Douglas SKY-G 9’/#8

sweetandsalt

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I read about a pre-production version of this rod from early in its development in an 8-Weight Challenge conducted by the Yellowstone Angler’s team in February of this year. It was no surprise that the excellent G-Loomis Asquith and new NRX+ dominated this comparison but it was surprising that the otherwise impressive SKY-G lacked lower taper potency in comparison…this is not in the Douglas SKY tradition.

Now, some 10 months later in December 2020, I have received the much refined and final production version of this 4-piece 8-weight. I’ve never seen or obviously cast the prototype but here on the Atlantic coast of Florida in our rental house flanking the Indian River this rod has not exhibited any hesitancy to go short or long. The canal before us is approximately 80’ in width so I have to leave several turns of line on the reel so as not to hook the bulkhead on the opposite side.

I’m not performing any comparison to other new fine 8-weight rods of which there are several this year, just forming an impression of this one rod alone on its own special merits. The hallmark of Douglas’s growing SKY-G series of rods is their advanced technological infusion of graphene “platelets”, Nano particulates uniformly dissolved into their resin system. This is intended to facilitate the use of less but more complete plastic bonding resin in ratio to carbon fiber content yielding a lighter, stronger and more impact resistant rod. I cannot quantify this in engineering terms; I am only qualified to comment on its fine tuned taper design and obvious light weight. At 3.6 oz. (Douglas’s data) it is very light and feels even lighter in hand when casting, almost as if it were a potent #6. For reference Scott’s new Sector in the same size is 4.2 oz. and NRX+ is 3.9 oz. (from Yellowstone Angler’s Shootout measurements) Since our departure date for Florida coincided with the arrival of the first batch of SKY-G’s at Douglas in upper New York State, the rod was shipped here so I had no opportunity to pre-tune it to fly lines. Therefore, in anticipation, I brought a bag of four “mule” reels with differing 8-weight lines…not to match a reel to this rod but rather a line. I have cast and fished all four for at least a day each and switching back and forth before deciding that the true to weight SA Bonefish suits this rod best. In fairness I must note that the RIO Bonefish I have with me is not the current DirectCore improved model but that is in this rod’s future.

T20 SKY-G #8 Reels.jpg
Like original SKY-G #5, this 8-weight is grey, well, light grey to black. The blank is finished in a none-glare coating called G-Armour. I don’t know what this proprietary coating is but it is similar in color to graphite but flatter and a slightly lighter shade of grey. The nice flat finished wraps are black with pale grey tipping matching the color of the branding and size designation lettering. The same shade is employed at the ferrules where a dot on the male matches up with a size indicator on the female, a nice touch. SKY-G’s guide set features a pair of nickel titanium alloy CERecoil stripping guides and Recoil larger than average snake guides as opposed to the single foot versions on the trout sized –G’s. The reel seat is an all medium grey anodized aluminum assembly with robust dual locking rings fitted with a black polymer snugging gasket. The up-locking hood is ported and indexed so it does not rotate. The winding check and fighting butt trim ring match its matt finish and, of course, there is no hook keeper. There were some questions about cork quality on very early SKY-G #5’s which Douglas must have noted as the cork on this rod is superb. Dense, smooth and uniform in color it is very high quality and well finished into a forward slight bulging full Wells shape of good size and comfort. It is bracketed front and back with rubberized composite, narrow cork rings which look good but importantly are chip resistant enhancing grip durability and the same material finishes the well-shaped fighting butt too. Overall, SKY-G #8 is handsomely understated with a stealthfull high quality appearance.

This rod is not overly line temperamental and handled all four lines I tried on it ranging from too heavy older Cortland Lazer Tropic Plus, to slightly heavy also older RIO Bonefish, to zingy Liquid Crystal Blue my preferred windy day line and best so far, SA Mastery Bonefish. RIO DirectCore Bonefish and new Cortland Tropic Plus Bonefish are both lines in its future.

My impressions after casting/fishing this rod daily for a week now is, particularly with a true to weight line, that it is impressively light in weight/swing weight, smooth, moderately fast progressive in flex with ample feedback, more so than most 8-weights, exhibits no tip induced loop anomalies and is notably quick and precise in recovery. It cast in close off the tip easily with one back cast for one of those bonefish emerging from the glare 35‘ from the boat shots, is tight looped accurate in the conventional 50 -60’ range and has zero complaints generating a nice loop and 12’ leader turnover at distance. It is not one of those flats rods like NRX that prefers not to make short shots but blasts off super long casts like a rocket launcher, line flying out to the horizon. Rather, this rod projects as a precise and subtly smooth presenter of normal weight bonefish flies at all fishable distances.

F20 48 Indian River c s.jpg

F20 21 Indian River cs.jpg

In the upper image SKY-G is fun to probe the wooden bridge pilings and the far side mangroves seeking a snook in the Indian River, extremely accurate and effortless, though ignored by any if present fish. From the dock making a distance cast you can observer the rod’s flex under heavy load, no collapse but plenty of feel in the upper rod while the lower taper remains totally composed in support.

