The Ballistic is up there in the pecking order of Daiwa spinning reels, only a step or two below the top-end Certate and Saltiga models it shares so many advanced features with. These include a mag-sealed body, machined aluminium spool, Zaion composite body and rotor, and Daiwa’s lightweight Air Rotor.
I like the styling and also the sense of quality I get from this reel. With its silver and grey colour palette and friction-reducing gold-lipped spool, it’s classy without being ostentatious.
My Caldia is usually clamped to a Daiwa Sol 701MFS rod, which has been my faithful soft-baiting companion for nearly 10 years. The Caldia has also done duty as a slow-jigging/micro-jigging reel and I’ve used it to toss small hard-bodies around too, particularly Little Jack sinking stick baits which are so effective on shallow water snapper. The Ballistic 4000 is a bigger reel, but still suitable for some of those duties, especially fishing small stick baits and slow, or light, jigging.
I spooled the Ballistic with 15kg superbraid and took it to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, where I used it for a variety of spinning and jigging duties inside and outside the lagoon. It performed flawlessly, catching a variety of reef and lagoon dwellers, including several bonefish to 4kg and various trevally species, the biggest weighing around 3kg. There were also quite a few hookups that ended in bust-offs, so no telling what they were — perhaps accidental GT’s? They must have been big though, because I’m sure the Ballistic, its drag screwed down to 4kg for most of the trip, would have coped with smaller specimens.
As you’d expect with a high-end reel costing well north of $300, there’re a long list of features printed on the box. Mag-seal is probably the most high-tech of them.
Mag-seal technology, familiar from Daiwa’s flagship Saltiga range of heavy-duty spinners, is beginning to filter down to smaller and less expensive reels in the Daiwa range. It completely excludes water, salt and debris from the reel body, which means no corrosion, a longer life and better performance.
Daiwa use a specially formulated grease/oil in which microscopic particles of mag-netite, an iron oxide, are evenly dispersed. Molecules in this lubricating mixture normally form a helical shape, but with the introduction of a magnetic field they change shape and attach to any other metal to form an impermeable seal.
A few years ago when I wrote my books on fishing soft plastics, I suggested anglers should choose metal-bodied reels because they are stronger and more rigid; most so-called ‘graphite-bodied’ reels were actually just reinforced plastic. Technology has moved on however, and nowadays plastic resins are much better. Daiwa’s latest high-density carbon resin, called Zaion, contains extra-long carbon strands; Daiwa claim it’s lighter, stronger and stiffer than either aluminium or magnesium. Zaion’s used in all of Daiwa’s premium reels and Shimano has developed a similar material for its high end spinners.
In the Ballistic, Zaion is used for the reel body to save weight, but sensitivity is improved too because Zaion is stiffer and transmits vibrations better. It’s also used in the hollow section Air Rotor, which is 15% lighter than a solid rotor, yet delivers superior rotor balance and winding smoothness. Good airflow through the rotor promises a reduction in salt, sand and dirt build-up, while the arched design disperses stresses normally concentrated on the bail roller across the whole of the lower section of the rotor, dramatically decreasing flex.
Daiwa’s Ultimate Tournament Drag (UTD), another feature that’s filtered down from above, offers up to 8kg of stopping power. Carbon washers are strong and fade-resistant and the drag is sealed to prevent water intrusion. The reversible handle is also sealed, with a rubber grommet, where it screws into the reel body.
The upshot of all this cleverness is supreme smoothness and sensitivity. There’s no noticeable reel distortion, tightening of the gears or increased winding resistance, even when fighting the largest of fish.
I spooled the Ballistic EX 4000H with 250m of 0.29mm (30-pound, PE 3) 8-carrier braid in green, plus mono backing, which filled the spool evenly. This is the H model — H for High speed, with a gear ratio of 5.7:1, retrieving 101cm of line per rotation of the handle.
The 4000 size reel is a kind of inbetween size for me: I use 2500 - 3000 reels for soft baiting and micro-jigging and the 5000 size for medium weight jigging and top-water fishing. But with an overseas trip in the offing I decided to take the Ballistic and use it in roles for which I’d normally use either smaller or larger reels.
The Ballistic 4000H was light enough for all-day fishing and the general handling is excellent, due to its extreme ease of winding (no rubber o-rings to create friction), and great sensitivity. A stiff reel body and ‘Engine Plate’ construction provides amazing rigidity and all but eliminates flexing. Real Stopper infinite anti-reverse is jerk and clunk-free with no handle backplay. Daiwa’s Digi Gear system ensures positive, vibration and noise-free winding, while a shielded corrosion-resistant ball bearing (CRBB), seven ball bearings and one roller bearing keep it spinning smoothly. Interestingly, the box says nine bearings but Daiwa’s website quotes 10…
A few weeks with a reel isn’t long enough to make a call about its long term durability, but based on my positive experiences with the Caldia and Sol before that, it’s likely this one will stand the test of time. In the short period I’ve used it, it’s been asked to stop some pretty hard-running fish, as well as cranking jigs and fish from 180m of water: no problems on either count.
The Ballistic EX 4000H is not a cheap reel, but you pay for quality. I’ve enjoyed my time with this latest Daiwa and would happily add a Ballistic to my tackle collection. Perhaps I will…
I’d be keen to try the reel in a smaller size, which would be better-suited to the soft plastics fishing I do most of the time. At this stage the 4000 is the biggest Ballistic Daiwa produces, but who knows what the future holds? A larger version would make a great topwater or jigging reel.