Fly Rod manufacturers
Over the years I have formed personal opinions of fly rod manufacturers, based on my experiences with lots of purchases--some good, some bad, some in between. I have had Diamondback, Loomis, Sage, St Croix, Fenwick, Hardy, Orvis and others (including Winston, which I inadvertently left out of the original post). I have tended to buy rods that were mid-priced or expensive, so I have not sampled bargain brands or bargain rods within the major brands. My favorite over the years has been Sage, but I have been disappointed with their recent offerings, and have had to rethink my preferences recently. In this rethinking process, I have decided that in 2013, my personal favorites are:
1. Top-of-the-line, expensive rods: Loomis LP
2. Expensive (but not the most expensive): Hardy Zenith
3. Mid priced: St Croix Legend Elite
I am not saying that I can defend this listing--only that is my current view of relative quality in these price categories. I should also add that I am speaking about fast action graphite trout rods, such as a 9' 5 wt rod. I know little about 2-3 weights or 7-8 weights, and my stated preferences do not reflect what might be available in such light or heavy rods.
I am curious about others preferences and biases in rods today. Please share your preferences and biases in rods that are available for retail purchase in 2013.
I have always been a Winston guy. Surprised Winston not mentioned.
When the Hardy Zenith came out and got great reviews from George Anderson, I bought one. It is a great rod.
A year ago, I was letting John juracek of Blue Ribbon Flies cast my new Zenith. He wasn't too impressed. He likes a more moderate flex rod. He suggested I look at a Sage ZXL.
Today, the ZXL (recently discontinued by Sage) is my very favorite rod. I still fish my Winstons and my Zenith, but the ZXL is my all-around favorite. It is a 9ft 5wt. version.
One has to adjust his cast to the differing flexes in rods. I think some of us are most comfortable with a rod which does not require us to adjust our cast, but fits our "natural" casting stroke................
I have recently (in the last few years) fell in love with fiberglass. Most of the time, I am rigged up with an Eagle Claw 7ft 5/6 weight and it fits my fishing style perfectly.
This is a very limited opinion and not one on which to base any purchase.
I'm not a price-tag junkie and almost every rod I've had was either mid range or one I made from low-mid range priced blanks. However, the one 'expensive' rod I did have (I got it at cost) was the Loomis GLX in 9 foot 5 wt. That was maybe 20 years ago. It was a canon and I wasn't ready or able to take advantage of its capacity for speed and distance. I wish I still had it. I believe it was the best rod on the market at the time and I doubt any company, including Loomis, has improved on the performance of the GLX.
I agree. I still have a 9' 5 wt GLX Classic, and it is one of the finest rods ever made...in my humble opinion. The new Loomis LP has a little more delicate feel in close, but the Classic is a cannon that handles big flies and Wyoming wind with great aplomb. I fish it often.
I will stick with my Sage rods. Do I have 'A' favorite? Nope. I have several favorites, depends how I am fishing.
I have favorite nymphing rods, and dry fly rods- both for windy days and calmer days- and streamer rods- yep, several favorites.
Back a number of years ago there were only a few good rod builders out there then the other companies started upgrading their rods and now there are many very good rod companies out there. They cast good and feel good. So, find a rod you like and fish it.
My affinity for Sage rods was based on the SP, the XP, and the Z-axis, and I still fish all of these rods with great enjoyment. However, I feel that the newest offerings from Sage are not up to their historical standards. That is why my current favorites are from other companies. I do, however, agree with you that there are a number of other companies that are currently offering excellent rods, and I agree that personal preference is key. My initial post offered my current preferences. No doubt my preferences will continue to evolve.
Has anyone tried the Sage ZXL. Like the Sage LL which I really liked, they discontinued both lines........
I think this is spot on. The younger folks I build for seem better able to adjust to a rod with a different stroke than what they are used to but old f@rts like me are stuck on a particular action. I like the MHX 9'5w the best of any I have cast. A lot less money than the Winstons I build and yet a very fun rod that does exactly what I want it to.
Originally Posted by Byron haugh
I used a Sage VPS Light 5 wt for years, it was a medium action rod but Sage only made it for a couple of years. Then they came out with the ZXL and I bought one of those, in a 6 wt, for my dry flying on the larger western rivers casting big dries on stronger winds. It is a great rod. I was sorry to see Sage end that line.
However, they came out with a true soft action rod, the Circa and I bought one of those in a 5 wt, what a fantastic rod. It does have some limitations when you hook into a large trout in heavy running water, but then I would be using my ZLX for that.
Tom, I carry a Sage 5 piece 9 foot 6 weight SP as a back up rod, it is great for dries and yet can chuck a streamer or a nymphing rig.
My main nymphing rod is a Sage XP, an 11 foot 4 piece, 6 wt. I use it all the time for deep nymphing. I love the rod. I also have an 11 foot 6 wt Z-Axis that I rig us as a back up for nymphing. It is an excellent rod, not quite as fast as the XP but very close.
As mentioned by Byron, you have to adjust your cast with each different rod, especially when I am switching from a fast action XP to a medium action ZXL to a soft action Circa. But they are all a blast to cast.