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Such a Large Bounty for a Small Package: The Daiwa Exist

Tackle Tour Total Score: 8.58 – ULTIMATE ENTHUSIAST AWARD

Republished with permission from Tackle Tour

Cypress, CA (August 9, 2022) – We’ll let one of the fishing industry’s strongest voices describe the new Exist in their own words…

Introduction: Crafted with exotic materials and a slew of new features that are designed to improve everything from the feel of the retrieve to the way the drag delivers pressure, Daiwa’s new Exist redefines what a flagship spinning reel should be, in more ways than one. Blurring the lines between functionality and art the Daiwa Exist delivers a new level of refinement but also comes with a very steep price.

Impressions: Breaking barriers in both design and price points the incredibly expensive Daiwa Exist G LT spinning reel is the brand’s new flagship offering. This reel features a magnesium monocoque frame, Zaion rotor, Magsealed frame and line roller, and a whole new Air Drive system. Basically, it has all the newest Daiwa features all crammed into one eccentric looking reel. This new Exist has the sleekest and most elegant lines I’ve ever seen on any Daiwa reel and the choice of using varying shades of silver and gunmetal that are different yet very close in coloration give this reel a very high-end look. The entire reel looks like it is made from some exotic alloy, and the first time I saw it I joked that it was made from “Mandalorian Beskar.”

Though the Exist was unveiled prior to ICAST it was officially launched at the recent show and is available in five sizes ranging from 2000 to 5000 and though the reel’s frame is made from magnesium it is sealed so well with gaskets and Magseal electronic oil that it is rated for use in saltwater.

Real World Tests: I started fishing the Daiwa Exist a few months before ICAST with the goal of completing this review before the show. Unfortunately, I couldn’t log enough hours on the water until after finishing the event to be able to complete this article. Though the Exist is a halo reel and primarily pursued by enthusiasts there has been a very high level of interest in this new reel since it was unveiled earlier this year. Perhaps it is the curiosity of what a near $900 reel offers or simply the radically elegant design of the new reel. I’ve had more anglers reach out to me over IG asking about the Exist than any other spinning reel this season. I had the opportunity to start fishing the Stella FK first but was eager to see what the new Exist offered and have been putting it to use targeting both spotted and largemouth primarily paired with the NRX+ spinning rods and spooled with Daiwa J-Braid with a long Seaguar Tatsu leader.

Casting: While casting metrics with baitcasters are more cut and dry the free flow of line off spinning reels makes discerning the subtle differences between reels more challenging. How much better does a nearly $900 reel cast versus a $300 one? There really isn’t much difference in casting distance, if any. Daiwa claims that the “Long Cast-ABS” design, which features a dual stage lip, helps reduce resistance to improve casting distance by 5%. I couldn’t measure any noticeable difference and found the Exist to cast similarly to other higher end reels.

Line: I think the more important factor is just how well a spinning reel manages line, essentially how well can it stay out of trouble. Line loops and twists are all part of the game with spinning reels, and the older the line the more likely these issues will arise. The Exist manages these issues well and the team at Daiwa adjusted the angle of the bail so it tapers slightly up towards the line roller creating a more natural path for the line. Once line enters the roller a second groove on the line roller itself comes into play. Daiwa plays up their technology with fancy names, and this implementation is called “Twistbuster III.” While this may seem like a minor change, I did notice the effects on both fluorocarbon main line and braid to fluoro leader setups in which the line naturally wants to get pulled towards the groove under pressure, which helps flatten the line, improving lay on the spool, and efficiently minimizing line twists.

Retrieve: The Exist’s fancy Air Drive 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 Air Drive design, and the Air Drive 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.

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.

A final element that helps give the Exist such a smooth and refined retrieve is the redesigned shaft. Yes, you guessed it the “Air Drive 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.

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

Ergonomics: Beskar, admantium, vibranium, what all these mythical elements and alloys have in common is their legendary durability and light overall weight. While the Exist looks like it is made from an otherworldly material the Daiwa engineers do a great job creating a reel that looks beautifully refined and yet remains extremely lightweight. The same monocoque body that makes this reel so smooth is also what makes it so small and lightweight. Combine that compact aluminum body with the Zaion based rotor and the Exist feels both light and balanced.

“Clean lines, the EXIST doesn’t look like any other Daiwa reel.”

The Exist has the cleanest lines of just about any spinning reel out there, and even the spool is abnormally clean and devoid of any porting. Daiwa could easily have shaved more weight out of the spool if they ported it like some of their other reels and we asked Marc Mills, Director of Marketing at Daiwa, to see if this was ever an option considered the design team.

“I believe the final implementation is more about an elegant design. The Exist’s spool has been shaved down and thinned quite a bit and adding ports could potentially decrease durability especially since many anglers still use all sizes in saltwater/inshore and put lots of drag and line pressure with braid on the reel,” Marc explained. “Porting could also be a step in the gaudy direction and may take the look in a $900 classy reel to a you over did it level, like Daiwa you tried too hard…”

“The more I fished the EXIST the more I felt the reel really hit the mark when it came to performance and refinement. The last Exist was great, this one is better.”

Conclusion: With a focus on smooth lines and clean angles the Exist’s monocoque frame and Zaion rotor blend together with an elegance that sets it apart from every other spinning reel in the Daiwa lineup, as well as the competition. This reel was designed as a statement piece, the pinnacle of where Daiwa engineering and art coalesce, and it shows. This is a reel that feels like more than a fishing tool, it is a reel that you cannot help but look at and the desire to fish is strong with this one.

“More than a tool. The EXIST is truly a functional work of art.”

See the full review at Tackle Tour

Images compliments of Tackle Tour.