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Enthusiast Tackle: Reel Review

An Ultra-Light Baitcaster Worthy of Serious Anglers - The Daiwa Liberto Pixy

Date: 12/01/04
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Daiwa Japan
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 9.17

Tired of the line twist issues inherent with spinning gear? Ever wish for just a little more control while throwing finesse baits? Ever wonder what it’d be like to fish 4lb test on a bait casting rig? Well, wonder no more. Specifically developed to handle Japan’s high pressure, high intensity bass fishing waters, the Liberto Pixy from Daiwa Japan is the bait casting equivalent of an ultra light reel. But how would this little reel fair in US waters? Your TackleTour team took one to the task to find out.

Daiwa Pixy base Specifications

Weight (lab measured) 5.7oz (5.7oz)
Gear Ratio (actual retrieve) 5.8:1 (21 inches per turn)
Bearings 8 Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing
Line Capacity (lb/yds) 4/110, 6/80, 8/65
Additional Features Daiwa Air Metal (magnesium alloy) frame, GIGAS spool, MagForce V Cast Control System, ball bearing knobs on the handle
MRS. $320.00 (Approx. import price)

At first sight and handling of the ultra light Liberto Pixy from Daiwa Japan, one is left with the impression of holding a toy rather than a fishing reel. It is so very small, and the spool so very shallow, how can this little reel possibly be sturdy enough to handle the rigors of bass fishing? Yet, because of its ultra compact design, this reel inspires a definite sense of excitement. You can just sense that, teamed with a fishing rod of proper action, you’ll be able to feel every little nuance that is happening in the water because your hand will be all that much closer to the blank – a sense, not often attributed to bait casting reels.

The Daiwa Liberto Pixy boasts plenty of features despite being extremely compact and lightweight

The specific model of Pixy reel in this review is the 2004 limited production Liberto Pixy distinguished by its metallic yellow finish. The standard Pixy comes with a more subdued silver finish and there is also a 2003 limited edition version in orange. The only differences between all three reels are their finishes. Their inner workings are identical from all counts.

Field Tests: For our tests, we spooled the Daiwa Pixy with 6lb Yozuri Hybrid and teamed the reel with a Kistler Helium LTA He70MLC. This combo weighed in at a total of only 9.4 ounces! For baits, we mostly fished one-sixteenth to one-eighth ounce drop shot rigs, 737-3/0 to 737-5 split shot rigs, and one sixteenth ounce ultra light crankbaits like the Luhr Jensen Speedtrap and Mann’s Tiny 1-Minus – all setups and lures one would normally attribute to spinning gear because of their low weight.

Paired up with a Helium this combo is about as light as it gets

Casting: Those of you who have tried to cast split shot rigs with a baitcasting setup, have probably met with similar results as we - marginal success at best. The awkward placement of the weight, eighteen inches or so above the worm, and the sheer weightlessness of the setups themselves makes life difficult with conventional gear. Heavier weights alleviate this problem but also reduce the effectiveness of the split shot rig. Needless to say, with this past experience, we were pretty skeptical of this reel’s ability to handle these same setups. All doubt was removed, however, after rigging the rod up and watching the size 737-3/0 split shot drop effortlessly to the deck of the boat when the reel was clicked over into freespool. From that moment it was “game-on”. We were able to achieve approximate casting distances of up to fifty feet with this weight and a number two straight shank worm hook with a four inch curly tail worm attached. Heavier split shots resulted in slightly further distances and all drop shot and crank bait casts were met with little resistance. Not one of us were yearning for our spinning gear while fishing this reel. 

Retrieving: With the advent of ball bearing supported knobs in the handle, the Pixy is very smooth on the retrieve with no idiosyncratic noises or movements to disturb one’s concentration. This is a huge advantage when fishing plastics super slow in an effort to entice those stubborn bass. Daiwa’s infinite anti-reverse performs reliably and solidly on this reel transmitting positive hooksets and good cranking power. The reel comes with a standard 80mm handle and a lure retrieve rate of about twenty-one inches per turn of the handle – all features found on standard size baitcasting reels.

