Thomas and Thomas Rods

City Rat

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As many of you folks know I'm very new to fly fishing. That said I do my research, both online and in the real world. Obviously, first I figure out what species I'm after, where they are that I am reasonably likely to get to water wise, what they eat and therefore what size flies I will need to cast. Then I figure out what is regarded as top of the line in terms of rod weight from reviews, what people are actually using out as they go after that species on that water and then try and find whatever sits in the sweet spot between all of that and look for the top three, either as discounted old, but still NIB inventory or lightly used. In looking at 8wt rods, I have narrowed things down to a couple of candidates, Scott Meridien, Loomis NRX, Orvis Helios 3F and the Thomas and Thomas Exocet. While all did well in many reviews and the most recent shootout for the class, the Thomas and Thomas Exocet caught my eye. It did well in the most recent class shootout and the folks at the company seem nice but I can't find much about them currently other than an odd reference in some of their press materials to a new owner who was taking over to "revitalize" the brand." I searched here and there is information about the company just doesn't seem to be centralized in any way. That said it may be just be operator error in my search engine technique. What can any one tell me about the company, their experience with their rods and customer service, etc. The "vibe " that I get is that it looks like an old established rod house, like Winston, but I can't really get a definitive feel for them so turning to you folks for your collective wisdom. Thanks.

P.S. Fear not, once I get this all whittled down to a reasonable number, as I did with my 3wt and 5wt rods, there is a local to me fly shop that deals in all of the above brands and I will go in , cast them all and see what feels right in my hand. Thanks.
 

eastfly66

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What can any one tell me about the company, their experience with their rods and customer service, etc.
Thomas & Thomas Rods has a long history, started by Tom Dorsey and Tom Maxwell in the cane days which continues today in the cane shop under rod craftsman Troy Jacques. If you ever visit the shop this is a must see. In modern graphite there were several series that were highly regarded and remain so today. Perhaps most notable the Horizon , Horizon II , the LPS & Helix series. Their DH (Spey rods) dominated the 2 hand market and still enjoy a solid reputation. I have 3 Horizon II series that remain active in my quiver today. The "revitalization" you are reading about refers to a period when the company was in not so good shape. Some will say this was due to management, lack of innovation or lack of marketing. All companies have their high and low marks, what is more important is T&T has come thru the experience stronger & back on top of the game.

The company was purchased a few years back by Neiville Orsmond, a successful bussiness man out of South Africa. Since taking the helm , he has invested considerable amounts of money , time and energy in the company. This is a small company located in the foothills of central Massachusetts their craftsmanship has always been the standard by which all others are compared and now under the guidence of Mr. Orsmond they are once again a leader in rod technology.

Service is top notch and a call to the company will put you in touch with probably Joe Godspeed, John Carpenter or Neville and they will be sure to answer any question you might have. Service A+

Cheers,
Paul
 
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WNCtroutstalker

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I won't try to improve upon what eastfly said above, but I will echo what he said. I've purchased two T&T rods in the last year and during my research/pre-buy diligence I found the company officers very accessible (by both phone and email) and very willing to answer my questions. I'm not familiar with the company's older rods, but I've had the opportunity to cast several of the current offerings and they are all great. This company has come back from the brink and is on a roll IMO. This is the exactly the type of company I want to support and see succeed. Be interested to hear your thoughts on the Exocett and how it compares to others after your test casting.
 

clsmith131

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You can't go wrong with a T&T. Really, all you have to do hold one in your hand to tell what kind of company they are. To be fair, I haven't heard of bad service from any of the big fly rod outfits.

I don't know what your 8wt application will be, but you should also look at the Exocett SS 250 grain. If you are throwing sink tip lines or compact heads, especially from a boat, its a great option.
 

sweetandsalt

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Do I have to testify behind closed doors in Congress? It's true, I've been a T&T client since my 1974 7 1/2'/#5 Hendrickson cane beauty. During the darker days I still thought Dorsey's NS5 was a powerhouse. Orsmond is doing a brilliant job and T&T is back. He test rods like the Exocett in the Bahamas and Seychelles.

