Bait the Finesse?!? Shimano -v- Daiwa Product Insight
Bearings: Similar to the maximum drag statistic, bearing count in casting reels has gotten a bit overblown. More important than overall bearing count, really, is quality of the bearings. Unfortunately, other than short and
long-term use, it's difficult to determine the quality of a bearing in a finished product.
The Shimano Aldebaran BFS on The Machine being tested for drag performance.
As a consumer, one area I've always appreciated having a bearing is under the reel's knobs. The presence of one or two bearings in this location has absolutely no effect on the reel's mechanical performance, but it does enhance the user experience - especially when finesse applications are involved. The reel's knobs are your direct connection with the product and the more
seamless and smooth this connection, the better your feel is of your entire fishing combo. Be aware, however, that this is the simplest and easiest location for a manufacturer to address and boost their bearing count statistic, so depending on your priorities, just a raw count of bearings can be very misleading.
Here, the T3
Air receives the same torture test.
On the other hand, as a fishing tackle enthusiast, one area I like to check as an indication of quality is under the levelwind. If a reel has a non-disengaging levelwind, a support bearing at the worm gear can aid in casting distance. However, most bass reels today have disengaging levelwinds, so a bearing under this location is more about smoothness of the reel and
long-term durability than it is casting distance.
Bearing under the levelwind? For the BFS, no.
Both the T3 Air and Aldebaran BFS have disengaging levelwinds and yet the T3 Air does have a bearing in this location. So the advantage here again goes to Daiwa. Ironically, even if the T3 Air's levelwind did not disengage during a cast, its T-Wing design would make it a semi-moot point anyway. Advantage Daiwa.
But for the T3 Air, yes.
Spool Performance: There are two factors one can investigate with regards to spool performance. One is pretty standard and involves taking the reel out of the box, putting the reel in freespool and turning it with a flick of your finger. The other is an investigation into how much weight is needed to break a spool free from its resting state and begin its rotation.
Let's look at spool performance.
Freespool Time: After all these years reviewing fishing reels, we've found inconsistent correlation between freespool time and actual performance out on the water probably because the weight and type of line you're using, selection in rod, and choice in lures has a lot to do with casting performance. Just the same, taking a reel out of its box, putting it in free spool, and flicking that spool to see how long it will spin is an indelible component of the entire consumer decision making ritual.
Isn't that tension knob on the BFS elegant?
So on the subject of ritual, we need to lay this out in order to ensure we're comparing apples to apples. Out of the box, there's no guarantee as to how the spool on a reel is set up. What we do before enacting the freespool ritual is to prep the reel so it can perform up to its full potential. We turn the casting brakes to their lowest setting and adjust the cast control knob (a.k.a. spool tension) just tight enough to take the side to side play out of the spool.
Too bad you need a special tool in order to make any adjustments.
With most reels, this is a pretty no brainer exercise as all these adjustments are easily made. Do you remember my exacerbation at Shimano America Corporation's decision to eliminate easy access to the Calcutta D's casting brakes? Well, after handling the Shimano Aldebaran BFS, I'm convinced Shimano America Corporation had little to do with this decision.
The BFS's tension knob tool is a miniature spanner wrench.
In the Aldebaran BFS, the casting brakes are actually accessible enough. You simply turn a knob on the sideplate to remove it and access the centrifugal brakes on the spool. No, what I found annoying on this reel is you need a special tool in order to adjust the tension knob on the other side of the spool.
It sure would have been convenient if Shimano Japan redesigned the drag star to
accommodate the head of the spanner wrench.