The Best Daiwa Spinning Reels for 2024 - Tested and Reviewed

Written by: Pete Danylewycz
Last Updated:
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Daiwa is legendary for its tech, offering feather-weight reels with rigid monocoque bodies and smooth, powerful drags. And from hard fighting snook to tournament-winning bass, massive grouper to thick-bodied slabs, there’s a Daiwa reel that’s just perfect for your next fishing adventure.

If you’re in the market for a new reel, we’re here to help.

Below, you’ll find in-depth reviews of the best Daiwa reels, as well as a complete buying guide that explains why we chose these particular models.

Quick glance at the best Daiwa spinning reels:

Related: 

Best Daiwa Spinning Reels Reviewed

Daiwa Exist G LT - Best Overall Daiwa Reel

Bass Pro

Sizes: 2000, 2500, 3000, 4000, and 5000

Maximum drag: (2000) 11 lbs

(2500) 11 lbs.

(3000) 22 lbs.

(3000 H) 22 lbs.

(4000) 22 lbs.

(5000) 22 lbs.

Line capacity: (2000) 6/320, 8/200

(2500) 8/200, 10/170

(3000) 15/250, 20/220

(3000 H) 8/220, 10/185

(4000) 10/260, 14/250

(5000) 30/230, 40/160

Bearings: 10CRBB, 2MSBB, and 1RB

Gear ratio: (2000) 4.9:1 24.1 IPT

(2500) 6.2:1 34.5 IPT

(3000) 5.2:1 30.6 IPT

(3000 H) 5.7:1 33.6 IPT

(4000) 5.2:1 32.5 IPT

(5000) 5.2:1 34.5 IPT

Weight: (2000) 5.3 oz.

(2500) 5.6 oz.

(3000) 6.2 oz.

(3000 H) 6.2 oz.

(4000) 7.1 oz.

(5000) 7.5 oz.

When Daiwa decides to go high-tech, the results can be truly startling. And while the Exist wears a crazy price tag for an inshore reel, it’s an Authority crusher for anglers hunting specks, reds, snook, and other popular game fish. It might also be the finest finesse reel for bass anglers currently available at any price.

Let’s see why.

Daiwa equips the Exist with its latest and most innovative tech. As you’d expect, that includes an incredibly light and rigid monocoque body that holds larger gears than you’d expect. As we’ve discussed above in other reviews, that MQ body is truly an innovation, offering greater performance and slashing weight. 

Suffice it to say that the carefully machined Duralumin main gear is both robust and smooth, held perfectly in place by the rigid body of the Exist.

That oversized main gear may spin at modest gear ratios, but retrieval speeds remain impressive, if not quite on par with similarly sized Penn reels. That said, I find the Exist is fast enough for anything the drag and capacity can handle, and there’s simply no need to worry about inshore or freshwater species outrunning these gears.

Daiwa uses the Automatic Tournament Drag Type-L in the Exist line up, delivering reduced drag at the hookset and silky-smooth tension throughout the fight. It really is an excellent drag system with lubricated carbon-fiber drag washers that are durable and consistent.

But perhaps the most impressive elements of the Exist are the Airdrive rotor, bail, spool, and shaft. Simply amazing weight reduction has been achieved by the engineers at Daiwa, and the one crank will tell you that this translates into the smoothest, lightest spinning you’ve ever felt.

That translates into vastly increased feel as you retrieve, enabling you to detect light strikes, bumps, and the action of your lure like never before. And from spoons pulled through grass beds for reds, to finesse bass techniques like Neko rigs, increased sensitivity means more tournament wins and bigger trophies.

And despite the almost impossible weight of the reels - less than half of what we’ve come to expect at the highest end - spool capacity is only yards shorter than the Penn Authority, closing that troubling performance gap.

For me, this places the Exist firmly on the throne, and I’d brown it the king of inshore reels without a second thought.

If you can stomach the price, this reel is as good as it gets. 

Period.

Pros:

  • Unbelievably light!
  • Unbelievably sensitive retrieves!
  • Extremely rigid MQ body
  • Sealed body and drag
  • Excellent drag system
  • Fast retrieves
  • Excellent capacity

Cons:

  • Expensive!

