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Reel Review

 

Such a Large Bounty for a Small Package – The Daiwa Exist (continued)

Retrieve: The Exist’s fancy Airdrive Rotor is made from Zaion so that it is as light as previous generation reels but in this new reel the engineers redesigned the rotor so that it now weighs 16% lighter than the previous generation. They accomplished this by porting out the core of the rotor and re-shaped it to improve balance while placing extra reinforcement on high stress areas.  

The goal of the design is to reduce the amount of inertial force that is required to turn the rotor. This is one area that absolutely translates to real-world performance and the Exist just feels lighter on startup than Daiwa’s other reels including the Certate and Steez. Not only does the reel feel lighter on startup it also requires less force to stop, creating a reel that feels more responsive.


The EXIST has the lightest startup of any reel I've ever fished

Besides the monocoque body the second most visually apparent feature is the smooth and angular spool. Daiwa considers these one of the four key elements in their Airdrive design, and the Airdrive Spool features a new shape that tapers down for a unique look. Even the mid-sized 3000D Exist spool is incredibly light at 30.2 grams and Daiwa has reduced the thickness of the spool to decrease weight to improve balance and oscillation at all speeds.


The spool looks like it is made of Beskar. Notice the skirted edge at the bottom which helps mitigate line creep under the spool

Another subtle improvement is a skirted edge at the bottom of the spool which is designed to deflect line and prevent it from getting caught behind the spool and tangling with the main shaft. This didn’t happen a single time to me when fishing this reel, which is more than I can say for just about every other spinning reel I’ve fished for an extended period.


Super thin and compact frame

A final element that helps give the Exist such a smooth and refined retrieve is the redesigned shaft. Yes, you guessed it the “Airdrive Shaft.” This design builds on the previous Daiwa high-end reels by taking the linear shaft and supporting the pinion gear with two bearings to improve cranking torque from the handle to the rotor. Daiwa also adds two sets of collars to better support the main shaft, isolating it and helping deliver a smoother and quieter rotation.  The system works and all this translates to a light winding reel, even under the pressure of a big fish. Simply put Daiwa has their “Airdrive Shaft” and Shimano has their “Infinity Drive,” and both kick bass.


My favorite pairing was with various G.Loomis NRX+ rods

Drag: The Exist also features an updated drag system called the ATD TYPE-L which is basically a multi-disc drag system that makes use of a combination of materials to deliver both a more powerful and smoother drag. As usual Daiwa includes their greased felt washers but there is now a series of interlocking metal washers that provide additional friction surfaces to help deliver consistent pressure while improving the ability to make more fine-tune adjustments.

The biggest difference in the new drag system is that it is engineered to deliver consistent drag force during the line acceleration versus the regular ATD which provides increasing drag pressure as the line is pulled faster. In theory this provides smoother and more consistent line-protecting performance throughout the course of the battle.


The EXIST is incredibly well suited for finesse fishing but the 3000D is good for so much more

It was hard to discern how much better the new drag is, and that is a testament to how good Daiwa’s ATD drag already was. I found the new drag to be smooth and easy to adjust and because I like finesse fishing with 4lb. lines I tend to run the drags loose and never had an issue stressing either the drag or the lines during battles with fish.  


The new drag system delivers consistent pressure at all times and the 3000D kicks out nearly 22lbs. of pressure!

One important thing to consider when selecting an Exist size is just how important that max drag pressure is when considering how you plan to use the reel. This matters because the both the smaller 2000 and 2500 size reels feature a smaller diameter spool and thus are limited to the size of the drag washers in the system. These smaller reels place an emphasis on low overall footprint and mass, and they weigh in at 5.3oz. and 5.6oz. respectively but their drags top out at 11lbs. of pressure. This is more than enough for most bass fishing applications, and especially the finesse techniques that these reels will be most likely employed in.


The 3000D EXIST is incredibly versatile. However if you want the ultimate in light weight and refinement go for the 2000 size

If you plan on using the Exist for more than finesse, including throwing smaller plastic swimbaits to fishing a few reaction baits the 3000 size still weighs in at a very light 6.2oz., offers more than double the line capacity, and features a drag that is rated for a massive 22lbs. of pressure. In our lab we were able to hit 21.2lbs. max pressure with the 3000D, which is very close to the rated specification and more drag than most anglers will ever need in a spinning reel.


The reel has different shades of silver and looks very high-end. It is hard to tell what parts are Zaion

When looking at any product as high-end as the Exist even the sound the reel makes matters. The audible drag on spinning reels is often overlooked as it is a mandatory feature, but the Exist has one of the sweetest sounding drags that I’ve ever heard. When the engineers redesigned the spool they had an opportunity to separate out the clicker system and adjust the peaks and valleys where the clicker contacts the spool, changing both the feel and sound that the drag emits.


The drag on the EXIST is incredibly satisfying, making each battle that much more enjoyable

I’d describe the Exist’s drag as higher in pitch and more solid than most reels that can often feel clicky and hollow. While many spinning reels sound more like a spring-loaded alarm the Exist’s drag sounds like the click of a fine watch, just louder.


Fishing micro? The EXIST is overkill but why not?

Next Section: Such a large bounty for a small package

 

   

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