Friday, December 16, 2016

Daiwa Luna 203L: A workhorse reel for the American market

I was doing an end-of-the-year clean up of my laptop when I saw pictures of my old round reel --- the Team Daiwa Luna 203L. Daiwa's answer to Shimano's Calcutta TE series. 

I got this reel 5 years ago and for some reason I have completely forgotten to write about it. The reel is a watered down version of Daiwa Millionaire CVZ that was intended for the US Market. Same design but the components such as the handle, knobs, and a few of the bearings are cheaper versions of their Japan counterpart. Five years ago, the reel wasn't cheap. Around $200-250 for a brand new reel. When I checked eBay, it's still not cheap! It's still within that price range. In some countries, it even fetched at a staggering $300! The price really tells you a lot about the quality of the reel. 

I no longer have it but I had a lot of fun with it. It was a workhorse in both fresh and salt fishing. It never failed me even I sometimes I forget to wash it after kayak fishing in saltwater. Similar to a Millionaire CVZ, it has Magforce Z brakes - which is probably the best mag brake on a round reel out there. It has an externally adjustable brake (EAS). Just slide the brake setting to match your lure weight and wind conditions. It can cast a relatively small lure or even a huge heavy lure without backlash. The 203 is probably best used for swimbaits, spoons, top water for big barra, talakitok, mangrove jacks, or huge mamali (threadfin salmon). The drag is awesome, smooth and does not stutter, the AR is tight and solid, and most importantly balances well with a matching rod. You won't get tired of casting all day. AND, this is a really nice reel for light jigging! Just pop in a jigging handle and you are in business. It has a synchronized drag/guide system -- meaning the line guide moves as line goes in or out which reduces friction and improves casting and deep dropping.

Like most of Daiwa's reel designs, it has very few parts that can break down, It is so easy to disassemble, clean, and repair if needed. You can still get parts from Daiwa and also from their distributors all over the globe. You can use Millionaire parts if you want to upgrade it a bit. This is very important for a relatively expensive reel. If it breaks down, you can get the parts and repair it on your own. Unlike the newer Abus, newer Shimanos, or other no-name reel brands in the market. They are practically disposable as parts are hard to come by and when they break down, it will take you a while to get it repaired if ever.

At that time, I realized that the 203L was too much for the kind of fish I was catching. It was too powerful in my opinion so I had to let it go and bought it's smaller Japanese sibling -- The Millionaire Bay Casting Special 103L. Will I buy another one if given a chance or budget? Hell yes, if I can get it a bit cheaper. There are Millionaire CVZs that almost match the Lunas in terms of price right now but these CVZs are the ones without EAS (External Adjustment System), which I will discuss in some other post in the future.

So, my advise, get one if you can find one. It's a dual-purpose and reliable reel that will last for long time.