2018 8-weight shootout best fly rod test

 

 

2018 8-Weight Shootout:

Comments by Logan Brown

 

This was my first 8-Weight Shootout and I was excited to see how all these rods performed.  Many of the rods we tested were recently introduced and I was eager to try them out.  Even though I primarily fish for trout, I spend a lot of time fishing 8-weight rods. I hope my insight about each rod’s performance will help you pick the best 8-weight for any scenario. 

 

 Logan Brown casting

 

My Top Picks

Any of the top dozen rods featured in this year’s Shootout would be a great rod, but there were a few clear standouts.

 

  1. G.Loomis Asquith - For me it’s all about this rod.  G. Loomis has set the bar pretty high with the Asquith.
  2. Thomas and Thomas Exocett - “Classy and Salty”
  3. Hardy Shadow – My best freshwater mid-priced 8wt.
  4. Orvis Recon – My best saltwater mid-priced 8-Weight.
  5. Orvis Helios 3F - The hype is real – so, unfortunately, is the white finish on the blank.

 

 

No 100 feet in my Shootout comments

I am not as avid a saltwater fisherman as George, and my distance casting isn’t as strong as George’s or James’ either, therefore I have omitted the 100-foot distance category from my final results.  However, I was able to cast a couple of these rods well at 100 feet, which is reflected in some of my comments below.

 

 Logans Performance only

 

 

#1.  G. Loomis Asquith     $1100.00

G. Loomis Asquith

G. Loomis Asquith

 

 

The G. Loomis Asquith is an absolute killer and the clear winner in this Shootout.  It had the lightest swing weight, (together with the Meridian, the Thomas and Thomas Exocett, and the Orvis Helios 3F), and its power was unsurpassed.  Its metallic green finish pops in the sun and was one of the most attractive rods we tested.  I also liked the reel seat and the cork better than all the other rods.  When you have the Asquith in your hand, you just sense you are holding a great rod. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 out of 20

I deducted only a half point for the Asquith.  It is still one of the most accurate rods we tested at 35 feet, but it lacked the feel of the Orvis Helios 3F or the Scott Meridian. 

Performance at 60 feet: 20 out of 20

This is where the Asquith really sang.  It was perfect every time.

Performance at 80 feet: 20 out of 20

The G. Loomis Asquith was the top dog for its performance at 80 feet.  I was able to make tight loops and punch true casts to the plate every time.  This was one of the few rods I could consistently (and accurately) cast to 100 ft. 

 

 

#2.  Scott Meridian    $865.00

Scott Meridian

Scott Meridian

 

 

The Scott Meridian was 2016’s 8-Weight Shootout winner, and honestly I didn’t think there would be a rod that would knock it off the top.  For all practical purposes this rod was perfect.  The Asquith felt slightly more accurate and more “crisp,” especially at the longer distances. However, saying that shouldn’t take anything away from the Scott Meridian’s all around greatness.  When comparing the guides and components of all the rods, I felt that the Meridian had one of the finest set ups.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 20 out of 20

The Scott Meridian is absolutely flawless at 35 feet.  It had the perfect blend of feel and power to make it one of the best 8-weights at this range.

Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 out of 20

At 60 feet the Meridian was incredible, and super light in hand.

Performance at 80 feet: 19.5 out of 20

This was one of my favorite rods at 80 feet.  I was surprised it was able to form loops as well as it did, considering the softer feel in the tip.

 

 

#3. (tie)  Orvis Helios 3F    $898.00

Orvis H3F

Orvis H3F

 

 

The new Orvis Helios 3 rods have received a lot of hype and media attention, and I see why now.  This rod is an absolute killer.  It had an incredible amount of feel, making it the best rod at distances inside 45 feet.  But even with its softer feel, it had an amazing amount of power.  I am not crazy about the white finish on the rod.  I understand what Orvis was trying to do with it, but it’s just not for me.  And honestly, once I started casting the Helios 3F, the white finish became a mere afterthought.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 20 out of 20

The Orvis Helios 3F was my top rod at 35 feet.  The soft tip on this rod was just what the doctor ordered.  I found myself comparing every other rod with it at 35 feet.  Even though I gave this rod, and the Meridian, both perfect scores at 35 feet, I give the advantage to the Helios 3F.

Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The soft tip and feel of the Helios 3F did not hurt its performance at 60 feet.  It was still able to put it on the plate with consistency.

Performance at 80 feet: 19 out of 20

This is where the relative softness of the Helios 3F started to affect its performance score.  It was still launching with good accuracy, but I just didn’t feel as confident with it at 80 feet as rods that had slightly more power like the G. Loomis Asquith or the Thomas and Thomas Exocett.

 

 

#3. (tie)  Thomas and Thomas Exocett   $895.00

Thomas & Thomas Exocett

Thomas & Thomas Exocett

 

 

The Thomas and Thomas Exocett is an amazing new rod.  The craftsmanship and appearance of the Exocett was second to none, and what we have come to expect from this company.  Everything about the Exocett was classy and it was one of the most attractive rods in our test.  If I were to choose just one 8-weight for a saltwater trip, it would either be the Exocett or the Asquith, because of their superior performance at longer distances.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19 out of 20

In close, the Exocett didn’t perform as well as the Helios 3F or the Meridian, but it was still deadly accurate.  At 35 feet the Exocett felt much like the Asquith.

Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The Exocett was super smooth at 60 feet.  The light swing weight made the Exocett a pleasure to cast, and the tracking ability of this rod was one of the best. 

Performance at 80 feet: 20 out of 20

The Exocett was one of my favorite rods for any distance over 60 feet.  Only the Exocett and the Asquith received perfect scores from me at 80 feet, and I was able to blast a few casts at 100ft, which is rare for me. 

 

 

#3. (tie) G. Loomis NRX    $805.00

G.Loomis NRX Saltwater fly rod

G.Loomis NRX Saltwater fly rod

 

 

Although the G. Loomis NRX is no longer the “top dog” for an 8-weight, it is still one of the finest rods on the market and one of my all time favorite 8-weight rods.  Very little has changed about the NRX since its introduction several years ago and it’s no surprise why.  It is an absolute powerhouse and the amount of reserve power in this rod is ridiculous.  When you need to  “go for it” this rod delivers.  I love the robins egg blue wraps and matte black finish. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19 out of 20

The G. Loomis NRX was very good at 35 feet.  It was heavier in hand than the Asquith, and not quite as accurate.  

Performance at 60 feet: 20 out of 20

At 60 feet the NRX threw laser like loops.  It was one of my most accurate rods at 60 feet, even better than the Meridian and Helios 3F. 

Performance at 80 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The G. Loomis NRX was great at 80 feet.  It was one of the most powerful rods in our tests.  I thought the G. Loomis Asquith and the Thomas & Thomas Exocett were slightly more accurate at long range though, so I deducted a half point here.   

 

 

#6. (tie)  Sage X     $899.00

Sage X

Sage X

 

 

The Sage X is a great 8-weight rod, and for me the best Sage rod in our Shootout.  This rod was very light in hand and reminded me of the Sage ONE, only much better.  The X was a pleasure to cast in close, but also had plenty of power for the long game.  The Sage X is one of the lightest rods in the Shootout in both overall, and swing weights.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The Sage X was a great rod at closer distances like 35 feet.  It had a good amount of feel, making it an enjoyable rod to cast at shorter distances.  

Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 out of 20

At 60 feet the X was superb.  This was one of the smoother rods at this distance.  It wasn’t the most accurate, but as far as “smoothness” goes, it’s right at the top.

Performance at 80 feet: 19 out of 20

The Sage X handled these longer distances surprisingly well, solidifying its spot as one of the best rods on the market.

