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Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY
Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY
Published by sweetandsalt
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Default Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY

Trout anglers enthusiastically discus the merits of fly rods ranging from #3 to 5-weight and more recently and appropriately, #6’s too. Saltwater fly fishers are into #8 and 9-weights for the flats and inshore and #10 through 12-weights for deeper water and truly large fish. There is, however, an often neglected line weight in the middle, #7. This may, in part be because a #7 is usually regarded as too heavy and powerful to be versatile on a trout stream and too light to fight the wind or carry heavy payloads in the salt. Poor, neglected and misunderstood 7-weights. Understand that the graduated grain weight difference between lighter line weights up to size #6 weight is 20 grains, however, there is a jump to 25 grains from #6 to #7 and even more in the heavier line sizes so a 7-weight line has distinctly and proportionately more of an increase in casting mass than from a #5 to 6-weight.

This is a high-water year with heavy snowpack in the West and a rain-soaked spring in the East. Reservoirs in the upper Delaware watershed are still spilling pushing flows up into the grass. Alewives are cascading with the surface flows over the dam and into the river and seeking the slower currents along the banks where big browns are having a field day at their expense. Try banging the banks with a weighted and water logged rabbit strip and marabou streamer fly with your otherwise excellent Delaware River #5 or even 6-weight rod and you will not only tire yourself out but your accuracy could be a bit arbitrary. String up a light and potent #7-weight and this task transforms into an enjoyable angling alternative until the river drops and Hendricksons begin.

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Along with plying Eastern and Western wild trout rivers, I am an avid tropical flats enthusiast. Conventional wisdom, with which I concur, is that a fast and powerful 8-weight is the optimal bonefish rod. I’ll add that I like to have a 9-weight outfit rigged with a larger, heavier crab imitating pattern in the skiff too, for big bones or even a permit on a deeper flat. In an opposite scenario, at the beginning of an incoming or dropping, outgoing tide, fish may be tailing in very skinny water up against the mangroves. Here a delicate presentation with a barely weighted and sparse shrimp fly is called for. For years, along with my primary #8, I would bring a softer, gentler 8-weight for these “up-the-creek”, leeward scenarios. I was, however, still dealing with the delicacy of presentation issues imposed by the mass of an 8-weight fly line. Why not try a 7-weight I wondered. This seemed a smart solution to me except for a minor detail; finding a 7-weight rod that could generate the tight, wind penetrating, high line speed loops that are a prerequisite for any specialty flats fly rod to authoritatively present a bonefish fly with precision plus the enhanced delicacy I sought.

There are a number of good 7-weight rods with compliant tips for drifting nymph and egg patterns in Great Lakes steelhead rivers, others that flex deeper for more open looped casting of mouse flies in Alaska or giant stoneflies in the West. But a light weight, powerful butt, crisp and quick recovering tip design to drive laser-like loops through ever present oceanic breezes to cast a fly accurately on a bonefish flat…this awaited my awareness of Douglas Outdoors 9’/#7 SKY. This is what I was waiting for!

SKY#7 was hiding right in front of me. I fished SKY#5 a lot last season and wrote about it glowingly; much of what I wrote is applicable to this heavier model which, once giving it a shake at the Somerset Show in January, I knew it was a leading contender. What I did not fully appreciate until casting it is the degree of fine tuning Douglas’s rod designer, Freddie Contaoi, dials into each individual model as if massaging the series concept to optimize each version for its intended application. So, while the SKY series ample power are consistent, particularly the reserves in the lower taper, the slightly more flexible tip of the 5-weight to enhance communication and deftness during in-close, off-the-tip, dry fly presentations is transformed into a crisper, sharper tip to tighten and cancel even a hint of counter-flex for a perfect, flats appropriate, unwavering tight loop with the 7-weight. Not a stiff tip mind you, rather a quickly progressive one equally adept at driving a bait fish imitating streamer to the very edge of the far bank or a sparse crustacean imitation between two mangrove shoots as a bonefish tails in ankle deep water.

The precise casts SKY#7 is capable of are surprisingly easy. This is not one of those power rods demanding of muscular, long tip travel casting; all it takes is a nice compact stroke accelerating to clean stops. The taper transitions in SKY are so smooth there are no elaborate adjustments to make to cast it well, just smooth, ample, readily accessed casting prowess. Light in hand, too.

