Many of the best rods are built in one factory in Korea. For this Shootout, we again checked the warranty policies in detail, as many have changed slightly. In making these deflection charts, we first put up some white butcher paper on the wall. $35 handling fee. There are lots of ways to break a fish off on light tippet, but the rods that score high in this category are going to give you a far better chance of landing a big fish. I’m having trouble casting off the tip well and this is hurting the accuracy. I’m getting nice loops and good control, but at mid-range the 3F and Scott Radian were better. For these more powerful 5-weights, we tested them with the half size heavier Scientific Anglers Amplitude MPX lines, which are better at loading these stiffer rods. In each deflection board we have included some of the best rods in the other categories to give you an idea how they compare. Nice loops and decent performance at mid-range, but the top rods were substantially better. The rod is finished in a flat dark gray, with similar dark gray guide wraps. The swell in the middle of the grip is a little more forward than most. The 8 ½ foot rod had a much slower action and a stiffer tip than the 8 footer, and didn’t cast nearly as well. We knew it would be good when the Pure won an award for the Best New Freshwater Rod at the 2018 IFTD show in July. The best rods are not always the most expensive ones. This made it easy to judge one rod against another. We have found that the new 5-weight rods are getting better and better each year. The idea here is to measure the swing weight at the middle of where your palm is likely to sit on the grip. Other repairs usually take 4-8 weeks. Broken sections are replaced. If only the tip breaks in an accident, the repair and handling fee is $35 including shipping. Tough for me to hit the longest distance, and if there was any breeze I couldn’t hit within ten feet of where I need the fly to go! Remember that it will cost you an additional $15 or more to send your rod in unless you are using the G. Loomis Expeditor program. The Power 5-weights need to have the butt and mid-section power to launch larger and more wind resistant dries like hoppers or Chubby Chernobyl style stonefly patterns. Opinion: Yellowstone Angler’s 5-weight Shootout – 2015 edition. A $50 handling fee includes $35 per broken section plus a $15 shipping fee inside the continental US. The best rods certainly need to handle this distance easily, but most anglers are buying a 4-weight rod for fishing at closer distances, which puts the emphasis on 25 to 40 foot casts. The Aetos has been our most popular inexpensive fly rod in the 4-5-6 line sizes. Price is always a major factor when buying a rod and as you will see in this Shootout, the best rod was not the most expensive. The Winston Alpha + proved to be too heavy and too stiff to be a good 5-weight. Everyone else uses far less fancy anodized aluminum. The Recon was much better. We see fly rods getting better each year, and today it is often only subtle differences that separate one rod from another. This rod is nice and light in hand, and performed well in close, where I was getting pretty good feel and decent accuracy. I love how easily I can cast off the tip of the rod with a flick of my wrist. This rod wore me out casting long. Where would all these exciting new rods fall in when compared to some of our old proven standbys that have placed highly, like the Scott Radian, and the Hardy Zephrus? The cork is excellent, and Douglas uses darker contrasting composite cork rings at both the top and bottom of the grip. Here’s a mid-priced rod that put in a good performance across the board. This is a very pleasant rod to cast, with a medium fast action. With rods like the new SKY G and now the Beulah Platinum G2 using this new Graphene material to give us extremely light rods, I’m confident that we’ll see more rod builders using Graphene. Overall, the craftsmanship was decent for a rod that is manufactured in Asia, but not nearly as good as what we see in the Recon and H3F that are built in Vermont. Hardy uses a comfortable half wells, western style handle and the quality of the cork is superb. But there are a lot of good reasons. Rods are repaired or sections replaced. The Reaper X is an improved model of this original rod. I just could not get the nice tight loops and better accuracy I was getting with the top 5 Presentation Rods. Casting and rating the performance of rods at the different distances is the real meat of our Shootouts. Rods are replaced not repaired. The G Series uses spigot ferrules rather than the more standard slip over ferrule found on the Radian. I also like the handle design – it tapers outward, allowing you to quickly get and maintain a solid grip. Broken sections are replaced. I love the feel of this rod – it is nice and light in hand, and the action is fast and seems about right. In order to do this, we set each rod up with the same reel, line, amount of backing and leader, length of tippet and the same size yarn indicator. Then there is the matter of excessive bias which this review, like all Yellowstone Angler's reviews, is littered with. The guide wraps are a slightly darker gray, trimmed in orange on the butt. This is not a pleasant rod to do a lot of false casting with, as you would fishing dry flies. It’s also nice to admire at your rod and appreciate the craftsmanship as well as its performance. If you find yourself fishing more hoppers and larger dries, you will like this rod as it will really fire them in there with authority. The uplocking skeleton reel seat is silver anodized aluminum, with one good-sized locking ring and sliding band, similar to the Avantt. For the slightly stiffer power rods, we stepped up to Scientific Angler’s half line size heavier Amplitude MPX. A rod’s ability to make delicate and accurate presentations with small flies and long