 

 

#6. (tie)  Loop Cross SW – Fast   $849.00

Loop Cross SX

Loop Cross SX

 

 

The Loop Cross SW-Fast was near the top of my list because it was such a smooth casting machine.  It has a modern look with the same triangular, 3-pin aluminum reel seat that’s found on the other Loop Cross rods.  It had a heavier swing weight than many of the top rods, but it wasn’t as heavy as the Douglas rods or the St. Croix Legend Elite.  I found the Cross SW to be very accurate and pleasant to cast despite its higher swing weight.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19 out of 20

The Loop Cross SW-Fast has a stiff, fast action but performed surprisingly well at 35 feet. 

Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 out of 20

I really enjoyed casting the Cross SW at 60 feet.  It was heavier in hand than rods like Scott Meridian but was just as accurate.

Performance at 80 feet: 19.5 out of 20

At 80 feet the Cross SW was one of my favorite rods.  It has a ton of power and didn’t want to “fold” in the butt section when I really whaled on it.

 

 

 

 

#8.  Hardy Zephrus AWS    $729.00

Hardy Zephrus

Hardy Zephrus

 

 

The Hardy Zephrus AWS is the “all water series” version of the Zephrus.  It comes with single footed guides as opposed to the snake guides on the saltwater model.  I liked the looks of this smooth casting rod as well as its light weight in hand.   The Zephrus AWS was a pleasure to cast and especially nice at shorter distances.  

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 out of 20

I really enjoyed the Hardy Zephrus at closer distances.  It had good feel and it was also extremely accurate.

Performance at 60 feet: 19 out of 20

At 60 feet I still made really accurate casts and hit the plate nearly every time.   It was showing signs of inaccuracy though when I really powered it in the wind.

Performance at 80 feet: 19 out of 20

The Zephrus was very similar at both 60 and 80 feet.  Still felt nice, but doesn't have the reserve power at long distance like the top rods.

 

 

 

#9. (tie)  Orvis Recon    $450.00

Orvis Recon

Orvis Recon

 

 

The Orvis Recon series is one of my all-time favorite mid-priced rods, and the 8-weight performance reaffirmed that. I thought the Recon was one of the better casting rods in our Shootout.  If I were looking for the best mid-priced saltwater rod, the Orvis Recon would be my pick.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19 out of 20

The Orvis Recon performed very well at 35 feet.  It had a surprisingly light swing weight.

Performance at 60 feet: 19 out of 20

The Recon felt equally as good at 60 feet as it did at 35 feet. 

Performance at 80 feet: 19 out of 20

The Recon also performed very well at 80 feet.  I was making accurate casts and the leader turned over perfectly.

 

 

#9. (tie)  Hardy Shadow    $389.95

Hardy Shadow AWS best inexpensive streamer rod

Hardy Shadow AWS best inexpensive streamer rod

 

The Hardy Shadow is not a new rod from Hardy, but the upgrades they made to it make it so.  The Shadow is an absolute outstanding mid-priced rod.  Hardy is now using SINTRIX® 220, greatly reducing the weight and increasing the strength of the Shadow. This rod is softer than the Zephrus and better suited to casting at the shorter distances.  Because of the single footed guides, (as opposed to larger snake guides), I would pick the Shadow as my favorite mid-priced freshwater 8-weight, as opposed to the Recon, which would be my top saltwater mid-priced rod. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The Hardy Shadow was a great rod at closer distances.  It was light in hand and had the perfect amount of feel.

Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 out of 20

At 60 feet the Hardy Shadow was an amazing rod.   If you based performance scores just on 35 and 60 feet, the Hardy Shadow would be in my top 6, ranking right next to the G. Loomis NRX.

Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20

While I still liked the Shadow at 80 feet, it just didn’t perform nearly as well as the more powerful top rods.

 

 

#9. (tie)  Douglas SKY     $695.00

Douglas SKY

Douglas SKY

 

 

The Douglas SKY is another superb 8-weight rod.  It had a lot of power but not an overly stiff tip.  Closer distances are the sweet spots for the SKY.  At long distance it still had plenty of power, but I saw more inaccuracy than with other rods.  It wasn’t the lightest rod by any means, but it wasn’t that heavy either, and the weight didn’t bother me.   

