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#1.   G. Loomis Asquith   9 foot #8  $1100.00

G.Loomis Asquith
G.Loomis Asquith best 8 weight fly rod
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George’s Notes:

I got my first look at the new Loomis Asquith at the ICAST show in Orlando.  After I made a few casts, I was amazed and impressed.  I turned to Capt. Skip Zink, one of the testers in our last 8-weight Shootout, and said, “I think this new Asquith will be tough to beat in our next 8-weight Shootout!” How true this proved to be.

The Asquith is a marvelous rod and came close to running the table in our Performance Only scores, missing out by only a half point at 35 feet.  In the final results it lost a lot of points in both the price and warranty categories but still managed to barely edge out our last 8-weight winner – the Scott Meridian.  

After pleading with Loomis to let me try fishing one of the two ICAST show rods on an upcoming Atlantic Salmon trip, they gave me an Asquith to use so that I could give them some feedback.  (The production rods didn’t reach retailers until nearly January of 2017).  I put the Asquith through its paces that August, fishing for Atlantic salmon in Labrador.  Then in September I gave it some hard use in Alaska, catching ten-pound rainbows.  Then later in the winter I took it with me to Argentina, and had it bent over double landing Jurassic Lake rainbows up to 17 lbs.   And finally this Spring I put it to use on big snook and redfish on Florida’s Gulf coast.  Despite all the abuse I was able to dish out, the Asquith was an absolute joy to use and performed flawlessly.  

This rod has an incredible amount of power combined with a very low swing weight.  I’ve never cast a rod that tracks as well or forms such tight loops with so little effort. Fishing for Atlantic salmon on the Hunt river in Labrador, we were fishing large dry flies – #6 bombers, and I often had to throw them close to 100 feet and then get a good drift.  I don’t think I could have ever done this with a rod other than the Asquith.   

The Asquith’s enormous butt and mid-section power made it easy to manhandle 8-17 lb. rainbows in both Alaska and at Jurassic Lake. It often left me shaking my head.  This is one amazing rod!  I would have broken most other rods with the kind of bend I was putting in the Asquith.  It is still hard for me to believe that this rod didn’t break, but the Asquith is as perfect today as when it was new. 

Shimano will tell you that the secret to building such an incredible rod is the new Loomis/Shimano Spiral-X technology.  Steve Rajeff fine-tunes all the Asquith designs, and then Shimano builds in Japan.  The finished blanks are shipped to the G. Loomis factory in Woodland Washington, where the rods are built.

The Spiral-X technology is far different from the way conventional graphite rods are built.  It is a complex three-step process.  Shimano has developed a special graphite tape, called infinity tape, which is wrapped on the mandrel on a 45-degree axis.  Next, a layer of “muscle carbon” is wrapped on in a conventional manner.  The final step is another wrap of the infinity tape, but at an opposing 90-degree angle to the first, so that the infinity tape forms an “X” pattern.

The beauty of this process is that it uses 15-20% less graphite to get the exact same strength as the NRX, which we know from experience is stronger than any other rods we’ve used.  The other benefits of Spiral-X are that it reduces any twist in the blanks, and more importantly, it reduces ovalization as the rod bends.  This gives an angler more feel combined with an enormous amount of reserve power.  Bottom line, in use this rod delivers on its marketing.    

The Asquith is a fast action rod, but with a soft enough tip to give great feel and excellent accuracy at all distances.   As I mentioned before, I’ve never cast a rod that tracks as perfectly as the Asquith.  Right out to 80 feet I had the confidence that I could put the fly right where I wanted it almost every time.   This is also a nice light rod in my hand, making it absolute joy to cast all day. 

The Asquith tied three other rods with the lightest swing weight we measured.  At short distance, only the Scott Meridian and the Orvis Helios 3F performed slightly better, giving me a little more feel but no better accuracy.  From 50 feet on out to 100, nothing in our Shootout could best the Asquith.  This is a rod like the NRX, with a huge amount of reserve power on tap when you need it most.

