#4   (tie)   Tom Morgan Rodsmiths 9 foot $1495.00

 tom morgan rodsmiths

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George's Comments

As we reported in our 2015 5-weight Shootout, Tom Morgan has designed some new 4-piece rods in 3-6 weights, and they are simply fantastic rods in every way.  The only drawbacks we see are the price and the availability.  Most likely only a hundred or so of these rods will be built each year.   But we wanted to get these rods into our 2016 shootout as they are definitely one of the finest looking and finest performing rods you can get your hands on.  In the past, The Tom Morgan two-piece rods performed superbly in our Shootouts and these new 4-piece rods put in another remarkable performance.

Tom has worked up the designs and mandrels, and Kerry Burkheimer is building the blanks to Tom’s specs, then coating the blanks with the same beautiful deep burgundy epoxy finish found on the Tom Morgan two-piece rods. Then the finished blanks are sent to the Morgans, where rest of the rod is completed. Individual corks are laid up and sanded down to perfection.  You have your choice of a cigar or half wells grip. Then their classy reel seats are fitted.  The nickel/silver uplock seats are preferred by most, but you can also get a downlocking seat, or a teak wood seat with a nickel/silver butt cap and sliding band.  Tom Morgan Rodsmiths cut their own wood inserts from a variety of different woods and consequently have some of the best looking inserts of anyone in the US if not the world.

Complimentary burgundy wraps are used on the guides.  The guide wraps are finished with 6 coats of epoxy finish, with light sanding in between each coat which results in the same marvelous finish we’ve seen on their exquisite two-piece rods.  The finished product is the finest looking fly rod we’ve ever seen!  The Tom Morgan rods use a real ruby red-agate stripping guide, followed with relatively small light wire nickel/titanium guides.  Even the rod case and cloth bag are stunning.  When you first glimpse the classy rod case, you know you are in for something special.  Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.  

One of the reasons this rod performs so well is that it is one-piece design, and spigot ferrules are used rather than the more common slip over ferrules.  The smoothness of this rod has to be experienced to be believed.  It’s as smooth as butter at all distances.  The only other rod in our Shootout using spigot ferrules is the Scott G-2.

The performance is exceptional at short to medium distances with terrific feel and a nice light Swing Weight.  Only past 70 feet does the performance fall off, as this is a softer rod than most others in our Shootout.  But it forms such tight loops and tracks so well at long distance that the accuracy is still excellent.


George’s Casting Notes:   The perfect line: S. A. Trout in WF-5-F.

Performance at 25 feet:  20 points out of 20

Impeccable feel and accruacy at 25 feet. Only the NRX LP could match it in terms of accuracy but even the LP couldn't touch the Tom Morgan's buttery smooth feel.  Easily the very best rod in our Shootout at this distance.

Performance at 45 feet:  20 points out of 20

Buttery smooth, tight loops.  Just magical at this distance with awesome accuracy.

Performance at 70 feet:  19.5 points out of 20

Definitely not the power of the Wraith at long range, but I could still get nice tight loops and excellent accuracy.   



#3 - Tom Morgan Rodsmiths  9’#5   $1495   -56.5/60

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James' Comments

When purchasing a Tom Morgan Rodsmiths rod you not only buying one of the best performing rods in the world, you are also buying a piece of art and history.  These rods are amazing in everyway, and each one possesses that special character that can only be experienced once you cast one.

In today’s busy world fishing isn’t getting any easier.  I remember Tom McGuane once saying the angler’s best tool for catching fish is a passport.  And he’s right, there are a lot of big fish in the world that are easier to catch than the big fish on many of our home rivers.  Tom Morgan Rodsmith’s 4-piece rods show the evolution of how import it is to be able to travel with your fly rod.

Certainly one key to smooth soul of Tom’s 4-piece rods are the spigot ferrules.  While they are certainly more time consuming and more expensive, they allow the rod to flex much smoother than fit-over style ferrules.  The net result is a 4 piece rod that feels like a 1 or 2 piece rod. 


Jamie’s Casting Notes with a Scientific Angler Trout WF-5-F line.

Performance at 25 feet:  19.5 points out of 20

Buttery smooth, the Tom Morgan would be a 21 out of 20 in terms of feel.  As good as the rod felt and as much as I wanted to score it a perfect 20, I was able to throw a slightly tighter loop and was more accurate with the NRX LP.

