#2. Scott Meridian 9 foot #8 $865.00
The winner of our 2016 8-weight Shootout very nearly pulled it off again this year and is still the fantastic rod. Jim Bartschi at Scott gave us a rod that combined a very light swing weight with great power and feel. One of the best things about the Meridian is the softer tip, which gives it wonderful feel and control at the shorter distances. But this rod has plenty of beans to cast long too. Only at the 100 foot mark did I feel it was not quite as good as the Asquith and NRX. The Meridian is especially sweet at the short to medium distances where anglers are fishing much of the time. At 35 feet the combination of great feel and accuracy was matched only by the Orvis Helios 3F.
This rod forms nice tight loops effortlessly, and its light swing weight makes it is a joy to fish all day long. This is one of the four rods that tied for the lightest swing weight in our Shootout.
The Meridian is a handsome rod with some of the finest craftsmanship we’ve seen. Scott uses absolutely the best components on this rod. I especially like the handle shape, putting the swell slightly ahead of the middle of the grip. Scott uses a stack of thin cork rings to give us the ultimate in a high quality cork grip. I also like the little touches such as the line weight designation on the sliding band on the double uplocking aluminum seat. The locking rings are big and very easy to grip. A large fighting butt is used with a wider end that won’t dig into you while reeling hard. This rod is the natural graphite gray, and in Scott’s tradition, only lightly sanded, so that you can still see the tape marks. The wraps are gray with attractive two color blue trim on the butt section. The guide set up is one of the best we’ve seen yet – two big titanium SiC stripping guides followed up with flexible nickel/titanium snake guides and an oversize tip top. This rod is made here in the USA in Montrose, Colorado.
Performance at 35 feet: 20 points out of 20
I just love the feel at short range combined with superb accuracy. Still better than anything, and only matched by the Orvis Helios 3F.
Performance at 60 feet: 19.8 points out of 20
Only the Asquith and Helios 3F felt slightly better at mid-range. I’m getting very tight loops and terrific accuracy.
Performance at 80 feet: 19.5 points out of 20
Plenty of guts to throw long, with very good loop control and amazing accuracy. Definitely one of the best rods at long range.
Performance at 100 feet: 19 points out of 20
It was easy to hit this distance, but not with the confidence or accuracy I had with either the Asquith or NRX.
2. Scott Meridian 9’#8 4pc $865
We take a lot of people out on the lawn to cast and compare 8-weight rods at the Yellowstone Angler. Although each angler has his or her own casting style and personal preferences, almost everyone loves the way the Scott Meridian performs. If I had to guess, I would say 7 out of 10 people end up choosing the Scott Meridian over all the other rods they tried. The Meridian is just one of those rods that performs well at every distance.
The Meridian has a very light swing weight, a comfortable cork grip, great power, excellent accuracy, and fabulous feel. If you look at the deflection board, it is closer in stiffness to the Orvis 3F than to the Asquith. If you are an angler that appreciates more feel over a stiffer rod, you should really give the Meridian a try, you’ll like it!
In our 2016 8-weight shootout I scored Meridian a perfect 20 at 35, 60, and 80 feet. Nothing has changed about the Meridian, however this year the Asquith had the edge at 80 and 100 feet. Despite how I score the rods at 80 and 100 feet, when we take people out on the lawn they can almost always cast the Meridian farther than anything else. And they love the feel and accuracy the Meridian gives them when casting at close range.
Aside from tremendous performance, I like the fine components Scott uses on the Meridian. The type III anodized reel seat has proven to hold up very well against salt crystals and general wear and tear. The titanium snake guides are very large and durable, but also thin and light at the same time. Not only does this help keep swing weight down, but the larger size guides allow line tangles to better escape through the rod. (If you have ever experienced hooking the biggest bonefish of your life, only to have it break off due to a line tangle, you’ll appreciate the larger guides!).
One of the things I like the most about the Meridian is how well it roll casts. It’s softer mid and tip-section are better than stiffer rods when trying to make a quick roll cast at 25-35 feet. With spooky, pressured fish becoming the norm, more guides are instructing their clients to make a quick roll cast, which creates less movement than a regular cast.
The grip is very comfortable and it forces you to choke up on the rod ever so slightly, making the rod feel even lighter in your hand. If you own more than one Meridian in different weights, having a numerical designation on the sliding band will help you quickly select your bonefish, permit, or tarpon rod. The navy and cobalt blue thread wraps look sharp on the signature unsanded blanks. The alignment dots are handy as well when putting your rod together.
When you cast and compare 8-weight rods, do yourself a favor and make sure the Meridian is one of them. There is a good chance you’ll like it the best.
1st impressions: Classic Scott un-sanded blanks. Unique full wells grip feels very comfortable, albeit different from the rest. Very well rounded rod at all distances, Looks sharp.
Performance at 35 feet: 20 points out of 20
No doubt this rod is a winner at close range. Only the Orvis 3F felt as light and had equal feel. The Meridian seems to have a little deep load to it and flexes more in the middle where the 3F flexes more in the tip. The Meridian has excellent feel with accuracy to match. I could cast this rod all day.
Performance at 60 feet: 20 points out of 20
The Meridian produces awesome, tight, controllable loops. I’m digging it big time at 60 feet. Only the Asquith and 3F were as much fun to cast. Of the three rods, the Asquith was the stiffest and most accurate. The 3F was the softest and had the most feel. The Meridian was right in the middle. A very well rounded rod indeed.
Performance at 80 feet: 19 points out of 20
Still booming! With no wind I would be tempted to score the Meridian a perfect 20, however while the power is there, accuracy wasn’t quite as good as the Asquith or NRX.
Performance at 100 feet: 18.5 points out of 20
Here is where the Asquith takes the lead. To cast this far with the Meridian my timing had to be perfect. It was also more difficult to cast than Asquith when the wind picked up.
#2. Scott Meridian $865.00
The Scott Meridian was 2016’s 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,” 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 best set ups.
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) Scott Meridian 58.5/60 $865.00
The Meridian was the winner of our last 8-weight Shootout. It’s a great rod, light, fast, and accurate. Personally I still prefer a couple of rods to this one, but the Meridian is definitely one of the top rods in our Shootout.
Performance at 35 feet: 19.5
I like the Meridian a lot at close range. It’s got a really nice tip that keeps you from splashing your cast. I liked the feel I was getting from this rod, but I was just slightly more accurate with others.
Performance at 60 feet: 20
60 ft. is really easy to hit with the Meridian. It is super-accurate, and gave me great feel and control. 60 feet was by far my favorite casting distance for this rod, and I gave it top marks. You’re splitting hairs to find a better rod at 60 feet.
Performance at 80 feet: 19
The Meridian performed really well at 80 ft. I was able to get good accuracy and didn’t have any issue with the distance. I noticed that it didn’t fare as well in the wind as a couple of the best rods in our test, but there are only a few that best the Meridian at long range.
Performance at 100 feet:
The long bomb is definitely do-able with the Meridian, however I was able to get more accuracy and consistent distance with rods like the SKY, Asquith, and NRX.