A first look at the 2013 Allen Xa. I have not had a chance to cast it yet. It's a 10', 5wt intended for float tube use. Overall impressions are positive. The finish might be considered "utilitarian", however, very well done. This isn't a $795 rod with fancy wrappings, however, it appears well built. Nice guides, alignment dots, finish. Dark blue metallic color. Again, not flashy and probably not intended to be. The cork looks good (even under the plastic wrap). (see photo). The wood reel seat is a bit bland looking but, by all appearances, will be very functional. The rod feels light, strong in the butt with a flexible tip. It does NOT feel like a 2x4 as do some rods. My guess from doing the obligatory wiggle test is that it's "moderately stiff". Obviously, further notes will be required after casting (in a couple weeks...). I will overline it as part of testing. The rod case is excellent, the rod bag good.
I'm not a severe fan of fancy, trendy or cute, rather, functionality. The fish don't care what the rod looks like and I am not enamored with logos. I buy rods to use, not hang in a display case. As such, this rod fit's that scenario. It's price is quite competitive. The feel is very good. The workmanship is very good. The aesthetics would probably considered by some as pedestrian, but again, I didn't buy it for looks. Regardless, it may well be a winner.
enjoy in good health.