Thursday, 10 April 2014

Daiwa SS Air × Jackson Super Trickster on the water

After some considerations, the SS air was loaded with a spool of 7lbs Daiwa Bass Finesse Fluorocarbon line.

As with the T3 air, the SS air spool being extremely thin, requires more care and attention during usage as compared to standard spools. Some of the guidelines by Daiwa regarding the usage of the spool includes:
- Nylon and Fluorocarbon lines only. No braided lines.
Line thickness, from 0.205mm (approx.6lb) to 0.330mm(approx.16lb) only
For lines with diameter lesser than 0.235mm(approx.8lb-test) lines, do not spool in more than 50m
Never spool lines with more than 500g (about 1lb force) of tension
- Never lock the spool and pull when lure is snagged
- Never cast lures over 15g

As these are all precautionary measures from Daiwa to prevent any forms of mechanical failure, users should try to adhere to it. 

Woke up nice and early today to catch the break of dawn for some field test on the new BFS setup. 

The setup was rigged up and i tied on an O.S.P I-waver 74sss. Off to the water we went.

I took a few test-casts and played around with the brake settings for a short while, with a stroke of luck a friendly peacock bass came knocking on the lure. The fight was short due to the short range where the fish took the lure thus even though i've had my first glimpse of the rod's performance, it was not fully tested to it's capabilities as yet. 

Initial impression of the SS Air was that it casted really smoothly with little effort. And similarly to my Alphas on the MB Zonda finesse spool, the reel didn't liked hard punching casts. Smooth casting strokes with gentle thumb pressure gotten the best casting results. This seemed to apply from the 4.5g I-Waver down to the 1/32oz (0.8g) Yozuri Snap (Optimal result with lower poundage lines approx. 2-5lb). The reel handle 2-3g class lures such as weightless rubbers and small minnows with ease. However for the lower limits ( <2g), lighter line class would have brought out it's full potential. 

A lure i like to use for BFS testing.

The peacock basses landed today were not huge by any measures, thus the drag was not tested to its higher capabilities, however the initial impression of the Daiwa Tournament Drag System was a feel of smoothness with no jerky burst encountered.

Overall the SS Air is a high performance Bait Finesse reel right out of the box. It is light but solid, has a silky smooth drag as well as retrieval and overall operation, lastly and most importantly bangs out finesse lures like a champ. Technical features aside, based on casting distance and ease of casts, the SS air easily performs as well as or better than most of the Bait Finesse reels out of the box in the market right now. In terms of out of the box Bait Finesse casting performance, build, features and specs aside, i feel that the Abu Garcia Revo AE74 LTZ is one of the best casters and i'm glad to report that the SS Air definitely matches its casting prowess, however whether either reel outperforms the other would require a more detailed test.

As with any performance reels, i personally believe in a bedding-in period, whereby items such as the drive gears, spool shafts and bearings etc will smoothen out after some usage, thus i foresee a little more potential performance increase for the reel for the coming months. Having said that, it is likely that a bearing swap and some cosmetic changes will be in the works for this unit.

UPDATE: Hedgehog Studios Air Beaings added to sideplate:
Freespool timing improved from 12sec > 37sec


  1. Hi, I'm from Russia,
    Like your blog. I'm BFS fishing fan too.
    Need your advice, buddy. Have Daiwa Blazon with Abu Garcia MGX+Abu works light spool + Hedgehog AIR bearings. I like my MGX reel, it's pretty good working, very smooth and light. Not satisfied with casting light weight lures (about 3-4g) with my ABU, or maybe my casting is not so good. Whatever, now I'm looking for Shimano Aldebaran BFS, Megabass Zonda 68, maybe Daiwa SS AIR (don't like the fact that it works only with mono/fluoro lines) or something else (of course, it will be tuned with light spool and bearings).
    More often I like fishing with lures from 3g such as Chubby, Zipbaits Rigge, jig 2g+ and so on. Want a comfortable casting with little cranks (2,5-5g).So as you have several great reels, would you recommend me one of them or compare the characteristics and casting comfort? Wanna hear your own opinion, based on fishing experience.
    Thank you.
    P.S. Sorry, my English is not so well.