Performance at 45 feet:  20 points out of 20

Wow!  One main difference I found while casting the Tom Morgan is that this rod is more FUN to cast than others.  It’s hard to put in words but the smooth feel is simply uncanny.   With grace and integrity the rod feels like a part of your body and amazingly gets the yarn indicator to the middle of the target nearly every time.  It feels like the difference between knocking a chip off a clay pigeon and completely dusting it with your full choke barrel. Well deserving of a perfect score at 45 feet this rod is in a class of it’s own. 

Performance at 70 feet:  17 points out of 20

In the hands of a highly skilled caster the magic is possible, but for most anglers getting it this far will be tough.  Surprising some of the other testers were able to cast this rod father than any other rod, but for me the significantly stiffer butt and mid-sections of the Hardy Wraith required less concentration.  I had to slow my casting stroke down significantly at 70 feet, so much that the wind started to mess with my timing.  Tailing loops became a frustration as much as I wanted it to work, especially after watching the old man bomb one cast after another near the plate, smiling and giggling, “What?  You can’t do that?  Hahaha…your casting stroke needs work!”

Cast the whole line? 

Nope, at least not today…  And I’m pretty sure Tom wants it that way.  ;-)



5.     Tom Morgan Rod Smiths

 tom morgan rodsmiths


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Logan's Comments

Tom Morgan’s new 4 piece rod is nothing short of amazing.  Everything you’d expect from a Tom Morgan rod.  The absolute finest quality in the world and the attention to detail is second to none.  Aside from its craftsmanship, the Tom Morgan also performs at an extremely high level.  Probably the best dry fly rod ever made Tom Morgan, this rod was an absolute pleasure to fish between 25-45 feet.

Logan's casting notes: 56.5 out of 60 

Performance at 25 feet: 20 points out of 20

The Tom Morgan scored a perfect 20 out of 20 at this distance.  "Wow" is the only word to describe it.  It was hitting dead center of the plate without even trying.  

Performance at 45 feet: 19 points out of 20

At 45 feet the Tom Morgan was also casting beautifully.  It was accurate, easy to cast, and simply fun to cast a rod this smooth at mid-distances.

Performance at 70 feet: 17.5 points out of 20

Tom Morgan’s rods should not be cast at this distance.  If you have to make a 70 ft. cast with a Morgan Rod you should find a different approach. 



1. (tie) Tom Morgan Rods Smiths - 59.5

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Josh's Comments

Performance at 25 feet:  20 points out of 20 

The two piece Morgan rod I last cast was the ultimate short-range rod, with a very soft tip and mid-section that made it easy to get delicate and accurate presentations.  The new 4-pc is very much like it!  The ultimate dry fly weapon, this is the rod we all wanted.

Performance at 45 feet:  20 points out of 20  

Amazing! Perfect distance for this rod, it cast so smooth that it feels like an extension of my arm. Great control and accuracy cast after cast. This is the smoothest rod I’ve ever cast.

Performance at 70 feet: 19.5 points out of 20  

I gave the Morgan rod a 19.5 at 70 feet because it not only could cast 70’ (which took me by total surprise) it was as accurate as the NRX, Radian and Wraith.   The Morgans have really stepped up their game at this distance.


#4.  Tom Morgan Rod Smiths  -  58/60

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JG's Comments

We were lucky enough to have Tom bring out a couple new rods for us to test this year.  He brought a finished 4pc. 5-weight as well as an unfinished 4pc. 6-weight.  The finished 5-weight is the one in the shootout but I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished 6-weight as this one cast like a dream.  


Performance at 25 feet:   20 points out of 20
At 25 feet the 5-weight from Tom Morgan Rodsmiths was amazing.  I can't thing of one thing I didn’t like about the rod for short range targets.  It has a buttery smooth action and is supremely accurate in close.

Performance at 45 feet:   20 points out of 20

At 45 feet the rod continues to be dead on accurate.  Its got the power to make these casts with ease and it makes you look good and feel good while you’re doing it.  Casts from 25-50 feet are the bread and butter for this rod.

Performance at 70 feet:   18 points out of 20

At 70 feet you notice that the rod is not as powerful as some of the others on the market but its still smooth and with some concentration the Morgan still delivers the goods without much fuss.