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Basically, yes they are as reliable. If you look at top Daiwa and Shimano reels, the 2500 sizes will have about 70% of the drag power (because of smaller parts), but other than that will be equally reliable. In Australia for example they fish for a whole stack of proper fish using 2000 size reels. Nothing we have could really compare, so yea, a 2500 size here seems small and weak, but only because we're used to bigger sizes. Smaller reels are made to the same quality.

Like Mike said, Daiwa make a 2500r size of reel which is basically a 3000 sized body (or parts) with a smaller spool, so it retains the power of the bigger reel. I have a Bradia 2500R sitting in customs at the moment. They'd be perfect (hopefully) for putting on all manner of lighter rods here.
 
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