Re: 2013 5-Weight Shootout
Having read the Shootout in its entirety now, I still find its comparative data valuable but I have issues. From #12 (TFO BVK) north, OK, but the rankings below that get a lot of disrespect. I am certain from what George writes that many rods are submitted that "don't make the cut"...and they go un-mentioned. However, rods that did make the "cut" but are described in derogatory terms might just ass well not have been included too. As you all know, I am fine with constructive criticism especially on a comparative basis and this has been the cornerstone of my support for these shootouts. It is not cool though to employ derogatory terms to denigrate the creative work of rod makers (or anyone) in public print. Visit the thread in this forum about Clutch rods for my specific observation.
I own rods from no fewer than ten of the makers featured in this Shootout. Not necessarily 5-weights of course and many I utilize in specialized ways. On a personal, subjective note, and I have written about this before, I differ from Anderson's and many others view that a "dry fly" rod best feature a softer, deeper flexing tip. As my style of fishing involves elaborate in air mends, wiggles and reaching, I prefer a crisper, quick recovering tip with a lively feel. So I travel to the river with both 9'/#5 Zenith and Sage ONE...two light weight responsive and communicative rods that, depending on conditions, assist me in executing the type of presentations I enjoy.
Not having cast the G.Loomis NRX LP (though I will), I am willing to bet that I would prefer my existing NRX original 9'/#4 over it. Similarly, as visible in the flex charts, rods like Circa and Tom Morgan Special (gorgeous though it may be and with no disrespect intended) would be too low flexing for my presentation style...my personal "filter" on these tests. My West Coast fishing partner just won the 8'9"/#4 Circa in a Portland, OR casting contest so we will have one in camp this Summer to experiment with but at Somerset I pond cast one and was non-plused. Similarly, I suspect I might prefer the Zenith (which I love) over the somewhat similar but lower tech Loop also for too soft a tip. Even with crisp tipped ONE, I never pop even 6X tippet on the strike so a more delicate shock absorbent tip simply sponges up response time and communication feel for me. And the number of 25 foot casts I make with a 9'/#5 are very few indeed, I would be using a different rod for such a circumstance.
There are many great new rods in this Shootout and much data and observations to ponder. I agree that "off the charts" 20.5 points is a bit "off the charts" and price, warranty and perfect 5-weight (even odder as the rods are tested primarily with a 5.5 weight GPX, a poor dry fly, blunt design) are irrelevant scoring points though useful information to otherwise include. Mostly I would prefer to not read that brand X is a "rugbeater', "Mistake" and should best be sold at "Wall Mart".