Like on the Crux, the epoxy coating on the guide wraps was good. If the rod looks like a million bucks and casts like it too, most fly fishermen will lust for it. (function() { Decent balance and loop control, but the Recon and BVK were dramatically better. As good as the Recon, but the SKY and Legend Elite were better here. Call us at 406-222-7130, and we will discuss your needs and wants. #8  Hardy Zephrus AWS   9 foot #8   $729.00. Here you’ll find our recommendations in three price ranges:  Best Buy, Mid-Priced, and the Ultimate Outfit. Our goal is simple: inspire the next generation to get outdoors and hit the water! They seemed to allow the line to shoot as well if not better, but might not allow tangles to pass as easily. The extension butt is nice looking, with a contrasting darker composite cork on the bottom end. Same day or next day shipping if they have the parts in stock, if not, usually takes 2 weeks. Part of your justification is the wow factor, as the best rods are often a status symbol. I loved the light swing weight and the beautifully controlled tight loops I was getting that produced superb accuracy. During November, we found days when it was warm enough, and the wind wasn’t blowing hard (like it can here in Livingston), optimal conditions to see what each rod could do. The T&T rods are built at their plant in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We tried the Helios 3D but decided that the 3F was the better rod based on how much better it was at short and mid-range distances. Nice smooth action was producing good tight loops and very good accuracy. Some of the same problems we found in the original Salt still plague the HD. This annual list is an amazing reference point for anglers looking to upgrade their 5-weight, and the insights provided by the list are far worth a read for anyone looking to pick one up. The other benefits of Spiral-X are that it reduces any twist in the blanks, and more importantly, it reduces ovalization as the rod bends. We have found that this is the key to getting good accuracy, especially at closer distances. $25 handling fee. Performance at 100 feet:  18 points out of 20. All that swing weight is becoming tiring, and I’m working hard to hit the 80-foot mark. The SKY is designed here in the US by Fred Contaoi, but manufactured in Korea at the same plant that produces Hardy and Loop rods. A series of thin cork rings is used to produce the finest quality handle you can put on a rod. 1. The heavy swing weight and stiffness in the tip hurt a lot in close. The snake guides are larger than we found on the X, which is good, but they are also heavier, and this hurts the swing weight. The cork handle is a modified full wells, a Rajeff design similar to that on the Asquith. The epoxy coatings on the wraps were very well done. The wraps are gray with attractive two color blue trim on the butt section. The most talked about and least understood part of fly fishing equipment is fly lines. The softer tip gave me pretty good feel and even better accuracy than with the Cross SW. The quality of the epoxy coatings over the wraps is good. Rods are replaced. I think this “sighter” is handy, but if you would rather not have it on your line, it is easy to take off, as it is attached with loop-to-loop connections. I prefer the flexible nickel/titanium guides found on the five top rods in our Shootout. I especially like the handle shape, putting the swell slightly ahead of the middle of the grip. This sighter makes it easy to see how much backing you have out as you are reeling it back onto the reel. The fine knurling on the rings did made them harder to grip than the best rings we found on the Helios 3F or Scott Meridian. Click here for specific details. At the shorter distances, the VICE had so little feel I had no confidence in where I was placing the fly. A gray anodized double uplocking seat is used that matches the color of the blank. This is one of the four rods that tied for the lightest swing weight in our Shootout. The reel seat is a black anodized double uplocking seat, but the locking rings are smaller and harder to grip than those found on the Salt HD. We realize many anglers will rarely cast this far, however the 100-foot mark is important because it helps us judge the power of each fly rod. But the final analysis is always casting the rod and seeing what it will do when matched with the right reel and line. From 50 feet on out to 100, nothing in our Shootout could best the Asquith. Keep a pair of pliers handy, as you may need them. #11  St. Croix Legend Elite SW  9 foot #8  $ 490.00. The Salt HD is manufactured at the Sage plant on Bainbridge Island, WA. In our performance scores, you’ll see that the 3F came in a close third, just behind the Meridian. Black flexible nickel/titanium snake guides are used, with an oversize tip-top. The Expeditor service fee for the Asquith rods is $250.00 for ground or $275 for 2-day air. But these methods and calculations proved to be incorrect from what we were actually experiencing in our hand – so we now employee the method explained above. I got my first look at the new Loomis Asquith at the ICAST show in Orlando. One thing that continues to amaze me is the level of perfection of T&T’s guide wraps and coatings. By George Anderson / Yellowstone Angler. With more line in the air, the performance is better. Jacklin's Fly Shop 105 Yellowstone Ave. West Yellowstone, MT. #10   Douglas SKY   9 foot #8     $695.00. A little wiggle helps you to feel this. Performance at 100 feet:  17 points out of 20. This is good since we have