I think one thing that hurt is that the Opal is one of the heaviest rods in our Shootout. No matter what method you use to determine swing weight, it is important to achieve a consistent and believable result that you can use to gauge one rod against another. I was surprised at how well the X performed at 80 feet. They endorse rods they carry and want to make money on. The most talked about and least understood part of fly fishing equipment is fly lines. better late than never? We have been tying our own bonefish and permit leaders for over twenty years, using Mason’s hard nylon for the butt and midsections, and then adding Seaguar Tatsu double structure fluorocarbon for the final two tippet sections. I found the rings, with their fine knurling, much harder to twist tight than the good ones we found on the Helios 3F. Felt as good to me as the Meridian and Helios 3F. Neither rod was all that impressive in performance when compared to the better mid-priced rods in the Shootout. Both the Recon and Aetos were much better. The plain gray anodized double uplocking seat is nothing fancy either. The most outstanding rods at 80 feet were the Asquith and NRX. Loomis uses two of the new titanium SiC stripping guides that are smaller than what Scott and Orvis use. I especially like the double wide first locking ring. In our last 8-weight Shootout the Sage Salt didn’t fare too well. The components are downgraded somewhat from the Meridian, but that is to be expected with a rod that costs $400 less. Click here for specific details. The Zephrus is one of the best looking rods in our Shootout, finished in a gorgeous olive green, with brown wraps, trimmed with bright green on the butt. Performance at 60 feet:  19.8 points out of 20. Orvis – 25 year warranty to original owner. A full wells design is used. Feels very good in close – as good as the Recon. Beulah is famous for their fancy cork handles. The SA Sink 25 Cold gives you a 25-foot super fast sink tip. This also hurt the feel somewhat, especially in close. It is the relationship of the club head to the shaft when you wiggle the club. Like the other SKY rods, this is a good-looking rod. Through film, photography, and journalism we strive to make each story as unique as the person or place it’s based off. Respectable, but I’m working a lot harder than with the Aetos or DXF. If the Inception had a softer tip like the Reaper, it would have done a lot better – especially at the shorter distances. These thin rings produce a finished cork grip with almost no defects that will hold up under the hardest usage. A little more effort needed, but I was getting impressive tight loops and good accuracy. I think this is one of the better-looking rods in our Shootout. Many trout fishing casts are under 30 feet and 60 feet is about as far as you would ever actually cast in a real life fishing scenario. For more information on G.Loomis fly rods, visit www.gloomis.com. You must register the new rod within 30 days. We have found that this is the key to getting good accuracy, especially at closer distances. We were anxious to see how the latest new rods would stack up against our top 2016 Shootout rods like the Scott Meridian and Loomis NRX. A series of thin cork rings is used to produce the finest quality handle you can put on a rod. The Sage rods are built at their plant on Bainbridge Island, WA. 2X (8 pound test) still ran large, but they came under in 4X (4 pound test) and just over in 6X (2 pound test) compared to the fly fishing’s industry average. 1. Throwing streamers for trout, our favorite sinking line is the new SA Sonar Sink Tip, type V that has a 14-foot sink tip in WF-8-F. A silver anodized double uplocking reel seat is used, but the rings were harder to grip than most. Tracks beautifully, with good accuracy but can’t touch the Asquith. With all the great new rods on the… Are you comfortable showing up with a $189 rod on your next $6000 bonefish trip when all your buddies have the hottest $800-$1000 rods? Scientific Anglers Wavelength MPX 84.95$ 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. I wasn’t getting good tight loops as I did with the X. To read each staff memeber’s casting notes and performance finishing order, please click on their photo above. I’m sure a lot of this has to do with the lower modulus graphite used in the Tidal. We all loved the snazzy, bright blue color of the Motive. With our combined input, I’m confident that we can come up with the perfect rod or outfit that best fits your needs. Nearly every year, George Anderson, owner of the Yellowstone Angler in Livingston, Montana, assembles a list of the best 8-weight rods available on the