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Enthusiast Review


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

The Gekka Bijin's brakes really loosen up from about the ten (10) setting and below. Exploring that lower half of the brake settings is when the reel really opened up and performed how I expected. Of course, this required me to monitor the spool even more closely with my thumb, but with nice, easy casting motions, it wasn't that difficult. Fished as the sole combo for an extended period of time, it's easy to maintain that consistency, but when you switch combos back and forth between reels with different casting characteristics, things can get dicey. Nevertheless, brake settings at 10 and below is where this reel should live.

The swept carbon handle measures 80mm from center of post to center of post

Retrieve: The only thing of real note for the Gekka Bijin in terms of retrieve is that super narrow spool and how the reel is tuned for use with braid. This usually equates to a slightly quicker than usual levelwind to better stack that braid on that narrow spool helping to avoid the line digging into itself, but that's a feature that's difficult to verify. The somewhat short (by today's standards), eighty millimeter (80mm) handle connects to an aluminum alloy gear for relatively smooth operation.

Two bearings per knot

I should note that 80mm handle is perfectly fine in BFS applications, but there are those who will still prefer something longer. It is simply the trend these days. Additionally, I like the use of aluminum alloy gears in finesse tuned reels where weight and that added, connected feel are important. A BFS reel is unlikely to experience the same torque conventional reels endure, so heavier, more durable gear material is unnecessary.

The knobs are hollowed out inside further reducing weight

Power: Similarly, there's really not much to discuss in terms of power when you're fishing such light line. What I can say is despite the high, 8.5:1 gear ratio, I never felt like the reel lacked any torque or worse yet locked up on me. But again, it's all kind of moot when your leader is only 4lbs.

The Gekka Bijin features HyperDrive engineering...

Which is a fancy way of saying that the teeth of the main gear have been engineered to for more efficient transfer of power resulting in a smoother, more powerful engagement

Drag: The Gekka Bijin's drag consists of one carbon matrix washer delivering up to three and a half kilograms in drag pressure or just under eight pounds. That amount of pressure is more than enough in finesse applications and performance is smooth and reliable. Fans of audible drag systems in casting reels will enjoy the clicking drag in the Gekka Bijin.

Drag pressure is provided by a single carbon matrix washer

Design & Ergonomics: Daiwa has been building reels in support of the BFS movement since the early 2000s, so it's safe to assume the limited run Gekka Bijin is built with the right weight and proportions reflective of all that experience. It's all black motif with red highlights gives the reel a stealthy yet refined appearance.

Daiwa has been building reels in support of the BFS movement since the early 2000s

What I like most about the Gekka Bijin is Daiwa Japan spared no expense with bearing placements even placing two at the levelwind wormshaft. Additionally, there's an access port at the bottom of the reel to either inspect or lube the main gear. This reel feels as if it's put together a little more carefully than the Alphas platform I suspect serves as its baseline.

The Gekka Bijin is built with the right weight and proportions reflective of all that experience

Price & Applications: Retail for the Gekka Bijin is 45,400JPY or roughly $412 based on the exchange rate at the time of this writing. Daiwa knows how to do limited editions and they know how to price them as well. It is not a reel for the faint of pocket book, but if you're a dedicated BFS addict, the narrow, PE tuned spool is really effective.

Daiwa knows how to do limited edition reels


Daiwa 21 Gekka Bijin Air TW PE Special Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A nicely thought out, solid little reel 8
Performance Once you get in tune with the brake settings, baits fly with this reel 8
Price Not outrageous as JDM reels go but certainly not a bargain either 7
Features Narrow spool for thin PE lines and good bearing placements. Audible drag. 8
Design (Ergonomics) Compact reel that's the right weight and easy to palm 7.5
Application Designed not only for light line, but thin braided line. 8

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Very good casting performance once you find the right brake settings - That narrow spool is not for the casual BFS fisher person
+ For thin braid aficionados, the narrow spool helps with just enough line  
+ Audible drag  
+ Good bearing placement  

The Gekka Bijin is a top performer but not a reel for the casual fan of the bait finesse movement

Conclusion: Given this reel's specialized spool, the Gekka Bijin is not for the casual fan of BFS fishing. The technical challenges of casting super light weight lures are so high, dedicated BFS anglers are wary not only of the diameter of their line, but also how much line is on the spool. Why? Because excess line equates to unnecessary weight on the spool which in turn affects start up inertia that ultimately determines how light you can go in lure weight. These are challenges far beyond that of finesse fishing for bass, but are typical of what BFS fishing is about in rivers and streams. Daiwa's Gekka Bijin can easily handle BFS duties for bass, but it is designed for so much more.


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