seen a lot of these rods break. In our last 8-weight Shootout the Sage Salt didn’t fare too well. I guess it’s no surprise that the NRX would be near the top again this year since it won two of our last three 8-weight Shootouts! Here is the range that I consider the most important of all for 8-weight rods. ); Like other Mystic rods, this rod is manufactured in Korea. With comments from James Anderson, Josh Edwards, Logan Brown, and Paul Bloch. Since we were casting in November in Montana, but using tropical bonefish lines, it was important to stretch each of the lines before casting them. At 100 feet, it was still surprisingly good with lots of power to go long, and definitely better than the Orvis Helios 3F. Learn how your comment data is processed. Remember that it will cost you an additional $15 or more to send your rod in unless you are using the Loomis Expeditor program. And as I explained earlier, there are instances when being able to cast 100 feet can help you catch a fish that would not be possible otherwise. The blank is a deep olive green color, trimmed with slightly lighter green wraps. I did like the line size designation on the sliding band of the reel seat. The color of the blank is a dark olive, with complementary olive wraps. Yes there are cheaper and more expensive reels, but you won’t find one that is better. Our advice is that if you can afford it, buy the best. If your favorite rod breaks in the middle of the summer and you don’t get it back for a month and a half, you are going to be very angry! $35 handling fee. This rod has lots of power on tap but I’m working a lot harder than with the NRX or Asquith. A solid performance at mid-range. Although about the same weight as the Salt HD, the Motive has a slightly faster action, and cast better for me at short to medium distances. The guides are two SiC strippers, but smaller than what we found on the Crux. An oversize tip- top is used. The cork handle is a full wells design and felt just right. of the Hatch 68 lb. As is, the lack of overall power limits the Reaper’s ability to chuck it long, like I was able to with the similar priced TFO BVK. The rings locked up well, but were a little harder to grip than on the best rods. If you have read our Shootouts in the past you can skip this part. However, we know that some of these rods would be better with a 9-weight line. #19. Guide wraps are a complementary blue with a little black trim on the butt section. These are the rods that you pick up, and make just one cast and you know they are something special. The Aetos is finished nicely in an attractive midnight dark blue with some silver trim on the butt section. Weight forward fly lines are designed with a front taper, 2 bellies, and a rear taper. Douglas’ head rod designer, Fred Contaoi did a heck of a job reworking this rod and got the action just right. On a low incoming tide, we had several big fish tailing so far up on the flat that the water was just barely covering their backs. They charge your credit card $100 but then ship you a brand new rod in 2-3 days! Rods are repaired, not replaced. This is a fast action rod with plenty of power. The worst in our Shootout. The thing that first caught my eye is this rod’s snazzy appearance, and especially the fancy cork grip. Some rods that perform well at shorter distances just run out of gas at extreme long range or when you have to drill a bonefish fly fifty feet into a 25 mph headwind. For this reason we downgraded the Asquith to a 7. Will they make you a better angler? A short fighting butt is used with a wide rubber end that will be comfortable fighting fish. T&T uses a pretty much standard full wells grip with a comfortable swell in the middle of the grip with flares at both ends. For most anglers though, we feel that an 8-weight line is the one to use. Last but not least is the great rod bag included with the aluminum tube that will help dry out a rod you might put away wet. ... fun - always an interesting read. Performance at 35 feet:  18.5 points out of 20. About equal to the Sage X and NRX at short range. We’ve always been impressed with the Recon as it combines light overall weight and swing weight with exceptional performance – and all at a very reasonable price! Please. The guide set up is only one SiC stripping guide, followed up with large size hard chrome snake guides and an oversize tiptop. In our last 8-weight Shootout, the DXF didn’t perform so well and ended up next to last. Rods with a wimpy butt and mid-section need not apply. The Asquith and Meridian threw even tighter loops and were much more pleasant to cast. Out long, the Salt HD had more beans. For new readers however, we thought it would be good to explain how we set up our casting area. Like the Tibor reels we’ve used in the past, the Nautilus reels are bulletproof and will provide a lifetime of enjoyable service. The real meat of our shootouts is how a rod performs. They include a FedEx call tag so it costs you nothing to send the broken rod back. Respectable, but I’m working a lot harder than with the Aetos or DXF. A full wells grip is used, but the quality of the cork is not so hot. } Performance at 35 feet:  17 points out of 20. Good, just not great. For others, they see how this rod performs in their guide’s hands, and think that it is going to make them great anglers too and at least take them to the next level. This rod has an incredible amount of power combined with a very low swing weight. The Recon also uses lower grade components than the Helios 3F too, other than the cork handle, which is the same high quality