Daiwa Saltist MQ - Best Daiwa Reel for Saltwater Professionals

Bass Pro

Sizes: 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 8000, 10000, 14000, and 18000

Maximum drag: (2500) 22 lbs.

(3000) 22 lbs.

(4000) 26.4 lbs.

(5000) 26.4 lbs.

(6000) 26.4 lbs.

(8000) 33.1 lbs.

(10000) 33.1 lbs.

(14000) 33.1 lbs.

(18000) 44.1 lbs.

Line capacity:braid (2500) 10/250, 15/185

(3000) 15/250, 20/220

(4000) 20/280, 30/200

(5000) 30/230, 40/160

(6000) 30/320, 40/240

(8000) 40/330, 50/280

(10000) 50/330, 65/280

(14000) 65/330, 80/280

(18000) 65/440, 80/330

Bearings: 6 + 1

Gear ratio: (2500) 5.7:1 31.5 IPT

(3000) 6.2:1 36.8 IPT

(4000) 6.2:1 39.1 IPT

(5000) 5.7:1 37.8 IPT

(6000) 5.7:1 39.9 IPT

(8000) 5.7:1 43.4 IPT

(10000) 5.7:1 46.2 IPT

(14000) 5.7:1 48.3 IPT

(18000) 5.3:1 49.4 IPT

Weight:(2500) 8.8 oz.

(3000) 9.5 oz.

(4000) 10.2 oz.

(5000) 15.3 oz.

(6000) 15.3 oz.

(8000) 21.9 oz.

(10000) 22.4 oz.

(14000) 22.2 oz.

(18000) 29.5 oz.

Daiwa’s Saltist is an uncompromising saltwater reel that’s ready for anything you throw at it. Packed with impressive tech, these ultra-light reels pack fight-winning power that’s the envy of Shimano and Penn.

Daiwa delivers the Saltist line-up in sizes starting at 2500, running all the way up to the massive 18000. Inshore or offshore, casting, trolling, or jigging, there’s a Saltist for you.

The Saltist is manufactured with an aluminum frame and an aluminum Monocoque Body (MQ). To say that this is an advance in fishing tech simply doesn’t go far enough. 

In a conventional reel body, a side plate is screwed down to house the gears and hold them in place under the forces of a hard fight. Daiwa’s MQ body, by contrast, is a single-piece design with no side plate, cradling oversized gears in a 360-degree shell.

The result is vastly decreased weight, larger gearing at a given size, greater rigidity, and improved sealing against saltwater intrusion.

Quite frankly, the MQ body may be the best design for reels that’s ever been available, and I don’t say that lightly.

As you can see from the Saltist MQ’s specifications, these reels are amazingly light for their size. For instance, Penn’s Slammer IV in 6500 and 7500 weighs in at 24.2 and 28.7 ounces, respectively. By contrast, the Saltist’s 10000 and 14000 tip the scales at just 22.4 and 22.2 ounces, respectively!

That’s amazing in its own right.

Each size of the Saltist MQ is equipped with Daiwa’s Automatic Tournament Drag, a carbon-fiber system that uses a proprietary grease to reduce start up inertia while increasing tension in the middle of the fight. This “automatic” adjustment gives the system its name, and all I can say about it is that you can expect smooth, effortless starts on the hookset and amazing performance from there on out.

Daiwa equips the Saltist MQ with tough, carefully-machined DigiGear tech that the company claims can exceed the service life of competitors’ gears by as much as 300%! 

That’s huge!

And there’s no question that between the MagSeal preventing saltwater intrusion, the ultra-rigid body, and the DigiGear tech, you get very smooth performance with plenty of torque and power. 

Daiwa’s Air Rotors are ultra-lightweight aluminum spools that further reduce overall ounces, and they hold capacious amounts of braided line. In conjunction with size-appropriate gearing, you’ll see lightning-fast retrieves that can keep up with even the fastest, hardest-charging species.

Overall, the Saltist MQ is one of the most impressive reels currently available, justifying the waves it’s making in the fishing world.