market and put them head-to-head against each other. The stripping guides are the more standard SiC guides than the titanium ones found on the 3F, and the snake guides are the cheaper hard chrome ones rather than the much more expensive nickel/titanium snake guides found on the Helios 3F. Dan Zazworsky. A little wiggle helps you to feel this. The result: the cheaper outfit is mothballed, sold for a loss on e-bay, or handed down to a relative. It is a smooth casting rod, but not as accurate as I wished. A full wells cork grip is our preferred style for power casting and playing good fish, and it helps to have larger guides that the inevitable line tangle will pass through when you are playing that bonefish of a lifetime. Douglas’ head rod designer, Fred Contaoi did a heck of a job reworking this rod and got the action just right. But this rod has plenty of beans to cast long too. All that swing weight made me work hard. Breakage from misuse or negligence will be repaired at reasonable cost. When I’m casting the NRX, I’m always impressed with the way it tracks and forms such sweet tight loops. In the next fifteen minutes I caught two nice bonefish that I would have never gotten if I could not have launched that fly over 100 feet.”. A comfortable, short fighting butt is used that has a good wide rubber end similar to what we found on the Salt HD. Read more in the press release below. The Motive is built at the Sage factory on Bainbridge Island, Washington. I also like the use of alignment dots on each section. Usual time 2 weeks. The components are not quite up to the Zephrus’ standards, but in line with the lower price. As good as the Aetos, but both the BVK and SKY were much better. The wraps are gray with attractive two color blue trim on the butt section. Shimano has developed a special graphite tape, called infinity tape, which is wrapped on the mandrel on a 45-degree axis. Nice and smooth here and tracks well. With over forty years of experience, I can usually get a pretty good idea of how a rod will perform, just flexing it in my hand. 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. From 50 feet on out to 100, nothing in our Shootout could best the Asquith. The quality of the epoxy coatings over the wraps is good. The line size designation is marked on the top of the sliding band; a nice touch. 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. On most inexpensive rods, manufacturers are using cheap pre-shaped grips that need a lot of filler, which doesn’t look very good. 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. Slightly better than the Legend Elite and SKY at mid-range. I was getting pretty good feel combined with good accuracy. I guess the thinking at Orvis is that this would help the rod jump off the rack when people walked into a fly shop, but I think all this white is a mistake, especially for a company that has given us such great looking rods in the past. Not Tested Loop Stability Presentation (Dry fly) Beginner (easy loading) Fly Line … A strong performance here, with lots of power on tap. The Sage X and Douglas Sky were slightly better here. With all the great new rods on the market since our 2016 8-weight Shootout, everyone at the Yellowstone Angler was excited about doing another 8-weight rod Shootout. A short fighting butt is used with a fairly wide composite cork end. Under $400, the Douglas DXF and Hardy Shadow are neck and neck and terrific rods for the money. With any wind it became impossible. Keep a pair of pliers handy, as you may need them. And with a few exceptions, they perform better than the less expensive rods. A grayish/green anodized double uplocking reel seat is used, with the color complementing the blank perfectly. This is a stiff rod, and this hurt its performance at close range. The Asquith is a handsome rod, especially in the sunlight when the dark green finish just sparkles. 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. For this 4-weight Shootout, we decided to make the short distance 25 feet, the mid-distance 40 feet, and the longest distance 60 feet. 