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Enthusiast Review


What the... Finesse Alphas?

 

Date: 3/14/12
Tackle type: Enthusiast Reel
Manufacturer: Daiwa Japan
Reviewer: Cal






Total Score: 7.0 - GOOD

Introduction:
It's been almost eight years since we published our very first Enthusiast Tackle review. Eight long years of fishing some of the best the tackle industry has to offer. Do you recall the subject of our first, published enthusiast tackle review? It was the original, and now legendary Daiwa Alphas.


It's been almost eight years since we debuted our Enthusiast Tackle section with an article reviewing the original Daiwa Alphas 103.

The Petite, Purple, Powerhouse as we dubbed it is quite possibly the most influential reel ever to come out of Daiwa Japan. It has seen countless interpretations from the USDM Daiwa Sol to the Alphas F, Alphas Ito Ai, R-Edition, Zonda, and those who believe in conspiracy theories will argue its size and shape has served as the foundation for other manufacturers' designs as well. Yet, only a couple of short years after its introduction, Daiwa Japan discontinued the original and instead chose to churn out variant after variant - this from a company that was content with letting their former flagship platform, the TDZ to endure for nearly a decade.


The Petite Purple Powerhouse remains a classic to this day.

We reviewed the Sol, and the Ito Ai. I acquired an F but never wrote it up because it wasn't different enough from the original and frankly, not nearly as intriguing so I never really fished it. Instead, I sent it off to Japan to get painted and it now sits in my reel cabinet. I drew the line at the R-Edition and Zonda because I grew tired of throwing my money at variants that I knew would not offer me as much intrigue and mystique as the original. Daiwa had sufficiently diluted the Alphas line for me and all I really wanted was for them to bring the original back.


Daiwa has since release several variants of this reel. The latest? The Finesse Custom.

Enter 2011 and our finesse themed year. Guess what? There was an Alphas variant available that suited our year perfectly - but why? Daiwa was already making the Pixy. In fact, they updated it to the PX68 and offered a variant of that in the SPR! Why even bother with another Alphas? Well, I decided to say, "What the Finesse", and in the spirit of TackleTour set out to answer my own questions. Here now is our look at Daiwa Japan's Alphas Finesse Custom.

Alphas Finesse Custom 105H/105HL Specifications

Rated Line Capacity 6lb (.205mm)/ 130m : 8lb (.235mm) 100m : 10lb (.265mm) 75m
Retrieve Ratio 6.8:1
Inches Per Turn (IPT) tested 25.5" at full spool
Weight 6.6 ounces / 190 grams
Number of Bearings 6+1 (1 bearings per handle knob)
Bearing Size 3x8x4 : 5x11x4
Drag 5lbs Max
Handle Length 80mm
Micro Click Adjustments None
Spool Weight 14 grams (Original Alphas = 16 grams)
Brake Type MagForce
External Brake Adjustment? Yes
Origin Japan
MSRP 32,550.00 JPY (~$412)

 

Impressions: The Alphas Finesse Custom is intended, obviously, as a finesse tuned version of the Alphas platform. It features an updated gear set to increase the reel's retrieve ratio from 5.8:1 to 6.8:1, and a shallower spool with a tuned, fixed rotor spec'd to deliver casting performance with baits down to one eighth of an ounce in weight (3.5 grams). If true, and at three quarters the price of its magnesium based sibling, the Pixy PX68, the Alphas Finesse could be a viable variant for once.

 


But what does the Finesse Custom offer over the original?

 

Cosmetically, through all the variants, save for the Ito Ai, Daiwa Japan just hasn't been able to recapture the mystique of the original purple Alphas. The Finesse Custom is no exception. In fact, with its stamped handle and Daiwa USA type knobs, the Finesse Custom is anything but intriguing and is really quite bland. It looks more like a reel designed for the USDM than JDM.


Naturally, we took to the water to find out.

Field Tests: But of course, here at TackleTour, we do our best not to judge a reel by its cosmetics, so we took to the water on several occasions with this reel to see what it was all about.


Remember this unexpected catch from our review of the Daiwa Steez Megatop casting rod?

Casting: Early duties for this stick were with the previously reviewed Daiwa STZ6101MXBA-SPX Megatop rod. In that review, I commented my ability to reach distances of roughly forty feet with a 3g finesse jig on this combo. That was an on-the-water estimate. Back at TT HQ, I tried again for a more quantitative measurement and can confirm distances of closer to thirty feet. This was with all casting brakes turned off and the spool tension knob backed off so the spool barely stops wobbling side to side.


The Alphas Finesse Custom features a fixed rotor and therefore, just standard Daiwa MagForce braking.

Accuracy was a different issue all together and I touched on this very briefly in that same review. If you want to make accurate casts with decent distance, employing the Alphas Finesse Custom, you may be better suited with a lure weight at about three sixteenths of an ounce or even a full quarter of an ounce. To double check I switched the reel over to my Evergreen TDC-66MLBF-Pro Stingray 66 and tried again - same results.


As with all Daiwa reels, casting brake adjustments are enabled on the outside of the reel.

Vs The Original : Better results can be had with the Pixy PX68 as well as the SPR, but we've already mentioned, these reels cost quite a bit more. The real question at hand is whether or not the Finesse Custom performs any differently than the original Alphas with light lures. The quick answer is yes.


How does it handle light baits compared to the original?

The long answer is results are marginally different. I took one of my original Alphas out of retirement, spooled it up with the same line (6lb Suffix 832 braid), mounted it on my Evergreen TDC-66MLBF-Pro Stingray 66, tied on the same bait and gave it a whirl. I was able to achieve the same casting distances as with the Finesse Custom, but line management was more of an issue with the original. Half the time, after making the cast, I had to deal with professional overruns. I did not experience this difficulty with the Finesse Custom.


Slightly better at line management.

Next Section: Onto the retrieve feel and drag


 

 

 

 

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