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Reel Review

Pushing the Envelope, the Daiwa Steez EX Spinning Reel (continued)

Real World Tests: I had to literally save up for this review and after receiving a number of reader inquiries decided to finally bite the bullet and go ahead and purchase a Steez EX from Hi’s Tackle Box in San Francisco. To test the reel I head to a number of my favorite finesse fishing lakes including Lake Sonoma, Clear Lake and Lake Pardee armed with 4 and 6lb test lines to target a combination of Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. I also employed this reel for heavier duty applications like fishing jigs and worming at the California Delta. Throughout these tests I paired the reel with a variety of G.Loomis NRX drop shot and shakey head rods, primarily because I am very used to how these rods feel when testing other spinning reels and wanted a constant point of reference when evaluating casting and retrieve performance and feel.  

The Steez EX casts beautifully and feels like an extension of your arm when paired with a light rod thanks to the low overall weight

Casting: Most of the time when I am fishing with a high end spinning reel it is for finesse fishing or tossing light lures that are just better managed on light line. That doesn’t mean I am targeting small fish and the reel has to be able to cast accurately and handle fish of all sizes once they take the bait. The Steez EX makes use of the company’s Long Cast X-treme ABS system and the bottom line is this reel casts like a dream.

The line comes off the spool smoothly thanks to the ABS spool design

Utilizing 4 and 6lb line on this reel only added to the casting distance but even when I tried Samurai braid with a fluorocarbon leader the reel consistently delivered both long and accurate casts with lightweight lures tied on. The larger diameter ABS spool helps preserve line integrity and line rolls off the spool in large even loops aiding in overall distance, and line twists were near nonexistent with this reel.

The reel delivers surprisingly powerful cranking power under load

Retrieving: Fishing at lakes like Clear Lake and the Delta there is always a chance you are going to get into a lunker, and when you do with light line and a spinning reel everything needs to work together in perfect unison to protect that lighter test line and keep fish pinned. The first time I landed a four plus pound fish with the Steez EX I was impressed just how powerful this lightweight reel was. Key to delivering power is isolating gears and eliminating any slop in the drivetrain, and the combination of Daiwa’s Digigear design and Zaion construction delivers. Hooksets are instant and forget about wobble or play in the handle, there is none. Under pressure the reel provides the rare combination of speed and power in a lightweight spinning reel.

Is there a fish in all that mush?

Drag: Daiwa’s specification for the drag on the Steez EX is 15.4lbs. of pressure but as hard as we locked down the drag knob we simply couldn’t achieve that rating. Our maximum measurements were in the range of 13.8-14.1lbs of pressure which is slightly off the published spec. Like most Daiwa drags the combination of metal and lubricated felt delivers very smooth pressure across the entire range and especially so in the mid range of the spectrum. Small adjustments to the drag resulted in noticeable changes in the drag profile, something that makes adjustment in the field both quick and easy.

The Steez EX delivers plenty of power. Enough to pull a fish and all the weeds it was hiding in when it took the worm

Performance Ratings for Daiwa Steez EX Spinning

Retrieve (1-5)
Drag (1-5)
Power (1-5)
Bail Operation (1-5)
Line Twist (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

The Steez EX's drag is more about consistency and smooth performance than sheer power

Ergonomics: The Steez EX weighed in at only 7.4oz. and feels light both on its own and when paired on light and medium action rods. On the NRX drop shot and shakey head rods the reel felt like an extension of my arm, which is exactly what you want when fishing ultralight gear in finesse applications. The one gripe I have with the Steez EX is the company’s choice of larger paddle knob which does provide a big easy to grab surface but looks odd alongside the ultra sleek Steez EX frame, rotor and handle, almost like putting an oversized tail on a streamlined sportscar. I would have much preferred one of Daiwa’s more compact and traditional cork based barrel knobs and plan to change it out in the near future.

The Steez EX is very compact and delivers great overall ergonomics...

Features Ratings for Daiwa Steez EX Spinning

Spool Bearing (1-2)
Line Roller Bearing (1-2)
Water Res Drag (1-2)
Back-reel (1-2)
Spare Spool (1-2)
Reel Cover (1-2)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

...my only gripe was the choice of an oversized paddle handle versus the traditional cork based barrel handle

Next Section: Performance comes with a Price...









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