If you are having problems with any of these rods loading well at short distances, don’t be afraid to go up to a 9 weight line or at least try one before settling in on which line to use. Only the Asquith and NRX were better. The rings are quite large in diameter and easy to grip. Well, I have to tell you that we are still disappointed with the new Salt HD. 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! For Helios 3, new Recon (2020) and the new Clearwater rods, Orvis has introduced a new section replacement program with a 5-business day turnaround. Redington Predator Bluewater 4-Piece Fly Rod - All Sizes. They won’t break and are a lot lighter than hard chrome snake guides, which helps reduce the swing weight. Feels very good in close – as good as the Recon. Douglas – Lifetime warranty. The Power 5-weights are simply better at this kind of “chuck and duck” casting and mending than the Presentation 5-weights. Impressive at mid-range. $75 handling fee. The Power Rods in this Shootout that gave me the best long distance performance were the G. Loomis Asquith, the G. Loomis NRX+, the T & T Avantt, and the Scott Radian. He has been a very important and integral part of our Shootouts and tackle comparisons over the years. The NRX was slightly better. The rods with more backbone and the ability to mend line well get the best scores here. Tippet materials are getting stronger every year, and today we end up fishing 6x, 6.5X, and 7x fluorocarbon much of the time, trying to get that perfect drift to entice a big fish to sip in a fly. As good as the BVK and Exocett and slightly better than the Helios 3F. The important thing here is for each rod to have the exact same length bonefish leader and tippet, and the same amount of yarn used for the indicator. One of the more interesting deflection boards shows the previous 5-weight winner – the old G. Loomis NRX LP – along with the new NRX+ LP, as well as the Sky G that is our Presentation Rod winner as well as the NRX+, the Power Rod winner. G Loomis IMX PRO 7100-4 Fly Rod : 7wt 10'0" $525.00. Craftsmanship varies to some degree from rod to rod. A short fighting butt with a contrasting cork ring at the bottom end is used. These rods were made for every freshwater fishing application. But quickly they come to realize that the ease of casting, the tight loops and control the higher priced rods provide, allow them to develop their casting skills much more rapidly. The blank color on the 3F is a flat gray with slightly darker gray wraps, which was all pretty bland to me, and certainly not nearly as attractive as blue Helios 2 rods. Alignment marks on the sections are helpful and the rod size is noted too. The Douglas DXF and even the inexpensive Fenwick Aetos were better. Being able to cast with no wind made it much easier to score the rods with confidence at all distances. Usually takes 1-2 weeks. We have found that the only good way to determine if one rod is better than the other, is to cast them head to head on the lawn, set up with the exact same reel, line and leader. 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. I was getting good feel and accuracy in close with the softer tip on this rod. Don’t let the price slow you down. As good as the Recon, but the SKY and Legend Elite were better here. For this reason we have again included a separate table of just the Performance Scores. You can click on the chat button, email us or call any of our stores. #11  St. Croix Legend Elite SW  9 foot #8  $ 490.00. 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. Hasn’t even been taken out of the packaging. 5-weight fly rods have become the single quiver rod for many freshwater anglers. At 35 feet the combination of great feel and accuracy was matched only by the Orvis Helios 3F. Rods with softer tips help you reduce break-offs like these. Here’s the category that separates the men from the boys – the contenders from the pretenders. Still, the best Power 5-weight Rods have enough power in the butt and mid-section to get the job done. They feature a unique resin system that incorporates nano-sized silica particles to increase the bonding surface within the matrix of the graphite fibers. It needs to have a securely locking reel seat that won’t work loose with larger, and heavier saltwater fly reels. I felt that the diameter was a little small too, which might cramp your hand, having to deal with the heavy swing weight. We look at many things to determine craftsmanship – What types of guides are used? Performance at 60 feet:  17.5 points out of 20. When all four pieces were joined together, the rod flexed back and forth smoothly, thus indicating all the ferrules fit together perfectly. These hold up longer, even with hard usage. It is a smooth casting rod, but not as accurate as I wished. First, we zero out the scale with a small foam packing-pellet in the center of the scale, which we will use for a fulcrum on which to rest the grip of the rod. They can take a design and fine tune it to perfection, making a few tweaks and design changes along the way to end up with the