Location: Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border
Re: 2013 5-Weight Shootout - The Preview
Originally Posted by sweetandsalt
I wrote in these forums something about my profound disappointment in a W BIIx #4 and it generated gasps of horror (Worst Rod You Have Ever Owned)!
Yah, I was a gasper. (That one hurt my head) I'm glad you brought up that thread in conjunction with this one. As I said in that one, if there is anything to be learned from it, one man's meat is another man's poison. Or words to that effect. As you pointed out, the shootout guy has a technical bias built in to his test results. In fact there is a bias built into the whole system that may not be driving rods in a positive direction. I think some of the tech guys may have been forced, or bought into, the marketing hype. There was just a thread on here that illustrates how people have bought into it. A guy was complaining about his rod weighing a whole 3.sumpthin ounces. This type of stuff hurts my head also.
The wind resistance thing is just as rediculous. Is there actually anyone who has heard the real results of a wind tunnel test? Has there been any wind tunnel tests? I don't see any way of actual accurate results short of a wind tunnel. Have you thought about what a rediculously small difference they must be talking about?
The problem with a shootout like this is that it is based on opinion as much as fact. The same as with the worst rod thread. I personally think you get just about as much out of them both. Nothing or darned close to it. Ok, maybe that was a tad on the harsh side toward the shootout, but not by much. It may have a bit more value, but you certainly need to look at why they got the results they did and then recalculate the BS out of it as best you can.
When purchasing my first fly rod (2 years ago), I read reviews on the different companies for months, picked a company began reading reviews on each different rod. Still remember reading the shootout article and thinking it was biased, glad they didn't sway me as my choice still feels perfect to this day.
Around the turn of this Century I was enthralled with a new series of rods from the original iteration of Redington called Nti "Nanos". The Shootouts were not in existence yet so I had to evaluate the rods the old fashioned way, on my own (tongue in cheek here). I had been fishing GLX for a decade at that point which undoubtedly colored my preferences and the Nanos seemed to pick up where GLX left off. They shared the form-follows-function techno-look; unpainted matte sanded graphite-gray shafts mounted with black single foot guides using black thread, black anodized hardware with a woven carbon spacer...no bamboo aesthetic figured hardwood to be found. They were slenderer yet straighter than GLX, lighter in weight and crisper yet in action. The blanks were fabricated off-shore in New Zealand by a company that laid up composits for Americas Cup Yachts as they had a unique ability to work with this; the first Nano particle infused resin to be applied to fly rods. The resin system had been developed by NASA for the Space Shuttle program and used Titanium ceramic Nano particles rather than today's silica particles. All fascinating stuff to one, like me, who finds fly rod design and technology fascinating. Naturally, it is how does it cast and fish that actually counts of course. Nanos where remarkable rods. There was unprecedented little mass in them and a wiggle test told you little. Stringing up a line made them blossom though, revealing an adroit taper design with a remarkably stable yet responsive tip morphing into a supportive midsection and potent butt. These were all three piece rods and, uniquely then, employed a different modulus graphite for each section working in harmony with the progressive taper. Even today, there are few rods that communicate as transparently and fluidly what the line is doing than did the Nanos.
This was my main thing with these rods; how subtly and articulately you could cast and manipulate the line into exactly what you hoped for it to do. A truly elite presentation instrument. Commenting on them at the time I said; they lack the warm charming looks of a Tom Morgan Winston, the perfection of finish and cork work of a T&T and, importantly, the stoutness of a Diamondback but cast circles around all of them. Diamondbacks, from VT, used fiberglass scrim, medium modulus graphite and featured large diameter, thick walled construction. I miss Diamondback and still occasionally use a "Stu Apte" signature model when I need an unbreakable stick. Nti's used carbon scrim and precious little of it, relying on the improved integrity of Nano composit technology for strength in their thin walled, small diameter blanks. Though I landed junior tarpon and big striped bass on a Nano 9-weight and many bonefish on the #8 these were not exactly rugged rods. Rattling against a metal brace in a boat, the 9-weight snapped at that exact spot when hoked to a RI bluefish. An adult tarpon was brought to the boat behind Big Pine Key with the #12 only to sever in the butt section during the end game. One buddy has broken not one but two 5-weights while dislodging flies from willows. The 8 1/2'/#4 and 9'/#5 where two of my favorite trout rods ever but I said at the time, they are NOT all-rounders, not for drift boats, not for weighted nymphs nor for banging big streamers at brushy banks. These are technical dry fly rods for wading only...hey, you wouldn't tow your boat behind a Ferrari down a dirt track, you need a truck for that. I have been describing fly rods as sports car rods or truck rods ever since and like and need both types.
