2019 #4 Shootout

By

Francis Clougherty

Francis Clougherty fly fishing  

 

Working in the shop the last few of years has given me plenty of opportunities to cast and test a variety of rods from the leading rod companies that have appeared in our recent Shootouts. 

 

And, while I’m still schooled up every time George comes out onto the lawn to cast with me, I feel I have gained the ability to discern what makes a great performing rod.

 

My scoring and ranking is solely based on Performance Only and my scores are determined by totaling each rod’s score at the three distances we tested. All points were rounded to the nearest .5. In my write up I’ve also included some of my personal opinions on other aspects of the rods, which I think you will find useful.

 

If you have any questions on my Shootout notes don’t hesitate to send me an email at: [email protected]

 

Francis Clougherty casting

 

Francis Performance Only

 

 

#1.  Hardy ZEPHRUS    8’6” #4         $679.00

Hardy Zephrus

Hardy Zephrus best 4-weight fly rod

It’s the Hardy Zephrus for the win!  Picking up this rod, I’m immediately impressed by its light weight and responsiveness.  The Zephrus makes me a more accurate and efficient caster.  The Zephrus has that perfect balance between power and sensitivity; it’s easy to control but has the ability to turn it up a level when reaching out to longer distances or when conditions require a bit more “oomph”.


The softer tip on the Zephrus will protect the lightest tippets.  I found the Zephrus to be a really versatile, do-it-all 4-weight!   Aesthetically it wasn’t my favorite, but I appreciated the high quality components, guides and finish work. 

 

Performance at 25 feet: 20/20

Very nice! For me, this rod loaded up very quickly and efficiently, while still delivering a delicate and accurate presentation on every cast. The Zephrus was able to turn over our 12-foot hand-tied leaders with ease.

Performance at 40 feet: 20/20

Awesome!  The Zephrus feels great to cast at 40 feet.  This rod really excels at short to mid range distances.  Incredibly accurate and capable of delivering the fly exactly where it needs to go, even when dealing with a moderate breeze.

Performance at 60 feet: 9.5/10

This rod has the gusto to launch it out to 60’ and then some!  You know it has power when the rod almost effortlessly shoots line.  The S.A. Amplitude Smooth Infinity line made every cast feel like a 75-yard Young to Rice TD!

 

#2.   R.L Winston PURE   8’ #4     $850.00

Winston Pure

R.L.Winston PURE 8'#4

The Winston Pure 8’ #4 was one of my favorite rods during the shootout, and one I kept coming back to again and again. To me, this was one of the rods that “tracked” perfectly and felt amazing in my hand.


The Winston Pure 8’ is exactly the type of 4wt I’m looking for: light and delicate but with enough backbone to handle even the longer distances easily.  This would be my go to 4wt, and the only reason it isn’t my #1 in our shootout is the Hardy Zephrus’ slight edge at 60 feet. It’s their top of the line Winston; so you know it’s pure-ty. Winston is known for their fine craftsmanship and attention to detail, and that is clearly evident on the Pure.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 20/20

The Pure is extremely accurate, giving me delicate presentations.  It’s exactly what I’m looking for when fishing in close, where it’s a game of inches.  When casting, this rod loads up smoothly and delivers incredibly pinpoint casts time and time again.

Performance at 40 feet: 20/20

Deadly accurate. To me, the Winston Pure felt great casting at mid-distances.  It has plenty of power but gives me a very light touch and presentation. The fly line seems to shoot effortlessly from Pure’s light and reactive tip.  It made me feel like Jack Nicklaus sinking the winning putt at Augusta.

Performance at 60 feet: 9/10  

Not as powerful as some of the other contenders but still very capable of handling longer distances with tight loops and very good accuracy.   

 

 

#3. Orvis HELIOS 3F     8’6” #4        $849.00

Orvis H3F

Orvis HELIOS 3F 8'6"#4

Orvis touts the accuracy and responsiveness of this rod, and it looks to me like they hit those nails right on the head.  The H3F does feel great in hand, and gives you the accuracy you need to fool those skittish trophy brown trout sipping spinners on your local tail water or spring creek.

The Helios 3F felt a little heavier in the hand than the Zephrus, but the difference was negligible.  This rod is still very light, with a crisp action.  Aesthetically… it’s not for me. I don’t care for all that white on the butt.  But I do appreciate the excellent craftsmanship, and high build quality of the Helios 3F.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 19.5/20

This rod has great feel and accuracy in close.  Not many were better. 