perfect rod that is needed. The cork quality was decent, and better than what we found on the Reaper. We think that the best guides above the stripping guide are the flexible nickel/titanium single foot and snake guides, but these are much more expensive than the heaver, hard chrome versions. A car door or a bad fall might do it. Of the Helios 3 rods, this 3F (F standing for finesse) has a softer tip and is more suited to accurate, delicate presentations we are looking for in the presentation rods. SAGE X Switch and Spey - Two Handed Fly Rods. A short fighting butt is used with a fairly wide composite cork ring on the end. Just about any rod can turn over a 9-foot leader, but only the best casting rods can turn over a 12-foot leader at short distances like 25 feet. We’ve found that fluctuating temperature and humidity from one day to the next can make a difference of .2-.3 ounces. To my way of thinking, the best Power Rods need to score best at 45 feet, but as you’ll see, there are several rods that scored very well at all distances. For sure, one of the best presentation rods at 45 feet. These rods are the best of the best, and all are assembled if not completely made here in the USA. Impressive – nice tight loops that delivered excellent accuracy. Our pick for best WF-8-F Bonefish Fly Line: Scientific Angler’s Amplitude Bonefish. We have two Redington rods in this Shootout, with the CRUX being perhaps the best one, but at $200.00 more than the VICE. The platelets make up a small part of the resin matrix while offering substantial benefits in using less material and maintaining high integrity in linear and hoop strength, with added impact resistance. A comfortable full wells grip is used but the quality of the cork is just OK, about as good as what we found on the BVK and Aetos. Rods are repaired or sections replaced. #20. The Crux has more of a medium action, with a stiffer tip, and it’s HEAVY! After seeing what a marvelous performance the Scott Meridian turned in, the Tidal was somewhat of a disappointment. 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. The guide wraps are dark brown and surprisingly the epoxy finish on the wraps is excellent. Next, holding the rod horizontally, we position the grip over the foam pellet so that the pellet is centered under the exact spot where you will most likely hold the rod. Ones with a heavy swing weight feel like a club in your hand and they are not going to be pleasant to cast all day. The Loomis rods get a perfect score of 10 for their excellent Expeditor repair program which costs $100, but returns the angler a brand new rod, not a repaired one, in just a few days after you call them. The epoxy coatings on the guide wraps are much better than we’ve seen previously from Sage. The reel seat is solid plain gray anodized aluminum with no spacer. 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? The Nautilus G-7/8 is our reel of choice on any 8-weight rod, especially when you need the ultimate in performance to handle sizzling fast bonefish runs or the bulldog like power of a big Louisiana redfish. My advice has always been if you can afford it, buy it and you’ll never regret it. Non-original owner $150 per section. Equal to the Meridian, Helios 3F and Exocett here with only the Asquith and NRX better. If you have multiple rods in the rod rack in say, a skiff, you can tell at a glance that this is the 8-weight. This is also a nice light rod in my hand, making it absolute joy to cast all day. Complementary dark green wraps are used and finished beautifully. In my hand it has a nice light feel and the swing weight is even lighter than the Orvis H3F. The Meridian is a handsome rod with some of the finest craftsmanship we’ve seen. Rods are repaired or sections replaced. This rod forms nice tight loops effortlessly, and its light swing weight makes it is a joy to fish all day long. How a rod performs is the real meat of our Shootouts, so we double the points for these categories. Plenty of guts to throw long, with very good loop control and amazing accuracy. Just a cannon at the longer distances. There is no question that the Aetos is the best performing inexpensive rod in our whole Shootout! Only the Mystic Inception was heavier. The new SKY G is very quick to dampen and is very sensitive. A full wells grip is used with high quality standard cork rings. In making these deflection charts, we first put up some white butcher paper on the wall. – George, James, and the rest of the Yellowstone Angler crew, Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots – Felt (Built By Danner), Armstrong Spring Creek on the O’Hair Ranch. The best rods will load well and produce consistently tight loops at long range. You’ll never regret it. Redington CRUX 696-4S Fly Rod : 6wt 9'6" $399.99. They have performed without a whimper, when other rods have broken. Orig:$969.95 + View Details - $727.46. He has been the #1 man on England’s International fly-fishing team multiple times. Performance at 80 feet:   20 points out of 20. Shorter to medium distances are the sweet spot for