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Enthusiast Review


There's Finesse and Then There's Daiwa's Gekka Bijin Air TW PE Special


Date: 5/29/22
Tackle Type: Reel
Manufacturer: Daiwa Japan
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.75 - GOOD

During a year unofficially focused on BFS tackle, we would be remiss to exclude candidates from Daiwa - more specifically Daiwa Japan. It is, afterall, the Pixy that, nearly twenty years ago, introduced us to the world of fishing light line techniques on casting gear. Yes, it has taken that long for the Bait Finesse Movement to gain a semblance of mainstream popularity because where there's a finesse bite, there will be resistance to assimilate. However, we all know when it comes to getting bit, all bets are off the table. Especially when you get to use specialized tackle like the subject of today's review. Here's a look at Daiwa Japan's 2021 Gekka Bijin Air TW PE Special.


Daiwa 21 Gekka Bijin Air TW PE Special Specifications

Line Capacity - Rated 0.128mm(PE#0.6)-100m(110yds)
Line Capacity - Spool Volume 1.7 cm3
Retrieve Ratio
Inches Per Turn (IPT) - calculated
23 - 26
Weight 5.7 oz
Spool Weight 9 g
Handle Length 80 mm
Bearings 12+1
Bearings per Knob 2 bearings
Levelwind Bearings 2 bearings
Rated Max Drag 3.5Kg ~7.7lbs
Origin Made in Thailand
MSRP 45,400JPY (~$412)

Introducing Daiwa Japan's Gekka Bijin Air TW PE Special

Impressions: If there's one thing Daiwa, especially Daiwa Japan, does well it's limited edition reels. With its black and red color scheme, the Gekka Bijin is impressive out of the box but it has a shape and profile that reminds me of the Alphas 800 TW SV. I would have compared the reels side by side, but I am no longer in possession of that particular Alphas platform. Nevertheless the Gekka Bijin, like the Alphas 800, comes with an aluminum alloy frame, a short, 80mm handle. It is, however, filled to the brim with twelve bearings plus the roller bearing.


This reel comes with a fast, 8.5:1 gear ratio


It is small, light and stealthy with an extremely shallow and narrow spool. That spool is a reminder the reel is built and tuned specifically to be fished with very thin braided line. The line specification "PE#0.6" called out in the reel's capacity spec equates to somewhere around ten to fourteen (10-14) pound braid depending on the manufacturer. For comparison sake, the more familiar diameter specification of 0.126mm is thinner than four pound (4lb) fluorocarbon. For context, at 4lb test, Seaguar's AbrazX measures 0.169mm and Tatsu 0.173mm.

It is specially tuned to be fished with super thin braided line

Real World Tests: I'm not accustomed to using such thin braided line, so it took me a while to find one I felt comfortable fishing. I finally zeroed in on Sunline's SX1 braided line in 12lb test. Manufacturer's specification on this line is 0.191mm. I managed to get forty on the Gekka Bijin and the topped it off with a twelve foot leader of 4lb Tatsu.

The spool is super narrow and shallow

What I am accustomed to is matching enthusiast level rods and reels together. For the Gekka Bijin's field test, I could think of no more appropriate a rod in my arsenal than Daiwa's Steez AGS STAGS701MMHXB-SM The Sensor. Sharing similar color schemes, it's almost as if the two were made for one another. Unfortunately, on my first outing with that combo, it was obvious from the get go if I were to tap into the true potential of the Gekka Bijin, I'd have to throw that potentially positive Daiwa plus Daiwa mojo out the window.

Paired with an OG G.Loomis MBR721C IMX

For a different reel's tests this year, I dusted off a forgotten rod in my arsenal. It's an OG G.Loomis MBR721C IMX complete with the original Weibe reel seat. It's a six foot, one power, G.Loomis stick that has not seen action in over twenty years. Something made me pull it down from the rafters and slide it into active duty in support of the BFS movement. After a successful deployment with the other reel, next up for the MBR721C IMX was the Gekka Bijin.

Like the majority of casting reels from Daiwa these days, this reel has the TWS T-Shaped line guide

Casting: The Gekka Bijin is touted with the ability to cast one to two gram (1-2g) baits. That's a low end range of one thirty second to one sixteenth (1/32 - 1/16) ounces in Imperial units. The lowest usable weight for me while fishing for bass is about five to seven grams (5-7g) or roughly five thirty seconds to one quarter of an ounce (5/32 - 1/4oz). Remember, even if you're using a 1/32nd ounce jighead, the soft plastic you attach to the jighead has weight too.

The Gekka Bijin is touted with the ability to cast one to two gram baits!

While total lure weight is one indication, aerodynamics of your baits also have an effect. Case in point, the test for me with these BFS tuned reels is how well they enable me to cast a drop shot rig. Compact baits like micro-cranks, spoons, and even ned rigs don't present that big of a challenge because their mass is in a tight little, relatively aerodynamic package. Drop shot rigs are gangly and all spread out making it more difficult for the rig to gain any real momentum during a cast. Secondarily certain micro jigs, depending on their composition, can be equally as challenging for all the air drag their skirts can produce.

The Air Brake system features 20 levels of clicking adjustment

My first few casts with the Gekka Bijin were underwhelming. I was actually, very disappointed and found the reel decidedly average in its ability to cast my drop shot rig. It also took some tinkering to tame the spool. My SX1 braid would over-run about every third cast and seemingly for no reason. More fastidious thumb control helped but that affected distance. Then, after a few hours switching combos and dialing in an actual bite for the day, I started paying closer attention to the brakes.

A port on the underside provides access to the main gear

Similar to all Daiwa casting reels these days, the Gekka Bijin comes with an external dial for brake adjustments with a range of 0 - 20. Because of the early issues with overruns, I'd been fluctuating between 11 - 16 on the dial. But I didn't like the way the higher brake settings were choking off my casts. After getting used to the right amount of pressure to apply with my thumb during the casts, I tried backing off on the brake dial. Suddenly, it was like I was using a different reel.

A bearing on one side of the level wind wormshaft...

... and a bearing on the other side too.

Next Section: Dialing the Gekka Bijin in...









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