Review of Daiwa Ballistic EX 2500H Spinning reel

This is the latest incarnation of the Daiwa Ballistic spinning reel. The main improvements over and above previous models, are the carbon body and side plates and the mag sealing.

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Specifications of the Ballistic EX2500H…

Model :   BLS-EX2500H
Bearings : 1CRBB, 8BB, 1RB
Gear Ratio : 5.6:1
Line per handle turn : 33.2″
Weight (Oz) : 8.6
Line capacity : MONO: 6/210, 8/170, 10/140
Max Drag (Lbs) : 15.4

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Features from the official literature…

NEW BALLISTIC® EX FEATURE:
  • Magsealed construction
  • Lightweight, corrosion-proof Zaion body and side cover
  • 10 Bearing System (1CRBB + 8BB + 1RB)
  • Air Rotor for lighter weight and greater sensitivity
  • Air Bail of lightweight, hollow stainless
  • Digigear™ digital gear design
  • Waterproof drag
  • Machine cut aluminum direct screw in handle
  • Two ball bearing spool support keeps drag washers in perfect alignment
  • ABS aluminum spool

So what does all this mean ? Well, read on, and I will try to figure it out, and give you an illustrated tour of the Ballistic.

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The reel comes boxed with the handle, and the usual set of instructions. One thing which is amiss, is a spare spool. Not necessarily something you expect on a reel at this level, but a bit disappointing all the same. It would have been good to see  a shallow braid friendly spool included.

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A set of spacer washers are also included in the box with the reel. the instructions explain how to use them to tune the line level/profile on the spool. My reel did not need any of the washers added.

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The instructions also explain the technology behind the mag-sealing, and warn not to lubricate or heavily wash the reel in the areas which are mag sealed.

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The mag sealing refers to magnetic oil, which adheres to the moving parts of the reel, but particularly is applied to the area where there spinning rotor joins the main body of the reel. There is a gap in this area, and this is where any water ingress is going to take place. The mag seal attempts to seal this gap. The fiagram below explains it quite well…

Magsealed

Now you know what it is. Does it work ? Well, looking around at other high-end reels which have been using the technology for a while, the feedback would seem to suggest that it does indeed work. If true, this could be a real benefit to kayak fishermen. It obviously is not waterproof, but hopefully it will provide a bit of longevity without having to fork out for a fully waterproof reel.

Enough of the technology, let’s return to looking at the reel. Probably the most recognisable feature of the reel, is its distinctive vented spool design. The spool itself is made from aluminium.

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The spool houses the waterproof drag. The drag is smooth, and pretty strong (7Kg) – pretty impressive for a reel of this size.

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Taking the spool apart is relatively simple, and reveals the inner spool components…

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It was re-assuring to note that all of the components has a liberal amount of grease on them. This bodes well, in terms of corrosive saltwater protection.

The spool spindle and the housing around it, looked snug. The reel is incredibly smooth. This was the first thing which hit me when I picked the reel up and gave the handle a spin. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so silky smooth, especially given the sealing technology employed by the reel.

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The spool’s line clip is pretty standard, if a little stiff…

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The bale arm has a positive action, and whilst loading the reel with nanofil, line twist did not seem to be a problem. The bale arm is made from hollow stainless steel, so again, a litter lighter than normal.

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Back to the main reel, and the rotor, or the “air rotor” as Daiwa refer to it.

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The “air rotor” has been vented and sculpted to make it lighter (15% lighter than conventional reel rotor apparently).

The main body of the reel, and the side plates have been made from a material which Daiwa refers to as “Zaion”. It’s essentially carbon to you and I. Daiwa are introducing it across their range. Its light and strong, and it looks good too. When you see it up close, it has a metallic type spray finish with coloured fleks in the coating. Very swish !

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The side plates are attached to the main body of the reel using torx screws. This meant that I was unable to open the reel up for a peek inside. I suspect that this is due to the mag seal coating. I guess its a trade off between the ease of maintenance and the effectiveness of the mag seal technology.

The reel handle was not so easy to attach (an issue I also found with the Luvias). It probably doesn’t help that I am a bit cak-handed, but it wasn’t an issue, just slightly amusing. The handle is machine cut from aluminium. It looks strong and is well made.

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The design of the knob was simple and effective. I am not a fan of oversize handles. It may be fine if you are big game fishing, but for the rest of us mere mortals its overkill and uncomfortable.

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The anti reverse switch is in the normal place, and its instant, which is always good…

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The rear of the reel is pretty standard, but personally I would have preferred it without the silver plastic protector.

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Even the reel stem looks great on this reel…

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On to the other side of the reel, and the cover for the reel handle (fully ambidextrous)…

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As for the weight – it hits the scales at 243g. Not bad for a saltwater reel…

 

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Trial by kayak

That’s pretty much it… But it wouldn’t be a proper review without giving the reel a proper try out. I took it freshwater lure fishing a couple of times on the kayak, and caught some jack pike and small perch, but it seemed wrong not to use the reel in the environment it was designed for. So a cunning plan was hatched. In the spring there are not too many fish which will readily take a lure on the salt in the UK. However, on the South coast, we do have a run of black bream. These feisty little demons fight like banshees, and are probably the closest thing we get to in this country to jacks.

I loaded the Ballistic with 7kg nanofil, and attached it to an ultra light Rapture Artisa lure rod.

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Wrong, but somehow right. It felt good. I tried to catch a bream on the lures, but it just wasn’t happening.  So sticking to the light weight and small hooks, I put on some small strips of squid. It didn’t take long for a dogfish to home into the bait. Even these little guys give a good account of themselves on ultra light gear. Then a few minutes later, the unmistakable rattle of a black bream. It went crazy, and the clutch on the reel sang out loud. This was fun, alot of fun ! I was enjoying myself as the rod tip sank below the water and the bream darted and dived for cover.

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I caught plenty of bream on the heavier rod and baitcasting reel, but it didn’t come close to the fun of catching one on the light Rapture rod and Ballistic reel outfit.

It was a fitting test; saltwater kayak fishing for black bream… the ballistic passed with flying colours.

Conclusion

The Ballistic is an expensive reel, but in terms of the Daiwa spinning reel line up, its mid-range. As far as I am aware, its the cheapest Daiwa spinning reel which features the mag-sealed technology. This in itself, is a good reason to invest in a reel at this price level.  The Ballistic is undoubtedly well put together, the carbon body and side plates are tough and light. For lure fishing in saltwater, particularly light to medium work, it is a superb reel. It is smooth as hell, yet still has a strong drag.  If you are looking for a reel which sits between the RAW II, Mitchell Mag pro extreme and the higher end reels costing £200 and above, then this could be just what you are looking for. Take care of it, and it should last you well.

For more information see the Daiwa website…

http://daiwasports.co.uk/product/carp/ballistic-ex

The Daiwa Ballistic EX 2500H costs approximately £160. And can be supplied by Veals Mail Order…

http://www.veals.co.uk/