Fred Contaoi has designed this rod to be versatile so rather than a dedicated flats specialist which is how I would fish it, it would make a great streamer, or large/smallmouth bass freshwater rod too. Light in touch, smooth and accurate with ample communication this refined and technically advanced rod is going to be hard to acquire as so many anglers are going to be buying it.



SKY-G is designed in the United Sates and fabricated to exacting specifications by a technically advanced rod shop in South Korea. Its price is $845. Douglas Outdoors is a family owned business in New York State.

Photography courtesy of my wife.
 

dr d

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I read about a pre-production version of this rod from early in its development in an 8-Weight Challenge conducted by the Yellowstone Angler’s team in February of this year. It was no surprise that the excellent G-Loomis Asquith and new NRX+ dominated this comparison but it was surprising that the otherwise impressive SKY-G lacked lower taper potency in comparison…this is not in the Douglas SKY tradition.

Now, some 10 months later in December 2020, I have received the much refined and final production version of this 4-piece 8-weight. I’ve never seen or obviously cast the prototype but here on the Atlantic coast of Florida in our rental house flanking the Indian River this rod has not exhibited any hesitancy to go short or long. The canal before us is approximately 80’ in width so I have to leave several turns of line on the reel so as not to hook the bulkhead on the opposite side.

I’m not performing any comparison to other new fine 8-weight rods of which there are several this year, just forming an impression of this one rod alone on its own special merits. The hallmark of Douglas’s growing SKY-G series of rods is their advanced technological infusion of graphene “platelets”, Nano particulates uniformly dissolved into their resin system. This is intended to facilitate the use of less but more complete plastic bonding resin in ratio to carbon fiber content yielding a lighter, stronger and more impact resistant rod. I cannot quantify this in engineering terms; I am only qualified to comment on its fine tuned taper design and obvious light weight. At 3.6 oz. (Douglas’s data) it is very light and feels even lighter in hand when casting, almost as if it were a potent #6. For reference Scott’s new Sector in the same size is 4.2 oz. and NRX+ is 3.9 oz. (from Yellowstone Angler’s Shootout measurements) Since our departure date for Florida coincided with the arrival of the first batch of SKY-G’s at Douglas in upper New York State, the rod was shipped here so I had no opportunity to pre-tune it to fly lines. Therefore, in anticipation, I brought a bag of four “mule” reels with differing 8-weight lines…not to match a reel to this rod but rather a line. I have cast and fished all four for at least a day each and switching back and forth before deciding that the true to weight SA Bonefish suits this rod best. In fairness I must note that the RIO Bonefish I have with me is not the current DirectCore improved model but that is in this rod’s future.

Like original SKY-G #5, this 8-weight is grey, well, light grey to black. The blank is finished in a none-glare coating called G-Armour. I don’t know what this proprietary coating is but it is similar in color to graphite but flatter and a slightly lighter shade of grey. The nice flat finished wraps are black with pale grey tipping matching the color of the branding and size designation lettering. The same shade is employed at the ferrules where a dot on the male matches up with a size indicator on the female, a nice touch. SKY-G’s guide set features a pair of nickel titanium alloy CERecoil stripping guides and Recoil larger than average snake guides as opposed to the single foot versions on the trout sized –G’s. The reel seat is an all medium grey anodized aluminum assembly with robust dual locking rings fitted with a black polymer snugging gasket. The up-locking hood is ported and indexed so it does not rotate. The winding check and fighting butt trim ring match its matt finish and, of course, there is no hook keeper. There were some questions about cork quality on very early SKY-G #5’s which Douglas must have noted as the cork on this rod is superb. Dense, smooth and uniform in color it is very high quality and well finished into a forward slight bulging full Wells shape of good size and comfort. It is bracketed front and back with rubberized composite, narrow cork rings which look good but importantly are chip resistant enhancing grip durability and the same material finishes the well-shaped fighting butt too. Overall, SKY-G #8 is handsomely understated with a stealthfull high quality appearance.

This rod is not overly line temperamental and handled all four lines I tried on it ranging from too heavy older Cortland Lazer Tropic Plus, to slightly heavy also older RIO Bonefish, to zingy Liquid Crystal Blue my preferred windy day line and best so far, SA Mastery Bonefish. RIO DirectCore Bonefish and new Cortland Tropic Plus Bonefish are both lines in its future.

My impressions after casting/fishing this rod daily for a week now is, particularly with a true to weight line, that it is impressively light in weight/swing weight, smooth, moderately fast progressive in flex with ample feedback, more so than most 8-weights, exhibits no tip induced loop anomalies and is notably quick and precise in recovery. It cast in close off the tip easily with one back cast for one of those bonefish emerging from the glare 35‘ from the boat shots, is tight looped accurate in the conventional 50 -60’ range and has zero complaints generating a nice loop and 12’ leader turnover at distance. It is not one of those flats rods like NRX that prefers not to make short shots but blasts off super long casts like a rocket launcher, line flying out to the horizon. Rather, this rod projects as a precise and subtly smooth presenter of normal weight bonefish flies at all fishable distances.