The only drawbacks are: 1. The price – at $1100.00 this is the first production rod to break the $1000 barrier.   2. If you break this rod it will cost you $250-$275 to replace it since the blanks are more expensive to produce.  It costs more to repair a Ferrari than a Ford.  But in my own experience this is an extremely tough rod and I seriously doubt that anyone is going to break an Asquith while fishing.  A car door or a bad fall might do it.  The one bright side of the Expeditor policy – you call Loomis, they charge your credit card and send you a brand new rod that you receive in a few days!  And they also give you a FedEx call tag so that you can send the broken rod back for free.    

The Asquith is a handsome rod, especially in the sunlight when the dark green finish just sparkles.  Complementary dark green wraps are used and finished beautifully. Loomis uses two of the new titanium SiC stripping guides that are smaller than what Scott and Orvis use.  They seemed to allow the line to shoot as well if not better, but might not allow tangles to pass as easily.  Loomis uses the finest flexible  nickel/titanium snake guides that we love, along with an oversize tip top.  The cork handle is a Rajeff full wells design, slightly larger at the front where you grip it than behind the swell.  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. Steve’s idea is to get your pinky and ring finger closer to your palm, which is not only a more comfortable grip, but also a more powerful one.

A series of thin cork rings is used to produce the finest quality handle you can put on a rod.  The double uplocking aluminum reel seat uses a very lightweight but highly impact resistant, dark green CI4+ insert.  I loved the easy to grip rings that made it simple to lock down a heavier saltwater reel.   A short extension butt is used.

Performance at 35 feet:  19.5 points out of 20

Superb accuracy, but the Meridian and Helios 3F had more feel with an equally light swing weight.

Performance at 60 feet:  20 points out of 20  

Fantastic tracking ability produced very tight loops and superb accuracy.  Nothing tracks better than this rod, nor is more accurate.  

Performance at 80 feet:  20 points out of 20  

Just a cannon at the longer distances.   Only the NRX could match the Asquith at 80 feet.   Amazing accuracy too.  This rod is a real delight to cast long. 

Performance at 100 feet:  20 points out of 20 

Lean on this rod and you’ll be amazed at the explosive power on tap.   Nothing can touch it, not even the NRX.

1.  G.Loomis Asquith 9’#8 4pc $1100

G. Loomis Asquith
G. Loomis Asquith
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James’ Notes:

I feel like a casting champion with the G.Loomis Asquith in my hand.  It casts well at all distances; it’s light, it’s accurate, it’s powerful, it’s durable, and it has a simply amazing feel to it.  For almost 10 years I have owned a G.Loomis CrossCurrent GLX 8-weight and have never felt the want (or need) to replace it – until now!

The Asquith, pronounced [as-kwith] is, (in case it matters to you), named after Herbert Henry Asquith, who served as the first Earl of Oxford & Asquith, and as the Liberal Prime Minister of the UK from 1908 to 1916.  The name has been the butt of more than a few jokes since the rod’s introduction last January, but perhaps Shimano’s marketing has worked, since no one seems to forget the name, or the price – and once they’ve tried it, the performance.

Of all the rods in the Shootout, the Asquith has my favorite shaped cork handle.  Like the grips on the CCGLX rods, the cork handle is wider near the top but then becomes skinnier towards the bottom.  Steve Rajeff developed this in the 1970’s during competition casting to help get the ring and pinky fingers closer to the palm of your hand.  This allows for easier wrist rotation and casting comfort. 

The Asquith blanks use 15-20% less material than what Loomis uses in the NRX, yet they are every bit as strong, if not stronger than the NRX rods.  And from our own experience, the CrossCurrent GLX and NRX rods are by far the most durable rods on the market.  Now that George has had the chance to put the Asquith to hard use on a variety of fish in both fresh and saltwater, with absolutely no problems, we are confident that the Asquith rods are as durable as the NRX or the CC GLX rods.   

One of the things I love most about the Asquith is the huge performance window of this rod.  You can choose to cast the Asquith with a relaxed stroke and it becomes absolutely effortless.  But if the wind picks up and you need to accelerate your line speed, the Asquith delivers big time, with an amazing amount of reserve power. 

I have never fished with a rod that had such an explosive sweet spot.  When you decide to flex the Asquith in mid-stroke and apply more power, the rod responds like a high-end race ski, and rips line like no other rod I have ever cast.  The sweet spot is also a little wider than the NRX, which means if your timing is off, you can still tap into the Asquith’s reserve power. 

