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#5. Thomas & Thomas Exocett  9 foot #8  $895.00  

Thomas and Thomas Exocett fly rod
Thomas and Thomas Exocett fly rod
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George’s Notes: 

The Exocett is an impressive new rod from T&T.  First, it’s a great looking rod with the same flawless craftsmanship that we have seen previously from T&T.  We gave it a top score here along with the Asquith and Meridian.  This is a fast action rod and as you can see on our deflection board, the flex pattern is similar to the Asquith, just a little softer and with not quite as fast a tip.  It is also very light in hand, and tied the Asquith, Meridian and Helios 3F for the lowest swing weight.  This is a rod that won’t wear you down after a hard day of fishing.  

The Exocett is T&T’s best all around 8-weight, designed especially for saltwater anglers.  It was a lot of fun to cast, and I could immediately notice the excellent damping, due, most likely in part, to T&T’s new Strato Therm Resin.  The feel I was getting at short distance was good, but the accuracy was not quite as good as the Asquith, or the Meridian and Helios 3F.  The sweet spots for the Exocett were the two middle distances, where it formed beautiful, tight loops.  At 100 feet, it was still surprisingly good with lots of power to go long, and definitely better than the Orvis Helios 3F.

One thing that continues to amaze me is the level of perfection of T&T’s guide wraps and coatings. I’m sure the key is a multi step process rather than a one-coat finish. The blank itself is finished in a handsome matte dark blue color with lighter blue wraps, trimmed in white, resulting in a very elegant rod. Each section is numbered on the lower side, making it easy to line up all the pieces. The components are absolutely top shelf too.  The cork handle uses the same kind of stack of thin cork rings that we see on the Loomis, Scott, and Orvis rods.  T&T uses a pretty much standard full wells grip with a comfortable swell in the middle of the grip with flares at both ends.  The light gray anodized double uplocking aluminum seat has two big locking rings that are very easy to grip and tighten.  I wish more of the rods in our Shootout had rings as good as these!   A short fighting butt with a contrasting cork ring at the bottom end is used.  The two stripping guides are black colored titanium ceramic guides, a bit smaller than we found on the Orvis and Scott rods but slightly larger than on the Asquith.  Black flexible nickel/titanium snake guides are used, with an oversize tip-top.  This guide set-up is one of the best we’ve seen.  The T&T rods are built at their plant in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Performance at 35 feet:  19 points out of 20

Good, but not quite the accuracy I was getting with the Meridian, Asquith, or 3F.  I love the light swing weight.

Performance at 60 feet:  19.2 points out of 20  

I couldn’t get the same tight loops and accuracy I was getting with the Asquith and Orvis 3F.  Still a solid performance at this distance.

Performance at 80 feet:  19.5 points out of 20 

Plenty of power to reach out and throw long.  Felt as good to me as the Meridian and Helios 3F.  The Asquith and NRX were noticeably better.

Performance at 100 feet:  19 points out of 20

Gets it done easily, with very good line control and tight loops.  Better than the Helios 3F but not in the same class of either the Asquith or NRX.    

5.  Thomas & Thomas Exocett 9’#8 4pc $895

T&T Exocett
T&T Exocett
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James’ Notes: 

T&T may have shown up late to the party, but they have arrived in style and are turning heads.  We are pleased to report that T&T’s new Exocett has a much lighter swing weight than previous models.  Function as well as fashion have now become a viable reality for Thomas and Thomas.  I’m sure those manufacturers that have a larger market share in the industry are taking notice.

T&T has always been right at the top when it comes to immaculate craftsmanship and the use of the best components.  In past Shootouts, the only thing holding them back was heavier swing weights than we saw on the best performing rods.  But today they are producing some of the lightest and most delightful rods to cast in the world.  Give credit where credit is due, and our hats go off to Thomas and Thomas.

Looking back at my performance scores, I’m a little surprised that I didn’t give the Exocett any perfect 20 scores.  Digging deeper into this matter, I suppose the reason for this is that the competition was just so good.  When casting rods head to head the slightest edge in feel is often very subtle, (and subjective).  In the end, I went with my gut on which rods were the most accurate and had the very best feel, even though I’m now lacking the words to explain exactly why they felt a touch better.  I think if T&T gave us a slightly softer tip on the Exocett, it would be on the podium, if not right on top.

1st impressions:  
Nice grip, beautiful rod, exceptionally craftsmanship, definitely has a stiffer feel to it.

Performance at 35 feet: 19 points out of 20

This rod is amazingly accurate.  But I’m not getting as much feel out of the rod as the Asquith, Meridian, or 3F.  It feels pretty similar to the NRX, with spot on accuracy. 

Performance at 60 feet: 19 points out of 20

Again accuracy is impressive, but the Asquith, Meridian, and 3F are equally accurate with better feel. This rod can handle a serious punch, and its tracking ability limited tailing loops.

Performance at 80 feet: 19.5 points out of 20

Tempted to give this rod a perfect 20 but the Asquith has a little more spring in its step.  A stellar long distance performance.  Clearly one of the stronger / stiffer rods in the Shootout.  It is amazing they can build a rod so light yet so powerful.    

Performance at 100 feet: 19 points out of 20

I thought the Exocett would be better at 100 feet.  It was very good, but the Asquith, Orvis Recon, Loop Cross SW, Sage Motive, and Douglas DXF were better throwing the long bomb.

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

Thomas & Thomas Exocett
Thomas & Thomas Exocett
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Logan’s Notes:

The Thomas and Thomas Exocett is an amazing new rod.  The craftsmanship and appearance of the Exocett was second to none, and what you’ve come to expect from this company.  Everything about the Exocett was classy and it was one of the most attractive rods in our tests.  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.

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. 

9. (tie) T&T Exocett   57.5/60   $895.00

T&T Exocett
T&T Exocett
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JG’s Notes:

The Exocett from Thomas and Thomas is a beautiful rod that hits the “salt” action right on the head.  I felt it was a little too stiff for close targets, but did great at long range.  I think the stiffness made it feel heavier than it was, but looking at the weight, it had one of the best swing weights in our Shootout.

Performance at 35 feet:  18.5

The Exocett is a powerful rod.  At our shortest target I found it was a little too aggressive to get top scores although it was accurate.

Performance at 60 feet:  20

At 60 feet I was getting fantastic accuracy and great presentation.  I was really pleased with the rod’s in hand feel.   The way the line loaded and unloaded made timing and presentation easy.

Performance at 80 feet:  19

It still feels good and has plenty of power for the distance but compared to 60 ft., my accuracy dropped considerably, so I docked it some here.   

Performance at 100 feet:

I had a really similar experience with this rod at both 80 and 100 ft. It definitely has the power to cast that distance but I didn’t have the best accuracy while doing it.

T&T Exocett
T&T Exocett
T&T Exocett
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