In the upper image SKY-G is fun to probe the wooden bridge pilings and the far side mangroves seeking a snook in the Indian River, extremely accurate and effortless, though ignored by any if present fish. From the dock making a distance cast you can observer the rod’s flex under heavy load, no collapse but plenty of feel in the upper rod while the lower taper remains totally composed in support.

Fred Contaoi has designed this rod to be versatile so rather than a dedicated flats specialist which is how I would fish it, it would make a great streamer, or large/smallmouth bass freshwater rod too. Light in touch, smooth and accurate with ample communication this refined and technically advanced rod is going to be hard to acquire as so many anglers are going to be buying it.



SKY-G is designed in the United Sates and fabricated to exacting specifications by a technically advanced rod shop in South Korea. Its price is $845. Douglas Outdoors is a family owned business in New York State.

Photography courtesy of my wife.
wonderful shot from the dock>>>seems to be a sort of parabellum.fred seems to have achieved

a "little changed" mid/low taper with very good incorperation - it all seems relaxed!:):cool:


thomas
 

Bonesonthebrain

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Nice write up, I am a big fan of Douglas (and Scott) rods. Even recently bought a RIO Direct Core Bonefish line for my 7 wt Meridian, per your reviews, after using strictly SA lines for years. So many great rods available now from many companies, almost difficult to go wrong. Will be building an Epic 890C in the next couple of weeks, supposedly for my wife, interested in how it turns out.
 

sweetandsalt

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I'll, as will we all, be interested in your take on the Epic. I have cast their Carbon #6 and was impressed.

It is true there are better rods than ever now but I'd welcome your insight into Douglas vs. Scott Sector. I have cast but not fished it in both 9' & 8'4"/#8. For the record, and I have a few SKY's, this SKY-G is dramatically different and for me far preferable to the original SKY #8 (I prefer the #7 & 9 SKY's).
 

sweetandsalt

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OK, It is 55° here in Florida right now, no fishing today and we drive back to the far colder North tomorrow morning. I don't know when my next cast will take place so I just stepped out back and took a few last shots across the canal, then snipped of my fly.

Relevant to a review though, as I broke down this rod which has been assembled now for over a week, the ferrules were nice and tight with zero loosening or rotation. This is important as, when on a bonefishing trip, one's rods are usually rigged upon arrival and remain so either fishing or racked for a week. While I am in the habit of checking ferule snugness daily, unanticipated ferrule loosening is a potential cause of breakage under load. So, one last test passed with flying colors prior to going into the shower with me for a soapy wash-down.
 

sparsegraystubble

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OK, It is 55° here in Florida right now, no fishing today and we drive back to the far colder North tomorrow morning. I don't know when my next cast will take place so I just stepped out back and took a few last shots across the canal, then snipped of my fly.

Relevant to a review though, as I broke down this rod which has been assembled now for over a week, the ferrules were nice and tight with zero loosening or rotation. This is important as, when on a bonefishing trip, one's rods are usually rigged upon arrival and remain so either fishing or racked for a week. While I am in the habit of checking ferule snugness daily, unanticipated ferrule loosening is a potential cause of breakage under load. So, one last test passed with flying colors prior to going into the shower with me for a soapy wash-down.
Speaking for many here, thanks for skipping the photos of you and the rod showering together. The fishing photos were more than sufficient.

Have a safe trip back and Merry Christmas.

Don
 

bonefish41

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Trust you made it back home, through those great Commonwealths and the snow safely...

"Fred Contaoi has designed this rod to be versatile so rather than a dedicated flats specialist which is how I would fish it, it would make a great streamer, or large/smallmouth bass freshwater rod too. Light in touch, smooth and accurate with ample communication this refined and technically advanced rod is going to be hard to acquire as so many anglers are going to be buying it."

S&S you have missed your calling...Reads like a US or British Foreign Service station communication to Washington or London describing a situation requiring Seal Team 6 or SAS but they sent two AdCs. Did you mean...this 8wt is not what you would use for a dedicated salt, flats rod for big bonefish and #1 Clousers or Crabs on Biscayne Bay or oceanside Islamorada, maybe two pound schoolies, but it would make a great $845 delicate, finessing 8wt rod for LMB or SMB, perhaps ... :D
 

sweetandsalt

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you mean...this 8wt is not what you would use for a dedicated salt, flats rod for big bonefish and #1 Clousers or Crabs on Biscayne Bay or oceanside Islamorada, maybe two pound schoolies, but it would make a great $845 delicate, finessing 8wt rod for LMB or SMB, perhaps ... :D
In Biscayne where I do like larger and sometimes heavier flies, I generally sport a potent #9. In teh Bahamas where I usually use a #8 with #4 - 6 shrimp,small crab flies often with bead chain, this rod would be perfect. Yes I would have a solid #9 on teh skiff with a bigger heavier crab fly as well.

Near where I did some fishing along Florida Rt. A1A is the Navy Seal Museum.
 

bonefish41

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Further down the road where I fish have to avoid 'chuttes out of C130s when fishing close in to seaplane basin KW for Tarpon
 
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