Originally Posted by MoscaPescador
Nice quiver. You just need a streamer rod for the heavier payloads (think line, leader, and fly combination) that your Z can't cover.
I agree with this assessment. And so it leads me to think that you want a faster rod,not a gentler one.
But that doesn't mean it needs to be even more burly than your Z-Axis. I'm not a big fan of the Z-Axis myself.
I was looking to fill exactly the same gap in my arsenal a few years ago and settled on the Orvis Hydros Tip Flex after casting a lot of other rods. (Orvis also made a Mid Flex model that I found too mushy for the need I was trying to fill.) It has the spine to lob a heavy fly a long distance in the wind. I can probably cast 15-20' farther than with some of the "softer" 6 weights I tried. Yet it still has great feel and sensitivity, which surprised me. It's not a war club like a lot of stiff rods.
The Hydros has been discontinued, but it was built on the same blank as the original Helios, and the current Helios 2 Tip Flex (not Mid Flex) is even better. Try that one for sure, and don't let Orvis-bashers talk you out of at least trying it. Then compare it to the Hardy Zenith, the Loomis NRX LP, the Loop Opti Stream, and the St. Croix Legend Elite. (You will then have tried most of the models that performed best at 45 and 75 feet in the new 2103 Yellowstone Angler shootout for 5 weights, by the way.) At least one of them will be able to expand your range beyond what you can do with the 5 wt Z-Axis, and yet feel better in you hand than the Z-Axis too, I'm pretty sure. Yet they can also do nicely when you need to shift gears and fish more delicately closer in. If you're like me it will probably come down to a choice between the Loomis and the Orvis, but feel is subjective and everyone is different.