Part of the Asquith’s impressive accuracy is due to reduced ovalization of the rod as well as its clean and crisp recovery.  If you are looking for a rod that can carry a lot of line in the air, yet still feels light and extremely fun to cast, look no further – the Asquith is your rod.

The only downside to the Asquith is the price, and the high repair cost.  Keep in mind, other than vehicle doors, tailgates, ceiling fans, or taking a bad fall, we don’t expect it to break very easily.  The spiral X, 3-layer process also takes much more time than when rolling traditional blanks, which adds to the repair costs. 

Although the numbers reveal a closer finish, the Asquith easily was the most dominant rod here.  I found this rod hard to put down and always a treat to go back to.

1st impressions:  Stunning in every way.  Best grip in Shootout.  Incredibly light.  Killer sweet spot with insane, explosive reserve power.  Amazingly accurate.  Stronger blanks that won’t break as easily as others despite one of the lightest swing weights in the Shootout.

Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 points out of 20

Softer/faster tip than the NRX and significantly lighter.  Just as accurate as the NRX, however it feels much lighter and more pleasant to cast.  Still, the 3F and Meridian are just as light and deserve the edge on feel when casting in close.

Performance at 60 feet: 20 points out of 20

Wow, this rod is light!  And it’s phenomenally accurate. This rod can be cast effortlessly, or you can drill it, which creates a ton of zip and zing.  Another thing I liked about it over the Meridian and Helios 3F is that when the wind blew my original cast off target, the Asquith had more backbone to get back on track for an accurate second shot.

Performance at 80 feet: 20 points out of 20

The Asquith is still accurate and easily the best rod in the Shootout at this distance.  The NRX was close, followed by the T&T Exocett, Sage X, and Loop Cross SW. 

Performance at 100 feet: 20 points out of 20

Easily the long bomb champ for me, the Asquith felt light, powerful, and unstoppable.  If you struggle with your confidence when casting longer distances, the Asquith will put you at ease.

#1.  G. Loomis Asquith     $1100.00

G. Loomis Asquith
G. Loomis Asquith
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Logan’s Notes:

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 and the Thomas and Thomas Exocett), 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. 

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 each time.  This was one of the few rods I consistently (and accurately) cast to 100 ft. 

1.   G. Loomis Asquith   60/60   $1100.00

G. Loomis Asquith
G. Loomis Asquith
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JG’s Notes:

By now most flyrodders are aware of the Asquith, whether it be the curious name, price tag, or both.  This rod’s performance, however, is not just G. Loomis’ marketing hype.  This rod uses radical new manufacturing techniques, and some of the lightest, highest quality components available.  It all adds up to an expensive rod but one who’s performance matches its price tag and lets you forget the enigmatic name.  What made it the winner for me was that it possessed all the qualities I look for in a fishing rod.  It may not be the “best” in every category but it puts everything together in an overall package that’s tough to beat.  My biggest gripe with this rod is its price; you will have to decide if you can or want to pay the extra price for this top performer.

Performance at 35 feet:  20

Light in hand feel with a supple tip and supportive backbone make the Asquith a great rod for casting short distances.  I was accurate and precise casting at 35 ft. without getting a splashy or harsh landing.

Performance at 60 feet:  20

At 60 ft. the Asquith’s soft tip and powerful mid section couple to make a fantastically smooth, powerful, and accurate fly rod.  Casting is effortless, thanks to its light weight. I felt the grip was the perfect size, which helped with control.

Performance at 80 feet:  20

I really like airing the Asquith out a little bit.  It’s a really easy rod with which to generate line speed and it seems to just rocket line from the tip.  I was able to get great accuracy with this rod at the longest target and not break a sweat doing it.  Feel and power are not mutually exclusive here.

Performance at 100 feet: 

This was one of the easiest rods with which to hit 100 ft. accurately.  The lightweight blank doesn’t fight you and the taper as well as the Spiral-X construction, make sure that you’ve got all the horsepower to do the job.

G.Loomis Asquith
G.Loomis Asquith
G.Loomis Asquith
buy now