turn. You could feel metal parts grinding from the inside. For a newbie, it's one of those reels that would be useless in the end. The quality that a Saltiga offers as described by online articles convinced me to buy it. I was able to haggle for a very good price considering the state that it's on. To be honest, I was not sure I would be able to make it work.

I started work on the handle knob and as suspected, the bearings were completely rusted as the outer traces of the bearings were stuck inside the knob leaving it completely useless and had to be discarded. The spool initially would not budge so I had to soak the inner part of the spool that is connected with to shaft with Selly's Rust Stopper. I knew the bearings were also completely rusted and need to be melted away to release the spool. After a day of soak, I was able to remove the spool and the bearing inside was intact but the bearing sitting on top of the shaft was rusted out and had to be replaced. The exterior has shown corrosion, but they are not too deep, only the paint was affected so it should be ok for some time. 

After removing the spool, I was able to remove the rotor. The AR housing has some stains, but it was pretty much intact. But opening it was another story. It took me an hour or so to get the cap out --- using the biggest vice grip that I have. Inside was also filled with salty cake, bits of rust, and hardened grease.

After opening the side plate, that's when I saw the extent of damage on the reel. Saltwater and rust has caked the internals.
You can see that this was probably the first time that the reel was opened. The red Loctite in the screws is still present. The bearing on the side plate was completely rusted out and all the ball bearings were scattered inside the body. I had to forcibly remove the outer and inner races of the bearing from the side plate and the gear. The Anti-revers dog was rusted but after a bit of cleaning and polishing it was back to its original luster.
The main gear is supposed to be brass, but it sure looked like rusted steel. Luckily, after a bit of cleaning and polishing, the gear was still flawless and there were no marks or chips on its teeth.
The Anti-reverse bearing, the big shaft bearing, and the pinion were massive. The amazing thing is that these parts were still clean and were not affected by the salt. I guess that the anti-corrosion properties of the Saltiga is really true.

 The oscillating gear was missing a few teeth and needs to be replaced. It's a good thing that the bearing supporting it is still in good condition.

The stainless main shaft was still ok and has no pits or stains. I cleaned everything using my cheap Ultrasonic cleaner, lubed, polished, then re-lubed everything and then set them aside until I got the replacement parts.

After a few weeks of wait, I got the 17 new parts from Plat.co.jp. After reassembling, the reel is back in action.

It is a tank and more so after the fact that it came back from the dead, smooth as ever and ready to catch some serious fish.

And that's what it did. I think this reel is lucky! Every time I take it out, it manages to catch something awesome. Its latest catch, an 8.5kg GT from shore. :-)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Shore fishing for Giant Trevallies (GT)

One of my long time dreams is to catch a nice GT on topwater --- either using a popper or a stickbait. My first attempt was on Grande Island a couple of months ago. It was sort of a disappointment because I did not catch anything. The closest that I got was an explosive strike from a big fish that I think was a GT. On the next trip a few weeks back, I went to Masinloc Zambales and did some light popping and stickbaiting and I was lucky enough to catch a red snapper but still no GTs.

Last Sunday, my luck changed. On that day, my game plan was to switch from UL tackle to Stickbait. I first sweeped the spot with my UL stick and when there are no takers, I combed the water with my stickbait combo. My stickbait was a Tailwalk Gunz Floating Stickbait at 60gms from Naks Nakamura, our local-Japanese fishing guide, and guru.

At around 8am, I chanced upon a shallow spot. Using cheap polarized glasses, I saw that the point of the shallow area has a deep drop that extends all the way out. At that time, it looked like a perfect spot for an ambush. I first casted using the UL and caught a small Cuda. After a few minutes or so, the bite died as if all of the residents were spooked as the water felt really silent. No surface activities whatsoever. I switched to my big stickbait combo and casted as far as I can. A few sweeps of the lure later, a huge swirl engulfed the lure and I instinctively set the hook twice. The reaction of whatever is at the end of the line was amazing. It pulled back with such force that my right leg slipped from my perch and almost fell into the water.

