I've been shopping around for a new 5 wt for this spring and have narrowed down my choices to the following: Sage Fli, Orvis Clearwater II, Scott A2, Cabelas Sli, Loomis GL3. My budget is keeping me in the sub $300 catergory and I really want to go with a 2 piece rod. Also, I'm debating about length. I like the light feel of an 8' but most of my fishing is from the bank and a longer rod may be the way to go for more versatility. Not sure at this point.
Anybody with experiences with these rods that can help?
I fish for panfish, small bass and carp here in the midwest.
I've only fished with one rod from that group, the Fli, but I have 2 of them. I started with a 9 1/2 ft 6 wt and liked it so much that I've added the 9 ft 5 wt. Both of mine are 4 peice. I have a couple other 5 wts. and the Fli is definitely the fastest of the lot. I use a DT floating line for closer work and also have a WF sinking line when I want to get a little deeper. The WF line is a 6 wt line. The DT is a 5 wt line. I originally thought the rod would be too fast for my taste; my other rods are noticiably slower but as I used the Fli, I really got to enjoy the fast action. My casting is so-so but I can definitely cast these things better than any of my others because of the tighter loops I assume. Obviously, if you have the chance, try as many as you can because I'm not sure about the actions of the other rods. I own an 8ft., an 8 1/2 ft and the 9 ft. in 5 wts. but really prefer the versatility of the 9 ft. It really isn't too long for the majority of situations, it makes mending easier and makes it easier to work streamers and wet flies on bigger streams and rivers. Plus, if you end up nymphing, the extra length is nice for that too.l Whatever you end up with......Enjoy!
I have an 8'6" 5wt fli and love it. Best casting rod i ever owned, but i have only owned 4 different rods. I has a lot of feel you can really feel it load. I have a sage launch but the fli is way better. It is the only rod from your choices i have cast. I have had no reason to look for another rod.
I have rods from 7'6" to 9', and 8'6" seems to be my go to rod (especially
in 5wt). I briefly owned a Sage FLi 9' 6wt, but thought it was a bit stiff.
Action is becoming a difficult thing to describe: one angler's stiff rod is
another's fast rod. I don't see why fast and stiff have to go together.
I was able to cast just fine with the FLi, but thought a 5wt version would work better as a 6wt rod.
Some other rods to consider would be a St. Croix Avid (softer action than
a FLi), and a St. Croix Legend Ultra. The Legend Ultra is $340, but they can
be found new on ebay for around $250. St. Croix has a new warranty service
that covers used and broken rods (whatever the circumstance). For $50
(Sage's warranty fee), St. Croix will replace a used broken rod. I don't know
of any other company that will warranty used gear. Go to their website for
more info, and to see the rods specs.
I was able to cast a couple of TFO Pro 5 and 7wt rods recently, and they're
a decent deal for $160. Not too stiff, but responsive enough.
It's really best to cast a rod before buying it, but that's only available if you
have a local shop. I've driven 80 miles to try a rod, but shipping and return
shipping become less expensive for distances any greater.
I got a TFO 5wt in 4 pieces ( not sure if you can get 2 piece) and I got a orvis rocky mountain turbine reel and 5wf line and backing that came with it all for $188 dollars. lifetime warranty on the rod. haven't casted it yet but the weather is crappy. not a bad deal!
I have a TFO 4 wt with an Orvis Battenkill that I use 9 times out of 10. I can cast it about as far or further than anyone I fish with that's using a 5 or 6 wt. I've casted it alongside Scott, Orvis, Loomis, Sage, and St. Croix that were twice the price, and honestly couldn't find anything better about any of them. As far as length goes, I personally prefer 8' and 8'6'' rods. They are a bit more compact, and I feel like I have better control. But like some of the guys above have said, cast as many as you can before you buy anything.
Your interest in a 2pc rod reduces the range of options a bit. I would start out trying the Loomis GL3, St Croix Avid, or the Scott A2. If you want something with a bit more zip, the Sage FLi fits the bill well.
My most confident recommendation for a 9' 5wt that is a great value, works for the most people, and is really hard to grow out of is the ECHO Classic 9' 5wt. Its a 4pc rod, but I really see no downside at all to 4pc rods. One might think that compared to a 2pc rods there's 3 times as many ferrules to possibly separate, but I can't recall the last time I had the joints of a rod separate.
I own a 9' 2pc 5wt Sage FLi and I love that rod!! A 9' 5wt is great for sunfish and small bass....... tomorrow I'm using mine for trout in a small stream.
I like a 9' the best, even in a small stream. It's so easy to flip a streamer or a nymph.
But....... you mentioned the Orvis Clearwater II rods. My Sage is 3 1/2oz, the same as the Legend Ultra but the Clearwater is only 3 1/8oz!!Looking at the Clearwater specs, a 2pc 9' 8wt is 3 1/2oz with the big handle ..... the same as my 5wt Sage!!
Also I paid $255 for my Sage, while the lighter Clearwater is only $159! I should have checked them out, but the rods are a stupid looking blue. I guess they have some gay designers now! LOL St Croix did the same thing last year....... crappy bright colors to get more sales!
And the Orvis has a mid flex or tip flex. Has anyone on the site casted the Clearwater II Rods? They are lighter than any rods, except the top shelf $700 stuff. What's going on?
Is their any particular reason you want to limit your search to a two piece? We came out with a whole new line of Rods (three different series) and offered them all in four piece. At your price point (300$ and under) you should have no problem finding a good four piece and the travel advantages, especially with todays airline regs are huge. I would definitely add the Four piece Brook or Big Sky series from Cortland to your list of rods to check out. The Brook just got an excellent review in Fly Fish America and Fly rod and Reel. I regularly carry a bad full of Hardy Rods (400-1000$ rods) as part of my samples, but lately when I reach for a rod to fish with it's the Brook on Small streams and the Big sky on Big waters. And I'm finding them to be very satisfying, responsive rods.
Is their any particular reason you want to limit your search to a two piece? And I'm finding them to be very satisfying, responsive rods.
30 years ago, I liked one piece spinning and baitcasting rods. Ferrule technology wasn't what it is today, at least not in my price range (I was
in high school). I tried a Winston LT a few years ago, and there was not
discernable dead spots at any of its three ferrule joints. The shop owner
demonstrated this with a two ounce weight attached to the tip top.
Responsive: I like that! Many of today's "latest and greatest" seem stiff and
unresponsive to me. I recently cast a ____ rod, and the 4-pc model was
much more responsive than the 2-pc version. I have a few 3-pc rods that
I really like, but that's a seldom seen option.
I haven't tried the Brook or Big Sky rods, but my Cortland GRX 5/6 was
very responsive. That's what I look for in rods, along with light tip weight.