leaders is the key to scoring well here. The Q was not nearly as good as their new Opti K2. Standard corks are used and the quality is excellent. It also lost a huge number of points in the price and warranty categories that it couldn’t pick up in the casting distance performance categories. I still had to give the edge to the Zephrus and Pure. The reel seat is a single uplocking skeleton seat in anodized gray that has a very attractive burled wood insert. The feel was also superb, giving me confidence in the direction of my cast. The rest of the guides are hard chrome snake guides that we have found to be inferior to the flexible nickel/titanium guides. There is only one wide up-locking ring, with a nylon ring on the upper side, but it seems to lock up securely enough. St. Croix – Lifetime warranty to original owner, $85 handling fee. But is that high priced rod really $300-$700 better? Hardy – Lifetime warranty to original owner. The idea here is to measure the swing weight at the middle of where your palm is likely to sit on the grip. I like the guide set-up, with a hook keeper above the handle, then one titanium SIC stripping guide, followed with the excellent single foot and flexible nickel/titanium guides similar to what Loomis uses on the NRX+ LP. Guides start with a hook keeper and then one SiC stripper, followed with fairly thin diameter black hard chrome snake guides. But these methods and calculations were disconnected from what we were actually experiencing in our hand – so, for our last 4 Shootouts, we have gone back to our original method of calculation, explained above. When you read everyone’s comments on the Zephrus, you will see that we all agreed that this is a very special rod, for a variety of reasons. This is a very pleasant rod to cast, and I was especially impressed at what nice tight loops I was getting at long range, where it proved to be better than any other rod tested, even the powerful Asquith. At short distances like 25 feet, you don’t have much line out of the tip of the rod, so the best leaders must flex like an extension of your fly line. More butt power would help here but still a lot better than the Scott G or Sage LL. The black anodized double unlocking skeleton seat has two larger rings that are very easy to grip and tighten. Of these Korean built rods, the Douglas rods, the Taylor rods, the Beulah rods, the Echo rods, and the TFO rods are all designed here in the US. Wind speed is neither steady nor consistent. Steve Rajeff, the head rod designer at Loomis, designed the Asquith tapers, and the blanks are built by Shimano in Japan, using their unique “X wrap” process. Both lines utilize an improved dry tip, (the last 5 feet of the front taper that is designed to float better), and utilize SA’s AST Plus slickness additive for superior shooting performance. One SiC stripping guide is used and the rest are the best nickel/titanium and flexible snake guides in a gray color which complement the blank. #4 (Tie) Thomas and Thomas AVANTT 8’6”#4 $845.00. Accuracy is pretty good, heads up matching the Zone and NRX LP. We were all especially anxious to see how the Orvis Helios 3F and the new Winston Pure would fare, compared to our favorite 4-weight, the Hardy Zephrus. $75 handling fee. With 4-weight rods, performing well at the two shorter distances is the key to determining the best rods. These caused quite a lot of discussion (mostly disagreement) with the results. The swing weight is the relationship of the club head weight to the shaft when you waggle the club in your hands. The guides are one hook keeper; a single SiC stripper and then all the rest are hard chrome snake guides that are durable but heavy. Scott says this gives the G series a very smooth one-piece like flex and contributes to the smoothness in casting. Scott claims that by not sanding the tape marks, this contributes to a stronger blank, and we can’t argue with this as we see very few broken Scott rods. $50 handing fee. Being able to cast with no wind made it much easier to score the rods with confidence at all distances. The epoxy job over the guide wraps was too heavy, one of the reasons we downgraded the craftsmanship slightly. Keep in mind that what you read here are only our opinions. Expensive rods do have that wow factor that will impress your buddies. In addition to being a test caster and editor, he’s responsible for some of the photos and putting all of this on line. The cosmetics and components of this rod are similar to its shorter brother. Great rods don’t make great casters, but there is no doubt that they will improve any angler’s casting skills and his ability to catch fish. The Galvan reels are essentially maintenance free, with Rulon bushings that require no maintenance or lubrication to keep them working properly. One thing we have tried to do with our Shootouts over the years is to cut through the massive amount of marketing BS we see coming from the manufacturers, and give you our honest opinions about their products. Watching Howard cast, the only guy I’ve seen that could match him drilling long tight loops is perhaps Steve Rajeff. These Amplitude lines utilize SA’s AST Plus slickness additive for superior shooting ability and increased durability. Removing the spool requires a simple click of the button on the front side. Our hand tied leaders, using stiffer clear Maxima for the butt and midsections, turn over better and more accurately than any of the knotless leaders on the market. Winners of best overall: Loomis Asquth The new Sage LL and the Winston Air were disappointing and finished at the bottom of the pack. Reel seats should lock up easily and hold firmly, without having any tendency to come loose. I love the handle design – it tapers outward allowing you to quickly get and maintain a good grip on the handle. The cork is a stack of thin rings, and the quality of the cork is excellent. We have found