Performance at 40 feet: 19.5/20

Like the Zephrus I think this distance was the H3’s sweet spot.  The rod felt incredibly smooth, with a great balance of power and delicate presentation.

Performance at 60 feet: 9.5/10

The H3F has plenty of power to get out to 60’ but more importantly it has the control to get it there accurately.

 

 

 

#4. Thomas & Thomas AVANTT 8’6” #4  $845.00

Thomas & Thomas AVANTT 8'6"#4

Thomas & Thomas AVANTT 8'6"#4

The Thomas and Thomas Avant is a great example of form meeting function. This rod jumps out at you both on the rod rack as well as out on the water.

Aesthetically, the Avantt was one of my favorite rods in the Shootout.  Thomas and Thomas spared no expense when constructing the Avantt.


Light and incredibly powerful, the Avantt can throw anything from small dries to small streamers with pinpoint accuracy. It has a smaller cork handle than most in the Shootout but after a few minutes I was comfortable with the smaller grip.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 19/20

The T&T Avantt is slightly less sensitive and had less feel than the top contenders, but was still a very nice, accurate rod in close.

Performance at 40 feet: 19.5/20

To me, the Avantt felt great at the mid-range distances. Smooth and reactive, this rod would put my cast exactly where it needed to go.

Performance at 60 feet: 9.5/10

The T&T Avantt is an incredibly powerful rod, that can quickly generate the line speed needed to reach out to longest distances with ease.  I was getting tight, accurate loops.

 

 

#5.   Scott G SERIES 8’4’’  #4    $845.00

Scott G SERIES 8'4"#4

Scott G SERIES 8'4"#4

The newer G Series feels like a classic 4 weight, and was another top pick for me. The G Series with its “moderate” action requires a slightly slower casting stroke, but to me, it feels just right for a 4wt. This is another gorgeous rod with superb craftsmanship.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 19.5/20

This rod is sweet. The G Series is a very smooth and really fun to cast in close. Accurate, with loads of feel and touch.

Performance at 40 feet: 19.5/20

The G Series felt really nice at 40 feet.  It’s on the heavier side as far as swing weight goes but in the hand, it doesn't feel at all burdensome or clunky.  The rod is very accurate and responsive at this mid distance.

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5/10

The G Series, like the Winston Pure, lacked a little bit of punch compared to the stiffer rods at long distance. When I slowed my stroke down, and got my timing right, I could hit 60 feet easily and with pretty good accuracy.  I preferred the Infinity fly line to the Trout at this distance.

 

 

 

#6. Orvis RECON    8’6#4         $429.00

Orvis Recon

Orvis RECON 8'6"#4

For under $500, the Orvis Recon is a rod that I feel performs well above its price point. To me, the Recon’s action is a little slower and a little less powerful than it’s pricier H3F sibling, but was still a smooth and accurate rod.  This is a great performing and good -looking 4wt for under $500!

 

Performance at 25 feet: 19/20

The Recon feels smooth and accurate in close but a little less responsive than the best rods like the H3F.

Performance at 40 feet: 19/20

The Recon casts great at mid distances, and was very accurate.

Performance at 60 feet: 9/10

The Recon impressed me at this longer distance. It has a good amount of power but again a little less responsive than some of the other “crisper” rods like the Avantt.  

 

  

#7.  Hardy SHADOW 8’6”  #4    $349.95

Hardy SHADOW 8'6"#4 

Hardy SHADOW 8'6"#4 

Hardy’s new Shadow series is a quality rod at a very affordable price. A little heavier than the Zephrus, but the Shadow was still very accurate and a top contender in my shootout at short to medium distances.  The light action Shadow felt perfect when paired with the lighter Trout series fly line.


I enjoyed the smooth casting, medium-fast action this rod. I loved the good looks of this rod, and especially that red/burgundy colored blank.  For the money, the craftsmanship was excellent.  

 

Performance at 25 feet: 19/20

I found that close distance was where this rod really performed best for me.

Performance at 40 feet: 19/20

A pleasant rod to cast at mid distances. I was getting nice presentations with good accuracy.

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5/10

Just didn't have the power the Zephrus did at long range

 

 

#8.  Scott RADIAN    8’6’’ #4     $795.00

Scott Radian

Scott RADIAN 8'6"#4 

We sell a good number of Scott Radians every year, and for good reason – they are great rods!  Before starting this Shootout, I thought the Radian was one rod that would finish in my top five.


Everything about the profile of this rod makes me think it should fit right in there with the Zephrus and Helios 3F.  However once I was able to cast the Radian heads up with the top rods, it didn’t shine as brightly as the lighter and more responsive 4-weights.


