It’s some time now since I have all 3 of these reels in my workshop: Daiwa T3 Air, Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG and the Abu Revo LTZ Racing Limited 7. These are the top Bait Finesse reels from each reel manufacturer, considering the top 3 reel manufacturers in the world (in my opinion).
This will not be an article about the internals or components used in any of these reels, or which is more innovative, or fastest or more powerful of them three. It’s an article strictly about their casting performance, with weights under 5g (3/16oz). Considering the weather was improper for going fishing in a winter Sunday afternoon we decided to head out to test these puppies, on a local stadium. Luckily we had very good conditions for casting these weights.
Before we get to the actual casting abilities of the 3 reels, lets see some information about all three reels:
Daiwa T3 Air
It’s surely the most innovation/feature packed of them all, probably of all of them casting reels on the planet… sorry for my sarcasm :). It’s probably the prettiest, as most of us see it. But beauty is something that’s not of interest in this article… only casting performance is.
T3 Air is probably the only reel, that’s been made in close collaboration with KTF, Karil Tuned Factory, that’s available to the wide public, not only in Japanese auctions, or Japanese websites. In collaboration with KTF, Daiwa has managed to get this reels spool at 5.6g, at least that’s what they say, being the lightest spool in a reel yet. But at what cost? Daiwa advices not to use super lines, or spool more than 50-60 meters of monofilament or fluorocarbon line. Not to use monofilament line thinner than 6lb (0.20mm), or thicker than 0.33mm, or the spool might warp, that’s how light they made the spool.
I wonder how they weighted the spool, because as it is, pulled out of the Daiwa T3 frame, on my jeweller scale it measure a whooping 8g, which is far from the 5.6g stated. They might have weighted the spool without the bearing and the braking system… please someone enlighten me, because right now, the 5.6g looks just as a marketing hype… as most of the spools in other reels are weighted as you pull them out of the reel, not stripped down to the bare spool. Or they at least say how it was weighted.
The spool is super shallow, and ported. I almost forgot. They also not recommend casting weights higher than 15g, or the spool might warp as well.
The T3 Air weighs only 160g, with a skeletonized design, and hybrid gears, and that’s probably why it weighs more than a Steez for e.g. It’s Magforce3D Finesse braking system allows 60 different settings. It even has a setting called Air Mode, which applies the least braking power of them 3. But I noticed that if you tweak it enough you might be able to cast a bit further on the Max Brake setting…with a lower increment on the rotating dial.
- New super tuned T3 made in japan
- TWS – T Wing
- Air mode
- Zaion body and side plates
- Zaion sensitive handle knob
- Zaion star drag
- G1 duraluminium air spool
- MBS – micro ball bearing sytem
- Hybrid hyper gear
- Magforce 3D finesse tune
- Swept handle
- UTD – ultimate tournament drag
- BB – 11+1
- Gear Ratio 6.8:1 or 8.6:1
- Freshwater only
- Nylon, flurocarbon or monofilament line only
There’s a lot of NO, NO’s for a reel that has a recommended price of 58000 JPY.
Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG
It’s not the most expensive reel from Shimano, nor does it have that many “features” as Daiwa’s T3 Air. It’s basically a Shimano Core or Aldebaran that has flattened side plates by 8.5mm, to make it more compact. It’s spool is not even close to the T3 Air’s weight, meaning it weighs 10.9g with all the hardware installed on it, but it’s far from being as fragile as the Daiwa T3 Airs spool. There’s no NO’s on the what line can it be spooled with list. It can spool up to 75m of 0.23mm line. It’s lighter than the T3 Air though, at 145g. Unlike the T3 Air it doesn’t come equipped with micro ballbearings for the spool. It comes with Shimano’s regular spool bearings.
- 8 point BFS brake system
- BFS special ultra light magnesium alloy spool
- 6 star clicking star drag
- Ultra fast 8.0:1 gear ratio
- Super anti-rust bearings
- Ultra light magnesium alloy body
- Core-fit-body design: handle is 8.5mm closer to reel body by moving cast control caps to palm cups
- Hyper-tensile brass gears
- Super free spool design
- 80mm Drilled handle
- Made in Japan
- BB – 9+1
- Gear Ratio 8:1
The recommended price tag for this reel is 45700 JPY, although I’ve seen it much cheaper on some auction sites.
ABU Revo LTZ Limited 7
It’s the only one of the 3 reels mentioned in this article that’s up for saltwater fishing as well. The only one with 2 spools. The regular ultra shallow super finesse spool and a more deeper spool for applications that might demand more line or thicker line. It also has a clicking fighting drag, which is unlike any other casting reel I’ve owned so far. When the fish pulls line of this reel it actually makes a clicking sound just like a spinning reel. This is something new in a casting reel (I think Shimano has also done it in their Excence DC reel), at least in a casting reel of this size and weight, it weighing in at 163g, the heaviest of the lot, but by a mere 3g over the T3 Air, which is close to nothing. I’d say the Revo LTZ is as feature packed as the T3 air, if not more… It’s shallow spool weighs in at 8.3g with all it’s hardware, so only 0.3g heavier than the T3 Air actual weight. It is already equipped with BF ball bearings.
