Expert Review: Daiwa Ballistic LT MQ Spinning Reel

Published on 02/01/2023 · 7 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in February of 2022.
Glenn Daily, Fishing Expert
By Fishing Expert Glenn Daily

Having my buddy test my new setup and ended up with a nice sized Speckled Trout!  Daiwa Ballistic MQ LT 3000D on a Fenwick. All photos courtesy of Glenn Daily

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in February of 2022.

My take

The Daiwa Ballistic LT MQ Spinning Reel is absolutely great for hitting the flats and inshore fishing spots. It is ideal for the intermediate angler. I use it as my main setup for catching speckled trout and redfish throughout the year.

About the reel I own

  • Model: Daiwa Ballistic MQ LT
  • Reel Size: 3000D
  • Construction: Monocoque body from cast aluminum with stainless steel
  • Drag System: Digigear
  • Drag Pressure: 22lbs max

About me

I grew up fishing the freshwater ponds in New Jersey and Pennsylvania areas, and later, I switched to fishing saltwater on the Jersey beaches. I now reside in the beautiful coastal areas of North Carolina, fishing the flats and inshore sounds for speckled trout, redfish, drum, and more to fish offshore for big game trophy fish such as mahi-mahi, tuna, and marlin. I have about 22 years of experience and knowledge of fishing under my belt. My preferred method of fishing would be jigging, bouncing some soft plastics off the bottom inshore, or deep-dropping some jigs offshore for tuna.

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: February 2022
  • Rod Paired with Reel: 7’6” Fenwick Inshore series Medium-Heavy
  • Line Paired with Reel: 15lbs Panderra 8x Braided line by Nomad Design
  • Days tested: 285 days
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Saltwater
  • Species targeted with reel: Speckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, Black Drum, Spanish Mackerel, Atlantic Bonito

How it performs


What I was looking for

I was personally looking for a small and compact reel for a new light tackle setup. The primary quality I was looking for was a reel with a great sound and heavy-duty drag system, with max protection from corrosion, dust, water, and debris from entering the main gears.

Why I chose this gear

I chose this reel because, unlike its previous version, it was made as a monocoque body system that withstood more without worrying about the gears burning out. The reel had also been improved with its Magseal technology. The old model had issues with the technology due to several rubber seals. Unlike this model, the seals would end up causing friction and squeaking sounds. However, it was smooth, and after testing it, I found those issues were fixed and improved upon by Daiwa. Another reason why I had chosen this reel was because of its small and compact features, allowing it to fit perfectly in my hand while maintaining a perfect balance on the rod chosen.

When I was looking into purchasing this reel, I compared it to the Penn Clash II 2500 and the Shimano Stradic FL. In this case, I found that the performance of the Daiwa Ballistic LT MQ reel was more versatile than the others because of its design. The Penn Clash is a quality build but lacks compared to the Daiwa Ballistic because of the Magseal technology feature with Daiwa reels. The corrosion-resistant technology allows for the reel to last longer without worry. Compared to the Shimano Stradic FL, the reel was difficult to choose between the two.

The Stradic FL is a great reel, but in the past versions, I had completely burned out the gears fighting fish and had issues with getting it repaired or replaced by Shimano. On the other hand, I had great experiences with Daiwa, and although the old version of the Ballistic had issues, I never once had any problems with the gears getting burned out while fighting some fish. That is the reason why I chose the Daiwa Ballistic LT MQ reel over the other available options.

What I love about it

  • Performance: The reel feels very well-balanced and smooth with each and every cast. With little to no effort, I can cast a good distance. Approximately 50 or more yards per cast, retrieves smoothly with no issues and stops on a dime when I want it to.
  • Quality: The materials feel strong and of quality make. The reel looks stunning in the colors that Daiwa chose in, off, and on the water. The rotor is built as an air rotor limiting heat and friction build-up, with a one-piece stainless steel gear system making it incredibly smooth.
  • Versatility: I find the reel to be exceptionally versatile in multiple aspects. It is durable and able to withstand the heavy-duty needs of some bigger fish, such as redfish and black drum, but able to take on the battle of a fast hit and run from a fish such as bonito and Spanish mackerel. The ability to interchange retrieval sides is a plus, making it useful for anyone.
  • Durability: The reel is durable in a lot of aspects but feels cheaper in the handle of the reel. The handle is made of hardened polymer but thinner than most of Daiwa’s other reels. I use this reel in saltwater only and have had no issues since purchasing it almost a year ago.
  • Application: I use this setup to cast artificial baits, such as Z-Man paddle-tailed minnows for trout and redfish and Gotcha Plugs for plugging Spanish mackerel and bonito. The small and lightweight reel makes it easy to get into some of the spots I found for trout and redfish, but it can carry enough line for those long runs by Spanish mackerel.
  • Size: 3000D, 5.2:1 gear ratio, with 8(2CRBB+6BB) 1RB bearing system. I chose this size for its small, lightweight, and compact feel with enough rotor size to carry plenty of line.
  • Drag System: The drag system is made from Daiwa’s Magsealed technology, which gives it great corrosion resistance and performs beautifully with a perfect sound when a fish decides to go for a run. With 22lbs of max drag, this reel has plenty of stopping power for my needs and is easy to adjust on the fly.
  • Feel: The reel feels well-balanced on the rod with no issues. The reel's shape is compact, allowing it to be taken to the more densely wooded areas with lots of brush or be carried while wading through water and not having to worry about it being heavy. The handle on the Ballistic reel is forged aluminum and is smooth, with an easy ability to change retrieval sides which helps make it feel better in my hand. Being lightweight by design, this reel can comfortably be taken to any area where I want to fish.
  • Build: Small sizing, compact, Magsealed technology. When deciding whether to purchase this reel, I compared it to a Shimano Stradic in a similar size and found it more durable and versatile for my needs.
  • Aesthetics: The reel comes in one color for all models and is between a smooth and matte finish in black and red. After being tossed around my truck bed and on a boat and pier, there are little to no signs of markings, keeping its finish pristine.
  • Features: No spare spool unless purchased from the Daiwa parts department. Swapping between LH/RH retrieval is easy and takes less than 30 seconds to complete.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Maintenance: I am not able to maintain this reel like any other. Taking it apart and re-oiling the reel by myself is not possible. Due to its new monocoque body system, it must be sent to a certified specialist.

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this reel would be fishing with a close friend. I gave it to him that day to test out the setup I had put together, and he ended up hooking a very nice speckled trout. We had fought the trout for about 30-45 minutes, chasing it up and down a bank and even into the water. We landed the fish and got an awesome picture of the fish and reel in the water, and we had no issues with the reel since it was completely dunked underwater and reeled.

Value for the money vs. other options

The Daiwa Ballistic LT MQ Spinning Reel is fairly priced, and this would be the answer for anyone looking for a great reel for light tackle and longevity. I compared this to the Daiwa BG 3000 and Shimano Stradic FL 3000. In my comparison, I found the gears and overall durability to be better than both reels and for only approximately $10 more than the Stradic.

Final verdict

I feel the Daiwa Ballistic LT MQ Spinning Reel is the best bang for one’s buck. This reel is a great option for those looking to upgrade their gear to the next level.

Shop Fishing on Curated

Daiwa Ballistic LT MQ Spinning Reel
Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod
Douglas DXF Fly Rod

Browse more Daiwa Fishing

Temple Fork Outfitters Trout-Panfish Rod
Orvis Men's PRO Approach Shoe
Douglas SKY G Fly Rod
Simms Men's Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe
Lamson Liquid Fly Reel
Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon Fly Rod
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod

Browse more Daiwa Fishing

Read next

New and Noteworthy