I have cast or fished all four rods you are looking at (except H3F, the D is far better). NRX#8 is a benchmark rod all others are trying to live up to and Exocett is different but very good indeed. Add Sage X and especially Igniter to your list and ignore what prejudiced YA wrote about them. Search under Reviews, I wrote about excellent Exocett #7. However, east, T8 is going with me to FL in a bit over a week.

Leaving $$$$ Asquith aside in its own category, were I comparing new current 9'/#8's my list (in no particular order) would include; NRX, Exocett, Igniter and X, Winston Salt AIR, Taylor Truth, Stickman T8 and Meridian. Which one intrigues me most that I don't already own? Igniter.
 

City Rat

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You guys are funny, no FBI sting here, just a newbie who legitimately is trying to get the scoop on this company. On the issue of customer service I guess I was prejudiced early on by Winston, they were so helpful, informative and patient with my incessant questions, all before I owned any of their products, that to me they set a high benchmark. Afterward I purchased a couple of used Winston rods, Boron III X's 3 wt and 5 wt, they were great in helping me with a number of questions that I had about each rod. A couple of the companies that I mentioned don't give out customer service numbers. Yeah they have online chat thingies, but not a human to speak to unless you are a dealer. So after whittling the list down to the rods mentioned above, the fact that T and T gave out a lot of ways for you to reach out and connect with them got my attention right away. At last night's TU chapter meeting I got some invites to go out onto the wide rivers around here to fish for shad and largemouth bass with the guys and they are all using 8 wt outfits. My daughter lives up near the Finger Lakes and steel head, Atlantic salmon and other game fish up there the guides are all recommending between 8 and 9 wt rigs. So this all got me thinking about a rod that can handle those admittedly different applications.

Sweetandsalt,
Thanks, I will take a hard look at the Sage, and will cast it against the rest of the pack. So in terms of my application I am looking ahead, this is not an immediate purchase. Much appreciated.
 

eastfly66

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You guys are funny, no FBI sting here, just a newbie who legitimately is trying to get the scoop on this company. On the issue of customer service I guess I was prejudiced early on by Winston, they were so helpful, informative and patient with my incessant questions, all before I owned any of their products, that to me they set a high benchmark. Afterward I purchased a couple of used Winston rods, Boron III X's 3 wt and 5 wt, they were great in helping me with a number of questions that I had about each rod. A couple of the companies that I mentioned don't give out customer service numbers. Yeah they have online chat thingies, but not a human to speak to unless you are a dealer. So after whittling the list down to the rods mentioned above, the fact that T and T gave out a lot of ways for you to reach out and connect with them got my attention right away. At last night's TU chapter meeting I got some invites to go out onto the wide rivers around here to fish for shad and largemouth bass with the guys and they are all using 8 wt outfits. My daughter lives up near the Finger Lakes and steel head, Atlantic salmon and other game fish up there the guides are all recommending between 8 and 9 wt rigs. So this all got me thinking about a rod that can handle those admittedly different applications.

Sweetandsalt,
Thanks, I will take a hard look at the Sage, and will cast it against the rest of the pack. So in terms of my application I am looking ahead, this is not an immediate purchase. Much appreciated.
If CS with a personal touch is a priority, you will find your best bet with smaller rod companies like T&T, Scott and Stickman Rods. Since you mentioned the GL Steelhead & Salmon you may want to do some additional research here before you pull the trigger. A high performance rod like those mentioned by S&S are ideal for the flats but really not needed for chuck n duck or bobber fishing a creek. If your going to drop that kind of money for up there , check out a 2 hander or better , go visit the daughter around July 22 and come to Spey Nation....otherwise , check out a 10' 7 wt. zone by T&T and save yourself a few bucks.

Just my opinion YMMV....Full disclosure , I'm biased , I would rather put my nuts in a garlic press than drive up there to fish a bobber.
 