  2. Hi Alex,

    Firstly, your english is perfectly fine don't you worry about that and it's really great to hear from another BFS from a different part of the world! The MGX with the Abu works spool is still pretty deep even though it's about sub 8 grams for the spool alone much like a pixy spool which is why i believe the casting for lures under 3g may not be at the optimum even with the bearing swap but it'd work better with 4-7g lures.

    Based on your choice of lures and casting weight between 2-5g, these are some of my personal findings and recommendations.

    For the Aldebaran BFS XG wise, i've never tried it with the stock spool as i swapped it for the avail super shallow spool on day 1 of owning the reel. From what i have heard, the stock spool will handle 3g and above well, however if you had the avail shallow spool or better yet the honeycomb spool swapped in you will be able to gain the best performance out of the reel.

    The Zonda 68 is not an actual BFS reel and more of a all round light reel with a pretty deep flat bottomed spool which needs to be swapped for the finesse spool if you go this route, thus i would suggest going for the Zonda Hedgehog straight, as it would come with both the normal and the finesse spool out of the box. The Zonda/Alphas/Sol series of reel equipped with the Megabass finesse spool is definitely one of the top bfs reel setups all over the world.

    For the SS air wise i would say it is a very complete BFS reel out of the box, like the T3 air, its built to perform straight out of the box with minimal tune up required except maybe a bearing swap if you're finicky like me. I too, didn't like the fact the spool is rated for mono/fc line at first however trying out some of the better FC lines left me with a pretty good impression and i'm starting to like straight FC line and the choice of different line types across my reels have also opened up more options to me for different applications. On hindsight, i've seen people loading the SS Air with ultralight PE lines even though i've never tried it myself and wouldn't recommend it.

    In a comparison of the casting, the maximum distance for ultralight baits are very close for most of the tuned up BFS reels i've tried give or take a little. However, based on the listed 3, in terms of ease of casting, the Aldebaran and the SS air is easier to handle compared to the Zonda hedgehog where a bit more effort needs to be made by the thumb to get the maximum of casting performance. Another reel you may want to take a look at for out of the box BFS performance is the Abu Revo LTZ AE74. That reel gives superb performance out of the box with it's ultralight super shallow spool and tuned magnet arrangement.

    I hope this helps you in selecting your next reel purchase. If you have any other questions do go ahead and ask, I'll try my best to answer them if i can. Hope fishing is good for you in Russia!!

    Tight Lines Buddy!

  3. Hi, buddy!
    Thank you for reply!
    Your recomendations will be so useful for me.
    And according to them now I think Aldebaran BFS or SS AIR is more suitable for my requirements, but can't choose one of them, because don't have an opportunity to touch or try them. They are not available in my city market, only in order.
    You also have shimano core, what can you tell about it (in comparison with aldebaran).
    P.S.Read your last note, my congratulations about your new rod, it's amazing
    a few weeks ago I started searching for a trout BFS rod, now looking for G.Loomis CR-842, have you ever had an experience with G.Loomis casting rods?
    P.P.S. very happy about communication with so responsive angler from another country)

  4. Found some information about revo ltz ae74 and really interested. So if i understand you right daiwa ss air and revo ltz ae 74 are great reels out of the box with minimum tuning set ups, while the Aldebaran really need a shallow spool, bearings swap and so on to show the better results. So according to your opinion which of them you like/prefer more or use more often and which has the most comfortable and light casting opportunities.

