Expert Review: Daiwa Saltist 2 Speed Lever Drag Conventional Reels

Published on 02/04/2023 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2022.
Glenn Daily, Fishing Expert
By Fishing Expert Glenn Daily

Photo by Glenn Daily

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

My take

The Daiwa Saltist 2-Speed Lever Drag Conventional is a great beginner reel for big-game sport fishing. It’s a high-performing and low-cost reel with plenty of features.

About the reel I own

  • Model: Daiwa Saltist 2-Speed Lever Drag
  • Reel Size: STTLD30-2SPD
  • Construction: Saltwater Conventional
  • Drag System: Lever
  • Drag Pressure: 26lbs

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): Jigging, Trolling, Sight Casting
  • Experience: 22 years of fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: September 2022
  • Rod Paired with Reel: Daiwa Saltist trolling conventional rods, Daiwa Saltiga Jigging Rod
  • Line Paired with Reel: 40lb Power Pro Slick V2 350 yards with a 60lb Monofilament top shot of 50 yards
  • Days tested: 250
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Saltwater inshore and offshore
  • Species targeted with reel: Tuna, Mahi-Mahi, King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Cobia, Tarpon

How it performs


What I was looking for

My primary goal for finding gear was to test out a reel that was cheaper than what I had been purchasing in the past—such as Avet reels—but made of high-quality components in order to take offshore and nearshore for trolling and bottom jigging. I wanted a reel that could withstand a lot of abuse from being tossed around on a boat and still function without any issues—but at the same time, be capable of having enough power to pull any fish that I was targeting or withstand the amount of force that species such as Tuna and sometimes Amberjacks produce.

Why I chose this gear

I chose this reel because, at the time, it was one of the newer releases from Daiwa, and I love that company. The reel is built strong—out of aluminum—but is still lightweight and has a nice overall balance.

What I love about it

  • Performance: This reel matches perfectly with the Saltist Trolling rod (for nearshore trolling King Mackerels) and the other setup I have on the Saltiga Jigging rod. It’s very well-balanced and easy to use while casting and retrieving. It features a smooth retrieval with perfect stopping whenever I want— especially when I’m about to set the hook.
  • Quality: The reel is finished in a nice blend of matte and glossy black with some highlights of blue. It gives it an elegant look.
  • Versatility: This reel can be highly versatile due to its different sizing and amount of applications it can be used for. I find it to be better for bottom jigging or casting some baits out.
  • Durability: This reel is definitely durable and is built for the average fisherman. The reel was designed for fishing saltwater and has some of the best quality parts for saltwater. Some of the parts include the full aluminum body, stainless steel bearings, and the ultimate tournament drag system.
  • Application: I tested this reel out for trolling nearshore and jigging. Due to its smaller, compact size, I found that the reel makes it easier to control the rate of casting and jigging. I could land plenty of Mahi-Mahi and some Blackfin Tuna easily.
  • Size: I chose size 30 for this reel. I have a 6.3:1 gear ratio in high, making it fast and smooth for quickly retrieving lines. But I also have a 3.1:1 gear ratio for the low powerful ratio for fighting some stronger fish. Compared to my Avet reels, I found the Daiwa to be a better option price-wise and is evenly matched to my Avet MXL 6.3MC reel.
  • Drag System: The drag system is simple to use. It only needs to be turned by the lever, which makes it easy and fast—especially when setting the hook. The system gives max drag output and allows me to slow down the run of each and every species I target.
  • Feel: The material is smooth and strong in the handle while retrieving the line. At the same time, providing the perfect balance on the rod. The reel fits comfortably in my hands to control the feeling and direction of the line.
  • Build:** **This reel is built with Daiwa’s newer technology featuring corrosion-resistant bearings and an aluminum body that keeps it lightweight but strong.
  • Aesthetics: The only finish option is black and blue, which I love. It is super smooth and elegant with a dark but stylish finish.
  • Features: Features include stainless steel and corrosion-resistant bearings, Daiwa’s Ultimate Tournament Drag system, and an EVA ball knob on the handle.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Maintenance: Rinsing the reel will be plenty for single usage, but the reel has to be sent off to a professional for proper lubrication unless one knows how to do it on their own. I generally send my reels off to a professional annually, but in order to keep them properly lubricated, semi-annually would be better, and that can become expensive over time.

Value for the money vs. other options

I found this reel to be one of the best options for the price. It performed better than I could have imagined and is closer to other high-end reels in its class when compared with a cheaper option—and it will last longer than a cheaper model. I compared this reel to the Penn Fathom 2-Speed Lever Drag that was about the same price, and I personally believe that it outperformed the Fathom. I found that the Fathom’s drag system was not as high performing as the Saltist, and the bearings were not fully stainless steel, only certain parts of the Fathom’s bearing system were. In the Saltist, the entire assembly in the system is stainless steel, and the overall durability of the finish and make is better.

Final verdict

In my opinion, the Daiwa Saltist is one of the best options for beginners in big-game sportfishing.

Out of stock
  • We price match
  • Returnable

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