Black Magic's new Twin Pin Pro Equalizer (2020)

When first launched, the Equalizer won the major award for ‘Best of Show’ at the American Sport Fishing Tackle Show in Las Vegas in 1995 and you see them pop up in all sorts of foreign fishing shows on TV, as well as in international magazine articles. I would estimate that at least half of the rod belts and harnesses that I see on Kiwi game boats are Black Magic Equalizers and they are similarly popular in Australia and the Pacific.

During the early days of the development of stand-up game fishing tackle I worked my way through a number of different harness and bucket designs but found fishing 24 and 37kg tackle on yellowfin, striped marlin and even kingfish to be an uncomfortable and painful business until the Equalizer came along. Besides the drop-straps that position the base plate down on the big muscles of the thighs, its key design feature is the protrusion from the back of the base plate that fits comfortably between the legs and keeps the plate from being pulled to the side or up and down when under pressure. This feature alone makes the Equaliser easily the best harness and rod bucket design available and is protected by patent in many countries. 

The ‘equalising’ design of the harness-lug straps, and the double harness that allows the bottom section to be slipped under the angler’s butt (so they can effectively ‘sit’ on the fish), was another break-through development. The original Equalizers were moulded from heavy white plastic, but subsequent production changed to black material, which was a better cosmetic match to the harness.
With the advent of the northern pacific bluefin fishery off the west coast of the South Island, the demand grew for a harness and belt that was capable of fishing very heavy drag pressures on 60kg tackle for hours at a time. This, added to the calls from some of the big blokes amongst us (and those who wanted to take a very wide stance for stability when fishing in rough conditions), lead to the development of the XL Wide Equalizer.

Black Magic, in their thorough way, took nothing for granted, consulting with experienced anglers, trialling prototypes and even having a machine built to destruction-test the effects of high pressure on different gimble pin mounts. The XL Wide Equalizer is wider and thicker than the standard model, and has heavier padding, extending right to the bottom edge of the plate (which has more outward flare, easing pressure points.) 

The harness, too, is a beefier design; wider and stiffer with heavier padding to better resist any ‘bunching’ under very high pressure. The bottom section, designed to slide under the angler’s behind and allow them to ‘sit’ on the fish, is of a heavier design to cope with the increased pressures of bigger tackle and fish. Many design principles of the original Equalizer harness were retained – the heavy duty ‘equalizing’ sliding harness clips, and back handle (so your mates can stop you from getting pulled overboard!) are examples of this. 

I took an XL Wide from Black Magic’s first production run on a trip in the Bay of Plenty and knocked over a nice 50kg yellowfin in 10 minutes flat, a great result for the new gear. Continuing development included extending the range of harness sizes to three, which, added to the two sizes of rod plates, allowed comfortable and effective fittings for anglers of most sizes and shapes.


Black Magic’s Twin Pin Pro harness is easily used with both short straight and curved butt rods. 

Now, 25 years from the release of the original design, there is a third generation of the famous Equalizer, the New ‘Twin Pin Pro’. The base plate on this new model is grey and the main advance is the addition of a second gimble pin, giving it the advantage of being instantly adaptable to rods with short bent butts. 
To explain, short bent butts on game rods offer a significant leverage advantage to the angler, making life a lot easier on a tough fish, but there is a downside too. Short bent butts work best when the fish is down under the boat. When the fish has run ‘way out yonder’, the angles change and the angler is only just starting to get into the ‘power’ part of the rod-stroke when the reel hits the base-plate. but if you move the gimble pin to the front of the base plate to allow more clearance, it is nowhere as efficient when used with a straight-butt rod. 

As the name suggests, Black Magic’s new Twin Pin Pro has two gimble pins, one in the traditional recessed position and a second pin in the front of the rod bucket. The addition is simple yet significant, offering a great advantage to anglers who use both bent- and straight-butt rod types. If there is a mix of butt types in the boat’s spread, anglers can now have maximum leverage whether using a straight butt or a bent butt rod, without the need to change harnesses. Simply drop the gimble nock onto the appropriate pin for the style of rod and then fish without restrictions. No penalty.
The Twin Pin Pro is the same size as the XL model, carries the same heavy-duty build and thicker padding and is only slightly more expensive (about $20 at retail). Released in September 2019, it is already selling well overseas and has won the award for Best Game Fishing Accessory at the (Australian) AFTA 2019 Tackle Show. With the Kiwi big fish season about to kick off, you can bet the Twin Pin Pro will be a winner here, too.


January 2020 - Sam Mossman
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
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