  5. Hey Alex!

    Good to hear from you again! Glad i could help. The core 50 mg7 is basically the US market aldebaran, they share the exact same components except for a different paint job and a slightly shorter handle on the core. If you are comparing it to the aldebaran BFS XG however than there are quite afew differeneces, firstly the aldebaran comes with an oem "yumeya style" finesse spool, it had a much narrower profile, making the reel compact and together with the "6 way" drag star allows much more ergonomic one handed operation of the bait finesse shakey techniques such as wacky rigs. Overall for finesse fishing the BFS XG was designed to be Shimano's out of the box option, and it does perform well, however if you really want to go light into sub 2g lure weight territory a spool swap is highly recommended.

    For the GL3 i have no experience with it as i mainly go for japanese offering. By far besides the Abu diplomat Boron i've only tried the Shimano Cardiff Area edition which is also a beautifully crafted rod. The main difference between the BFS bass rods and the trout rods are the lack of backbone in trout rods which gives it a slow noodle rod action. This trait makes these rods super fun on any sizes of fish, as even a palm sized pan fish will be able to load the blank halfway. However these rods have not much stopping power when it comes to cover game and lures heavier than 5g becomes harder to cast and place accurately.

    You are spot on about the AE74 and SS air to be minimal tune up requirement type of reel for Baitfinesse. Based on pure casting ability, i believe the LTZ will do slightly better however the Build quality of the the LTZ is no where as comparable to the SS Air.

    I'm really happy to be communicating with anglers all over the world, connected by our common interest in fishing and of course the Bait finesse revolution. One of the biggest perks of owning this blog is the privilege of making friends with you anglers all around the globe!

    Hope you find a suitable new reel soon!!

    Regards, and tight lines always!

    1. Hello. Big fan of your blog! I am really intrested in BFS style fishing. Thinking to get Aldebaran BFS XG myself, but i can't find any infromation if i could use PE lines with this reel. I know Daiwa SS Air or T3 Air won't go well with PE lines.. But how about Shimano reels? I would love to get a good reel to work with 2-12 gram lures. As far as BFS rods goes im thinking of Major Craft Go Emotion or Volkey BFS models.. Tried any of those? How is Jackson Trickster working out for you? Maybe some other models you can throw in(looking for versatile rod)? Information kind of limited in this area so any help is huge.. Sorry for so many questions..

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Hi Paulius!!

    Thank you very much for checking this blog out! The Aldebaran BFS XG will handle PE line fine as i myself use PE line on the BFS XG. I like to use PE line under 6lb as they have little stretch and cast a mile. The BFS XG will handle your intended lure casting range with ease in its stock form but you will see alot more performance gains in the lower weights aspect with tuning up to bring out the best in the performance.

    The BFS XG is a very capable reel for the intended purpose and there is also plenty of option parts for tuning this platform.You can opt for basic bearings upgrade or go for the plentiful spool options upgrades such as the Avail super shallow spool, the latest honeycomb model, the ZPI BFC kits, or if you can find one; the more elusive Valleyhill Cosugi works spool to really bring out the casting performance of BFS reels. If you can live with FC/mono line there is also the option of the K.T.F spool. The Aldebaran BFS was designed with the application specific in mind so Shimano has already got the ergonomics and gearing figured out for you. The XG is also easily one of the lightest BFS reel out there due to the compact body.

    In terms of rod wise, both the Go emotion and the Volkey BFS models will work really well and the availability worldwide makes them one of the staple/ "go-to" rods. The Volkey BFS is one of the best bang for buck BFS rod which works really well for the intended purpose. It has a really soft tip for punching out those light weight lures as well as a strong backbone to put down power on the fishes where necessary. One thing about Majorcraft BFS rods to me though is the similarity amongst the models therefore i feel there isn't too much of benefits choosing one model over the other as the blanks action feel very similar across the range. It pretty much comes down to the components/build/aesthetics you prefer in the BFS ranges; Volkey, Go-emotion, Corzza, MS-X, but in terms of real world usage you be less likely to see any major difference. My personal favorite and recommendation in the Majorcraft line up is the Volkey BFS 69/692XUL model.

