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Enthusiast Review

Swimbait Rod Wars Installment #3 : A Walk on the Exotic Side with Evergreen International's Balista


Date: 1/8/08
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: Evergreen International
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 6.5 - FAIR


Introduction: When we left our Swimbait Rod Wars last, our spirits were filled with renewed optimism thanks to the Best Value Award winning sticks from Okuma. We contrast that enthusiasm with a representative from the opposite end of the spectrum. Introducing the über-expensive and ultra-exotic TMJC-74XXX Balista from Evergreen International.

Evergreen International TMJC-74XXX Balista Specifications

Material Proprietary Graphite
Length 7'4" (std grip) / 7'6" (savage grip)
Length from Back of Reel Seat to Base 12" (13.5" w/ savage grip)
Line Wt. 16 - 30lb Test
Lure Wt. 1/2 oz - 4 oz
Pieces Two
Guides 9 + tip (Fuji Ti/Sic - Spiraled left)
Power Rating XXX-Heavy
Taper Moderate
Rod Weight 6.1 ounces
Manufacturing Country Japan
MSRP 58,800 JPY (~$535)

Impressions: The Balista is actually a two-piece stick with in possession of multiple handle disorder. It arrives in standard configuration with a handle that bears the name "Balista" that when assembled with the rod's spiral wrapped, second piece, results in a 7'4" beast of a rod. The optional "Savage Grip" handle, replaces the original and extends the rod by two inches - an option that is absolutely mind boggling to those used to standard USDM fare. More on this handle option later. Suffice it to say, the Balista, in standard or extended configuration is a work of understated, stealthy art - a composition we've grown accustomed to expecting from Evergreen International.


Introducing the exotic Evergreen International Balista

Lab Tests: Enough with the effusive appreciation of the rod's wicked cosmetics, what performance characteristics does this rod possess? For that, we introduce our Balista to none other than our RoD WRACK so that we may extract its deflection characteristics and better judge where this rod's true strengths, and weaknesses may lie.

Lab Results for Evergreen International TMJC-74XXX Balista

Avg RoD (2-48 oz)
Measured Weight
Balance Point
Evergreen TMJC 74-XXX
6.1 Ounces
Dobyns Rods 795ML
8.5 Ounces
Okuma 711MH
7 Ounces
Fenwick ECSWB79H-F
6.4 Ounces

Rate of Deflection (RoD): What we found was that, despite the Balista's extra, extra, extra heavy designation, in swimbait terms, it comes in at the lighter end of the deflection curve spectrum. In fact, one could argue the Balista is totally outclassed and not really suitable for big bait fishing after all. Yet, the rod's rating for baits up to 4 ounces remains.

Fig. 1 : This RoD Deflection Chart shows the deflection characteristics of the Evergreen International TMJC-74XXX Balista (yellow curve) against several similar sticks.

Spine, Weight, and Balance Point: The Balista, weighing in at 6.1 ounces with its standard handle is one of only a handful of sticks in our Rod Wars to weigh in under seven ounces. It is, in fact, the second lightest rod we've weighed in thus far and with a balance point of only seven and three quarters of an inch (7.75") up from the center of the reel seat, it's also among the better balanced rods. For those keeping track, we were able to locate the Balista's spine oriented on the top of the rod.

The Balista features spiral wrapped guides...

and a very moderate blank.

Real World Test: Never a crew to stop short of a thorough investigation based strictly on lab reports, we moved forward with the Balista's participation in our Swimbait Rod Wars. In truth, we were fishing this stick long before the battles had begun but have included it in our wars because it was procured with the sole intent of fishing big baits. In fact, we actually have TWO of these über-sticks at TT Headquarters.

We've been fishing the Balista for over a year now

Complete Field Test Set-Up for Evergreen International TMJC-74XXX Balista

Shimano Antares DC7
Shimano Antares DC7
Daiwa/Deps Zillion ZDV 100HL
20lb Sunline Shooter FC
65lb Suffix Performance Braid
20lb Sunline Shooter FC
Primary Baits Fished
22nd Century Triple Trout
Black Dog Bait Company Shellcracker
Black Dog Bait Company Lunker Punker

Pitching and Casting: The Balista has a rather moderate taper and can cast baits up to about 3.5 ounces comfortably. From there, the closer you get to 4 ounces, the rod's expressed upper limit, the more overloaded the rod feels. Baits like Black Dog Bait Company's Lunker Punker and Shellcracker are the absolute largest we'd recommend with this stick. The rod's true comfort zone, big bait-wise, is with baits right around three ounces. 

The Balista makes a great stick for the Lunker Punker

The requisite badge of honor

At the lower end of the rod's spectrum, baits down to half an ounce are very easily cast. Large spinnerbaits, lipless cranks, jerkbaits and even medium to deep diving cranks can all be comfortably thrown and fished on the Balista. As we saw with the Okuma GS-C-7111MH, a rod that shares a similar rating and deflection curve, the lighter powered swimbait sticks are actually quite versatile.

Clean, handsome detailing throughout

The shaped grips are very comfortable to hold

Working Baits: The Balista, with its relatively moderate taper, is best fished with treble hooked baits that require a moving presentation. Along with the afore mentioned Lunker Punker and Shellcraker, the Balista is good with baits like the 22nd Century Triple Trout, the 3:16 Lure Company Baby Wake, and a host of standard fare bass lures like the Lucky Craft 100SP and 100DD pointers, just about any lipless crank, and any good sized spinnerbait.

A peak at the kevlar reinforced handle section can be seen under the reel seat

Another look at the Balista's glossy black reel seat made by Fuji

Next Section: Any Power in this rod?









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