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. #16 (tie)      Loop Q     9 foot #8        $229.00. You are never going to break any of these guides! I’m sure the key is a multi step process rather than a one-coat finish. This rod is manufactured in Korea. But these are expensive guides and you won’t see them on any cheap rods. #24. We used a digital micrometer, which is the only way to get an accurate reading. We’ll come out with you and give you some help to fine tune your casting stroke, or just help you with the basics. The thing that first caught my eye is this rod’s snazzy appearance, and especially the fancy cork grip. Performance at 35 feet:  16 points out of 20. The beauty of this process is that it uses 15-20% less graphite to get the exact same strength as the NRX, which we know from experience is stronger than any other rods we’ve used. Extending the bellies serves a multi-purpose. The winner of our 2016 8-weight Shootout very nearly pulled it off again this year and is still a fantastic rod. You’ll find these on our Yellowstone Angler website home page. To me, it felt very comfortable. ... Would like to see them use a more versatile line in their shootout. How did it score so well? For good anglers who have the ability to cast at extreme long range, the ability for a rod to perform well can often make the difference between catching fish or not. To put more emphasis on performance, we double the points in both “performance” and “overall” calculations. 406 646-1010 Riverside Anglers PO Box 474 I felt that the diameter was a little small too, which might cramp your hand, having to deal with the heavy swing weight. At 100 feet, it was still surprisingly good with lots of power to go long, and definitely better than the Orvis Helios 3F. The top-notch guide set up utilizes two large titanium SiC stripping guides and then excellent flexible nickel/titanium snake guides, in a large size and dark color. $35 handling fee plus $75 for each broken section – a normal total of $110. This year the DXF is a much different rod, with far better performance. Performance at 80 feet – 20 points availableAny good 8-weight rod needs to be able to hit 80 feet easily. Only at extreme long range did the HD feel like the best rods. Usually takes 1-2 weeks. Steve Rajeff, the head rod designer for Loomis, deserves a lot of credit for giving us rods that are both powerful but light in swing weight. The Douglas rods are designed here in the US but manufactured in Korea. At 60 and 80 feet though, it hung in there with the best rods. His ability to design a progressive fast action, giving us softer tips than many other rods, is the key to why the NRX rods perform so well. With more line in the air I’m getting nice tight loops with excellent accuracy. This will be a very pleasant rod to cast and fish all day. This one is a full wells design, but with a variety of beautiful contrasting cork rings top and bottom. Its matte gray anodized double uplocking seat matches the color of the blank. Since 2012, Flylords has been a proud leader in telling the stories of anglers and guides from around the world. The tiptop is smaller than we would like to see, especially when combined with the larger diameter snake guides. If you are thinking about buying a fly rod, we suggest reading one of our Shootouts for the line size rod you want. A very short fighting butt with a rubber cap is used. The SKY certainly has plenty of power and now it helps produce nice loops and good accuracy, matching the Helios 3F and even the Meridian. Check out the Thomas and Thomas rods or Scott rods if you want to see wraps and finish that are just about perfect. I did like the line size designation on the sliding band of the reel seat. As in all our prior Shootouts, we have strived to eliminate the variables by setting up the rods with the exact same reels, lines and leaders. #16 (tie)      Scott Tidal    9 foot #8     $495.00. To get a 10, repair charges had to be $35 or less with a quick turn around time of less than two weeks. 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. The quality of the cork itself was excellent. #14 (tie)   Douglas DXF     9 foot #8    $395.00. Nice and smooth, but I couldn’t match the accuracy I was getting with other inexpensive rods like the BVK or Aetos. $50 handling fee. Both the BVK and Aetos felt better. The Asquith was noticeably better. Only the Asquith and Helios 3F felt slightly better at mid-range. I’m working harder than with the Meridian or NRX to get the same kind of accuracy. The new Loomis IMX Pro 1 pc did not get in the shoot out either. To me, the Sage X is a much more pleasant rod to cast and fish all day than the Salt HD. Douglas – Lifetime warranty. All the top rods were better here. With comments from James Anderson, Josh Edwards, Logan Brown, and Paul Bloch. How a rod performs is the real meat of our Shootouts, so we double the points for these categories. You send in rod and their warranty dept. Nice smooth action was producing good tight loops and very good accuracy. This way the four of us could be comparing two to three rods at once at our individual casting stations. Both the Recon and DXF were better. But both the BVK and Recon were noticeably better. $75 handling fee. 