What gives? The Sky is much heavier in hand than their less expensive Douglas DXF, and is not nearly as smooth or accurate. One of the reasons is that the SKY is available only as a nine footer, while the DXF is 8’6”. The other reason is that this 9’ #4 SKY is just too stiff for a 4-weight. In looking at our deflection chart, the SKY is nearly as stiff as the Loomis Asquith – one of the stiffest rods in our Shootout and a lot closer to a 5-weight than a 4-weight.
In general the SKY rods do cast well, and the SKY 9 foot #6 won our last 6-weight Shootout. But the stiffness of this rod and its heavy swing weight hurt the performance scores, especially at the shorter distances.
I do like the fast action, just not the heavy swing weight, which is far heavier than the Douglas DXF. The heavy swing weight is perhaps the biggest reason the SKY didn’t perform so well.
There is a lot to like about the SKY though, and foremost is its appearance. This is a lovely rod, finished in a non-glare flat gray with jet-black wraps that are trimmed in light gray on the butt. The epoxy coatings over the wraps are very good but a little heavy in spots, as around the feet of the guides. The attractive cork handle is a half wells design with a flare on the bottom end, a comfortable swell in the middle, and a nice forward taper. The cork is excellent, and Douglas uses darker contrasting composite cork rings at both the top and bottom of the grip.
The double uplocking, gray anodized reel skeleton seat uses two rings that are easy to grip and lock up extremely well. A dark gray wood burl insert is used that matches the blank. Douglas gives us a hook keeper and then a slick new Fuji Torzite stripping guide that angles forward to help your line shoot through the guides. The rest of the guides are the excellent nickel/titanium one-foot guides in a silver color. In all, one of the best guide set ups we’ve seen. Lastly, the rod sock is superior, and will dry out quickly even if you put your rod away wet.
The perfect line: SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity in WF-4-F
George’s casting notes:
Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 points out of 20
The relatively heavy swing weight and stiffness are not giving me much feel, and the accuracy in close is not very good. The DXF and both Scott rods were better, while the Zephrus and Pure were in a totally different league.
Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 points out of 20
A little better here but the DXF still puts it to shame. Heads up, the Sage X and Recon were both better.
Performance at 60 feet: 9.0 points out of 10
Now the stiffness is becoming an advantage, and I’m getting some nice tight loops. Here it matches the NRX LP and the Recon. But the Avantt and Helios 3F are far better.
The Douglas SKY isn’t going to be anyone’s 1st choice for fishing a size #22 midge with 6.5X on the spring creeks. It is simply too stiff and heavy to hang with the best 4-weights on the market.
But that doesn’t mean we should completely ignore this powerful rod’s uncanny ability to throw long, accurate casts. What wind? This rod would be best utilized by throwing hopper/dropper combos, dead drifting two meaty nymphs under an indicator, or throwing streamers on a floating line.
1st impressions: Feels like a 9’#5. Stout, stiff, and heavy – this is not a great all around 4-weight rod. Nice reel seat with a classy wood insert under aluminum, similar to what we see on the Scott Radian. Smooth double lock rings, titanium single foot guides, and composite cork at either end of the grip for better longevity.
Performance at 25 feet: 17.3 points out of 20
The heavier swing weight and stiff tip is holding the SKY back from a high score at 25 feet.
Performance at 40 feet: 18.4 points out of 20
Not bad! The stiffer tip isn’t nearly as overbearing, and the power is starting to be a plus. I would have scored this rod even higher but the swing weight still felt heavy in hand, and I didn’t have as much feel as I did with the best rods.
Performance at 60 feet: 9.7 points out of 10
Crushing power out long! This rod can carry all 60 feet of line without even double hauling! Cleary one of the best at this distance. Only the Asquith was better for me.
Logan’s Comments: 44.5 out of 50
The Douglas SKY was a good rod compared to many of the 9-foot rods in our Shootout. It was best at midrange, but performed well at all distances. I enjoyed the overall fast action of the SKY, and I think if they made it into a lighter action 8’6” rod, it would cut down on the weight and make it more enjoyable to cast.
Performance at 25 feet: 17.5 out of 20
The SKY was slightly too stiff and too heavy to do well at 25 feet.
Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 out of 20
At 45 feet the SKY was really smooth. It would be a great rod for longer dry fly casts, where you need to go long but still present the fly with delicacy.
Performance at 60 feet: 8.5 out of 10
I was able to make solid casts at 60 feet with the SKY. It was smooth and maintained its accuracy.
To me, the SKY 9-foot just seemed to be a little too stiff when compared to some of the other top rods, like the Zephrus and Helios 3F. This stiffness hurt the performance at the shorter distances, but it did have plenty of power for longer shots. I preferred the less expensive DXF to the SKY at both close and mid distances.
Performance at 25 feet: 17.5/20
The SKY felt too stiff in close, and lacked accuracy. I had trouble putting the fly where I wanted it.
Performance at 40 feet: 18/20
The SKY felt better at this mid distance. Performance was good but the DXF was better.
Performance at 60 feet: 9/10
Now I have plenty of power and good line control.
The Douglas SKY is well thought out rod with excellent craftsmanship. But this is a stiff rod and like the Asquith, I felt that this rod was best at long distances. Its power made cutting through the wind easy, especially when I had more line in the air. This is a rod that would be especially good if you were fishing heavier nymph rigs or smaller streamers.
Performance at 25 feet: 17 out of 20
The SKY’s softer tip makes it a touch better than the Asquith or other stiff rods in close. Don’t be afraid to fish small dries with this rod.
Performance at 40 feet: 17.5 out of 20
As expected, the SKY performed well at 40 feet. The faster and responsive action made for pleasant and accurate casts.
Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10
As with the other stiffer rods in the Shootout, the SKY performed best at 60 feet.