Pros:

  • Ultra-light, extremely-rigid MQ body
  • Sealed body and drag
  • Excellent drag system
  • Exceptional capacity
  • Lightning-fast retrieves
  • Available in a wide range of sizes

Cons:

  • ???

Daiwa Saltiga - Best Daiwa Reel for Offshore Fishing

Daiwa SALTIGA G Spinning - Saltwater Reel

Amazon 

Sizes: 8000, 10000, 14000, 18000, and 20000

Maximum drag: (8000) 55 lbs.

(10000) 55 lbs.

(14000) 55 lbs.

(18000) 66 lbs.

(20000) 66 lbs.

Line capacity: (8000) 40/330, 50/280

(10000) 50/330, 65/280

(14000) 65/330, 80/280

(18000) 65/440, 80/330

(20000) 80/440, 100/330

Bearings: 12 + 1

Gear ratio: (8000) 5.8:1 43.7 IPT

(10000) 5.8:1 46.6 IPT

(14000) 6.2:1 52.9 IPT

(18000) 5.8:1 51.6 IPT

(20000) 5.8:1 56.6 IPT

Weight: (8000) 23.1 oz.

(10000) 23.1 oz.

(14000) 23.5 oz.

(18000) 31.2 oz.

(20000) 31.4 oz.

The Saltiga is Daiwa’s flagship saltwater spinning reel, applying the most advanced tech the company can muster and delivering simply incredible performance. A direct competitor for the larger models of Penn’s Authority series, the Saltiga is a top-flight option for serious anglers.

Daiwa uses its proprietary monocoque technology to produce an amazingly rigid, feather-weight aluminum body for the Saltiga. As a result, larger gears can be used, weight is drastically reduced, saltwater intrusion is lessened, and rigidity is maximized.

Yes, the MQ body is really that good!

Of course, the MagSealed body is designed for long-term durability, and it works tremendously well to prevent saltwater intrusion that can gunk-up gears and shorten their life. I’d love it if Daiwa would release IPX ratings for their reels - but they don’t. In this case, it makes it impossible to offer an apples-to-apples comparison with the Penn Authority, though I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Saltiga in the rain or spray.

The Saltiga is armed with precision-machined gears made from a proprietary aluminum alloy called “G1 Duralumin.” I’m not a materials scientist, but my understanding is that this alloy, in conjunction with the MQ body’s capacious interior, allows for oversized gears and teeth that increase resistance to stress and improve durability and torque.

Smoothness is a hallmark of the Saltiga line-up, and you’ll find it difficult to match the buttery feel cranking these reels produces. 

What’s even better is that Daiwa’s gear ratios and spool size work together to produce blazing speed. For instance, Penn’s Authority in the 10500 size picks up 43 inches per turn of the crank. By contrast, the Saltiga 8000 pulls in 43.7 inches with the same effort, and the 10000 rips 46.6 inches per turn! That’s blazing speed that can keep a tight line on anything slower than a passing submarine.

And of course, between the Air Rotor, all-aluminum spool, aluminum-alloy gearing, and MQ body, the Saltiga is, size-for-size, easily the lightest reel out there, simply crushing the competition on this front.

Secure a 10500 Penn Authority on your rod and you add a full 37.3 ounces; by contrast, the 10000-size Saltiga weighs just 23.1 ounces, a difference of 47%! That’s huge, and if weight is an issue for you with large spinning reels, there’s really no competition for Daiwa.

Daiwa uses its Automatic tournament Drag system in the Saltiga, having beefed-up the washers to improve durability. The result is an easy-starting, reliably consistent drag system that can really tire big fish.

Capacity is good, but not even close to the Penn. The 10000, for instance, holds 330 yards of 50-pound braid, while the Authority manages an incredible 840 yards of the same line in the 10500 size!

To me, that’s a game-changing difference, putting Penn on the top. You’ll need to decide if you agree.

Overall, Daiwa’s Saltiga is a great choice for offshore anglers intent on wrangling big species to top tournaments, break records, and win bragging rights.

