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Daiwa Ballistic LT Spinning Reel Review

In this review of the Daiwa Ballistic LT spinning reel, I will go through the features that make this an excellent option for all different types of fishing, from saltwater – both on and offshore to freshwater, too.

The Daiwa Ballistic LT is available in 7 models, from the Daiwa Ballistic LT BLSLT1000D to the larger Daiwa Ballistic LT BLSLT6000D-C. 

Additionally, the BLSLT2500D also comes in a high-speed version, the BLSLT2500D-XG that bumps the gear ratio from 5.3:1 up to 6.2:1 and increases the retrieval rate from 29.6″ to 34.5″ for your topwater lures.

A few of the features that make this reel ideal for both saltwater and freshwater fishing are the carbon fiber ‘Zaion’ reel, the MagSealed system that keeps corrosion at bay, and the machined alloy DigiGear that keeps the reel running smoothly no matter how big the fish is.

The Bottom Line

  • Daiwa’s lightweight spinning reel with 22 lbs of drag in a size 2500 reel that rocks!
  • Corrosion resistant ball bearings and MagSealed for harsh conditions. 
  • Small and lightweight frame that houses the massive DigiGear.
  • Super strong body made of Daiwa’s Zaion material.

The Daiwa Ballistic LT is a great high-end lightweight spinning reel that does not break the bank. Get it HERE.

The Daiwa Ballistic LT BLSLT1000D weighs in at just 5.8 ounces, making it a great option if you tend to target smaller fish and really want to finesse them.

While the Daiwa Ballistic LT BLSLT6000D-C comes in at 11.1 ounces, this is still an incredibly lightweight spinning reel, especially for the 26.4 lbs of drag capacity it has.

The Daiwa Ballistic LT BLSLT6000D-C comes with 26.4 pounds of maximum drag, making it an incredibly durable reel, especially considering how little it weighs.

With seven ball bearings which include one infinite anti-reverse, this reel delivers a smooth retrieve as well as a solid hookset.

So what does the LT stand for in the Daiwa Ballistic LT? Simple, The LT stands for light and tough, which is simply Daiwa’s way of denoting models that are in the lighter weight range.

With a reel like this, you get exactly what you pay for which is why you’ll find the Daiwa Ballistic LT spinning reel perfect for everything from playing with the mangrove snappers to landing a big Redfish or Snook.

Features

New Smaller frame, body, and housing: Daiwa has designed the Ballistic LT to be smaller and lighter when compared to their older models. Not only will you find that the body, frame, and housing are smaller, but the spool also takes up less room this time as well. 

Daiwa has been strategic with this move to ‘light and tough’ as they now have something to put up against their competition like the Shimano Stradic Ci4+

ZAION LT Housing Concept: Daiwa has built a very light yet very strong carbon body of the Daiwa Ballistic LT. It is also referred to as ‘Zaion.’ This is Daiwa’s proprietary carbon material, which creates an aesthetically appealing outer body which is also incredibly lightweight and rigid.

The combination of the lightweight and stiffness you’ll find on the Ballistics body results in almost zero flex. This carbon fiber body is why even the larger models of the Daiwa Ballistic LT models are so lightweight.

Machined Aluminium Alloy DIGIGEAR: Daiwa manufactures these main DigiGears out of aluminum using what we believe is a CNC process, although they are pretty tight-lipped about the exact process.  This is in comparison to many manufacturers that cast the gear. 

By using the CNC machining process, a gear is created that is smooth, clean and has a crisp spin. The durability and smoothness that the Daiwa Ballistic LT aluminum DigiGears create can really be felt when you free spin the reel. We did not feel any drag from the meshing of the teeth. 

MAGSEALED System: Daiwa’s MagSealed is unique and has proven to be very effective at reducing the amount of debris and water that has a tendency to travel down the main shaft.  Daiwa has created a proprietary sealing system that uses magnets and a proprietary oil to seal the common points of entry where other manufacturers simply use a rubber seal or gasket.

This opening which would typically be covered with a washer instead uses oil to do an excellent job at keeping water and debris out similar to how a boat propeller shaft works. Additionally, the MagSealed system creates an incredibly smooth reel due to minimal resistance almost eliminating any friction whatsoever. 

7-Bearing System:  The 7 bearing 6+1 system includes 1 CRBB and 5 stainless steel ball bearings as well as 1 anti-reverse instant roller bearing, 

Extremely powerful drag system: The drag system on the Daiwa Fuego LT is made of what appears to be animal hair and provides from 11 lbs on the tiny 1000 model up to 26.4 lbs on the 4000, 5000 and 6000 models making the drag sufficient for even your hard fighting inshore species such as snook and big Bull Reds.

Ergonomic machined aluminum handle: The machined aluminum handle has a gentle sway to it that just feels right in your hands.  The handle is designed to screw in for a solid feel with no slop and can easily be adapted for both right or left handed retrieving. 