    For the Jackson Trickster wise, it has been a really good rod to me less the excessive weight due to the full carbon blank which makes it tip heavy. The model i'm using is suitable for ultralight plastics such as little crankbaits and minnows but due to the balance, does not work as well for soft plastic application especially "shaky" techniques. The build quality of the rod is superb and its probably the prettiest rod i have at the moment.

    There is quite an extensive range of BFS rods available at the moment, it might be easier to name some of them if you can state the price range and specs such as length, 1 or 2pc, coupled with maybe the action or brand preferences you might be looking at so as to narrow down your selection!

    Sorry for the late reply and i hope this will be of some help for ya!

  8. Thank you very much for so much information. I've been looking for a while in rods and reels. More to cheaper ones to get started and try out this kind of fishing. I found few very good deals for Volkey VKC-652UL rod and Shimano Scorpion XT1001 reel. Together with Air BFS(hedgehog studios) bearings and shallow spool (cant decide on one yet) i think i should be able to throw light enough lures and still have versatile setup.. And in future i may get that aldebaran to go for lightest lures.. The reason i was looking into MJ rods so much its because of 2pc models. I simply dont have enought space for 1pc rods...

  9. Hi Paulius!!

    Glad i could be of some help! Based on the comment you left on the other post i too, would have reccomended to you the VKC-652UL over the 692XUL as the XUL's tip may feel a little bit too soft for the heavier lures. Some of the rods of the bat other than those by MC you may want to look at performing similarly that is in 2 pc and in the same pricing category are:

    Daiwa Blazon 662LB
    Daiwa Airedge 632/662LB
    Palms Molla MSGC 67L2XF
    Shimano Expride 165L-BFS2
    Jackson Trickster TSC 64(2)L
    Abu Garcia Hornet Killer Bee 632/672L MGS

    And there are probably a few more between the ranges but these are some i can think of right now that will perform closely to your specifications.

    The Scorpion XT1001 is a very capable BFS reel after some works as it is basically a aluminum Aldebaran MG/MG7 sharing the same frame and parts. After tuning up you probably will not see much difference in performance unless it's the Aldebaran BFS XG where the ergonomics and weight will have a slightly better edge. For bearings, if you are looking at all round/long cast performance the Air bearings will do better and if you are looking for better pitching distance then the Air BFS will be the better choice in my opinion after using both.

    I fully understand your 2 piece rod plight because it goes similarly for me. Due to my small car cabin i can only fit 1 pc rods which is about 6ft or just slightly more thus, i too readily prefer 2 pc rods for the convenience. But you might have noticed in the japanese market BFS rods are usually in 1 piece, especially the higher end models.

    Tight lines buddy!

  10. Hello!

    In few posts you gave me more info than i was able to find on the internet in a week - THANKS!

    Looks like my selected gear will do just fine.. Now while waiting for to rod/reel and upgrades i thinking about lowest weight lures.. Maybe you could tell your opinion about reels for lowest weights possible? Lets say who would be better brand new Aldebarans bfs xg or Daiwa SS AIR with future upgrades in mind. Or maybe its some super upgraded Alphas 103/105 or some secret shimano model? For Long distance throws..

    And now that VKC 692XUL would be perfect fit or even that ABU Diplomatat Boron?

    P.S. If i bother you a lot - just ignore me..

  11. Hi Paulius,

    Don't sweat it, its my pleasure to be able to share some of my findings on BFS tackles with others. In my experience for lowest weight casting its a balance between the rod and reel combo as the performance really come from a compliment of the 2.

    Firstly for reel tuning there is many parts you can look at drag power/smoothness, cranking power, aesthetics, smoothness etc, but when it comes down to UL casting i feel its all about the spool and bearing. In order for the reel to be able to cast UL lures, the spool must be able to start up fast enough to minimize drag so that the lure can be launched out smoothly. It is likely due to this theory that BFS spool tuning is all about weight reduction and being ultra shallow (Low line cap = low overall line weight) which contributes to that.