Pros:

  • Ultra-light weight!
  • Extremely rigid MQ body
  • Sealed body and drag
  • Excellent drag system
  • Lightning-fast retrieves

Cons:

  • Expensive!
  • Low capacity compared to Penn’s Authority

Daiwa Kage LT - Best Daiwa Reel for Freshwater

Daiwa Kage LT Spinning Reel

Amazon 

Sizes: 1000, 2000, and 2500

Maximum drag: (1000) 11 lbs.

(2000) 11 lbs.

(2500) 11 lbs.

Line capacity: (1000) 6/320, 8/200

(2000) 8/280, 10/215

(2500) 10/250, 15/185

Bearings: 9 + 1

Gear ratio: (1000) 6.2:1 30.5 IPT

(2000) 6.2:1 32 IPT

(2500) 6.2:1 34.3 IPT

Weight: (1000) 5.8 oz.

(2000) 6 oz.

(2500) 6.2 oz.

Daiwa’s Kage LT is a testament to the company's philosophy of “light and tough.” Ideal for freshwater applications, including finesse techniques for largemouth bass, as well as smallmouth and panfish of all kinds. For saltwater enthusiasts, in its largest size, I wouldn’t hesitate to wield it on a medium rod to chase specks and reds.

The Kage is built with a carbon fiber body that’s lightweight and strong. Carbon fiber is typically very stiff, providing excellent rigidity and holding the Kage’s gears steady. For the purposes for which it was designed, I can’t find fault with this material choice in any way, as the body simply won’t be subjected to forces that demand an all-metal body.

And in conjunction with the AirBail and AirRotor, the carbon fiber body of the age results in exceptional weight reduction. The 2000-size Kahe, for instance, weighs in at just 6 ounces, while by comparison, Penn’s Battle III in the same size offers a hefty 9.4 ounces to an angler.

On the water, the Kage all but disappears on the rod, reducing fatigue on long days.

Daiwa equips the Kage LT with aluminum Digigears, and again, for its intended purposes this is a hard decision to fault. The main gear’s teeth are amply sized, and between the careful machining and light-weight components, the Kage LT cranks like you're spinning the air.

All three sizes run a 6.2:1 gear ratio that crushes the Battle III’s retrieval rates size for size. And even the 2500 Penn Authority can’t keep up with the Kage LT unless you opt for the HS model.

That’s impressive for a reel of this weight, and when you consider just how much line the Kage’s spool offers, you’ll be nothing short of amazed.

The 2000 holds nothing short of 215 yards of 10-pound braid, while the 2500 can accommodate 250 yards of the same line. The 2500-size Penn Authority can’t quite match that number, and with a morning working pilings, oyster beds, or stumpy areas, you’ll have more than enough line for cutting and retying.

All three Kage LT models use the excellent ATD system of lubricated, carbon fiber drag discs, and I’ve simply no complaint whatsoever about the effectiveness of the drag from hookset to cooler.

If the unbeatable Exist is just too much for your bank account to bear, and you want an ultralight reel that’s capable of freshwater and light saltwater fishing, look no further than the Kage LT.

Pros:

  • Ultralight carbon fiber body
  • Precision-cut aluminum Digigears
  • Excellent speed
  • Excellent capacity
  • Excellent drag

Cons:

  • ???

Daiwa BG - Best Budget Daiwa Reel

Bass Pro

Sizes: 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, 3500, 4000, 4500, 5000, 6500, and 8000

Maximum drag:(1500) 4.4 lbs.

(2000) 4.4 lbs.

(2500) 13.2 lbs.

(3000) 15.4 lbs.

(3500) 17.6 lbs.

(4000) 17.6 lbs.

(4500) 22 lbs.

(5000) 22 lbs.

(6500) 33 lbs.

(8000) 33 lbs.

