By Jamie Robley
Lure casting from the rocks is very popular along our south east coast and a dedicated band of anglers really look forward to the hot spinning action on offer during summer and autumn each year. Fish like bonito, mack tuna, frigate mackerel, kings and salmon are the primary targets and one thing these fish often respond to is speed.
High speed spinning (HSS) has come a long way since its embryonic stages over four decades ago on famous ledges like South Avoca and Green Cape. Very crude, clunky old tackle was put into service back then and although some very impressive fish were caught by casting heavy metals and retrieving them back at high speed, there’s no way in the world any of us would want to use that sort of gear any more.
Through the 80’s and 90’s advancements in tackle technology meant that HSS devotees could get more hook ups, using much better gear that was less likely to fail. But the rods and reels needed for spinning were still a bit on the heavy side. I got right into high speed spinning over twenty years ago and since then I’ve always desired lighter, more efficient tackle. Gear that would be a joy to use, yet still be capable of taking all the stress associated with this demanding style of fishing.
Thankfully, in 2011 Daiwa delivered the goods with the new Ballistic threadline reels and lightweight Lateo Pirates rods. The specifications of these high speed reels and stylish looking rods seemed to be spot on, but would they handle the rigours of HSS from my local rock ledges?
I chose the 4000 size ballistic which I spooled up with 20lb PE line and teamed it up with a Lateo Pirates 106M. So now, after putting this outfit to the test with some hardcore HSS action on my local rock platforms, here’s my report:
The very first thing I noticed about the ballistic 4000 was the solid, smooth feel of the reel. Considering it’s not at the top of the line like the Certates or Saltigas I didn’t think it would feel this good in the hand. I’ve had experience with high speed threadline reels in this size class before and what I found is that they may feel good straight from the box, but after just a few hours of serious spinning they really do begin to disintegrate. Handles become wobbly and you can feel the gearing grind.
This didn’t happen with the ballistic. In fact, it held up brilliantly, despite the way I pushed it to the limits, cranking as hard and fast as I could and bullying big bonito and salmon through the wash zone and up onto the rocks. To me, this demonstrates that Daiwa’s engineers have done their homework with this reel.
When making the rod choice I asked Brad Sissins if the 106M would be capable of lifting a 2 kilo fish up onto the rocks. He said yes, no problem. Well only the second time I used the rod I was able to confirm this, lifting a solid 3 kilo salmon up onto the high ledge I was fishing on. So although it’s quite a light rod, it’s certainly not weak. I’ve also lifted plenty of other good fish with the Pirates now and have full faith every time. Of course, any bigger fish like kings, tuna or mulloway would need to be washed out on a lower ledge, netted or gaffed.
As for casting, I doubt you could do better than the Lateo Pirates 106M and with 20 lb PE line, a 12 kilo mono shock leader and a 25 gram metal, casting distance is very impressive. That’s a handy thing, as it’s common to see fish like bonito or small tuna feeding some distance off the rocks.
For someone who has spun the rocks for many years, with an emphasis on HSS for bonito, the Ballistic and Lateo make a dream outfit. It’s the type of gear that I had always wanted to use, but up until now it just didn’t exist. I’m impressed.