Low profile and light weight make the Pixy an ideal palming finesse reel

Drag: Designed specifically for small and light lures, one would expect the drag on the Daiwa Pixy to follow suit with its intended purpose, but in our lab tests the maximum drag measured in at three pounds of pressure. This was about one half to one full pound more than expected and a welcome surprise. Line pulls out of the reel easily and evenly during battle with feisty fish, but one small drawback is the fact that the drag star does not offer a micro-click adjustment. 

Ergonomics: Those with medium to small sized hands will really appreciate the palm-ability of the Daiwa Pixy. The reel’s low position in the reel seat really enhances the angler’s feel of the rod though comfort would be optimum if the reel sat just slightly back in the reel seat for a more snug fit into one’s hand. The external adjustment MagForce V cast control system is a familiar and welcome carry over of all Daiwa reels as is the previously mentioned standard length cranking handle. One thing of note, because of the reel’s diminutive size, picking out backlashes can be a challenge as the top bar on the reel does limit access a bit.

The Pixy makes it easy to fish light lines with just as much effectiveness as most spinning reels

Line Capacity: The Pixy was developed specifically for finesse fishing techniques targeting black bass. As such, it is intended for lines ranging from four (4) to eight (8) pound test – that’s in Japanese fishing line diameters! Fishing lines made for the Japanese market are much thinner than that of their American market counterparts and hence more can be used. The line capacity specifics given above have been corrected for American market averages hence the discrepancies you may find on individual research and comparisons. While these capacities are not very robust, they should not pose any difficulties to those targeting species not typically known for long runs during battle. The Pixy may well be the definition of a specialty reel. 

Price and Availability: Depending on which edition of the Daiwa Pixy you’re interested in, availability is medium to difficult. The left hand retrieve model is a new, 2004 offering so the 2003 limited edition orange Pixy is only available as a right hand reel. Otherwise, through persistent research and resourcefulness this reel is not an impossible find but it is on the pricier side of the import market considering its specialty nature.


Daiwa Pixy Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A well made reel but with a stamped metal handle and drag star rather than forged. 8.5
Performance Met and exceeded all expectations for castability and power. 10
Price Pricey for a special application reel 8
Features A magnesium frame, MagForce V cast control, and GIGAS spool, ball bearing handle – what more could you want? Oh yeah, how about a micro-click adjustable drag? 9
Design (Ergonomics) Fits very well in the hand but would fit better if it sat back just a little in the reel seat. This could be the lightest bait caster on the market at 5.7 ounces! 9.5
Application A reel made specifically for freshwater, light line and light lure applications and it fills this niche surprisingly well. 9.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J One of the lightest bait casters ever made! L No micro click adjuster on drag
J Surprisingly strong drag for the reel size L inability to be used in salt or brackish water
J Ability to use light lines L small line capacity
J Super low profile for easy palming  

There’s an idiom that exists in the cycling world known as the “sub-twenty”. It refers to a bicycle that, when fully assembled, weighs in at under twenty pounds and is coveted for the fact such a machine will deliver the ultimate in responsiveness and acceleration. Cyclists have been known to go to extreme measures and ridiculous expense to achieve this once lofty goal. With advances in technology, this bar has now been moved to an unheard of fifteen pounds. In fishing, a similar measurement can be thought of in terms of the rod and reel combo – the ultra light. Only this idiom more commonly refers to the line and lure weight capabilities of such a combo, not the overall weight of the rod and reel together. Certainly, a lightweight combination of these two items will deliver to the angler, the ultimate in sensitivity and all day fish-ability. The question is can such a combination be delivered without sacrificing power, durability, and performance? The Daiwa Pixy is here to answer one side of the equation with a resounding, “absolutely”. Weighing in at under six ounces and carrying with it the pedigree of one of Daiwa’s higher end offerings, the Pixy is the ultimate finesse fisherman’s tool. Paired with an equally lightweight fishing rod, like the Kistler Helium LTA He70MLC, it’s possible to achieve the sub-ten – a rod and reel combo that weighs less than ten ounces! Line weary fish living in crystal clear lakes and reservoirs beware, Daiwa has delivered a reel with the traditional advantages of a conventional reel, but with the ultra light line and lure capabilities of a spinning reel. The Daiwa Pixy is a must have for fisherman seeking that ultra light advantage.









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