Probably just a personal issue, but I don’t prefer the Radian’s cork handle full wells style, with the swell closer to the top of the grip.  That felt more cumbersome to me than other rod’s grips.  

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5/20

The Radian was good in close. However the tip is just a tad too stiff for me, and I preferred the G series at this distance.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5/20

At 40 feet the rod has a little breathing room and can open up a bit more. I found the Radian to be accurate and consistent at 40’.

Performance at 60 feet: 9/10

The Radian’s power lit up now and I was hitting 60 feet with ease.  I was getting nice loops and good accuracy.

 

 

 

#9 (tie)  St. Croix IMPERIAL 8’6” #4  $270.00

St. Croix IMPERIAL 8'6"#4

St. Croix IMPERIAL 8'6"#4

I think the St. Croix Imperial is another great 4wt rod in that affordable mid-price range.  While a little less responsive than some of the higher ranked 4wts; the Imperial was still very accurate in close and at mid distances with enough punch to hit 60 feet easily. This is exactly what I’m looking for in a 4-weight rod.  Not a showstopper in the looks department, but the quality and craftsmanship were good. 

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5/20

The fast action and soft tip found on the Imperial allowed my leader to turn over quickly and accurately.  This rod was very good in close where precision counts. 

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5/20

Good power and accuracy at this distance. I felt confident this rod could put my line and fly where I wanted it to go, even with a moderate breeze.

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5/10

Had the punch to keep my line moving and my loops tight, right out to 60’.

 

 

#9. (tie) Sage X     8'6"#4            $900.00

Sage X

Sage X 8'6"#4

The Sage X was another rod I thought might place in the top 5 before we started the Shootout.  It has a medium fast action and has tons of power, but the tip is perhaps a little stiffer than the best rods.  It is light enough in overall weight but has a surprisingly heavy swing weight, which hurt the feel in close.  Once I was able to cast the X heads up with the other top rods like the Zephrus and Helios 3F, it felt heavy while casting, and didn’t perform nearly as well.  This is a really nice looking fly rod, with very good craftsmanship.  The build quality and components used were top notch and what you would expect on an expensive rod.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18/20

The excess power seemed to hurt this rod when dealing with delicate casts 25 feet and closer.  Very little feel.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5/20

This is the sweet spot for the X.  Now it is more accurate and sensitive, and it feels well matched with the SA Infinity line.

Performance at 60 feet: 9/10

Plenty of power to get it out there, but it couldn’t match the accuracy of either the Helios 3F or the Avantt.

 

 

 

#9. (tie)  Winston NIMBUS 8’6 #4   $650.00

Winston Nimbus fly rod

R.L. Winston NIMBUS 8'6"#4

The Nimbus is another good rod that can get overlooked in the middle of a multi-rod Shootout.  Its fancier Winston counterpart, the Pure, out performed the Nimbus in every category. So if it’s a Winston you’re looking for I’d save or pony up the extra $200 for the Pure.


Still a nice looking rod with good craftsmanship, but you can see they don't go all out on the materials and components as they do on the Pure.

 

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5/20

Felt good in close but was a little heavier and less accurate than the Pure.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5/20

Felt good at mid-distances too.  Again nothing wrong with the Nimbus at 40’, but other rods just tracked and cast a smidge better.  

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5/10

Again a good rod at 60’, just not great.    

 

 

#12.(tie)  G.Loomis NRX LP   9’ #4   $745.00

 

G. Loomis NRX LP 

G. Loomis NRX LP 9'#4

Having worked at the shop for some years now, I’ve become pretty familiar with the great NRX LP series. I currently keep a 9’ #5 LP rigged in my car and I think if I were to get a 3-weight, the 8’8” NRX LP would be one of the top rods to consider.  

That being said, I’m just not a huge fan of the NRX LP in the 9’ #4 model.  It felt heavier and less responsive than the best 4-weights here, with a mid-section that feels too soft.


The craftsmanship was excellent and I do like the dark green color of the blank.  The components were high quality, and I especially liked the light and flexible single-foot guides.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18/20

Lacked a bit of touch to make delicate and accurate casts with small flies and long leaders.

Performance at 40 feet: 18/20

The LP felt nice and performed well at this distance.

Performance at 60 feet: 9/10

Good power and performance at long distances.

 

 

 

#12.(tie)  G. Loomis ASQUITH 9’ #4      $1000.00

G. Loomis Asquith

G. Loomis ASQUITH 9'#4

The Asquith is a very powerful and durable rod, and the only one in my shootout to get a perfect 10/10 for performance at 60’.