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. It was also one of the heavier rods in both overall and swing weights, so it lost a lot of points here, and it was more tiring to cast than much lighter rods like the Asquith, Meridian, Helios 3F and Exocett. Like other Redington rods, the VICE is manufactured in Korea. This is another great rod made here in the US at Park Falls, Wisconsin. $400 puts the Crux in that mid-price category, but when comparing it heads up to the Orvis Recon, the difference was like night and day! Decent, but not nearly as good as the Cross SW or the DXF. For this kind of money it is easy to overlook things like the tiny locking rings on the reel seat or the lack of a hard case. Orvis Helios 3F    9 foot #8     $898.00. The double uplocking aluminum reel seat uses a very lightweight but highly impact resistant, dark green CI4+ insert. It put in a very good all around performance, and the only downside is its weight. Despite all the abuse I was able to dish out, the Asquith was an absolute joy to use and performed flawlessly. Performance at 60 feet:  18.5 points out of 20. $35 handling fee. For $35, broken sections are replaced and the turn around time is two weeks or less. The guides are excellent and similar to what Scott uses with two big titanium SiC strippers followed up with the excellent, flexible, nickel titanium snake guides. Here is TFO’s latest offering that is supposed to be a big step up from the BVK. The Asquith is a fast action rod, but with a soft enough tip to give great feel and excellent accuracy at all distances. 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. This is a classy looking rod. The Motive has both good power and good accuracy out long but I felt that both the X and the SKY were better. Could be done, but required a huge amount of effort. At the back end of this Amplitude line is a 10-foot section of black line, called a sighter. 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. The cork handle is a full wells design, and the quality of the cork is excellent – better than the BVK. They use a black anodized double uplocking seat but the knurling on the rings is too fine, making them very hard to grip. Loop uses a full wells cork handle with contrasting cork rings at top and bottom. This is another rod that is built in Korea. A lot of credit for this goes to the softer tip Orvis uses on this model. Well, I have to tell you that we are still disappointed with the new Salt HD. The Meridian and NRX were noticeably better. The Asquith and Meridian threw even tighter loops and were much more pleasant to cast. A nylon face on the final ring provides an excellent lock-up on heavier reels. The sweet spots for the Exocett were the two middle distances, where it formed beautiful, tight loops. The rods that did the best job of zinging them in there time after time at mid-distance were the Asquith and Helios 3F. But are they $500- $800 better? Despite its heavier weight, it did perform very well at medium to longer distances, here matching many of the best rods. There is no question that the craftsmanship is better on the very best rods. Our trips to the back waters of Yellowstone are always top on the list for me and my team and we wouldn't do it without the amazing folks at YFS. A fairly wide but short extension butt is used with composite cork on the end that matches what is used on the grip. $75 on recent rods within 10 years, $125 on Classic older rods. Nothing tracks better than this rod, nor is more accurate. The Q is a medium fast action rod with a slightly softer tip than the Cross SW, and this helped give it more feel and accuracy in close. As good as it gets. A short fighting butt is used with a fairly wide composite cork ring on the end. Now you can easily see which rods have faster actions than others (the tip bends more) or ones that have more moderate, slower actions (the tip bends less). This guide set-up is one of the best we’ve seen. These leaders are all hand tied, and hand tested by us here at the shop. The craftsmanship is some of the best we’ve seen. Some rods, especially the ones with softer tips, will give an angler much more feel and the ability to consistently put the fly just where you want it, and do it delicately. Jim Bartschi at Scott gave us a rod that combined a very light swing weight with great power and feel. This is a fast action rod, built with Sage’s latest KonneticHD technology. I just love the feel at short range combined with superb accuracy. Price is certainly a big factor in your decision to buy a rod. The guides are two SiC strippers, but smaller than what we found on the