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Reel Review


How Low Can Daiwa Go? The Refreshed AIRD Baitcaster (continued)

 

Power: The AIRD comes standard with a nice, long, 90mm handle. The handle gives you really good leverage when turning those gears, but the main gear actually isn't all that large so while the reel feels a little better than average thanks to that long handle, really, there's nothing extraordinary going on underneath the sideplate.

 


The AIRD comes with an oversized handle, but the gears on the inside are still of average size.

 

Just the same I tossed out a Duo Realis G87 20A deep diving crank with this reel and it performed admirably. However, the 6.3:1 version of AIRD would probably be a better choice if you wanted to use this as a dedicated cranking reel.

 


What distinguishes a standard MagForce reel from some of Daiwa's more dynamic brake systems? That fixed rotor on the spool.

 

Casting Range: Most reels in the price range of about $160 and below can handle baits weighing from roughly three eighths of an ounce (3/8 oz) on up. They can probably be tweaked with higher grade bearings to stretch this capability to a quarter ounce (1/4 oz), but that's about it. In reality, it's just easier to pick up a spinning combo if you want to cast lighter bait offerings. The AIRD does nothing to disprove this claim.

 


The AIRD has a composite body - i.e. there's a lot of plastic used in its construction.

 

Brakes: This is thanks in part to the AIRD's braking system. It is Daiwa's most basic MagForce braking system which is essentially on all the time. This system gives you very good control in a wide range of wind conditions, but has a tendency to choke off casts because it is always engaged. Note, this is not something you will actually notice unless you are comparing it head to head with different reels or are accustomed to more dynamic brake systems.

 


Not only are the knobs not riveted to the handle, there are two bearings under each knob!

 

Features: On our standard list of features, the AIRD comes with an external dial to adjust the afore mentioned MagForce brakes. There is no bearing supporting the levelwind worm gear, but, to our surprise, the knobs on this reel are not riveted to the handle - a tradition with Daiwa's lower end offerings. Instead, the AIRD features the same knobs as Daiwa's Tatula and are supported by two bearings each.

 


Only the dragstar clicks.

 

Moving onto the dragstar and spool tension knob, only the dragstar features a micro-click adjustment and the reel comes with no oil or cover in the box. Another feature of the AIRD is what Daiwa refers to as a composite body. This composite is aluminum and what appears to be a high grade plastic. The frame construction saves weight, and no doubt cost, but it's hard to complain given the reel's price point.

 

Features Ratings for Daiwa AIRD 100HSA/HSLA

Ext Brake Adjust? (1-2)
Levelwind Bearing (1-2)
Knob Bearings (1-3)
Micro Clicks (1-3)
Reel Cover (1-2)
Oil (1-2)
Total
Possible
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)
2
1
3
2
1
1
10
14
7.14

 

Design & Ergonomics: The AIRD is very similar in shape and size to the Exceler, its next pricier sibling. But the AIRD is tapered more in the front making it more comfortable to wrap your finger around to hold your line - if you're in the habit of doing this.

 


The AIRD is comfortable to palm.

Thanks to the reel's composite frame and sideplate, it's also slightly lighter than the Exceler making it more comfortable to fish all day long. Breakdown of the reel for maintenance is pretty standard with no strange or hidden screws to slow you down.


The TD Zillion-esque top and front plate of the AIRD.

One point that has nothing to do with the reel's score but has a lot to do with its appeal from the perspective of design is Daiwa's treatment of the front and top plate of the AIRD. This reel feels like a Daiwa product. That tapered front face and grilled top plate is very reminiscent of the TD Zillion, a reel which had its origins with the former flagship, TDZ. Whether intentional or entirely by coincidence, this tie back to the company's successful low profile baitcaster lineage makes this reel very appealing and far less generic in feel than the Exceler and Lexa.

Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Daiwa AIRD 100HSA/HSLA

Handle Length (1-5)
Knobs (1-5)
Palming (1-5)
Overall Weight (1-5)
Ease of Breakdown (1-5)
Total
Possible
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)
5
4
5
3
4
21
25
8.4

 


Similar to how the Exceler was a smarter choice than the Lexa, the AIRD might be a smarter choice than the Exceler!

 

Application: What surprised us with the Exceler back in October of 2013, was that its performance and ergonomics were very similar to the Lexa only at a better price point. Well, Daiwa has done that again with the AIRD only presenting a reel that's even more comfortable to fish than the Exceler and with a better handle and knobs. The only real difference is the Exceler is available in a 4.9:1 retrieve ratio in addition to the 6.3:1 and 7.1:1 options. Of course, this low gear ratio is only available to those who use right hand retrieve reels.

 

Application Ratings for Daiwa AIRD 100HSA/HSLA

Horizontal (1-5)
Vertical (1-5)
Finesse (1-5)
Big Baits (1-5)
Topwater (1-5)
Total
Possible
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)
3
3
2
3
3
14
25
5.6

 

Ratings:

Daiwa AIRD 100HSA/HSLA Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Quite surprising given the reel's price point 9.0
Performance A solid performing reel 7.2
Price Really good price 9
Features Removable knobs from Daiwa at this price point with two bearings under each knob?!? Nice! 7.14
Design (Ergonomics) Even more comfortable than the pricier Exceler 8.4
Application Throw in a low cranking option for both left and right hand retrieve and this reel would be hard to stop 5.6

Total Score

7.72
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:

Plus

Minus
+ Even better starter option than the Exceler - No low speed gear ratio option
+ Serviceable knobs at this price point from Daiwa - So good it cannabalizes the Exceler
+ Two bearings under each knob!?!  
+ Looks like the Zillion's younger sibling  

 


Looking for a solid performing budget combo? Start with a Daiwa AIRD and maybe even match it with Daiwa's TDS casting rod - that product review is coming soon.

 

Conclusion: While most of us here at TackleTour keep a watchful eye on what Daiwa is doing at the mid to high end of their product offering, the company is aggressively defining and redefining their entry level market. The Lexa was a great little reel for its price point, but then came the Exceler - almost the same reel for $40 cheaper, so why buy a Lexa? Now we have the AIRD which I would argue is an even more compelling reel than the Exceler AND $20 less expensive to boot! So why buy the Exceler? We may not understand Daiwa's market strategy, but we can certainly appreciate the value they've presented in their latest refresh of the AIRD. Throw in on top of it all, how this reel resembles the former TD Zillion and you have a reel that is a very worthy introduction to all of what Daiwa has to offer.

 

Looking for a Daiwa AIRD Baitcasting Reel?
Try TackleWarehouse


 

 

 

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