Line capacity:(1500) 8/220, 10/130

(2000) 10/160, 15/130

(2500) 20/170, 30/120

(3000) 20/240, 30/190

(3500) 20/310, 30/230

(4000) 30/280, 40/200

(4500) 40/340, 50/270

(5000) 50/360, 65/310

(6500) 65/440, 80/330

(8000) 65/590, 80/440

Bearings: 6 + 1

Gear ratio:(1500) 5.6:1 28.3 IPT

(2000) 5.6:1 29.5 IPT

(2500) 5.6:1 33.2 IPT

(3000) 5.6:1 37.4 IPT

(3500) 5.7:1 38.5 IPT

(4000) 5.7:1 39.9 IPT

(4500) 5.7:1 43.1 IPT

(5000) 5.7:1 47.4 IPT

(6500) 5.3:1 48.7 IPT

(8000) 5.3:1 53.3 IPT

Weight: (1500) 8.5 oz.

(2000) 8.5 oz.

(2500) 9.3 oz.

(3000) 10.8 oz.

(3500) 14.1 oz.

(4000) 14.3 oz.

(4500) 22 oz.

(5000) 22.6 oz.

(6500) 29.5 oz.

(8000) 30 oz.

Daiwa’s BG is everything a budget-minded angler is looking for, making it a direct rival for Penn’s Battle III. 

So how does it stack up?

Daiwa uses a solid aluminum body to provide light weight strength and rigidity, and in my experience, it does a good job of holding the gears right where they should be. The word on the street is that Daiwa uses a zinc alloy for the main gear of the BG series, cutting oversized teeth to increase durability and torque.

By contrast, the Battle III employs an aluminum main gear linked to a brass pinion gear. 

Most anglers find that the Battle III is the more forgiving reel when it comes to getting wet, and though Daiwa claims to have increased the durability of its gears to as much as 300% of its competitors, I don’t think real-world use bears this out.

That said, the BG is smooth cranking and fight ready.

Daiwa’s gearing is appropriate for size, as you’d expect, and in conjunction with the spool, delivers fast retrieval speeds. For instance, the 2000 runs a 5.6:1 gear ratio that picks up 29.5 inches per crank. By contrast, the Penn Battle III in the same size runs a 6.2:1 gear ratio that gobbles 30 inches per turn of the crank, a rough draw.

As you step up in size, this remains constant. The 4000-size Daiwa spins gears with a ratio of 5.7:1, grabbing 43.1 inches of line per turn of the crank. The 4000-size Battle III runs a 6.2:1 gear ratio, returning 37 inches of line to your spool, and the 4000 HS is geared for 7.0:1 and 43 inches of line per crank.

In contrast to some of the higher-end Daiwas that trail the competition in capacity, the BG features a big spool that holds plenty of line. Typically neck and neck with Penn across the BG/Battle III line-up, you’ll be delighted with the capacity each size offers.

Interestingly, Daiwa usually wins the weight contest hands down, but in the case of the BG - and despite the use of an Airspool - the BG is often heavier than the comparable Battle III. In the 2500-size, the Daiwa weighs in at 9.3 ounces, while the Penn tips the scales at 9.7. But step up to the 4000, and the BG weighs 14.3 ounces to the Battle III’s 12.2 and 12.8 (HS) ounces.

Daiwa runs the excellent ATD system in the BG, offering reduced initial resistance on the hookset and predictable, smooth tension throughout the fight. I prefer Penn’s HT-100 drag system overall, as it’s beefier and more powerful at each size.

So where does that leave the BG?

Daiwa’s BG is a very smooth cranking, hard-fighting alternative to the Penn Battle III, and it’s certainly a worthy rival. If you’re a Daiwa fan who needs a good inshore or freshwater spinning reel, the BG won’t let you down.

Pros:

  • All-aluminum body
  • Precision-cut Digigears
  • Excellent speed
  • Excellent capacity
  • Excellent drag

Cons:

  • ???

Daiwa Certate SW

Bass Pro

Sizes: 5000, 6000, 8000, 10000, 14000, and 18000

Maximum drag: (5000) 33 lbs

(6000) 33 lbs.

(8000) 55 lbs.

(10000) 55 lbs.

(14000) 55 lbs.

(18000) 65 lbs.