Crux. At short distance, only the Scott Meridian and the Orvis Helios 3F performed slightly better, giving me a little more feel but no better accuracy. Tracks well, with lots of power on tap. This gives an angler more feel combined with an enormous amount of reserve power. These distances are longer than those we rate rods in our other Shootouts, as we find that most people that employ 8-weight rods, use them in the salt – often for bonefish, snook and redfish, where the average casts are 35 to 60 feet. These make a dramatic difference in reducing swing weight on the tip sections of a rod. They use a gold anodized double uplocking seat with a nylon spacer at the top of each ring to help give a positive lock up. George Anderson and the staff at Yellowstone Angler put in tons of hours to review dozens of rods, all in the name of creating a list of the best fly rods currently available. A solid performance at mid-range. I wish more of the rods in our Shootout had rings as good as these! This is another rod that is manufactured in Korea. Rods are replaced. I liked the fast action and the relatively light overall weight and swing weight of the Aetos. The slower action combined with all that weight made for a dismal performance. The Meridian and Helios 3F were FAR better. The accuracy was terrible too – only the Inception was worse. Saving $500 or more is nice too! Two black wire recoil stripping guides are used, followed up with the best flexible nickel/titanium snake guides in a black pearl color. I found the rings easy to grip and tighten, and an additional thin nylon ring at the top of each ring provided a secure lock up on the heavier saltwater reels. Surprisingly, the X gave me tighter loops and was more accurate at long range. In our performance scores, you’ll see that the 3F came in a close third, just behind the Meridian. I enjoy the Yellowstone Angler shootouts, and without them I probably would not have come to enjoy a Fenwick Aetos 6wt. The only way I was going to catch any of these fish was to make a cast close to 100 feet and get the fly and leader to turn over. Although the BVK was tied for the lightest rod in overall weight, the swing weight is far higher, and not in the same class of the best rods in our Shootout. For this reason we have again included a separate table of just the Performance Scores. They include a FedEx call tag so it costs you nothing to send the broken rod back. Performance at 35 feet:  19.2 points out of 20. Both the SKY and Legend Elite were slightly better. Impressive at mid-range. Keep in mind that fast action rods are not necessarily stiff rods (as many people assume). ); Just OK and not very much feel. A short fighting butt is used with a rubber cap. A blue anodized double uplock seat is used that matches the blank color. We’re looking for the very best rod at all distances with an 8-weight line. 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. In this shootout, we again used the Scientific Anglers lines and tested rods with whichever line … Surprisingly, as good as the Recon in close. As you’ll see, most rate a 9, which means that it costs  $40-$60 for the repair or replacement. The double ring, uplocking aluminum seat uses a flat gray graphite insert. The Orvis Recon, St. Croix Legend Elite, and Sage Motive are the best mid-priced rods in the $450-$500 class. By. I’ve liked the Mystic Reaper in our 5-weight Shootouts, but as an 8-weight it just doesn’t have the guts and power it needs to compete with the better inexpensive rods. Weight forward fly lines are designed with a front taper, 2 bellies, and a rear taper. With more line in the air, the performance is better. But the rod still feels heavy in hand. We had 10 identical Nautilus G-7/8 reels set up with our favorite bonefish line, the new Scientific Anglers Amplitude Bonefish Taper in WF-8-F.  On the lines we used our own 12-foot-1X Yellowstone Angler hand tied bonefish leaders since they simply cast better and more accurately than any of the knotless leaders. It often left me shaking my head. The craftsmanship is the typical Sage excellence we have seen in the past. To provide a solid lock up on the X was unquestionably better, and loops! The locking rings are much larger locking rings are much larger that the Meridian is the range that I the... When flats fishing relatively light overall and swing weight the new Loomis Asquith or NRX a more moderate fast... Fine burgundy wine, with black wraps casts are needed – right out at you side making! Is an incredible rod is manufactured by Scott in Montrose, Colorado locking reel seat uses a full wells,! 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