Because Daiwa has made the handles on these models out of aluminum, you’re not going to experience any flex. 

Designed for freshwater, inshore and offshore applications: While many people do use the Daiwa Ballistic LT for freshwater applications it has been designed to be used in saltwater both inshore and offshore.

 Features at a Glance

  • New Smaller frame, body and housing
  • ZAION Housing LT Concept- very light yet very strong 
  • Machined Aluminum Alloy DIGIGEAR- smoothness and durability
  • MAGSEALED- reduces water and debris from traveling down the shaft
  • 7-Bearing System 1-CRBB, 5-BB and 1BB
  • Designed for freshwater, inshore and offshore applications

New Smaller frame, body, and housing: Daiwa has deliberately made this model smaller compared to their older models. Not only will you find that the body, frame, and housing are smaller, but the spool also takes up less room this time as well.

This is not typical of Daiwa, who are known for their large spools and huge line capacity. Daiwa has been strategic with this move to ‘light and tough’ as they now have something to put up against their competitors.

Don’t be fooled, though – this new smaller spool still has a lot of line capacity to give. It’s worth pairing this model with a bit of mono for extra grip.

ZAION LT Housing Concept – very light yet very strong: The carbon body of the Daiwa Ballistic LT is sometimes simply referred to as ‘Zaion’, this is due to Daiwa’s very own proprietary carbon brand. It creates an aesthetically appealing outer body which is also incredibly lightweight and rigid.

With the combination of the lightweight and stiffness in this material, you’ll find on this reel’s outer body there appears to be absolutely no flex. This carbon fiber body is why even the larger reels of the Daiwa Ballistic LT models can be so lightweight.

Machined Aluminium Alloy DIGIGEAR – Smoothness and durability are what you get with the incredibly large main gear which is typical of Daiwa.  As is also typical with Daiwa, these main DigiGears are machined out of aluminum with what we believe is a CNC machine, not cast which results in a smooth, clean and crisp spin.

The durability and smoothness that the Daiwa Ballistic LT aluminum digigears create can really be felt when you spin it and could cut down the competition on this basis alone. You won’t find any seizing or meshing of the teeth on this reel even under a heavy load.

MAGSEALED: The Daiwa Ballistic LT is MagSealed from the main shaft which reduces the chance of anything from traveling down the main shaft into the gears. The MagSealed is Daiwa’s proprietary sealing system.

At the common points of entry where other reels may use a rubber seal or gasket, to keep salt and sand from running down the main shaft, Daiwa implements their magnetic MagOil seal. This opening which would typically be covered with a washer and grease instead uses a proprietary oil (MagOil) to do an excellent job at keeping water and debris out.

An additional benefit of the MagSealed system is it creates an incredibly smooth spin eliminating almost any friction whatsoever. 

7-Bearing System: The 7 bearing 6+1 system includes 1 CRBB and 5 stainless steel bearing balls plus1 anti-reverse instant roller bearing.  The instant anti-reverse makes sure that when you are ready to set the hook that there is no back play on the reel and you get a solid hook set.

This optimizes the Daiwa Ballistic LT reel for heavy-duty fishing as well as smaller hauls as well.

Lightweight Air Rotor design – Daiwa’s Air Rotor design is somewhat similar to what Okuma has done with their Cyclonic Flow Rotor on the Inspira and Helios models.  

The air rotor design provides for a reduction in weight of 15%, distributes the pressure from the line and line roller evenly and helps to dry the reel faster especially under the spool area where saltwater is a known issue.

Designed for freshwater, inshore and offshore applications: Because Daiwa has made the handles on these models out of aluminum, you’re not going to experience a lot of flex. This has been done deliberately to decrease the chances of corrosion anywhere on the outer body of the reel, including the handle.

This makes it an excellent model for all different types of fishing, from inshore, offshore and even freshwater.

For those of you who want all the details I have provided the chart below.

ModelLine Retrieve (in)Gear RatioMono Cap(lbs/yd)Braid Cap(lbs/yd)Max Drag (lb)Ball BearingsWeight (oz)
BLSLT1000D25.55.2:14/220
6/140
8/110
6/320
8/200
116+15.8
BLSLT2500D29.65.3:18/220
12/160
16/110
10/250
15/185
226+16.3
BLSLT2500D-XH34.56.2:18/220
12/160
16/110
10/250
15/185
226+16.3
BLSLT3000D-C31.65.3:112/220
16/160
20/130
15/250
20/220
226+16.5
BLSLT4000D-C32.55.2:116/220
20/160
25/140
20/280
30/200
26.46+17.9
BLSLT5000D-C34.55.2:116/250
20/195
25/140
30/230
40/160
26.46+18.1
BLSLT6000D-C26.45.1:120/270
25/225
30/160
30/320
40/240
26.46+111.1

Field Test

For our field test, we paired the Daiwa Ballistic LT in a 2500 model with the 5.3:1 gear ratio and a 7′ St. Croix Mojo Inshore in a Medium Light Fast which is one of my favorite rods for fishing inshore.

