This shootout seems to lack the polish of the those in the past, it contains enough typos to have been written by me.
Other than that and the lack of tact in lampooning a few rod makers for their submissions, by calling them out publicly for “daring to compare” their premium offerings to one’s Anderson’s crew admires. This does nothing more than affirm that there is a strong human element involved in all of this and the findings of these test are not the product of a calibrated instrument.
This helps to remind me that these are their opinions, based on their likes and dislikes, the lines and leaders chosen to test with and most importantly, what they “ think” a nine foot five weight rod should be and do. All of which has little to do with many of the things that I commonly ask of a nine foot five weight rod.
I do appreciate the reintroduction of the flex profile boards, these carry more weight with me than most of the written descriptions and comparisons conveyed by the article.
All in all, having read several of these reviews, ( that’s what they really are ). I’ve come to understand “Anderson speak”, having learned his preferences and how they differ from my own. This allows me to filter through their findings and to put into perspective how those finding conflict or coincide with my own. Using this process, I’ve found that more times than not, I agree with what they’ve found. Whether or not it has anything to do with my tastes & applications is another thing. So when they seemingly are harsh on a given rod that you may like, remember, they may not have been looking for those same characteristic in a 9’ 5wt.
For instance. If you were selecting a 9’ 5 weight rod for fishing from a low slung craft such as a float tube on Stillwater’s. Say for a moment that distance was a premium and you’re likely to use 6’ to 7 ½ foot leader. Casting and stripping flies like small leaches, damsel and dragon nymphs mostly. Maybe accuracy wasn’t always paramount. It would be nice if that rod could roll a section of full sinking line up and out of the water a couple of hundred times a day, without collapsing under the load or requiring a greater range in motion or with greater energy than absolutely necessary.
A wading, shore bound or standing drift boat angler, who is according to the tests, using a 12 foot leader and who through their constant references, is very concerned with how the rod will deliver a dry fly, at all ranges. The line will be Weight Forward Floating line.
While life isn't usually an either - or proposition, each application has its own needs and it’s own merits. The angler in the first scenario is no less a trout angler, no less serious about their pursuit as the latter. But the rods they employ could be deeply at odds in design.
So if your favorite rod didn’t make the shoot out or made the list ( congratulations on that….many fine rods didn’t ) but didn’t make the top ten. Don’t dismay, the designers might have envisioned some other applications or a wider range of applications for that model, that were not being tested for in this review.
Let’s also keep in mind that in each case, the shootout is referring to one specific model ( 9’ - 5 wt. ) in a product line and not the entire line of those rods. Anderson has made that point himself in past shootouts. Just because the findings on one particular model in a product line may not be flattering, does not mean that the 9’ - 4 wt. or 9’ - 8 wt. rod of the same product line wouldn’t be a winner in their view. It’s happened in their reviews before.
Enjoy your rods guys and gals, TT