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The Douglas SKY was a very good rod in close.  It had good feel to make delicate presentations, and was also very accurate.  The SKY was one of my top rods at 35 feet.

Performance at 60 feet: 19 out of 20

The SKY was still very accurate at 60 feet.  I got more tailing loops when I poured the power to this rod, something I didn’t see with rods like the G. Loomis Asquith or the Scott Meridian.

Performance at 80 feet: 18.5 out of 20

This is where I was struggled with the SKY.  I could hit the distance easily enough, but I didn’t feel it was nearly as accurate as the Thomas & Thomas Exocett or the Asquith.

 

 

 

 

#12.  St. Croix Legend Elite Saltwater    $490.00

St. Croix Legend Elite

St. Croix Legend Elite

 

 

The St. Croix Legend Elite is a tried and true winner.  It is still a great rod after all these years on the market.   The fast action and softer tip seemed about perfect, and it possessed a lot of qualities I look for in a rod. The full wells handle was comfortable and the guide set up was just right for a saltwater 8-weight.  It’s not the lightest rod in hand, but the soft tip gave me good feel and very good accuracy at closer distances.  I really liked the overall look and craftsmanship of the Legend Elite.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The Legend Elite was a great rod in close and had the perfect amount of feel, combined with excellent accuracy. I really enjoyed casting this rod at 35 feet.

Performance at 60 feet: 19 out of 20

At 60 feet the Legend Elite gave me great performance. When my timing was good, I was able to accurately hit the plate nearly every time.

Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20

Longer shots over 60 feet were tougher for the Legend Elite.  I could feel many of my casts dying at longer range.  About 50% of my casts were on the money. 

 

 

#13. (tie)  Beulah Opal    $620.00

Beulah Opal Saltwater fly rod

Beulah Opal Saltwater fly rod

 

 

The Beulah Opal is one of the prettiest rods in the Shootout.  Its metallic blue finish, the wraps on the guides, and the cork are all spectacular.   This rod has more of a medium action, that I liked best at mid-range. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 18.5 out of 20

The Beulah Opal had good feel but wasn’t as accurate for me as other mid-priced rods like as the Orvis Recon or Hardy Shadow, which have softer tips. 

Performance at 60 feet: 19 out of 20

I really enjoyed the Opal at 60 feet.  It was incredibly smooth when my timing was good. 

Performance at 80 feet: 18.5 out of 20

It was tougher for the Beulah Opal to make accurate casts at 80 feet.  When my timing was absolutely spot on I loved this rod, but when it was a little off, I had trouble hitting the mark.

 

 

 

#13. (tie)  TFO BVK     $279.95

TFO BVK 

TFO BVK

 

 

The TFO BVK has been one of our all-time best selling 8-weights, and for good reason.  The inexpensive price matched with its high performance makes this an incredible buy for a backup rod, or even as your primary rod if you want to keep the price down.  We have seen some breakage problems with these rods, but they carry one of the best warranties in the game.  Personally, I’ve put this rod through the ringer without breaking it, but I’ve also seen friends break one rather easily. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 17.5 out of 20

I wasn’t a huge fan of the TFO BVK in close.  It has a very stiff tip, making it a much better mid to long-range caster.

Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 out of 20

This is where the BVK is really sings.  I loved this rod at 60 feet.  I can just picture this rod dropping a fly on a dime right in front of a tailing bonefish. 

Performance at 80 feet: 19 out of 20

At 80 feet the TFO BVK was still a beast.  At this price there is no better rod for long distance performance.

 

 

#15. (tie)  Sage Motive    $499.00

Sage Motive fly rod review

Sage Motive fly rod review

 

 

The Sage Motive has been a very popular 8-weight rod for us here in the shop, over the past few years.  For the money, the Motive provided a lot of performance.  It reminds me a lot of the older Xi2 and Xi3 rods from Sage.  If you liked those rods, you will love the Motive.  Its snazzy blue color seems just right for a saltwater rod.  For me this is a better casting rod at short to medium distances than the much more expensive Salt HD. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 18 out of 20

The Motive gave me good accuracy at 35 feet.  Not as good as other mid-priced rods like the Recon or St. Croix Legend Elite, but it has a good feel to it.