    With all the spool offerings on the market currently, it really seem to me that with tuning, most of the reels will perform quite closely in terms of casting distance for UL lures but the difference come in the form of braking system preference and of course thumbing techniques. I seldom take stock reel as a reference point when it comes to BFS because i know that tuning would definitely be on the cards, however for a stock performing reel, when it comes to distance for UL lures, i feel that the Abu LTZ is definitely one of the best caster out of the box.

    The 2 reels you have mentioned is a classic Shimano vs Daiwa scenario, Centrifugal vs Magnetic brakes situation. I don't actually feel there is one tuned BFS reel performing with a very large edge over the others and it's mainly down to personal preference. Firstly you'd have to decide if you have a preference of the brake system because some people feel they'd do better casting a specific type of brake style. Following than i'd usually look at the maximum casting performance which would mean the reel equipped with the best available spool in the market so in that case the SS Air is already equipped with an adequately lightweight KTF made spool with nothing much of note in the market offerings, while the Aldebaran BFS has the option of the hedgehog honeycomb spool or the KTF spool depending on your preference of line cap. After this point i believe the reels will actually cast very similarly and other tuning would be down to preference such as the palming ergonomics, overall weight, gearing etc. For me i have used BFS reels with different spools and settings and i don't really feel anyone triumphs madly over the others its all down to the small details such as one reel being easier to cast while another takes more focus on the thumbing but results in slightly more overall distance, it is these points that separates one from the other. Personally, i keep a stable of reels with the main difference being gear ratios. Thus i pick my arsenal based on the day's fishing.

    The VKC 692XUL and the Diplomat Boron are very different rods suited for different purposes. The main difference is in the blank taper, with the volkey being a typical Bass styled BFS taper; a thin and soft tip matched to a strong butt while the Boron is a trout taper which typically feels super slow and noodly with practically no back bone. The volkey would be better suited casting / working bass lures and soft plastics while due to the noodly nature, the Boron will work better in the sweet spot of small 2-4g UL minnows and crankbaits. I tend to use the Boron more as a fun rod when i'm just out looking for some cheap thrills such as cichlid (Panfish style) fishing where the rod can bend alot even with smaller fishes making it really thrilling. While i'd usually apply the volkey in more serious peacock bass fishing when i want to use specific methods such as neko rigs, drop shot etc.

    Tight Lines Always buddy!

  12. Hey mate, love your blog so professional,
    i am look for zonda custom / ss air for bait finesse, i had a same jackson rod, normally use a 0.5-3g worm drop shot for bass fishing game

    Zonda and ss air which one you recommen?

    Hope to see your reply: D

    Thx mate

  13. Hi Kenny,

    Thanks for the support and compliments mate!

    I'm guessing you will favor a more pitching/flipping setup more, due to preference of worming rigs usage. In that case, based on your choices i would recommend the SS air for the application as i personally feel it pitches much more comfortably than the Zonda Hedgehog.

  14. Thank you for the very insightful article.
    May I know what you think of this reel vs the T3 Air?

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Hello, i was wondering where can i buy jackson super trickster in sg?

  17. Hi Thanks for you very informative blog, I have been off fishing for quite a number of years and have just return to this sport, my believe that Ultra light fishing is the way to go (as a sport)
    Hope ypu guys are still fishing..... Tight Lines!

  18. Hello - awesome detailed intel here. I am slightly obsessed with the ultimate finesse rod at the moment. Money not really an object just looking for something special. currently using an Edge 702 HM custom with spiral guides - very nice.. paired with 2016 alderbaran BFS XG.

    any suggestions please?

  19. Hello! I would like to ask, for bfs, what knot do you use for your main line to leader ( i tried fg for 6lbs main to 10 lbs leader....almost impossible to tie(too thin), thus i use the blood knot now) or you just tie it straight to the snap then to the lure?