In the end I opted for the Daiwa Windcast 5500Zs because they ticked all the boxes. They weren’t too big or heavy, the two spools that came with them hold more than enough line – 440 yards of 15lb – and the line lay is superb. I bought a set of three and have been impressed ever since.
The front drag is very smooth and only needs a quarter turn to release it from full on to free enough to give line on a take. They also look great and give the impression of a much more expensive reel.
My kit really gets used and abused. I don’t spend lots of time looking after it like I should, but these reels have been a good workhorse. They have performed admirably, even in some dire conditions – especially in France during winter.
However, this winter I felt that they were starting to feel a bit tight. This was mostly due to the weather conditions; it was freezing. Although the lakes didn’t freeze there was a wind-chill factor of minus 8ºC.
When I returned from France I sent the reels to Daiwa to have them serviced. They were promptly returned and were like brand new.
They also came with a useful tip from the service lads. When you stop fishing it is advisable to loosen your clutch. This eases the stress on it and will increase its performance.
If you own Daiwa reels I highly recommend that you take advantage of this brilliant service, which the company offers on most of its reels.
To sum up, the Windcast 5500Zs are sensibly priced and look and perform like reels that costs much more. Yes, if I fished regularly at extreme distances there are reels available that could do the job better but until I do I will continue to use these excellent bits of kit.