- Zero Brake System
- BF-XT bearings
- BFC light finesse knob
- Soft clutch
- BB 10+1
- C6 carbon fuse To the side plate
- Click mechanism with mechanical brake
- Shallow spool (8lb-100m)
- Super shallow spool (8lb-50m)
- Drag clicker
- Ultra duralumin drive gear
- Gear Ratio 7:1 for the Limited 7 and 8:1 for the regular version
It’s an impressive reel right out of the box, which, the same as with the T3 Air, would be very difficult to upgrade more than it actually is.
It’s recommended price is 44800 JPY, which makes it the cheaper of the 3.
Actual casting tests
For the casting test we used the same monofilament line on all three reels, and by that I actually mean I respooled each reel with the line from the reel used in the previous test, so there’s no ambiguities. The line was a Stroft GTM, 0.18mm, of about 50-60m. For casting purposes we’ve used two lures from Salmo: a Salmo Tiny, the sinking version which is 3cm long and weighs 2.5g, and a Salmo Lil Bug of 3cm, but 4.3g heavy.
The rod used in these tests is a custom made rod on a Andrew’s Fishing blank from Matagi: AF-TK62UL extended to 6’8″, with the following specs: 1/32-1/4 oz, 3-8lb.
We made 5 casts with each reel, with each lure after setting it as best as we could for the lure we were casting. I believe we might have been able to obtain a tad better results with the Daiwa T3 if the settings array wasn’t as wide as it was, and I think what I should also mention is that the Aldebaran BFS had Boca Bearings, not BFS bearings, as the other 2 reels have. That being said here are the results:
Conclusions are more important than the above tables
In what the conclusion matters, even though you might think that performances are similar, as you would deduct from the above tables, the reality of things is different.
Casting the Salmo Tiny seems the same for the Abu and the Daiwa, but the differences are noticeable. The LTZ needed a little more effort into casting this weight compared to the T3 Air, which was a breeze to cast this tiny weight. The T3 will cast even smaller lures, which I’m not very sure I am able to do with the LTZ.
As for the BFS Aldebaran, casting the Salmo Tiny lure wasn’t very easy to do. I had to activate one block, and adjust the tension knob as well to be able to cast these distances, but without the eaze of the T3 or the LTZ. It was lacking precision due to the slow startup of the spool, making it inadequate for casting weights this light…
With the 4.3g Salmo Lil Bug the problems seem to dissipate for all 3 reels. In the same order, the T3 scasts more freely due to the very light spool, immediately followed by the LTZ which is much easier to setup, and last, but not least followed by the BFS, which has the more predictable braking system of the 3. Each of the 3 reels is very comfortable to fish at these weights.
If I were to chose only one of them for lets say… stream trout fishing, it would definitely be the T3 Air, as it can cast the smallest lures effortlessly, closely followed by the LTZ, and would definitely not choose the BFS for this application, at least not as it is. If I were to use it for lake trout, or a tad larger lures, the first option would be the LTZ, followed by the BFS, and not the T3 due to the fragile spool which Daiwa advises not to use with braided line, which I would need in some applications.
Now, if I were to choose only one, as it is right out of the box, I would most definitely choose the Abu Revo LTZ, as it comes with a larger capacity spare spool, it performs almost like the T3, and is both braid proof and saltwater proof, at a price much lower than the T3, and somewhat lower than the BFS.
If I were to choose only one of them, with the ability to tune it, I wouldn’t touch the T3 Air or the LTZ, but I’d go with the Aldebaran with a Hedgehog or a IXA light and shallow spool, an a gear ratio mood to 6.2:1, which can be adapted from a Curado 51E or a Chronarch 51E. The reasons are very simple. The centrifugal braking system, in my opinion, in real life situations, not in theory, is much more predictable than any magnetic brake I’ve used. It doesn’t have that many settings. You could activate 2 blocks and fish an entire day without ever thinking about setting it again, starting with the smallest to the heaviest lure you’ll use during that day. I actually prefer a lower gear ratio for the type of fishing I do around these parts. Probably if I’d fish for bass, or flip covers or structures I’d prefer a faster reel, and even then a faster reel doesn’t make sense only if you’re a tournament fisherman, that demands maximum time with their lure in the water, and the least possible out of it.
*** the tests were conducted in under zero degrees (Celsius) temperatures. I believe that in a warmer setting the reels might have performed better, by a small degree of course. The viscosity of any oil/lube will increase with temperature decreasing.