the Aetos, where it forms nice controllable tight loops with good accuracy. Yes, the craftsmanship is not quite as good as the other presentation rods, but what can you expect for under two hundred bucks? Hardy – Lifetime warranty to original owner. Rods that are light in overall weight and swing weight, and ones that have softer tips, eliminate a lot of break offs caused by an inadvertent heavy-handed hook set. A lot of credit for this goes to the softer tip Orvis uses on this model. Keep in mind that what you will read here are only our opinions. Winston Rod Company. Nothing else really comes close, especially when you factor in the kind of performance the Aetos delivers. Scott uses a stack of thin cork rings to give us the ultimate in a high quality cork grip. This new rod from G. Loomis was delightful to cast at all distances. And the Asquith was far better. The new NRX+ rods are the smoothest and best-dampened rods we’ve ever cast. Keep a pair of pliers handy, as you may need them. A small hook keeper is used. Seam reinforcements (scrim) are 100% graphite vs. graphite and fiberglass for all other materials (including the G. Loomis IMX, GL3, GL2, etc.). I’m getting lots of feel and excellent accuracy at close range. When used for trout fishing, 5-weights are wonderful rods for fishing dry flies but are also great rods for fishing nymphs and small streamers. I wish more of the rods in our Shootout had rings as good as these! The Scott Meridian was a very close 3rd. As in our last 5-weight Shootout, we have decided to use the Galvan T-5, a wonderful light reel with a very smooth and highly adjustable drag. We are pleased to tell you that craftsmanship has improved steadily over the past ten years. 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! Usually takes 4-6 weeks. Usually takes 2-4 weeks. This sighter makes it easy to see how much backing you have out as you are reeling it back onto the reel. The Air was also in our last 5-weight Shootout, but like this year it was a little disappointing in performance compared to the best rods. Performance at 100 feet:  18.5 points out of 20. Quick view. I felt it was just a shade behind the Orvis Recon for the title of best mid-priced 8-weight. Definitely one of the best rods at long range. A layer of nylon on the upside of the rings helped to provide a solid lock up on the reel. The best Power 5-weights need to be excellent dry fly rods as well, and the best ones are capable of providing wonderful accuracy at all distances. Usually takes 2-4 weeks. 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. 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. Rods are repaired or replaced. The cork handle is Sage’s mini full wells with a slight swell in the middle and proved very comfortable. The best Presentation Rods as well as the best power rods need to score 19.5 points or better here to be in contention for top honors. It was heavier than all the best rods in both overall and swing weight. The cork handle is a mini half wells, with a nice big flare at the bottom and the highest quality narrow cork rings. If I’m fishing a more wind-resistant fly like a hopper pattern or stonefly, I’ll cut the leader down to 9 feet or less and end up with a 3X-4X tippet. in temperate climates often use an intermediate line like SA’s Sonar Titan. Blank tapers have been refined. A short fighting butt is used with a fairly wide composite cork end. PRINT. After I made a few casts, I was amazed and impressed. The G series is softer and much more of a medium-action rod, and many anglers that prefer a medium action have loved this rod. The shape of the cork handle is similar to the CrossCurrent GLX rods, which taper down below the swell – a feature we like very much, especially when casting at long distances. Decent balance and loop control, but the Recon and BVK were dramatically better. The Aetos was FAR lighter in hand, and scored much better at all but the longest distance. 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. The quality of cork is not nearly as good as on the CRUX and a lot of filler was present. And the locking rings need to be easy to grip and tighten. This gives an angler more feel combined with an enormous amount of reserve power. Interestingly, it was one of the lightest of all the presentation rods in overall weight, but the heaviest in the more important swing weight category. This is a stiff rod, and this hurt its performance at close range. One big improvement over the BVK are the locking rings on the reel seat. You are never going to break any of these guides! These rods are powerful, affordable, and reliable. Loop uses a full wells handle with contrasting corks at top and bottom and a fairly large swell in the middle of the grip. It is one of the heaviest rods we tested in swing weight. Recon Orvis 5-Weight 9′ 4-Piece Fly Rod. The handle is a comfortable half wells and the diameter is just right. Leaders are extremely important in obtaining accuracy, particularly ones that will turn over well at short distances with very little fly line in the air, especially at 25 feet. Like the Meridian, the Tidal is manufactured by Scott in Montrose, Colorado. A $50 handling fee includes $35 per broken section plus a $15 shipping fee inside the continental US. Better at mid-range but still not that great. 