I've had a chance to try out the new Fly Desk 5/6w rod that Dennis Brakke has built for him. It's the new Fly Desk Stillwater series in a 3 pc. 9' 5/6w rod. Myself and Mojo had a chance to both lawn cast it and try it at a Southwest Idaho reservoir this past weekend. Both of us thought is was as smooth and crisp as the Sage XP. Mojo felt comfortable with it right off the bat and that's something to say because he's such a 'glass and Winston boron freak. That being said, I basically felt the same way. It's a rod that seems to cast a line with little effort. From an intermediate to a Type VII it handled all the lines with ease. For the power it has it also has a softer tip to protect the tippet.
Brown blank with brown guide wrappings tipped with gold metallic thread. I didn't think the cork was all that great (now days good cork is hard to come by.) The reel seat is hardwood mortised and uplocking. The reel seat hardware seems to be a brushed aluminum- attractive for this rod. All in all for $189 and lifetime warranty ($35 shipping to fix it) you can't beat this rod. I don't get to keep this rod, but for the price, and the way it casts it would be a perfect rod for a beginner or even an expert fly fisher. It can be bought thru the Fly Desk (I don't know what the shipping is) here's his website The Flydesk - The Stillwater Specialists
or call Dennis Brakke (801)557-6182 if your interested or want more information. I don't have any affiliation with Dennis, other than he's just a great friend and he's selling a great rod.