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Enthusiast Reel Review

Daiwa's Version of the Little Black Dress: The Exist 2004 (continued)

Drag: The Exist 2004 is really intended as a finesse reel. This is obvious from the beginning with the reel's very shallow line capacity. When taken in this context, the drag's performance and overall maximum pressure of roughly five pounds is sufficient though not necessarily awe-inspiring. To aid in the smoothness of drag operation, Daiwa has placed a bearing under the spool rather than bushing as found on the Certate, but where we were left wanting just a little more was upon disassembly of the reel's drag assembly and discovering the one, very simple and thin fiber washer accompanied by an equally thin metal drag washer. I expected more simply from the perspective of enabling better fine tuning of drag's performance should the need arise with the theory being the more fiberous washers you have, the better your ability to make incremental and even micro-incremental adjustments to your drag.


The Exist 2004's simplistic drag assembly - two washers


Another closeup look at the Exist's handsome machined handle


A slightly more robust drag assembly may very well be what the larger capacity reels possess, so I must emphasize that in actual, on the water performance, I was really left wanting for nothing more. I was able to adjust and set my drag to match my needs based on the rod and line I was using and not once while out on the water battling acrobatic smallies and hard charging spotted bass did I feel the Exist's drag was insufficient. So while I was disappointed after disassembling the drag, our primary concern here is actual on the water performance, and as far as my experience went, the Exist 2004's drag is sufficient for its intended purpose.


The Exist features a decorative guard at the bottom and backside of the reel


Surprisingly, this guard is made of plastic


Design: The Daiwa Exist's components from its internal gearing to the external sideplates and rotor are all, reportedly machine cut pieces. All eleven internal bearings are corossion resistant ball bearings (CRBB) and the reel is approved for saltwater use. Keep in mind, however, that the rotor and sidplates of this reel are all magnesium so while Daiwa Japan advocates the reel's use in saltwater, extreme caution should be taken as magnesium is highly susceptible to corrosion when exposed to saltwater environments - protective coating or not.


Removing the left sideplate reveals the internal workings of the Exist


The main gear...


A surprisingly simple interior...


Availability: The Daiwa Exist is a Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) reel but is readily available from a variety of online dealers specializing in JDM tackle products. It is currently available in four sizes (2004, 2506, 2508, 2500) with new 1003, 2508R, 3012 & 3000 sizes debuting in the Spring of 2007. As previously mentioned, there is also a special, freshwater only version of this reel called the Exist Steez. This is not to be confused with the US Market Daiwa Steez spinning reel which appears to be the same reel as the Exist only with the Steez stealth color scheme and traditional, US Market sized spools.


Inside view of the reel's left sideplate...


External view of this same component...



Daiwa Exist 2004 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The only complaint we have is the use of plastic parts and that is only because this is such a high dollar piece of equipment 8.5
Performance Actual on the water performance was virtually flawless 9.5
Price The most expensive bass sized spinning reel from a major manufacturer to date 4
Features This reel is loaded 10
Design (Ergonomics) The only thing we can find to question even slightly is the reel's drag stack 9.5
Application The Exist 2004 is a fantastic reel for finesse applications 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Super light at 6.4 ounces L Limited line capacity
J Loaded with CRBB's L Cost to acquire is very high
J Smooth, smooth, smooth
J Did we mention how light this reel is?


Elegant, light, and expensive, what more could a Tackle Enthusiast want from a spinning reel? How about a nice chunky bass like this?


Conclusion: From its seemingly extraneous, hard plastic case, to its questionably simple drag assembly, to its use of plastic parts, to its almost insane, even for this editor, price tag, the Daiwa Exist 2004, like the Tournament Whisker reels two decades earlier, is certainly not without its shortcomings. Yet, it is one of those products, when taken out on the water and used for any extended period of time, is very difficult to put back down. Could it stand to be a bit more solid state like the Shimano Stella? Yes, but then it would not be as light would it? Could it benefit from a deeper, 2000 sized spool? Of course, but at the same time, even with only sixty to seventy yards of line on the reel, I never ran into a situation where I didn't have enough line, and incidentally, it is available in larger sizes. Is it twice the reel that the Certate is to match its almost doubled price tag? No, but I swear it feels like half the Certate 2000's weight! Are there numerous reasons why I should not like this reel? Yes and they are all delineated in this article, but then, please tell me why I am now in possession of three in varying configurations and thinking about a fourth?! Even with all its nit picky shortcomings, the Daiwa Exist and its evil twin, the Exist Steez, inspires an insanity worthy of just one result. What is that you ask? It is, of course, TackleTour's Ultimate Enthusiast Award!











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