You are paying top dollar for the Asquith, and it is a great looking rod, with excellent craftsmanship.  I felt that it was just a little too powerful and stiff to make a good 4-weight.   All that power and stiffness hurt at close distances but helped out long. 

 

Performance at 25 feet: 17/20

Too stiff and too much power to get the delicate presentation I’m looking for at close distance.  The stiffness also killed the feel and accuracy.

Performance at 40 feet: 18/20

Like some of the other stiffer rods in the Shootout, getting a little more line out helps the Asquith to load more efficiently. It’s accurate at mid distances but not in the same class as the Zephrus or Helios 3F.  

Performance at 60 feet: 10/10

This was where I thought the Asquith outperformed all the other rods in the shootout. With tons of power, the Asquith fires the line to long range effortlessly and accurately.  

 

 

#12.(tie)  T&T ZONE 8’6” #4  $495.00

T&T ZONE

Thomas & Thomas ZONE 8'6"#4

I get what Thomas and Thomas is doing with the Zone series of rods, offering a high quality rod at a reasonable price. To me this rod just felt too heavy and clunky.  Not nearly as smooth or as accurate as the Avantt, or the other top rods with a similar price point. The cork handle on this rod felt too bulky. Other components were very good, as were the rod wraps and coatings.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5/20

Good, just not great. The larger grip seemed to take away some of the sensitivity I’d like to feel in a 4wt.

Performance at 40 feet: 18/20

My most accurate and enjoyable distance with this rod. Anything closer and I’d lose some accuracy any further and I’d lose power.

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5/10

Not enough power to give me a good performance at this distance. I struggled to make consistently good casts.

 

 

#15.(tie)  Douglas DXF 8’6” #4   $349.00

Douglas DXF 8'6"#4

Douglas DXF 8'6"#4 

The Douglas DXF is a decent rod that fits nicely into the middle of the pack. I found it a little less accurate then some of the top ranked rods.  But it did give me a good amount of feel along with light and delicate presentations, better than what I got with the SKY.   


The craftsmanship was good, and I liked the appearance of this rod in its flat green color.  

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18/20

A good rod at close range.  Decent accuracy and delicate presentations.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5/20

Accurate and smooth at this mid distance.

Performance at 60 feet: 8/10

The DXF didn't have as much butt power as many of the other rods, and couldn’t handle the long distance as well.

 

 

#15.(tie)  Fenwick AETOS 8’ #4     $179.95   

Fenwick Aetos

Fenwick AETOS 8'#4 

The Fenwick Aetos is another rod that punches in way above its price point.  Lively and responsive, the Aetos was my favorite rod in the shootout for under $200, and I even favored it over a lot of the more expensive rods.  I liked the nice blue blank, but the components were not as good as the better rods.  Still a very good performance for the price.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5/20

I really liked how smooth and responsive the Aetos felt in close.  This was the best distance for the Aetos.

Performance at 40 feet: 18/20

Accurate, with a nice light touch at the mid distances.

Performance at 60 feet: 8/10

Not as much juice in the tank as some of the more powerful rods.  I could hit the longest mark but not with much accuracy. 

 

 

#15.(tie)  Douglas SKY   9’ #4    $645.00

Douglas Sky

Douglas SKY 9'#4

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. 

 

 

 

#18.(tie)  Hardy ZEPHRUS ULTRALITE 8’9’’ #4 $679.95

Hardy ZEPHRUS ULTRALITE 8'9"#4

Hardy ZEPHRUS ULTRALITE 8'9"#4

This was another rod I thought would do well in the Shootout and was a little surprised when it finished so far down my list.  It is an extremely light rod but lacks the backbone found in the standard Zephrus.  The softer, medium action hurt the accuracy, and this rod just didn’t have enough power to make long casts very well.  The shorter distances were where the Ultralite performed the best.  I did like the craftsmanship and the overall appearance of this rod.  

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5/20 

I’m getting really nice light presentations. It almost felt like I was casting a 3-weight.  But the Zephrus was much more accurate.

Performance at 40 feet: 18/20

I had pretty good accuracy and tight loops at the mid distance. Both the Zephrus and Pure were far better.

Performance at 60 feet: 7.5/10

I could not get this rod to cast well or accurately at long distance, for the life of me.

