Alvey 650BE1 Rock Hopper Special
  |  First Published: September 2006

The iconic all-Australian Alvey stable have released a new, lighter version of the famous metal-backed 650 series (6.5”) sidecast reel.

Aptly named the Rock Hopper Special, the first noticeable difference of the 650BE1was the distinct lack of weight compared with the metal-backed series of reels more commonly used in years goneby.

The backing plate, previously manufactured from stainless steel, is replaced by an ultra-tough, lighter graphite backing plate that eliminates around 170g of weight compared with the 650E5.

Bruce Alvey assures me that this new backing plate is extremely tough, knock-resistant and can even withstand being dropped on the rocks without fear of breakage.

The spool is made with a fibreglass injection moulding process and the result can withstand heavy line pressure from extended fights with tough fish.

The easy-to-use standard sidecast system remains unchanged – why fiddle with something that has proved to be faultless over the years? What certainly come in handy when fighting large fish are the oversized handles that you can locate easily by feel without looking, and the compact, recessed star drag system that fits snugly out of harm’s way deep in the spool.

The fixed handles, combined with the smooth drag, offer anglers the ability of stopping wayward fish from reaching distant cover by simply grabbing the handles and overriding the drag system. This is also great for winching fish high up rock faces and breakwalls.

A fish alert ratchet comes on the backing plate makes it easy for those anglers who like to set their rods and kick back and wait for a fish to happen along. The large drag on/off lever sits within an easy flick of the rod hand (I find the pinkie finger works best) – great for fishing in total free spool and then, when a fish is hooked, it’s only a simple matter of flicking the drag lever on and the fight can begin in confidence.

At around 950g, the Rock Hopper Special holds around 650m of 9kg line, which is perfect for chasing big pigs and bream off the stones. It would also be great for chasing solid reds, salmon and bigger tailor. For those who like their fights rough, big jewies and groper should easily be stopped on the big Alvey.

Fishing with the reel for two sessions over a weekend gave it a very solid workout. Spooled up with whipper snipper-thick mono and fishing the local breakwall, on the first night I simply skull-dragged in two jewfish, of 11kg and 14kg. The following night, fishing in free spool with large baits, the Alvey turned out 10kg and 23kg jewies with ease.

Alvey reels have the ability to cast large or tiny unweighted baits with unsurpassed ease. Line control is direct and you can feed line out or pick it up in a moment without fear of the fish dropping the bait.

Overall I highly recommend the Rock Hopper Special to anyone in search of a strong, robust reel capable of stopping any fish you’re likely to encounter from the stones, beaches and breakwalls. With its silky-smooth drag and distinct lack of weight it’s a pleasure to hold for long periods and if it is anything like my other Alveys, it will be around for the rest of my life.

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