Flextec Rod Review
In searching for reviews of fly rods I found almost nothing written on Flextec fly rods made in Swindon, UK (located in Wiltshire, England, for those of us in the “States”). Having bought three of these rods over the years I thought I’d throw in my two cents (two pence?).
I fish saltwater for bones, reds, and specks; and freshwater for trout, steelhead, bass, and bream. I own Sage Xi3 and Response, and Orvis Superfine Touch and Access rods, as well as the three aforementioned Flextec rods.
Last October I went fishing for steelhead in Erie, PA with a wonderful guide, Richard E. Dunmire out of Cranberry Township, PA. After hooking several large steelhead (and losing them) I finally had a good fight with a 10+ lb. beauty that ran on me no fewer than five times. The rod I fished that day was a Flextec Kinetic 9’ in 7/8 weight. Flextec’s Kinetic is their top-of-their-line rod that they describe as “hypnotically smooth slower tempo combined with crisp and precise loading / unloading of each cast, results in unmatched accuracy and delicate presentations”; and that is exactly what this rod is.
We Americans are used to seeing fly rods with single line weight ratings, but Flextec’s use of dual line weights is a great practice for their particular rod blanks. The Kinetic 7/8 is truly a slow, mid-flex rod when used with a weight-forward 8 line. It casts well at that weight, but more importantly can mend very well—something a faster 8 weight struggles to do. Fishing the skinny waters of the Lake Erie tributaries such as Elk Creek requires more finesse at close range, and the Kinetic is absolutely up to that challenge, while still having the backbone to fight larger fish. Want to pick up the speed a bit and handle bigger water? No problem, the 7/8 Kinetic can throw a very tight loop with precision, and turn over a large streamer or terrestrial with ease using a weight-forward 7 line. (A side note: while I am not the most seasoned fly fisherman, Richard has thrown flies for more than 5 decades, and he also praised this rod.)
Subsequent to buying this Kinetic, with which I was so pleased, I bought a Flextec Nomad Traveller® 7 piece packable rod in the 8’6” 5/6 variety and their Oscar packable in a 5 piece, 9’ in 6/7 weight. For some time I had eyed the Orvis Frequent Flyer, as I really wanted something I could easily pack in either a suitcase or a backpack (I travel to Europe, SE Asia, and all over the US), but I had only ever heard mixed reviews of the Orvis packable offering.
The Nomad Traveller® 5/6 has a nice, medium action with double taper 5 wt line, and seems a tad faster with the 5 wt weight-forward line. With either 5 wt line I find I can mend very easily and always feel in control of the fly for accuracy and distance. I have not tried the rod with a 6 wt line, but if this rod were to slow down any more I don’t think I’d like it much; so I will not likely use a 6 wt with the 5/6 Nomad Traveller®. The 6/7 Oscar was unimpressive, to say the most. It has a fatter butt section to the blank, which, while maybe adding backbone for a bigger fish, adds an unpleasant feel to the action and unnecessary weight. Even with a weight-forward 7 wt line I don’t like the way the Oscar loads. I have never fished with the Oscar as I can’t even make it feel right practicing.