Re: 2013 5-Weight Shootout
I think that George gives the rods a pretty good test.
I was at his shop a few years ago, talked to him, looked at the rods that he was testing then, looked at the measurements, calculations, etc. Outside of the fact that he advises GLoomis, I think he's pretty neutral in his testing.
Having said, that, the 5 wts. that I fish most of the time are my Sage Z-Axis (a previous winner) and my Hardy Zenith (also a previous winner). So, although I'm not a fan of the NRX and I really don't think that the 5 wt. Sage One is a superstar rod, I do concur with most of what George has to say in his Shoot-Outs, most of the time.
But, there is no substitute for casting the rods that you're considering; preferably on the water, and making a decision based on what feels best for you.
In the 3 wt. class, my Tom Morgan Rodsmith, 7'9" is my prize rod. Tom just builds beautiful rods.