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Reel Review

The Daiwa Steez is light in Weight but not in Sophistication (continued)

Ergonomics: Both the Steez and the Core palm well, and when it comes down to which feels better in the hand it will come down to a matter of preference. The Core has a more naturally curved profile, while the Steez had a more angular design, but both have areas that it is easy to rest your fingers around the reel. Where there is no comparison is the sheer weight difference. Every ounce counts when it comes to ultralight reels and the Steez weighs in at 5.5/5.6 oz. depending on version and the Core weighs in at 6.1/6.7 depending on standard or flipping switch models.

The Daiwa Steez has porting on just about every component for weight reduction

So can you really feel a difference in just .6oz? Absolutely. When you pick up the Core you think “this is a light well balanced reel.” When you pick up the Steez you don’t even need to think as it is hard to believe just how light it feels in the palm of your hand. When it comes to controls the Steez also has the upper hand as it has external cast controls, and a micro-click spool tension knob where the Core does not. The Core Septon grips are definitely more “grippy” than the Daiwa paddles, but again this is going to come down to preference for anglers. (Round 4: The Steez wins when it comes to ergonomics, proving that Daiwa still knows how to pack in the features and still maintain a very light package.)

The Steez handles a variety of line well, and we found it excellent for fluorocarbon

Durability: From Clear Lake to the Delta we punished these reels with fish after fish, submersion tests, and absolutely no service. In the end both reels not only survived but exhibited no problems. Both reels feel pretty much like they did straight out of the box, and the only area that we will likely service after this test is complete will be basic cleaning and spot lubrication. As with all magnesium reels there is the concern of corrosion with exposure to saltwater. We fished both reels in brackish water at the mouth of the Delta and yet there was no damage to either over the course of the year. We did observe some physical damage on our Steez due to boat rash. These could have been avoided by using the bundled Daiwa cover but we sat the Steez on the rod on our deck alongside all the other reels we were testing. The Core did not have any boat rash thanks to the gloss coating which also makes it more saltwater friendly than the Steez. The Steez is matte in appearance and the Core is glossy due to this protective layer. Regardless of the protective coating the Core should be wiped off every time it is used in saltwater, and we recommend the same with the Steez after use in a brackish environment. (Round 5: While neither reel showed any performance robbing damage over time the Core did better when it came to cosmetics over the long term with the saltwater protective coating, the same one used on the Chronarch Mg. The Steez should not be used in saltwater, but can be saved from boat rash with the bundled cover.)

The Steez may look angular from certain angles but is still comfortable to palm

Price & Applications: Finally we come to price, the great equalizer among tackle. The Steez is Daiwa’s flagship reel and while the Core is Shimano’s top end magnesium based baitcaster it plays second fiddle to the Calais in terms of positioning. It is interesting how both companies position their products, and as usual Daiwa puts a premium on refinement and weight reduction while Shimano touts advanced technology and performance. When you look at the prices the Calais 4x8 DC is really in a class of its own, just as the reel’s digital circuit really has no comparison.

The spool tension knob is machined, anodized, and has a audible click, just one of the many details that make the Steez such a sophisticated offering

When you compare the Steez and the Core in terms of price and applications you have another fascinating matchup. The Core wins bonus points for its more aggressive price but you really can’t take away any points from the Steez for the $449.00 price tag. The Steez is everything Daiwa makes it out to be, light, fully featured, and refined to the utmost extreme. Is the Steez worth the extra 100 dollars over the Core? If ultra light weight and refinement are on top of your list of priorities then that answer is yes. The Core does have one more benefit, and that is the ability to be fished in saltwater environments, making it a feasible choice among anglers that pursue species like Redfish. (Round 6: Though the Core may be slightly more rounded the Steez just manages to sneak in that last blow by doing what no other reel in the world can, deliver premium performance in a package that weighs only 5.5oz. The primary purpose of using magnesium in a reel’s construction is for weight reduction and the Steez accomplishes this in spades making it possible to command an extra hundred dollars.)


Daiwa Steez 103HA (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Steez ranked Excellent in this category, and is built with extremely tight tolerances and superior all magnesium construction 9
Performance When it came to performance the Steez delivered when it came to casting accuracy, retrieve feel, and reasonable drag performance. What is best about this reel is it is able to offer excellent performance in a surprisingly light overall weight 9
Price The Steez offers excellent performance in most categories and as can be expected it carries a price that we rated "fair" 6
Features The Steez has plenty of features from a high bearing count to a swept handle and wet drag system. Overall the Steez is loaded with top notch features, but the best feature of all is still the exceptional low weight magnesium frame that is lightweight and still strong enough o feel solid and refined 9
Design (Ergonomics) The Steez may not be as sculpted as the Core but it actually feels just as ergonomic in a unique and different way. The Steez makes up for any ergonomic angle shortcomings with a overall lighter weight. 9
Application The Steez is rated "great" in this category because it can be used for so many applications that require finesse fishing, but also because the Steez is able to step up and be used for larger baits as well. The new large spool sizes will further extend the capabilities of the Steez. It would have been rated excellent if it could be fished in more saltwater environments like the Core. 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:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Premium performance, and tuned like a JDM "supertuned" reel right out of the box L The Steez is not a cheap reel by any means, and more expensive than the TD-Z was by a significant percentage
J The definition of "lightweight" performance L Not as powerful as the Core in terms of gearing or drag
J Casting accuracy excellent, great finesse reel L Freshwater applications only
J Ultra refined retrieve feel  
J Lightweight but surprisingly reliable and durable  
J New high capacity models extend the series range of applications  
J Did I say light?... yeah it is that light...  

One more delta bass caught while finesse fishing plastics with the Steez

Conclusion: A year after our initial look at the Japanese model our positive opinion of the Steez has not changed, in fact it has only improved as we were reassured by our latest batch of tests regarding the product’s durability. The Shimano Core proved to be a very well balanced reel and with the price delta makes it a serious competitor in the lightweight magnesium reel space, but when it comes to ultralight baitcasters the Steez proves it has what it takes to maintain the crown. The sheer weight advantage that the Steez exhibits over other reels on the market is compelling in a category where every single fraction of an ounce counts. The Steez is a product of years of expertise in magnesium reel design, supertuning, and enthusiast styling, and it shows. When it comes to ultra premium magnesium reels there is a reason why the US Steez wins an Editor’s Choice, and the one word that best sums it up is… “Sophistication.”


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