3. DAIWA EXIST LT
• Price: $800
Daiwa poured a ton of research and technology into the Exist. It has some impressive qualities, including a bulletproof magnesium body weighing only 5.5 ounces, and 22 pounds of drag, which beat the heaviest striper in our torture test with no sign of strain. Daiwa employed its Magseal at six locations to shut out all water, so this reel definitely stood out for its construction and reliability. Testers were less impressed with the shallow spool and low line capacity of the 2500-size reel (which made fighting a 20-pound striper a hoot). Despite the quality, we felt the $800 price was high.