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Daiwa 23 Kix

It’s fair to say that Daiwa’s LT (Light and Tough) range of reels has revolutionised the light tackle market. These reels have become smaller, lighter and stronger, which has allowed anglers to present finessed offerings to large fish and land them with greater success than ever before.

While these design and manufacturing advancements were established with reels in the higher price range of Daiwa’s reels such as Certate, they’re now being brought down to more affordable offerings such as the new KIX which I have been sent for review.

The Daiwa 23 KIX is one of the latest reels to hit Daiwa’s light tackle range. However, unlike other models, it seems to fit within an affordable price range, have a great aesthetic and feature high-end, expensive components that on spec make this reel an exceptional product.


The KIX is available in models ranging from a 2000D to 5000D-C, with prices starting from $299. The smallest model in the range contains an excessive 5kg of drag, while the larger models have 10kg and 12kg of drag respectively.

The KIX features several of Daiwa’s iconic features, such as MAGSEAL, Metal Alloy Body, Tough Digigear, corrosion-resistant ball bearings, wire bail, ABS Long Cast and Automatic Tournament Drag.

However, the main feature of the new 23 KIX is the addition of Daiwa’s Airdrive design. This design improvement is seen in Daiwa’s high-end light tackle reels, such as the Airity and Certate. Airdrive technology reduces the overall weight of the reel while increasing the smoothness of the reel by reducing resistance.

The new KIX also has a completely different aesthetic from its predecessor and nay other reel on the market with a dark green body combined with a black and gold spool. It retains the round EVA knob and this coupled with it’s 5kg of drag tells me its been designed to put the hurt on big fish. While some angler may not be concerned with the aesthetics of a reel, I think you need to stop and appreciate it, and in my opinion this is the best-looking reel Daiwa has produced since the 2015 Daiwa Exist.

A completely new feature for the KIX is a guard on top of the line roller, the name of this part translates from Japanese to Anti Tangle Roof. It’s a feature I’ve never seen on a Daiwa reel before but going forward all reels fitted with Daiwa’s new Air Drive Wire Bail will feature it. It’s designed to prevent loose line wrapping around the bail hinge, it’s not something that happens often, and less so with experienced anglers, however, in windy conditions where slack line is at play it can and does happen. The Anti Tangle Roof is for added security to aid line management. This then brings me to Daiwa’s new wire bail. For years anglers have lauded Daiwa’s Air Bail, a thick yet hollow bail wire and a signature design and recognisable aesthetic of their light tackle reels, however, the new Air Drive Wire Bail implemented on the KIX, Daiwa claims is stronger and lighter than the old Air Bail regardless of the fact it’s thinner.

On the Water

We were sent the 2000D model to review, the smallest reel in the range. This model would be the perfect example to test whether this reel is truly a ‘light tackle, heavy duty’ reel.

On a recent trip, I was targeting snapper around pylons and jetties on Daiwa Wave Minnows. Fishing with tight drag on a light reel was sure to test the durability and strength of the KIX, and after catching several smaller snapper to 40cm, I tussled with three larger fish up to 2kg.

I have no doubt I pushed this reel to its limits after fighting well over 30 snapper for the day. The Automatic Tournament Drag (ATD) didn’t slip and maintained constant pressure during the fight, while the reel stem and body never felt like it was flexing, even when placed under heavy drag to pull snapper away from structure.

The 23 KIX performs just as well on the water as it does straight out of the box. This is something that you would expect of all reels, but unfortunately not all light tackle reels feel as good winding under duress as they do in a tackle shop.

Why the KIX?

It’s fair to say that there is a surplus of generic silver and black fishing reels between $200 and $400 on the market.

The 23 KIX separates itself from the pack by being one of the best-looking fishing reels of the past 20 years while boasting an armoury of Daiwa features, highlighted by Daiwa’s Airdrive system.

The reel is built tough enough to tackle snapper on soft plastics while possessing enough finesse to keep small hooks in garfish. If you’re in the market for a new light tackle reel, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better reel at this price.

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