Larry Nixon stands over a Team Daiwa TD1Hi Magforce as part of Team Daiwa. In the day Team Daiwa was stacked with the best anglers on the tour.

Team Daiwa has been a fixture in bass fishing going on 40 years.  The original team consisted of a gang of the best anglers of the day.  Today in Team Daiwa 1990, we’re going to look at the team and also check out their new Team Daiwa series of reels.

The lead-in image, featuring Larry Nixon, caught my eye in a 1990 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.  Nixon, one of the original Team Daiwa pros, is dressed in a NASCAR race suit leaning on a huge Team Daiwa TD1Hi reel.  Obviously, there’s some sleight of hand here in the days before photoshop, but the ad is very catchy, and I vividly remember it from back in the day.

The reel’s “hood” is propped open as if Nixon is readying his reel for the next event.  But, according to Daiwa, he won’t need to spend any time “under the hood.”

At this point in time, there were only two real competitors in the reel industry.  And neither of them had the initials ABU.  The market share was now owned by Daiwa and Shimano.  Go back to the magazines of the era to see it yourself.

Multiple pages of ads were placed in each issue of every bass magazine in print by both Daiwa and Shimano, each showing why their products were better.  Daiwa was the first to put a magnet in a reel for cast control, as they were first to put an entire computer in a reel.  The magnetic control worked, the computer, not so much.

This year Daiwa released their new series of reels, the Team Daiwa Tournament Reels.  The reel came in two versions, a narrow spool (TD1Hi) and a wider spool for more line capacity (TD2Hi).  Each reel came with Daiwa’s infinite anti-reverse, one-piece frame, Power Mech gears, five ball bearings, and their patented Magforce brake control.  Retrieve ratio was a blistering 6.3:1 that equated to 27 inches of line per turn of the handle.

This reel on paper blew away anything Shimano had to offer, and it performed on the water as stated.

But we can’t go any further in the duel without mentioning how Daiwa and Shimano got to where they were in 1990.

If you remember, both companies took note from Lew Childre and his Speed Spool.  Shimano, of course, made the Speed Spool, so they had a leg up on the design when they debuted in 1979.  But Daiwa, also in 1979, came out with their Procaster and the race for the reel market was on.

This spawned a rivalry amongst anglers, much like the rivalry between Ford and Chevy.  The MOPAR folks were still using ABU.  I was amongst the MOPAR crowd, not willing to cave to the masses.  I did use Daiwa spinning reels, though.

Team Daiwa from the 1990 Daiwa catalog.

Let’s look at who was on that original Team Daiwa squad and some of their accomplishments at the time.  George Cochran (9-time Classic Qualifier and Classic Winner), Larry Nixon (14-time Classic Qualifier and Classic Winner), Rick Clunn (17-time Classic Qualifier and 4-time Classic Winner), Bill Dance (8-time Classic Qualifier and The most popular angler in fishing), Denny Brauer (8-time Classic Qualifier), and Guido Hibdon (5-time Classic Qualifier and Classic Winner).  To say the team was stacked would be the understatement of the decade.  These were some of the best anglers to ever hold a rod and reel.

Shimano may have been ahead in the advertising game, but Daiwa was way out in front when it came to rounding up the best pro-staff in the industry.

Today the industry has changed immensely when it comes to reels.  What was maybe 2 1/2 serious reel companies in the 1990s has ballooned to a number I can’t count.  It seems every tackle company “makes” their own reels and there are many companies that start out just selling reels.  In fact, I heard that Little Debbie is coming out with a reel line for the2024 ICAST show.  The reel will be biodegradable, use spaghetti for line and is fully edible at the end of the day.

But, if you’re serious about your bass fishing today and want to fish the best, it’s hard to deviate from Daiwa.  They’ve been building top-shelf reel for a long time and know what it takes to make a reel that will not only cast well but last.