SKY is fabricated in S. Korea’s top rod shop employing a new generation of Nano-silica particulate infused resin and multi-modulus graphite fibers positioned to enhance its performance. This yields a light weight but strong matrix to support its sophisticated taper design. Its color is matt gunmetal gray with color matching machined, anodized reel seat hardware featuring easily grasped dual locking nuts with Delrin inserts for a snug, positive lock-up. The cork work is high quality, ergonomic, full Wells with no obvious filler bracketed at fighting butt cap, up-locking hood over cork and front of grip darker cork composite rings for not a merely tasteful look but enhanced long-term grip durability, as well. Even the aluminum winding check is the same anodized color as the hardware. The black, trimmed in pale grey thread wraps, exhibit no gaps and are well finished with not too thick epoxy holding SKY’s unusual, canted forward for superior line shooting, top-of-the-line, titanium Fuji Torzite twin stripping guides followed by, again color matching, single foot, nickel-titanium Recoil guides of larger than average size. We don’t want any tangles jamming the works up now do we? Accurate alignment dots at all ferrules, a high quality aluminum tube with engraved cap and SKY’s unique three dimensional woven rod sock to promote quick wicking and drying as well as protective cushioning, complete this first rate package. SKY, at $695, has a high quality to cost ratio.

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This sharp reflexed 7-weight accompanied me to Biscayne Bay where I fished with a seasoned south Florida flats guide. Capt. Dave is stoutly built and strong from poling his skiff against the incessant Bay winds and a very fine caster. His home waters demand he has top performing rods aboard for his clients to fish. He explained how he had outfitted his skiff with G.Loomis NRX rods but his clientele found it challenging to generate the power they are capable of. So he switched to Sage SALTs when they came out but then his clients struggled with their timing to achieve their potential line speed. Now he has slightly deeper flexing Scott Meridians which many of his clients find easier to cast with their less demanding casting stroke requirements. During our lunch break I proposed he take a few casts with the SKY. I could not see his broad smile through his face-covering Buff but after just a few casts he opined, “Wow, this rod casts as easily and even more effortlessly than these Meridian’s but with the power of the NRX and the line speed of a Method. This is fantastic”. I think he summed up this excellent 7-weight’s virtues succinctly and accurately.
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By omas on 05-12-2017, 01:31 PM
Default Re: Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY

Excellent review! Now get to work on the Douglas Sky 6wt review, ASAP. I am looking for a 6wt and it is on my short list, and would very interested in your thoughts.
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By dynaflow on 05-21-2017, 12:27 PM
Default Re: Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY

A great review and my favourite rod weight for flats Bonefish.Why aren't the Douglas rods more widely known and appreciated I wonder? Incidentally,two recent 7wt.favourites include the Clutch Archipelago and more recently,Winston's sensational BIII Plus.
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By sweetandsalt on 05-23-2017, 12:21 PM
Default Re: Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY

I have heard good things about the Clutch as well as the Sage X in this size. I never owned but did fish a Sage TCX#7 that I have regretted not obtaining at the time. This SKY though is light, smooth and powerful, an impressive flats rod.

Douglas is only a few years old now and it is hard to build a reputation competing among rod makers who have been around a long time. Yellowstone Anglers praise for them in a couple of their Shootouts has surly helped put them on the map. They are working on their own, up-state NY rod shop, the first new and super sophisticated rod building facility to be built here in years. When this facility starts producing rods, maybe a year from now, this will potently cement their place among the major players. I think highly of their rod designer whom I have known through other projects for quite awhile.
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By dynaflow on 05-23-2017, 01:21 PM
Default Re: Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY

Thanks for the update👍
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By willyf on 05-23-2017, 08:50 PM
Default Re: Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY

Originally Posted by omas View Post
Excellent review! Now get to work on the Douglas Sky 6wt review, ASAP. I am looking for a 6wt and it is on my short list, and would very interested in your thoughts.
Don't wait for the review. This is a VERY nice rod. Tons of power, and it was absolute magic in my Dad's hands. Drastically improved his casting in a way that I have never seen a rod do for someone before.

Originally Posted by sweetandsalt
I have heard good things about the Clutch as well as the Sage X in this size.
If you want a Clutch, why not just buy a St. Croix?

Anybody else heard those rumors?
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By sweetandsalt on 05-24-2017, 07:20 AM
Default Re: Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY

I have not been in touch with the Clutch fellows since they ceased participating at the Somerset Show. At least at that time they were building their blanks from scratch in someplace like Cleveland. I have been told they have improved their rods since I last cast them but I seriously doubt they are in SKY territory.
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By czando on 07-10-2017, 08:02 PM
Default Re: Douglas Outdoors 7-Weight SKY

I will jump on board as soon as the rods are made in upstate Ny very close to where I grew up!

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