8 WEIGHT SHOOT-OUT!
Friends called up earlier this summer with a proposition. Come down to Quebec City for a day and test side-by-side several 8weight rods.
Well, I never to pass up an opportunity to cast a line, so I readily accepted! Up and early on the last Saturday of August, I drove over to the Montmorency Falls about 5 minutes from downtown Quebec City.
Montmorency Falls – the tail out hold Atlantics, steelhead, walleye and browns!
I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but when friends showed up they had 29 rods!!!
One may wonder why I could be qualified to test rods. Just ask Deanna and she'll tell you that I'm far from being an elegant caster. I do know however what I like in a rod and why I won't like one (for my particular casting style and for the river(s) I fish.
Since we were looking at 8weight, 9ft rods, I set my mind up to see if the rod would be good for a Quebec salmon river. That is to say, you'll be casting all day (or several days), short, medium and on occasion long with wet ranging from #6 - #12 and big bushy dries from #10 right down to #4 (into a breeze!!).
In other words, if a client showed up with this rod would I be confident that they'll be able to cast where I ask and will they be happy with their rod for years to come.
Not every rod is right for the situation. On a single day I'll often have 3 rods ready (wets and dries for salmon and a trout rod)
There was no ranking system. We gave comments about how the rods felt and if they would be appropriate for the rivers we fish. The testers ranged from a first year caster to a couple trout anglers, a technical caster, an advanced caster and me.
This is not a product endorsement, just my personal notes on a few rods.
Since I'm a fairly brutal caster with very little elegance in my casting stroke, I can overpower a rod quite easily. I double haul 90% of the time and "spey" cast the rest. I like to pick up a long line when fishing dries, especially for sea run trout, so "lift 'n shoot" is a big criteria for me (that is, strip, strip, strip, strip, lift, one back cast and shoot the line again).
All of the top of the line rods could cast in close and load well at short and medium distances, except for the NRX because we had an 8weight saltwater and I've never tried the "trout" NRX rods, so I can't say if one would load in close. The big guns, "One", Helios, Native Run etc all were pleasant to cast. The One and Helios feel nice and light, a very important consideration for a long day on a salmon river.
The rod that did it all for me: the Hardy Zenith. Why ??? I mentioned I can easily over power a rod. The Hardy would still respond. I could only get it to miss a beat if I pulled it out of its axis and hauled hard. A tad heavier than the other top of the line rods, I prefer a couple grams over a rod that would stand up against my poor casting technique.
In the 150-350 dollar class there are several really good rods from Sage, Vision, Pieroway, Loop and, of course, Redington. We didn't get our hands on the new GLoomis model. I can't recommend any in this class because it is just too personal a choice. Half the testers loved the Loop and Vision rods. I personally don't like the heavier "swing weight".
The very best way to select a nice rod in this class is to drop in at a good fly shop, string up a few rods and try them out. You'll feel it when the rod is right for you and you'll certainly feel it when it's not! If you ever get the chance to try a few rods side-by-side, do it! You'll learn a whole lot about rod actions, your casting style and have a blast doing it!
As soon as the article for the French language magazine comes out, I'll translate a summary from it to post.
Until then, tight lines and screamin' reels to you all!
Richard and Claudel comparing "notes"