Ala Monty Python, “Now for something completely different“.
"If you can use ONE and Radian as a point of ref. it would help.
The Radian and Meridian are completely different animals, more than a generation ahead. Drawing comparisons to those rods, the S4 ( maybe ) but going back to the S3? The S3s came out during nearing the end of the RPLXi reign, the S3 was up against the light tipped XP’s. At a time when the last of the California made Powell’s ( those made in Rancho Cordova ) were causing a few anglers hearts to palpitate over the first in the industry graphite rod price of $725.00 with the introduction of the original Tiboron.
Scott’s S3 and S3s rods offered anglers rods with more raw low end power and tips that wouldn’t fold under load, which happens to be something that I prize far more than compliancy in big water rods.
This is one of those, you like vanilla or chocolate comparisons. If you really dug the 590-4 XP, then the 905/4 S3 probably wasn’t your cup of tea.
I still have and use the S3 & S3s series of rods, not exclusively.
In the line up are two 904/4 S3, one 905/4 S3, one 907/4 S3s and a 908/4 S3. I did have a 9010/4 S3s for about a decade also.
If shopping the used market and you've not seen one of these up close and personal, just a heads up, both of these series have spigot ferrules.
The fours are typically used when the waters still up a little to high in late spring and I’m jones’n to use a four and need one with some backbone. Typically it’s used for light multi nymph rigs ( a brace of 12’s or 14’s ) and an inch wide yarn indicator & no shot or for driving an #8 stimulator or larger Trude into the wind. They relate well to half line size heavier lines with medium to short forward tapers. These are not the rods I reach for when I want to fish 16 compara or paraduns on long fine leaders.
The five is a big water five ( truly a six ) it responds very well to WF-6-F S.A. Trout taper or to a slightly lesser degree a Cortland 444SL, in any case, it likes a six weight line. Stiff more so than fast, leaning towards a medium fast flex profile. Lots of down and dirty power, very good at turning larger fish in heavy current. If you like a softer ( compliant ) tip, this is not the rod for you. This is actually one of my favorite air travel fives, simply because when I get on a plane to chase trout, the destination isn’t going to be noted for its delicate little trout waters. This one can roll a brace of stone fly nymphs up and out of the water at the end of a long hot day, no problem and it’s a very good distance / traditional streamer rod. Maybe not the best with an 30.06 sized cone head, but put a true WF-6 on it, a size six hair winged streamer and you shouldn’t have to much of a problem getting the backing knot through the guides.
The S3s rods to me are more of an all rounder saltwater / heavy fresh water series. While I do use the 7 and 8 on the flats, if all you were ever going to toss were Charlie’s ( and the like ), sans eyes up to X small lead, small lead eyes on longish leaders, you could do better with any number of today’s choices.
Mine were some of the first off the line and were in my hands before most dealers ever had one on the shelf and while a lot of changes have taken place in the world of rods, these two are going to the funeral fires with me. The seven and eight are nearly twins, the eight leaning just a tad more towards the power side, but not as much as you might expect for a seven vs. an eight. Though the eights heavier and has a bit more low end power, they will throw the same lines, same range of flies, even nearing the heaviest of loads. I’ll often carry the seven in lieu of the eight, unless I suspect the winds really going to cook, simply because it’s a little lighter.
They both like the older style S.A. bonefish lines ( horizon ) in a WF-8-F, a Rio Versi-Tip system ( WF-8-F/S ) and they both will handle ST-9 and ST-10 equally well. These are better distance, down and dirty fighters than tippet tenders.
The S3s ten weight while used a few times on flats, was primarily a wreck rod. I used it almost entirely from a boat, around congested bridge and pier pilings in deep swift current in concert with 30’ of LC-13 with a Rio .030 clear intermediate running line. Not all, but some of the most noteworthy rod manufacturers at that time were in a race to see who could build the best saltwater flats rod for the wave of trout anglers coming over to the brine. So a lot of the rods of those years tended to have pleasing to the touch tips and mid sections that performed well with floating lines in the parking lot. This rod on the other hand was built to subdue fish with girth, getting the fly to them was another matter, if you had the skills the rod would do it, but they weren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
If it weren’t for the success of the S3 platform, I doubt there would have been an S4 series. In my book, there might not even be a Scott today, if it weren’t for the interest, competitiveness and the sales generated by those rods.
All throughout the eighties & nineties, Scott wasn’t exactly well represented on the shelves of American fly shops and it wasn’t until the A2, S3, S3s, E2 and their successors made the scene that a larger number of fly fishers and fly shop buyers stood up and took notice.
The Alpha became the A2, the A3 and now the A4...The G begot the G2.
STS series wasn’t followed up with a STS2, a new direction for the saltwater program was evident.