Line capacity: (5000) 30/230, 40/160

(6000) 30/320, 40/240

(8000) 40/330, 50/280

(10000) 50/330, 65/280

(14000) 65/330, 80/280

(18000) 65/440, 80/330

Bearings: (5000) 9CCRBB, 1BB, 1RB

(6000) 9CCRBB, 1BB, 1RB

(8000) 8 BB (1MBB, 1CRBB, 5BB) + 1RB

(10000) 8 BB (1MBB, 1CRBB, 5BB) + 1RB

(14000) 8 BB (1MBB, 1CRBB, 5BB) + 1RB

(18000) 8 BB (1MBB, 1CRBB, 5BB) + 1RB

Gear ratio: (5000) 6.2:1 41.1 IPT

(6000) 6.2:1 43.4 IPT

(8000) 5.8:1 43.7 IPT

(10000) 5.8:1 46.6 IPT

(14000) 6.2:1 52.9 IPT

(18000) 5.8:1 51.6 IPT

Weight: (5000) 13.6 oz.

(6000) 13.2 oz.

(8000) 22 oz.

(10000) 22.2 oz.

(14000) 22.4 oz.

(18000) 30 oz.

Daiwa’s Certate SW is a hybrid between the Certate of old and the new Saltiga, placing it more or less in a category of its own with its competitors. Priced at far more than Penn’s Slammer IV or Authority, the Certate SW is nonetheless not the equal in price or performance of the Saltiga, positioning it as a second high-end reel in Daiwa’s catalog.

That’s not to say that the Certate SW isn’t an awesome reel: it most certainly is! 

In its smaller sizes, the Certate SW is ideal for inshore and offshore species like giant trevally, salmon, and barracuda, but as you step up to the big boys in this line-up, you’ll be armed against hard-fighting, fast swimming species like marlin, tarpon, tuna, and shark.

Daiwa equips the Certate SW with a monocoque body, and here, just as on its other reels, that tech delivers unsurpassed rigidity, weight reduction, space for larger gears, and increased protection from the elements.

That machined-aluminum body holds Daiwa’s DigiGears, in this case, machined from G1 Duralumin alloy. Now normally, I’m not a fan of aluminum main gears, but as with the Saltiga, increased gear sizes yield massive teeth that are durable, powerful, and smooth.

Each size has an appropriate gear ratio, which in combination with the big spools Daiwa delivers, yields amazing retrieval speeds.

“How fast,” you ask?

The 5000 Certate SW pulls in 41.1 inches per turn of the crank. The 8000 scoops up 43.7 inches. And the 10000 swallows 46.6 inches per revolution of the handle. Compare that to Penn’s Authority, and you’ll find that size for size, the Certate SW is significantly faster, without considering the unmatched (by Penn) sizes in this series.

Unfortunately, Daiwa entirely surrenders capacity to Penn. The 8500 size Authority holds 730 yards of 40-pound braid, 600 yards of 50-pound braid, and 555 yards of 65-pound braid, dwarfing the 8000-size Certate SW’s 330 yards of 40-pound test or 280 yards of 50-pound test.

That’s simply a ridiculous difference, and I’d be willing to take on more weight for a more capacious spool, hands down.

Daiwa uses the excellent Automatic Tournament Drag system in the Certate SW, and its performance is top-notch.

Overall, as with all of Daiwa's reels, if you can accept lower capacity from the spool, you win vastly decreased weight and improved body rigidity when compared with Penn. For many, that’s an attractive trade-off, and if that has you nodding your head, take a look at the Certate SW.

You won’t be disappointed!

Pros:

  • Ultra-light weight!
  • Extremely rigid MQ body
  • Sealed body and drag
  • Excellent drag system
  • Lightning-fast retrieves

Cons:

  • Expensive!
  • Low capacity compared to Penn’s Authority

Why Did We Select These Daiwa Reels?

Technology

While all reel companies offer high-tech flagship options, I don’t think there’s a company that rivals Daiwa on this front.

Monocoque bodies

A monocoque (MQ) body is a one-piece combination of frame and body that offers multiple benefits.

