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Enthusiast Review

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

Power: This rod's strong suit is NOT in its power, so I would not recommend it for any of the single-hook, soft plastic type swimbaits - not even those with an exposed hook. It just takes too long to get into the Balista's backbone to afford a proper hookset on baits like this. A disappointment to say the least. Even with the afore mentioned treble-hooked baits, you need to really lean into the rod to hook up and keep a fish buttoned. I lost my first two or three fish on this rod before I adjusted and started to overcompensate on my hooksets - not a comfortable feeling when torquing a $600 fishing rod with no warranty!

Cal lays into a snag... doh!

The Balista has two handle options, the standard (bottom) and Savage Grip (top)

Features: What the Balista lacks in power, it certainly makes up for in components and cosmetics. From its kevlar reinforced handle set, to the spiral wrapped, titanium framed SiC guides, to its traditional, clean, understated, and well executed detailing, the Balista is fine stick. But once again for the Balista, with the good, comes some disappointment. The optional Savage Grip handle extends the rod by 2 inches alright, but only in the handle.

The Savage Grip (bottom) simply extends the back end of the rod by attaching the rubber ball base.

This would be fantastic were this rod stout enough to fish the single-hooked, soft plastic baits like the Huddleston Deluxe where distance is paramount and the extra leverage of a longer handle is appreciated. But as previously stated, the rod is too soft to fish those baits, and with the other, recommended baits for this stick, the extra lengthened Savage Grip just gets in the way during the retrieve.

A look at the two end caps

Application: So what's this rod good for? In big bait terms, topwater baits that weigh no more than three and a half ounces. The soft tip of the Balista is perfect for walking the Punker or jerking baits like the Shellcracker and Baby Wake. The requisite explosive hits give you ample warning to set yourself and really lay into the hookset. Secondarily, the Balista makes a wonderful stick for baits like the 22nd Century Triple Trout. These baits aren't overly hefty and can be fished, essentially, like an oversized crankbait, and the Balista makes a really nice cranking stick.

The back grip of both handles provides a nice, large area to grip for two handed casting.

The Balista comes with the top end Fuji titanium framed, SiC guides.


Warranty: As with all the JDM rods we review on TackleTour, warranty coverage is somewhat dependent on the vendor through which you purchase the rod. Even with that, proceed with the assumption that you have no warranty, and you'll probably be better off. Nonetheless, if this is important to you, be sure to ask before you buy and be mindful that shipping charges will likely not be covered regardless of other coverages. Having an affinity for JDM rods can be hazardous to your tackle budget. 



Evergreen International TMJC-74XXX Balista Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Really top end construction and detailing
Performance Not what we had hoped - the pluses and minuses even out
Price High MSRP + Overseas Shipping... ouch
Features High end components
Design (Ergonomics) Understated yet refined
Application Judged on big baits, limited

Total Score

Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
(For a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Just about as exotic as they get L Very pricey to acquire
J Handle option is a nice idea L Would rather the handle option extend above the reelseat than behind
J Spiral wrapped for those who care L There are still those that abhor spiral wrapped rods (Zander? ;) ) 
J Top echelon components L Just not stout enough for big bait fishing 

Be prepared to set hard with this stick and you may be rewarded with catches like this chunky striped bass!


Conclusion: All things being equal, if your commitment to throwing big baits is uncertain, but your dedication to all tackle exotic and exclusive is not, Evergreen International's Balista is a stick that belongs in your collection. Its combination of exotic looks, features, and price tag is undeniable, but its reliability on moving the big baits fast and hard enough during a hookset is questionable at best. Our recommendation is to use this stick for oversized cranks, spinners, and jerkbaits, and in a pinch, some of the afore mentioned big baits. But it's not what we'd call a go-to stick for all baits big. Fret not, if big baits really are your game, yet you're not satisfied with the status quo offering in North American domestic sticks, there are other contenders in our Rod Wars.










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