Re: 2013 5-Weight Shootout
Puzzling results indeed.
Here are a few, random thoughts regarding the 2013 Shootout.
Try as I might, I can't warm up to the Korean built rods that Anderson and his crew tout so much. Most cast fairly well, but they don't have the feel or soul of the best American made rods. The Hardy Zenith, with a retail over $600 isn't that much better than the Korean rods that retail for around $300. And certainly is not in the same class as the Sage, Winston, and G. Loomis products (including the fine Tom Morgan and CF Burkheimer rods).
I do like the Beulah Platinum rods a lot, and I think that they offer a tremendous value. But it has never been clear to me where they are made.
To rate the Sage Circa higher than the Sage One... Really? The Circa is a ton of fun to cast, but, IMO, is a highly specialized, small dry fly rod for short distance and delicate presentations, and not good for anything else. The One on the other hand, is a lot more versatile, maybe not the best for fishing tiny midges on spring creeks, but that is what a #3 or #4 wt rod is for anyway.
Not including the G. Loomis Streamdance, Whispercreek, and std. NRX, #5's in this shootout is also interesting. All are outstanding performers in their own right, just in different ways. AND The original GLX is still better than nearly any other 5 weight on the market.
I am not a huge Winston fan, but the BIIIx and GVX are way better rods than any of the Echo, Ross, and Hardy/Greys offerings.
St. Croix rods are just kind of vanilla to me, not bad, but they are very similar in feel and performance to the Korean stuff. I certainly don't regard their product as highly as I do the Sage, Winston, and G. Loomis stuff.
The lack of respect for the excellent C.F. Burkheimer rods is really uncalled for. Those rods are super smooth, and are a joy to cast and to fish with and they are excellent works of art and craftsmanship. My only criticism of the Burkie rods is the shape of the handle and the lack of a hook keeper on the trout sized rods - and that is just a matter of taste, not quality.
I like the fact that the Yellowstone Angler put together this shootout, as it gets people talking, and comparing fly fishing gear. But, don't take it as gospel. These guys were obviously looking for a specific range of talents that they consider important in a #5 weight rod. But, almost every fisherman has preferences of their own that may differ from the Livingston boys. And that is OK. But, at least we are all talking about it.