I managed to grab into one of the rocks and regained my composure. I sat down to gain balance while fighting the fish. I didn't realize that the drag was really heavy and standing up while fighting it was out of the question. Changing the drag setting was also out of the question.

A few minutes later the fish gave up and I was able to crank it near the bank. It was no match for my combo on PE3 line.

The problem is, the landing net was beyond my reach and instead of a metal lip grip, all I had was this Aji fish grip that looks like a big plastic scissors with tiny teeth.  This GT was way big for it. When the wave came in, I pulled the fish using the leader line and managed to grab it by the gill plate and dragged it to shore. It was my personal best 88cm and 8.5kg.

By 10am, the sun was too hot for fishing so I went home. I went back at four in the afternoon hoping to get another one. When I was fighting the fish, there was another one trailing it from behind. I sure looked bigger than this one. After 3 hours of casting and retrieving, I was drained and went home really spent. My body's still aching from casting and my shin is still bleeding but it was worth it. I am so gonna stickbait again next weekend. :-)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Summer Jigging, Stick-baiting, and Casting

During the long holyweek break, I had the chance to try out a couple of not-so-new gears that I recently acquired. One is a used Ryoga Bay Jigging 2020HL matched with a Daiko Spear light jigging rod. The Ryoga was sent by a friend and colleague from Japan. We were able to get it at a bargain price. The only addition that I made was a used RCS knob from Hookpro tackle. The line was an old PE 3 line from an old reel.

The other is a battle-scarred Saltiga Z4500H matched with my old Majorcraft Giant Killing 76M. The reel is a beat up reel that has practically seized up because of rust and salt. I think it was dunked in saltwater for a long time and was never opened or cleaned afterwards. The externals are pretty bad but surprisingly except for 4 destroyed bearings, a seized up knob, and a chewed up oscillation gear, the remaining critical internals are still in good condition. Talk about quality gear. It took me a couple of days and some parts to get it back into running condition. (I will write another post regarding this reel.)

Maundy Thursday, I took the kayak and the Saltiga for some test stickbaiting. I tied on a 60-gram Tailwalk Gunz and casted near the pilings next to the pier. It was either the lure was extremely effective or I was extremely lucky that I managed to get a 2kg pargo in just half an hour of casting. The rod and reel was a beast and plucked the fish like it was not even there.

Friday, no fishing according to oldies. Then on Saturday, I chartered my old boat man and went out for first time jigging. We left the shore at around 4am and cruised to the spot for about an hour. I got my fish finder and mounted it into the boat. Unfortunately, I charged the battery the night before using a motorbike charger that I got really cheap. Instead charging the battery, it actually discharged the battery further. After just 15 minutes of operation, the battery died and we were left without a fishfinder. Luckily, we managed to find a decent structure on the first stop. I tied on a 60-gram Ima Ganpeki and jigged really slow. The lure did not disappoint and a nice trev pulled drag from the Ryoga within minutes.  The Daiko was phenomenal and worth every cent. I had no idea that jigging would be so much fun with the right gear. We lost the spot during the fight and had no takers after that.

We scoured the area but did not find any fish. I decided to blind cast while drifting hoping to attract some trevs. Instead of a trevally, a Blue Runner bit the bait. The fight was decent but the fish was no match for the rod and reel.

I decided to go home at around 9am because it was getting too hot and jigging blind was no longer fun.

Easter Sunday schedule was fully packed. We were supposed to leave after lunch after all the processions, beach and other errands. By 10, I sneaked out with my kayak and went to my favorite estuary. Casted my lucky popper while the tide was rising.  I chanced upon a school of red snappers near the mouth of the estuary and caught 4 table-sized beauties. By 1pm, I was back home washing the kayak, rod, reels, and lures. At around 4pm, I was driving back to Manila.

I'll be back with a better battery for my fishfinder. I know there are other big monsters out there that are eager to take a nice jig. Maybe this May. We'll see.