City Rat

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Much appreciated. I do hope that I didn't confuse anyone on my projected application for the rod. Just want to make sure that there isn't a misunderstanding regarding locations. The parts of the Potomac and Rappahanock where they are talking about fishing are hardly creeks. It is right where each river starts to widen out beyond a 1/4 mile across each and casting will get done from a boat due to depth. In terms of Steel head and Salmon, I may not have been clear about location but we are talking about the Finger Lakes Region of NY State, not the Great Lakes. So Lake Ontario, Lake Onondaga and some of the others, etc and Salmon River. I hope that helps. I am always up for additional research and anything that saves money is always a good thing. That said I learned from hunting the hard way, buy once cry once. Get the best tool that you can, which will take care of the job and then some. Especially as you grow in the sport, I'd rather grow into a rod than grow out of one and have to go through this hunt for the holy grail all over again in a year or two, just rather spend the time outdoors, hunting, hiking or fishing. Oh and Spey Nation looks like great time, may have to head up for that,thanks for the heads up.
 

WNCtroutstalker

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I don't know what your 8wt application will be, but you should also look at the Exocett SS 250 grain. If you are throwing sink tip lines or compact heads, especially from a boat, its a great option.
To City Rat: I'm not at all familiar with the waters you intend to fish nor the fish you intend to target, but if you intend to use the types of lines mentioned above and/or throw large, bulky flies, then I also would suggest that you check out the Exocett SS 250 (it's 8'8" and a different design/taper than the "standard" Exocett) as part of your search process. I have both the 250 and 350 and think they are great with those types of lines and flies.
 

City Rat

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To City Rat: I'm not at all familiar with the waters you intend to fish nor the fish you intend to target, but if you intend to use the types of lines mentioned above and/or throw large, bulky flies, then I also would suggest that you check out the Exocett SS 250 (it's 8'8" and a different design/taper than the "standard" Exocett) as part of your search process. I have both the 250 and 350 and think they are great with those types of lines and flies.
Thank you so much, yes these are big flies and and lines. I will look into this. Thank you so much for your first hand feedback.
 
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City Rat

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To City Rat: I'm not at all familiar with the waters you intend to fish nor the fish you intend to target, but if you intend to use the types of lines mentioned above and/or throw large, bulky flies, then I also would suggest that you check out the Exocett SS 250 (it's 8'8" and a different design/taper than the "standard" Exocett) as part of your search process. I have both the 250 and 350 and think they are great with those types of lines and flies.
WNCtroutstalker, I took a look at Exocet SS line. Those rods sound right on point for my application, so thanks again for the heads up. Now I have a couple of questions:
1- the SS line sounds from the reviews a lot like the Winston Boron III Plus "Jungle Rods
Boron III Plus | Winston Fly Rods
I wonder do you have any familiarity with the similar sounding Winston rods and if so, how do they match up to the SS line?

2- You indicated that you have an SS 250 and a 350. Just curious other than weight what is the difference between the rods or are they really the same in which case what are the applications that you use each one for.
Thanks very much in advance. The time and info are very much appreciated.
 

joe_strummer

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To City Rat: I'm not at all familiar with the waters you intend to fish nor the fish you intend to target, but if you intend to use the types of lines mentioned above and/or throw large, bulky flies, then I also would suggest that you check out the Exocett SS 250 (it's 8'8" and a different design/taper than the "standard" Exocett) as part of your search process. I have both the 250 and 350 and think they are great with those types of lines and flies.
I was pretty taken with the Exocett SS 250 when I cast it at the FFS -- much more so than the 8wt Exocett which I actually stopped casting to double-check the ferrules on because it felt odd after casting the SS. Didn't cast it with a sinking line but I'm interested in the rod for that kind of fishing.
 