that trying to judge the accuracy and the ability of a given rod to form tight loops and track well is almost impossible if you have winds of more than 5-10 mph. Just not enough butt power to get the job done. The thing that killed this for me was the cheap looking reel seat. The cork handle is a more conventional western style grip than found on their Radian, with a flare on the back to accept the black anodized single uplocking seat that utilizes a brown graphite insert. Good-looking wood insert spacers that are finished well add to the attractiveness of any rod. Rods are replaced. This is another rod that has a strong butt and mid-section but a softer and more flexible tip. It performed better than any of the sub $300 rods, including the Orvis Clearwater. These are the lighter 5-weight rods, perfect for fishing smaller dry flies, which have the ability to afford the most delicate and accurate presentations. You’ll never regret spending those extra bucks once you get the rod in your hands and see how well it performs compared to your old rod. I liked the medium fast action, and this was a pleasantly smooth rod to cast, especially at the longer distances. If Fenwick determines that there was a defect, the rod will be repaired or replaced at no charge. We also have some impressive light new rods from Taylor – the Truth and Anomaly, which are light in weight and performed very well. $35 handling fee. For under $200, the best rods to consider are the Fenwick Aetos and the Orvis Clearwater. Guides start with a hook keeper, then one SiC stripping guide followed with hard chrome snake guides. 46 comments. Sage introduced their new Trout LL, which won the award for the best Freshwater Fly rod at the 2019 ICAST show. Just about any rod can turn over a 9-foot leader, but only the best casting rods can turn over a 12 footer at short distances. It is also a lot heavier in overall weight and swing weight, mainly due to the fact that Loop is using a much lower modulus graphite than in their more expensive K2. (nope)(rhetorical question). For guides, there is a hook keeper, (The 3F has none), a single SiC stripping guide is used followed with hard chrome snake guides. Casting against the Scott G series it felt about equal, and better than the Asquith. I felt that it gave me a little more feel and accuracy at 25 feet than did the LP+. You’ll find these on our Yellowstone Angler home page at yellowstoneangler.com. The Power 5-weights are simply better at this kind of “chuck and duck” casting and mending than the Presentation 5-weights. This makes it easy to switch back and forth if I’m fishing both dry flies and nymphs. The Hardy Shadow that tied for 4th place sells for only $350.00. When I grab a 5-weight rod I’m using it primarily to fish smaller dry flies, but I also want a rod that does everything well. At 25 feet it was very accurate, but I didn’t have quite the feel I experienced with the SKY G. The NRX + LP is a good looking rod, finished in a deep olive brown with darker olive brown wraps, trimmed in light gray on the butt. Both the new Winston PURE and Orvis HELIOS 3F put in impressive performances, securing podium finishes. Remember that it will cost you an additional $15 or more in postage to send in your rod, unless you are using the G. Loomis Expeditor program. (tie) Loop Q 9’ #4 $229.00. This is a smooth line, rather than one with a textured coating. This is especially important for 3 and 4-weight rods, when you are often using very light 5X, 6x and 7X tippets while fishing small dries, emergers and spinners. I'm calling BS here boys. We have found that it is very difficult to judge the subtle casting characteristics between rods if you need to take the time to strip all the line off one rod and then re-load another. The quality of the cork is not too good either and it used a lot of filler. Rods with a light swing weight are delightful and effortless to cast. Certainly the Hardy Zephrus is a bargain as our choice for as the number one 4-weight rod. This is one of the best looking rods in our Shootout. Yes, the craftsmanship is not quite as good as the other presentation rods, but what can you expect for under two hundred bucks? Nearly everyone is using one-coat epoxy coatings over the guide wraps now, but if they are not very carefully applied, they are often sloppy or add unnecessary weight. $75 handling fee to original owner, $150.00 charge to all others. Epoxy coatings on the wraps were a bit too heavy, adding unnecessary weight. The one-coat epoxy coatings over the guide wraps are a little heavy but not sloppy. 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. The epoxy coatings on the guides are pretty good but a little heavy in spots. It is nearly impossible to cast off the tip of the rod like I can with the best 4-weights. I could really notice the heavy swing weight in my hand. The wraps are dark blue to match the blank and the epoxy coatings are excellent. We have awarded scores emphasizing the lowest repair charges and the quickest repair turn around. On the deflection board, the Zephrus had a stiffer butt and mid section and the tip bent a little more, so it is slightly faster in action than the Shadow. The guide wraps are in blue with some silver trim on the butt. The blank is that same lovely emerald Winston green we have come to know and love. The DXF and Imperial were much better. This would not be a pleasant rod to do a lot of false casting with, if you are fishing dry flies. When I decided to buy a new 5 weight I started by reading all the 5 weight fly rod reviews I could find; the first being the Yellowstone Angler 5-Weight Shootout. For nymph fishing rods at one distance, make some notes, and ’. Replaced except for broken sections arrived when we were able to do of... 5-Weight Shootouts Pro ’ s about it or your tackle needs an accident, the Trout best! 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