Performance at 60 feet: 19 out of 20

The Sage Motive tracked beautifully, and performed best at 60 feet.  My loops were tight, and it was extremely accurate.

Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20

At 80 feet I struggled to get the Sage Motive to hit the plate.  I could launch it out there but my accuracy wasn’t the best.

 

 

#15. (tie)  Fenwick Aetos    $189.95

Fenwick Aetos

Fenwick Aetos

 

 

The Fenwick Aetos is our top selling inexpensive rod.  At $189.95 the Aetos is just an outstanding 8-weight rod!  Its light swing weight and softer tip gave me nice feel, and it had a surprising amount of power.  The craftsmanship is nothing special, but nothing beats this rod for the price.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 18.5 out of 20

The Fenwick Aetos performed well at 35 feet.  Its action and power lent themselves more to short and midrange casts.

Performance at 60 feet: 18.5 out of 20

At 60 feet the Aetos was still a great rod.  It had plenty of power to get it there without shooting line, but it wasn’t quite as accurate as other rods like the Hardy Shadow or the TFO BVK.

Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20

Longer casts were very doable with the Aetos, but when I gave it the power necessary to hit 80 feet, it lacked accuracy.

 

 

#17.  Scott Tidal    $495.00

Scott Tidal

Scott Tidal

  

The Scott Tidal is very nice mid-priced saltwater offering from Scott.  It has a slower action  than the Meridian, but still has lots of power.  It looks like the Meridian’s younger sibling with the same attractive, un-sanded blank and nice blue/green wraps.  The Tidal is not overly heavy, but not nearly as light in hand as the Meridian.  I think the Scott Tidal is the most attractive mid-priced rod, but the Orvis Recon and Hardy Shadow have the edge in performance.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 17.5 out of 20

35 feet was the weakest distance for the Tidal.  It didn’t come close to the same accuracy and feel I had with the Meridian.  The Hardy Shadow also felt better, but the Tidal had that rod beat for long shots.

Performance at 60 feet: 18.5 out of 20

The Scott Tidal performed much better at 60 feet.  Now the rod was loading well, and I was able to hit the plate consistently. 

Performance at 80 feet: 18.5 out of 20

I really liked the Tidal for long shots.  It didn’t “fold” when I needed to apply a lot of power to make longer casts.  But it wasn’t quite as accurate as the TFO BVK or Orvis Recon.

 

 

#18. (tie)  TFO Axiom II    $339.95

TFO Axiom II

TFO Axiom II

 

 

 

The TFO Axiom II is a new rod from TFO and I liked most everything about it.  And the best part is it comes with a case!!!  The Axiom II had a lot of feel and was a pleasure to cast at 35 and 60 feet.  But it could not match the more powerful BVK at longer distances.  The shorter distances proved to be the sweet spot for this rod.  

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19 out of 20

The TFO Axiom II was great at 35 feet.  It had the perfect amount of feel to make good delicate presentations, and it did so with authority. 

Performance at 60 feet: 18 out of 20

At 60 feet the Axiom II was very smooth.  It didn’t have the same reserve power and accuracy as the BVK though, at this distance.

Performance at 80 feet: 17 out of 20

Longer casts to 80 feet or more were a struggle for the Axiom II, mainly due to its lack of power.   My accuracy was all over the place, and not good.  Out long the BVK was far better. 