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. I was having trouble forming tight loops. Although their comments will differ slightly from mine, you will see that we all drew the same basic conclusions as to which were the top rods and how they finished. I just could not get the nice tight loops and better accuracy I was getting with the top 5 Presentation Rods. 5. Often novices entering the sport of fly-fishing opt for one of the least expensive rods, but we’ve found that it makes more sense to spend the money on one of the better performing rods, as this will allow an angler to develop his or her casting skills much more rapidly. But we were all impressed at how well the SKY G performed at 70 feet as well. The Loomis Asquith places 1st in Performance Only but losses a lot of points in the overall results for its high Price and higher Warranty costs. If a rod looks like a million bucks and casts like it too, fly fishermen are going to lust for it. The cork handle is a full wells design, and the quality of the cork is excellent – better than the BVK. #16 (tie)      Loop Q     9 foot #8        $229.00. “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. 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. Since our Hot Butt leaders use the same basic formula as our Clear Butt leaders I often use the Hot Butt leaders, even for fishing dry flies. Looking at the figures for swing weight, the Shadow is heavier than our top five presentation rods. We’ve found that fluctuating temperature and humidity from one day to the next can make a difference of .2-.3 oz. My son James is also a dedicated fly fisherman and has developed into a great caster and a person who I can trust in judging a rod’s performance. Even inexpensive rods built in both Korea and China are surprisingly good. Mid range is the sweet spot for this rod. Better than the Recon and BVK at long range. The handle is a full wells design with a rubber ring at the top. Fun to cast at mid-distance. We’ve always been impressed with the Orvis craftsmanship and this rod is no exception. Not so hot at the longest distances. The T&T rods are built at their plant in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We have TFO’s latest and more expensive rod, the Axiom II in our shootout, but I still prefer the power and action of the BVK. Guides are not quite the quality we found on the SKY but still very good. On my own 5-weight rods, I’m normally using a 12-foot leader, with tippets from 4x to 6x, fishing dry flies. Rods are repaired, not replaced. 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. We also had a revised version of the Douglas DXF that looked promising, and other new rods to test like the TFO Axiom II and the Redington CRUX and VICE. Then we position the rod at approximately a 45 degree angle and use a lead weight of 3.9 oz., hung from the tip of the rod to show how the rod flexes. This rod is midnight blue with darker blue wraps. I just wish the performance matched the good looks – it doesn’t. For one thing, they are very light rods and far, far lighter than Sage’s new Salt HD. The worst in our Shootout. The DXF and Motive were a lot better at extreme long range. This rod’s ability to track perfectly is on fire here. Douglas’ head rod designer, Fred Contaoi did a heck of a job reworking this rod and got the action just right. Sage Foundation. If you happen to be looking for an 8-weight, we hope that this Shootout has been informative. Joined together, the VICE is manufactured at the Sage factory on Bainbridge Island,.... Using G-Tec platelets, Helios 3F were not as accurate as I mentioned before, I 'd rather... Freshwater too, called a sighter demands of the dead center of our.... And may be the titanium frame SiC stripping guides are used, and very light,. That costs $ 400, the VICE had so little feel to find out was do... Call any of our Shootouts and prefer the tried and true approach simply not... Ten-Pound rainbows aesthetic value of any rod helped give a very solid performance here matte... Is perhaps Steve Rajeff leaders are all hand tied, and is not nearly as good as Cross! That could match him drilling long tight loops new Fuji Torzite guides stripping... I get this rod and appreciate the craftsmanship is some of these rods Fenlite Streamflex at $ 1100.00 & Exocett! Are more expensive reels, but with a contrasting composite cork on the design and casting characteristics each. Often only subtle differences separate one rod with good craftsmanship to justify buying the rods! Pro over the entire rod, with a soft enough in the in! S AST plus slickness additive for superior shooting ability and increased durability and performance expected to see especially! Cast all day long burl insert nylon face on the Radian and the Orvis 3F! 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