Where someone writing a comparative 5-weight "Shootout" in 2001, it would have been fairly objective to remark that these Redington Nti's had little eye appeal, mediocre cork work, were notably unforgiving of casting flaws and, though dead accurate and true tracking at all casting distances, where unacceptably fragile. Maybe they would have finished in 7th place out of 15 rods tested and not generate a lot of marketing bling. However, their existence and name would have been known and, as long as you had a Sage for general purpose 5-weight fishing, a Diamondback to bang about in the boat with and your old GLX as a back up, you might have experienced the most precise and communicative, advanced thinking rod of its day from the same imaginative mind that has currently brought us the SINTRIX Hardy Zenith.
Rating order not withstanding, I hope Anderson's complete Shootout includes the work of some creative new rod designers that I have never heard of, compelling me to add a new Sport Car to my already overburdened quiver.
Though I landed junior tarpon and big striped bass on a Nano 9-weight and many bonefish on the #8 these were not exactly rugged rods. Rattling against a metal brace in a boat, the 9-weight snapped at that exact spot when hoked to a RI bluefish. An adult tarpon was brought to the boat behind Big Pine Key with the #12 only to sever in the butt section during the end game. One buddy has broken not one but two 5-weights while dislodging flies from willows.
At a recent fishing expo I had an interesting discussion with Jim Murphy (who was then at Redington, and is now at Hardy after an interim stint with Albright) about the evolution of "nano" technology. He acknowledged the fragility problems with the early "nano" rods, including the NTi's and the Albright EXS's, and attributed them to the manufacturers not having the technology perfected for distributing the "nano" material evenly and consistently throughout the blanks back then. The uneven distribution of the nano particles caused weak spots in the blanks. In effect it was a production quality-control problem, though, not an inherent design flaw, and one that has been largely corrected in more recent "nano" offerings. (He said that any of those old rods that you may still have that haven't snapped yet ought to be just fine.) He also said that Hardy's current series of Sintrix "nano" rods -- the Zenith and Artisan and ProAxis models -- use a proprietary Hardy technology for manufacturing the "nano" blanks that is a significant improvement over 3M's (the manufacturer of the raw "nano" material) own technology that competing brands use.
I cast St. Croix's 9'/#"6" Bank Robber, 3M Nano rod at Somerset. It is supposed to be used with a heavier than 6 sunk line tossing gigunda Kelly Gallup streamers at the browns on the banks in the early morning. I cast it with a straight floating #6 though and while "delicacy" doesn't come up in this description, that rod is an unsung hero of a powerhouse with a new age weirdo reel seat, barbed wire around its name and a pale grey, Spaghetti Western finish. I could see myself tossing stonefly dries or hoppers with this stick from the boat with a big grin. And, while it was a big looser in the 4-weight shootout, also with 3M Nano spheres, my Loomis NRX#4 is a great big river 4-weight that would do the work of many a lesser 5-weight. Few rods throw a tighter loop and I fish it with a straight #4 Gold. I had to go outside (the indoor casting pond was too short) to cast this rod at last years Show and knew I had to have it.
He doesn’t care for rods that have marginally stiffer tips or require a little more physical prowess to cast. So now all I have to do, is skim his shootout results looking for those types of rods. More times than not, those are the ones I prefer.
S3, S3s, S4, TCX, some Echo’s…..
Once we learn his tendencies, the deciphering of his opinions gets easier.
Taking the time to read all of the testers side notes, might reveal that some of their opinions on certain rods, mirror our own.
…and if through bulletin board threads such as this, it helps to generate a wider understanding of our likes and dislikes in rod design by the manufacturers ( You don't really think we consumers are the only ones reading this stuff, do ya'? ), we all win.