 

 

#18. (tie)  Sage Salt HD     $950.00

Sage Salt HD

Sage Salt HD

 

 

The new Sage Salt HD is a very nice rod, although I admittedly anticipated better performance in Sage’s premier saltwater rod.  After casting the Sage X, I fully expected the Salt HD to blow it out of the water, but this was not the case.  I think a good part of this was due to its stiffness, as well as the heavier swing weight and overall weight, than we found in the Sage X.  The overall look and craftsmanship are the same high quality you’d expect from Sage.  The Salt HD has a very nice dark blue finish with blue trim on the wraps, giving it a clean saltwater look. Overall I preferred the performance of the Sage X at all distances. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 17.5 out of 20

I was not a huge fan of the Salt HD at 35 feet.  Its stiff tip and softer midsection wasn’t the best combo for shorter casts.

Performance at 60 feet: 18 out of 20

The more line you cast with the Salt HD, the more it displayed its good qualities.  It was a smooth rod at this distance.

Performance at 80 feet: 18.5 out of 20

Longer distances were much better than shorter ones for the Salt HD.  

 

 

 

#20.  Loop Q    $229.00

Loop Q

Loop Q

 

The Loop Q is a very nice 8-weight, especially for the price.  If it weren’t for the poor long distance performance, the Q would have been one of my favorite rods in the Shootout.  If you are looking for an inexpensive streamer rod, the Q is a winner.  The Q has a nice soft tip, making it a pleasure to cast at 35 and 60 feet.  I also really like the cosmetics of the Q.  The cork isn’t the highest quality, but that’s about the only downside to the Q’s appearance. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 19 out of 20

The Loop Q was a great rod at 35 feet.  It has a nice soft tip and and gave me good accuracy.

Performance at 60 feet: 18 out of 20

At 60 feet the Loop Q dropped a point.  My accuracy wasn’t very consistent with the Q at 60 feet.

Performance at 80 feet: 16.5 out of 20

This is where the Q really struggled.  If I needed to cast 80 feet there was no problem, but I sacrificed accuracy when I laid into it.

 

 

 

#21.  Douglas DXF     $395.00

Douglas Sky

Douglas DXF

 

The Douglas DXF is one rod all of us at the shop have liked.  It has proven to be one of the best mid-priced rods in all weights.  I was a little disappointed with the 8-weight, however.  One thing I didn’t like about it was that the snake guides are really too big and too heavy to my way of thinking.  This rod worked better at the longer distances than it did in close.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 17 out of 20

The DXF wasn’t my favorite rod at 35 feet.  It lacked feel, and it felt heavier in hand than other rods.

Performance at 60 feet: 18 out of 20

The Douglas DXF was much better at 60 feet.  It tracked very well and had decent accuracy.

Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20

At 80 feet the DXF was good, but it wasn’t anything special.  I made good casts but tended to get tailing loops when I powered the longer casts.

 

 

 

#22.  Mystic Reaper     $279.00

Mystic Reaper

Mystic Reaper

 

 

The Mystic Reaper has a softer tip, much like I found on the Orvis Helios 3F.   The Reaper was good in close but not nearly as good at longer distances. If you are a fan of a softer rod and need to stay under $300, the Mystic Reaper is a good choice.  The Reaper is one of my favorite 5-weight rods, and the 8-weight shares a lot of the same characteristics, like the softer tip and medium fast action.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 18.5 out of 20

35 feet was the Mystic’s sweet spot.  This is where the Reaper was reminiscent of nicer rods like the Orvis Helios 3F.

Performance at 60 feet: 18 out of 20

The Reaper was still very smooth at 60 feet.  This distance is around where the Reaper is tops out, however.

Performance at 80 feet: 16 out of 20

I didn’t like the Reaper at long distance, as it was just too soft to get the job done.

 

 

 

#23. (tie)  Redington Crux     $399.95

Redington CRUX

Redington CRUX

 

 

At around $400, the Redington Crux is a good mid-priced rod for anyone who is a fan of stiff, fast action rods.  But it is very stiff, and this hurt its performance at shorter distances.  It would handle heavier lines and big flies like a champ.  I really did like the overall look of the Crux.  It has a unique cork handle shape that felt very comfortable.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 17 out of 20

The Crux was not my favorite rod at 35 feet. The stiffness hurt here as it lacked any feel at the in-close distances.