As Daiwa explains, “A monocoque body means it's a one-piece body design. So where we traditionally used to have a side plate on the side of the reel with screws holding it in, we now have a side plate eliminated and replace that with what we call our engine plate, which screws into the side of the reel directly. So it houses the main gear and screws straight in.”

First, this body style enables superior rigidity, holding the internal gears fast against even the strongest forces. In practice, this means that the gears’ precision-cut teeth remain perfectly aligned, delivering stellar performance in the fight of your life.

Second, an MQ body is ultra-lightweight, shaving ounce after ounce from a reel’s bulk.

Third, a monocoque body allows Daiwa to install a much larger gear than normal for its size. Larger, more robust gears aren’t just stronger - they’re faster, too.

And finally, monocoque tech means that it’s relatively easy to prevent saltwater intrusion into the body, improving performance and durability in the toughest conditions.

Not every reel we’ve reviewed today combines both technologies, but even Daiwa’s conventional body designs are driven by an obsession with light weight.

AirDrive

Daiwa has also poured extensive research and development into ultra-light drive systems, reducing the encumbrance of the rotor, bail, spool, and shaft.

The result isn’t just a lighter reel: by reducing the force necessary to turn the crank, Daiwa produces a reel that’s vastly more sensitive, enabling anglers to get a better sense of what’s happening on the end of their line.

Weight

Daiwa’s material science and engineering typically means that size for size, their reels are the lightest out there.

In some applications that may not matter, but considering how rigid and durable the MQ bodies are, and how effective the AirDrive is in practice, those weight savings are all the more amazing. 

On lighter rods, that makes balancing the rod and reel a snap, and you’ll notice reduced fatigue on long days when your rod wears a Daiwa reel.

Speed

The Daiwa reels we’ve reviewed today are capable of fighting the fastest fish out there, and their size-appropriate gearing - especially in the MQ models - means that retrieval rates are typically excellent.

Keeping your line tight in a fight is critical, as slack offers a fish the chance to throw your hook, especially when it runs straight at you. 

Rest assured that these Daiwa reels can keep up with fast-swimming fish.

Capacity

If there’s a problem I have with Daiwa reels, it’s that they often have smaller spools than their competitors like Penn.

Capacity matters in two situations.

First, when you’re fighting large, pelagic species, you’ll need lots of line to let them run and tire themselves against your drag. Running out of line - that is, getting spooled - is game over.

Second, with smaller species fished in locations that are tough on your line, you’ll need to strip and cut to maintain integrity. Having enough line on your spool so that you don’t need to reload mid-morning is essential.

Daiwa’s not known for big, capacious spools, but there are exceptions. 

The nearly unbeatable Exist series and the Kage LT pack more line than their rivals, making these true standouts on this front.

Smoothness

MQ bodies, precision-cut Digigears, and feather-weight drive systems add up to the ultimate in smooth performance.

Quite simply, if you spin the handle on the Exist just once, you’ll have a hard time loving any other reel.

It’s that good.

Drag

Last, but certainly not least, the heart of a good reel is an excellent drag.

Daiwa uses its Automatic Tournament Drag system in the reels we’ve reviewed today, and this uncompromising system is one of the best in the business.

As Daiwa explains, “The ATD boasts discs which have been impregnated with a specialist grease to optimise [sic] energy yield. This exceptionally high-quality product gives more grinding power at the start and offers a more stable and progressive drag. The risk of breaking off on the fight is kept to a minimum as the ATD adjusts to every phase of the fight: working faster and more progressively on the first run but offering a firmer hold for cranking power in the middle phase. It’s this adaptive feature that gives it its Automatic name.”

Essentially, the ATD system is just a lubricated stack of carbon fiber discs that reduce immediate friction on the start while offering consistent, powerful pressure throughout the fight.

Final Thoughts

We can’t tell you which of Daiwa’s reels is a good match for your budget and needs, but we can guarantee that any of the options on our shortlist is simply magnificent for what it is.

And across the spectrum of price, size, and ideal use, there’s a Daiwa reel that’s just perfect for you.

We hope that this article has helped you pick your next Daiwa reel, and if you have any questions or concerns, please leave a comment below!

We’ll be in touch soon!

About The Author
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.
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