One of the things that immediately stood out was just how smooth the reel is and at just 6.3 oz when paired with the Mojo, I had a setup that weighed less than 11 oz.  For the person that wants to cast a rod and reel for a few hours weight is not so important, but when you fish from a kayak the way I like to and fish for hours on end every little bit counts.

We took the combo out to the grass flats to see what we could find.  I first started out with a smaller topwater lure and was pleased with the responsiveness of the reel when retrieving.  I kind of wished I had both the 5.3:1 and the higher speed 6.2:1 model side by side to compare the difference but I was able to get good action walking the dog.

In the first hour of the day, I was able to hook up with a few smaller specs and then I hooked into a decent 22″ red.  The 22lbs of drag was obviously way more than I needed for this smaller fish so I backed it way off and had fun playing the fish for a few minutes. 

I then moved on to another spot where there are great holes in and around the grass flats and where there is a nice channel about 8′ that comes up quickly to the grasses.  I swapped out the topwater for a Z-Man Jerk Shad rigged on one of my favorites an Owner Weighted Twistlock and started to work from the grasses out to the edge where it drops off in hopes of finding a Red cruising.

After moving around for 20 minutes patience paid off and I was hooked into a nice fish.  The drag screamed and I had to tighten it down which I found to be very easy.  I carefully played the fish and was able to bring it back to the kayak in about 4 minutes. 

At 32″ this is one of the bigger Reds I have caught in the last few months.

Overall I was very pleased with the Ballistic LT’s performance casting both a 7″ jerk shad as well as a smaller topwater plug.  I am confident that this will also be a good setup when fishing for Sheepheads, which as you know require a lot of finesse as they have such a light bite.

In speaking with Matt down in St. Augustine, he had this to say “I have both the 5000 and 6000 reels, I have used them fishing for tarpon in the Everglades (saltwater), they are very light, smooth, and have a very good drag.

I have caught about 50 tarpons on them so far up to 125 pounds and they have stood up well. I would give them the edge over both the Quantum Cabo’s and Shimano Stradic reels. Drag is as good as the Cabo and reels as smooth as the Stradic while being lighter.

I am using them with a DOA baitbuster, that I cast and reel for 12 plus hours a day, so being smooth and light is very important and having a drag that can stand up to a 100 pound plus tarpon.”

Pros

  • Daiwa’s MagSealed system is unique and efficient
  • Strong machined aluminum main DigiGear gear
  • Light and Tough as advertised

Cons

  • The MagSealed system is proprietary making it harder to service
  • Some feel the spool is smaller than advertised

Alternatives

The first reel I would have you take a look at is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ which falls within the same mid-range price category. 

While these two models are tied when it comes to price, let’s take a look at how they compare in the drag and weight categories. With the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000, you’re looking at an 8.1 oz reel that can withstand 24 maximum pounds of drag. With the Daiwa Ballistic LT 4000, you’ve got a 7.9 oz reel that can hand out a maximum 26.4 pounds of drag, so more drag, and less weight.

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ models have their own Advanced CoreProtect water resistant system, which goes head to head with Daiwa’s unique MagSealed system. Both prevent the onset of corrosion, just in different ways.  Read the full Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Review HERE.

With the Pflueger Supreme XT models, you’ve got another reel that falls within the same price range as the Daiwa Ballistic LT models – if not slightly cheaper. Let’s take a look at how these two reels compare when it comes to drag and weight.

The Pflueger SUPXTSP40X reel weighs in at 8.7 ounces with a maximum drag capacity of 14 pounds. As we know, the Daiwa Ballistic LT BLSLT4000D-C comes in at 7.9 ounces and has a maximum drag capacity of 26.4 pounds. This is a stark difference, which makes it easy to decide who the winner is when it comes to drag.

The sealed carbon system on the Pflueger Supreme XT models do a good job at keeping dirt and grime out, however, the portholes in the spools have a tendency to attract grime and are subject to corrosion if not cleaned well.  Read the full Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel review HERE.

In Conclusion

We found the Daiwa Ballistic LT Spinning Reel to be a winner and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to add a lightweight reel to their arsenal that can withstand harsh saltwater conditions. 

With the Daiwa MagSeal and Zaion carbon composite body on the Daiwa Ballistic LT, you’re looking at a stand out reel that can hold its own when it comes to fishing both saltwater and freshwater.  

You’re going to struggle to find another reel in this price range that offers the features and capacity that the Daiwa Ballistic LT does. From its smooth drag to impressive weightlessness and overall endurance, you’re going to find it easy to fish for long periods of time in all of the elements.

While Pflueger Supreme XT does offer a slightly more affordable reel, it can’t compare to Daiwa Ballistic LT when it comes to composition and drag.

While you may end up spending slightly more initially with the Ballistic LT, you’re going to get your money’s worth and you will have a reel that will be around years from now if rinsed properly after each use.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Daiwa Ballistic LT Review
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