clsmith131

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I have the SS 250 and 350 as well. I bought the 350 first, loved it, and had to get the 250. They are 9/10 and 7/8 wts respectively. I use them both for striper fishing. The 250 where there are a lot of schoolies - 5 or 6 lb fish or when bass are in the mix. I use the 350 on larger fish or when I'm matching a larger bait with a larger fly. The 350 delivers the fly with more authority, but casting it for a few hours becomes taxing, which is really why I wanted the 250. They are both very light, and being 8'8", they favor a lightweight reel. I have the Ross Evo R on the 250. It's a perfect, very light match. On the 350, right now, I have the Allen Omega #4, which is a hair on the heavy side at 8.8 oz, but my major gripe is that the reel foot doesn't match the reel seat on the rod so there is play that you can feel in your cast. I either need to shim it or find a better match. A friend liked mine so much that he got the 350 with the Evo R Salt 9/10, and it is a much better match than the Omega. The medium fast action, deep flex, and powerful butt section of these rods make it so throwing 100' is easily reached with 2 false casts, even for a mediocre caster like me. The shorter length makes it easier to stow in the gunwale rod holders on the boat, and the vulcanized cork holds up well to the inherent abuse of fly fishing from a boat. Really a perfect rod for me. Even with the aggressive line tapers I've gotten to where I can lay the line down relatively quietly, although as others have said, this is really chuckin' and duckin'. Not especially graceful, but very effective.

This is me with my friend in the background. He let me cast his new rig and I happened to land the biggest fish on it so far. He hasn't even removed the plastic from the grip yet, it was his first time fishing it I think he wanted a little credit :)IMG_6389.jpg
 

City Rat

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Beautiful fish! Thanks so much for the detailed explanation, it is really very helpful. All I can say is that I just built a rack/storage case for my current two rods , I am glad that I left slots for two more:D Thanks again. I guess that I will have to make sure that I cast these as well as the Winston Jungle rods as they seem to aim at the same niche.
 

WNCtroutstalker

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Now I have a couple of questions:
1- the SS line sounds from the reviews a lot like the Winston Boron III Plus "Jungle Rods
Boron III Plus | Winston Fly Rods
I wonder do you have any familiarity with the similar sounding Winston rods and if so, how do they match up to the SS line?

2- You indicated that you have an SS 250 and a 350. Just curious other than weight what is the difference between the rods or are they really the same in which case what are the applications that you use each one for.
Exocett SS vs Winston Jungle Rods: I actually have cast the 9' 8 wt Jungle rod against the Exocett SS 250. And though I'm by no means a rod design expert, it does seem as though the rods were designed with similar uses in mind and as such have some design similarities. Anyway, it was a while ago, but my recollection is that the Winston felt heavier in the hand (not surprising given that it was 4" longer; the 8 wt Jungle rod also comes in an 8'9" length and it would be interesting to compare than one to the SS 250), stiffer and a bit more powerful. I've never thought of the SS as brittle, far from it, but the Jungle rod did feel quite strong (and heavier), especially in the butt. I had already purchased the Exocett SS 250 before I discovered the Jungle rod; I in no way regret my decision, but I do like the Jungle rod also. Who knows, it may come down to whether one prefers a blue blank or a green blank. :) Hopefully you can test cast both rods, and again I would think that the 8'9" 8 wt may be more comparable to the Exocett SS 250.

250 vs 350: First off, I would echo what clsmith said above about the 250 being like a 7/8 and the 350 being like a 9/10. I think I like the 7/8 better with something over 250 grains (though it loads a SA Titan 7 wt at 240 just fine). I've cast the 350 with a 380 grain and it handled it great, but I've fished the rod with a 330 grain line and had no issues with it loading. I think that the SS rods accept a decent range of lines such that you can go a bit below the designated weight and the rod will still load or go a bit over the designated weight without the rod feeling overloaded. I do think the rods cast pretty similarly, and so for me the choice really comes down to the flies I'm using and what I'm throwing them at. I purchased both rods towards the end of last year and so I haven't had the opportunity to use either all that much. I've used the 250 throwing large streamers to big trout and I've used the 350 for Golden Dorado and hope to use it for stripers. I agree that the 350 feels heavier than the 250, but to me it still feels lighter than a "typical" 9 or 10 weight. If distance is absolutely key you should cast the SS against a more traditional rod (I can cast the same flies farther with my NRX 9 wt than with my SS 350), but I would hardly say that the SS rods are lacking in power and they just cast and feel great.