Performance at 60 feet: 17 out of 20

I thought I’d start to really like the Crux at 60 feet, but it wasn’t very accurate for me at this distance.  It had plenty of reserve power but it didn’t seem to track as well as other rods.

Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20

Longer distances were the Crux’s strong suit.  I think this would be a fine rod for bigger flies, throwing them longer distances.

 

 

 

#23. (tie)  Redington Vice    $199.95

Redington VICE

Redington VICE

  

The Redington Vice reminded me a lot of its counterpart, the Crux.  I really didn’t like the Vice at 35 feet, but it was a good rod at all the other distances.  I liked the look of the Crux much better than the Vice, as well as its better components.  I liked the cork handle on the Vice, which seemed undersized, but actually felt quite comfortable.  I’d much rather have an undersized grip, than some of the bigger oversized ones.  At $200, though, I would pick the Fenwick Aetos over this rod.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 16 out of 20

The Vice was one of my lowest performing rods at short distance.  It had very little feel or accuracy, mostly due to its stiffness. 

Performance at 60 feet: 18 out of 20
Mid and long-range distances worked much better for the Redington Vice.

Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20

The Vice had plenty of power to deliver casts to 80 feet and beyond.

 

 

 

#25.  Mystic Inception   $120.00

Mystic Inception saltwater fly rod

Mystic Inception saltwater fly rod

 

 

The Mystic Inception was the least expensive rod in the Shootout, and it didn’t perform as well for me as any of the other rods.  It was the heaviest rod in the Shootout, which might be expected for a rod that is only $120.  

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 35 feet: 16 out of 20

I really didn’t enjoy the Inception at 35 feet.  Its heavy swing weight really took away from its performance at this distance.

Performance at 60 feet: 17 out of 20

At 60 feet it was better.  But the heavy swing weight still hurts the Inception’s performance.   

Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20

At long distance I saw the best qualities in this rod. For $120 this rod could actually throw it a long way.

 

 

 

Thoughts About a Purchase

 

If you are thinking about buying a fly rod, we suggest reading one of our Shootouts for the line size rod you want.  You’ll find these on our Yellowstone Angler website home page.  If your local shop stocks the rods you are interested in, by all means visit them, try a few rods and purchase an outfit from them.  

 

If you cannot find or cast the rods that interest you, we are here to help.  Call us at 406-222-7130, and we will discuss your needs and wants.  If you happen to be looking for an 8-weight, we hope that this Shootout has been informative.  With our combined input, I’m confident that we can come up with the perfect rod or outfit that best fits your needs.  Normally if you are getting both the rod and reel, we’ll throw in an $85 line for free, and also ship it to you for free as well.  And since we are in Montana, there is no sales tax.

 

When you get the rod, do some casting on the lawn, and if you feel it is not just what you want, and it has not been fished and looks 100% new, we’ll allow you to return it to us for a full refund, less the shipping charges.  

 

These Shootouts take a lot of time and effort, so if you like what we are doing the best way to thank us is to buy a rod, reel, or outfit from the Yellowstone Angler.  Use this link to go to our Favorite Fly Rod Outfits.  Here you'll find our recommendations in three price ranges:  Best Buy, Mid-Priced, and the Ultimate Outfit.  

 

 

 

If you get to Montana, we invite you to stop at our shop and do your own mini-Shootout right on our lawn.  We have several reels rigged up with the various line sizes, and leaders, all ready to go. We’ll come out with you and give you some help to fine tune your casting stroke, or just help you with the basics.   And once you’ve picked out the perfect rod, stay and enjoy a few days on the water with one of our top guides.   

 

We value your comments about the shootout and invite any questions you might have about it or your tackle needs.  We have fished all over the world in both fresh and saltwater for a variety of fish, and we’ll be glad to help answer any questions you might have.

 

 

 

                                - George, James, and the rest of the Yellowstone Angler crew

 

 

 

 

 Logan Brown Photo: Dean Poli