stack of thin cork rings we found on the 3F. A layer of nylon on the upside of the rings helped to provide a solid lock up on the reel. These Shootouts take a lot of time and effort, so if you like what we are doing the best way to thank us is to buy a rod, reel, or outfit from the Yellowstone Angler. The Meridian and Helios 3F were FAR better. Definitely one of the best rods at long range. I think the main reason for its lack of performance is a much slower action and heavier swing weight than the Meridian. It often left me shaking my head. Part of this was the ability to form nice tight loops. The locking rings were a little easier for me to grip than what was on the Reaper, and a nylon ring is found between the two rings that helps give a positive lock up on heavier saltwater reels. Only at long range did the X seem to run out of gas. Rods are repaired, not replaced. Better than the Recon and BVK at long range. The Asquith tied three other rods with the lightest swing weight we measured. Every year, George Anderson, owner of the Yellowstone Angler in Livingston, Montana, assemble a list of the best 5-weight rods, broken into two categories: presentation and performance, available on the market and put them head-to-head against each other. Performance at 80 feet:  19 points out of 20. The X has a much faster action and softer tip, giving it a whole lot more feel combined with tighter loops and better accuracy than the Salt HD at short to medium distances. With our combined input, I’m confident that we can come up with the perfect rod or outfit that best fits your needs. After nearly 50 years in the fly fishing business as a guide, shop manager and shop owner, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes for a fly rod to perform well. In the past we have used the standard SA Mastery Bonefish Taper, but their new Amplitude Bonefish taper is even better. These rods are the best of the best, and all are assembled if not completely made here in the USA. It was a lot of fun to cast, and I could immediately notice the excellent damping, due, most likely in part, to T&T’s new Strato Therm Resin. You’ll have to make that decision. Scientific Anglers Wavelength MPX 84.95$ 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 4.5 4 4 5 32 Teeny WF Floating 62.00$ 44 4 3.5 4 4 4 431.5 Red scores indicate performance on the Circa only. Fishing for Atlantic salmon on the Hunt river in Labrador, we were fishing large dry flies – #6 bombers, and I often had to throw them close to 100 feet and then get a good drift. “Perfect 8 Performance” – 20 points availableAs in the past, we felt that a separate category was needed to reward the very best 8-weight rods for their overall superiority – as tested with 8-weight lines. Since most manufacturers released the rods in mid-July at the ICAST show, we have gotten our hands on all the new ones, and have done a lot of casting and fishing with them. With more line in the air I’m getting nice tight loops with excellent accuracy. Our deflection charts have been so popular that we have included them again this year. The handle is a full wells, but one with very little swell in the middle – somewhat like the handle design on the Sage rods. The quality of the cork is OK but not nearly as good as the best rods. The blank is what Orvis calls shadow green, (a dark olive green), with slightly darker brown wraps. Mystic – Lifetime warranty to original owner. At 60 and 80 feet though, it hung in there with the best rods. The saltwater version of the Legend Elite is a real bargain for the performance it provides. These allow everyone to see the manner in which each rod bends, and more importantly, how that compares with the others. It is also very light in hand, and tied the Asquith, Meridian and Helios 3F for the lowest swing weight. The single-foot guides used on the Shadow were a little small too, especially for saltwater use. Every year, George Anderson, owner of the Yellowstone Angler in Livingston, Montana, assemble a list of the best 5-weight rods, broken into two categories: presentation and performance, available on the market and put them head-to-head against each other. This is also a nice light rod in my hand, making it absolute joy to cast all day. To me, the Sage X is a much more pleasant rod to cast and fish all day than the Salt HD. This is a very attractive rod, finished in a dark midnight blue, with black wraps that include a little red on the butt section. The reel seat is their uplocking version found on other NRX rods but with an extra, easy to grip locking ring that allows a very positive lock up with the heavier saltwater reels. Sage uses a nylon face on the front of bottom ring, which allows a very secure lock up on the reel. Performance at 60 feet:  20 points out of 20. Performance at 35 feet:  19.5 points out of 20. The most talked about and least understood part of fly fishing equipment is fly lines. The NRX was slightly better. To our way of thinking, the very best guides for saltwater 8-weight rods are the nickel/titanium unbreakable snake guides that are fairly large in diameter to allow line tangles to pass through. Good, but the heavier swing weight hurt the feel I was getting. The Asquith was noticeably better. St. Croix – Lifetime warranty to original owner, $85 handling fee. Orvis – 25 year warranty to original owner. The new crop of rods – particularly the Loomis Asquith, the Orvis Helios 3, and the Thomas & Thomas Exocett, all appeared to be capable of knocking off both the Meridian and NRX! The Recon is far lighter and has a much faster action, which