Good luck to you.
 

City Rat

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Exocett SS vs Winston Jungle Rods: I actually have cast the 9' 8 wt Jungle rod against the Exocett SS 250. And though I'm by no means a rod design expert, it does seem as though the rods were designed with similar uses in mind and as such have some design similarities. Anyway, it was a while ago, but my recollection is that the Winston felt heavier in the hand (not surprising given that it was 4" longer; the 8 wt Jungle rod also comes in an 8'9" length and it would be interesting to compare than one to the SS 250), stiffer and a bit more powerful. I've never thought of the SS as brittle, far from it, but the Jungle rod did feel quite strong (and heavier), especially in the butt. I had already purchased the Exocett SS 250 before I discovered the Jungle rod; I in no way regret my decision, but I do like the Jungle rod also. Who knows, it may come down to whether one prefers a blue blank or a green blank. :) Hopefully you can test cast both rods, and again I would think that the 8'9" 8 wt may be more comparable to the Exocett SS 250.

250 vs 350: First off, I would echo what clsmith said above about the 250 being like a 7/8 and the 350 being like a 9/10. I think I like the 7/8 better with something over 250 grains (though it loads a SA Titan 7 wt at 240 just fine). I've cast the 350 with a 380 grain and it handled it great, but I've fished the rod with a 330 grain line and had no issues with it loading. I think that the SS rods accept a decent range of lines such that you can go a bit below the designated weight and the rod will still load or go a bit over the designated weight without the rod feeling overloaded. I do think the rods cast pretty similarly, and so for me the choice really comes down to the flies I'm using and what I'm throwing them at. I purchased both rods towards the end of last year and so I haven't had the opportunity to use either all that much. I've used the 250 throwing large streamers to big trout and I've used the 350 for Golden Dorado and hope to use it for stripers. I agree that the 350 feels heavier than the 250, but to me it still feels lighter than a "typical" 9 or 10 weight. If distance is absolutely key you should cast the SS against a more traditional rod (I can cast the same flies farther with my NRX 9 wt than with my SS 350), but I would hardly say that the SS rods are lacking in power and they just cast and feel great.

Good luck to you.
Thank you so much for this very detailed and thoughtful breakdown in an area where I have found nothing even close to this kind of explanation online. This is really very helpful. I will get a chance to cast them together as there is a fly shop nearby that is both a Winston and a T and T dealer.
 

clsmith131

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I've been curious about the Jungle also. I have an old Winston BII-MX 908 that has served me well, and taken a serious beating in the process. I believe the SX followed MX, which was then succeeded by the plus and the jungle rods were a branch from that. As such, I figured they would be pretty similar. I also really like that green anodized reel seat with the Winston insignia. But I already have too many similar rods in #'s 8 & 9 justify a purchase - which is also what I said before I bought the last rod. The picture of an 8wt Jungle with an Abel Super with the peacock bass pattern just flashed in my head, no doubt from an add or sponsored review I saw somewhere...
 

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When I bought my T&T Aeros, I was constantly bugging Mr. Carpenter by email. First off, what a terrific guy he is. I told him I had no way to test cast the rod, so I was coming in blind on this purchase. I explained to him what I was looking for in this this rod and how I planned to fish it, and was hoping he could fill in the missing pieces and explain what I was going to experience with this rod.

He was right on the money. Everything he said about this rod was true. When I got the rod I couldn't wait to fish it to see if it would be anything like John said it would be. All I can say is , wow! This rod is fantastic. John even emailed me back after a few weeks and asked if I used it yet and what I thought of it. That tells me T&T cares about their customers satisfaction.

I'd say email them at T&T and talk with them. They'll tell you like it really is with their rods.
 
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