allowed it to cast dramatically better at all distances. If you happen to be looking for an 8-weight, we hope that this Shootout has been informative. The only drawbacks are: 1. The quality of the cork itself was excellent. Another thing that impressed me was its extremely light swing weight that matched some of the best rods. Orvis Helios 3F    9 foot #8     $898.00. The Zephrus was better in close. Price is certainly a big factor in your decision to buy a rod. We gave it a perfect score here since for $35 they will happily send you a replacement rod within 1-2 weeks. Yellowstone Angler 2018 8wt Shootout. Don’t make this common beginner’s mistake. I think the Perfect 4 weight rod should load well with a standard 4-weight line – for example a Scientific Anglers Trout taper, rather than their heavier GPX. The softer tip gave me better feel and accuracy than the BVK. The rings on the Salt HD are bigger but still not that easy to grip. Still better than anything, and only matched by the Orvis Helios 3F. We are pleased to tell you that craftsmanship has improved steadily over the past ten years. We’ll come out with you and give you some help to fine tune your casting stroke, or just help you with the basics. It tied the Sage X and BVK for the lightest overall weight, and the swing weight is extremely light too, only a half a point behind the winners. #16 (tie)   Loop Cross SW (Fast)   9 foot #8  $849.00. For one thing, they are very light rods and far, far lighter than Sage’s new Salt HD. The Spiral-X technology is far different from the way conventional graphite rods are built. You know all about this term if you play golf. It is perhaps not in the league with the best rods here but still a very solid performer. The Tidal has more of a medium action compared to the fast action Meridian, and it just didn’t have that same crisp feel in my hand, nor the power of the Meridian. The top scoring rods are easy to cast off the tip of the rod with very little effort. It is slightly larger ahead of the swell than at the back. Steve claims this gives you more control and power at longer distances. So I do owe them some gratitude for pointing out that in their 5wt, 6wt and 8wt shootouts the Aetos has long been an overperforming value. We used a digital micrometer, which is the only way to get an accurate reading. Our answer to this is a definite yes. A short fighting butt with a contrasting cork ring at the bottom end is used. Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read, or watch. The same rods that have enough power to hit 100 feet make it a lot easier to hit 60 feet when you are battling a 15-25 mph headwind. Nothing else really comes close, especially when you factor in the kind of performance the Aetos delivers. I love the fast action that has very good butt and mid-section power, combined with a slightly softer tip. As you’ll see only four rods scored higher than 19 points – The Loomis Asquith, followed by the Scott Meridian, the Loomis NRX, and the Orvis Helios 3F. This is a test that anyone can duplicate. Performance at 35 feet:  19.2 points out of 20. Jump to Latest Follow ... Just showing fly casters in action casting at moving red fish in benign conditions. This rod is manufactured in Korea. Yes the BVK at $279.95 is marginally better, but you’ll have to spend another $30 to get a hard case. It does have a softer tip than the BVK so its performance in close was slightly better. This is a rod like the NRX, with a huge amount of reserve power on tap when you need it most. This is a great looking rod, the blank finished in a deep midnight blue with matching blue wraps. Rather than use a fly, we used a fluorescent orange yarn indicator at the end of the tippet. Yellowstone Angler’s 2020 5 Weight Shootout. Here is the mid-price winner in our Shootout! Not Tested Loop Stability Presentation (Dry fly) Beginner (easy loading) Fly Line … I loved the feel it gave me, combined with terrific accuracy. If you are a Sage Fan, we are confident that you’ll like the X much better. The locking rings are big and very easy to grip. The cork handle is Sage’s full wells design that does not have as pronounced a swell in the middle as most. $75 on recent rods within 10 years, $125 on Classic older rods. We use a tape measure to get the precise casting distances at each station, and make them uniformly parallel. Tippet Shootout » Yellowstone Angler. Complementary dark green wraps are used and finished beautifully. But these are expensive guides and you won’t see them on any cheap rods. I’m getting nice tight loops and very good accuracy. Beulah has impressed us with great looking rods and very good craftsmanship and their Opal is another good example. The tips on the faster action rods bend more, and if you look at the top rods, you will see that they tend to be faster action rods. Craftsmanship was the same excellence we have come to expect from Sage. Let me relate this story from our 2016 Shootout again: “A few years ago I was fishing in Cuba for bonefish in the Jardines de la Reina, where there are a lot of soft shallow flats. I liked the two titanium SiC stripping guides, followed up with flexible nickel/titanium single foot guides the rest of the way. Here’s our low price winner in the Shootout. Mid-range seems to be the sweet spot for this rod, and I was getting nicely controlled loops with good accuracy. Two more standard SiC stripping guides, followed up with good accuracy too general agreement the! Close 2nd hang a weight of 6.2 oz ’ d still answer a firm no to,! 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