 

 

 

#18.(tie)  Orvis CLEARWATER 8’6” #4  $198.00

Orvis CLEARWATER 8'6"#4

Orvis CLEARWATER 8'6"#4 

The new Orvis Clearwater is another nice rod to get you out on the water for under $200. It’s not the lightest or most powerful rod in the shootout, but it's a good workhorse and seems to do everything well.   It performed well for me at all distances.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18/20

The Clearwater felt pretty good in close. A little heavy in the tip but still could get those 12’ leaders to turn over with decent accuracy.

Performance at 40 feet: 18/20

Mid-distance was where I felt the Clearwater performed best and showed its ability.

Performance at 60 feet: 8/10

I was pleasantly surprised by the power and accuracy I was getting with the Clearwater out at our longest distance.

 

 

#18.(tie)  Taylor TRUTH 9’ #4    $649.00

Taylor TRUTH 9'#4

Taylor TRUTH 9'#4

The Truth was another one of those rods 9’ rods that I would have preferred in an 8’6” size.  The overall stiffness hurt, especially at the closer distances.   This is a really nice looking rod with a somewhat sinister all black blank and wraps give the rod a “ready to go to battle” type of look.


Performance at 25 feet: 17.5/20

Tough to load this rod in close.  I was not getting very good accuracy either.

Performance at 40 feet: 18/20

I thought the Truth felt really nice at 40 feet and was giving me nice loops with good control.  

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5/10

Like a lot of the other 9’ rods, the Truth had good power and accuracy at 60’.

 

 

#21.(tie)  TFO FINESSE TROUT   7’9” #4    $229.95

TFO FINESSE TROUT 7'9"#4

Temple Fork Outfitters FINESSE TROUT 7'9"#4 

I found the TFO Finesse 7’9 to be a pleasant rod in close, but it lacked the power needed to perform well at the longer distances.  It’s a good looking fly rod, however the stripping guide and the snake guides on this rod are just too big for the blank and add unnecessary weight.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5/20

The TFO Finesse had a really nice feel and good touch in close.   In close was the sweet spot for this rod.

Performance at 40 feet: 18/20

At 40’ the 7’9 Finesse still felt pretty good and I was able to get nice loops and decent accuracy.

Performance at 60 feet: 7/10

Unfortunately, the 7’9 Finesse doesn't have the butt power that it needs to cast well at long distance.  I just felt under- gunned here compared to the best rods.

 

 

#21.(tie)  Sage MOD 8’6” #4   $850.00

Sage MOD 8'6"#4

Sage MOD 8'6"#4

The MOD is marketed as a great rod for dry fly presentation and light tippet protection.  To me it does have the ability to make delicate presentations, but lacks a little bit of oomph when the breeze kicks up.  Having wind in Livingston is almost as guaranteed as running into a couple of fishing guides at the Murray Bar.  This lack of backbone made it difficult for me to get any kind of decent performance at 60 feet.  


The bright green blank really pops when you see the MOD on the rod rack or out in the sunlight.  

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18/20

The MOD felt the best to me in close; it turned over the 12’ leaders smoothly and with good accuracy. 

Performance at 40 feet: 18/20

Still felt good at 40 feet, but when the breeze kicked up I found it difficult to punch line into it and get the accuracy I was looking for.

Performance at 60 feet: 7.5/10

I could get it out to 60’, but with very little accuracy.

 

 

 

#23. Mystic REAPER X    8’6”  #4   $299.00

Mystic Reaper X

Mystic REAPER X 8'6"#4 

The newly redesigned Reaper X is another one of those rods that ended up in the middle of the pack. It felt decent in close with its nice soft tip, but lacked the strength in the butt and midsections it needed to produce a good performance at the longer distances.   

 

Performance at 25 feet: 18/20

The Reaper X felt best at short distance where I was getting pretty good feel and accuracy.

Performance at 40 feet: 17.5/20

This rod does not track as well as others, and my accuracy suffered.

Performance at 60 feet: 7.5/10

A little sluggish at longer distances.  Most other rods were better.  

  

 

#24.  Loop OPTI K2          9’ #4         $549.00

Loop OPTI K2 9'#4

Loop OPTI K2 9'#4

I was a huge fan of the 9’#5 Loop Opti Stream and was bummed when I heard they were going to discontinue it.  It was a very forgiving and enjoyable rod to fish and one that wouldn’t destroy your savings account to get it out the door.


To me the Opti K2 has some of those same characteristics but it’s just a little too stiff and rigid to be the 4-weight I’d reach for when delicate presentations and light tippet are the name of the game.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 17/20

I just couldn't get this rod to give me very good accuracy in close.  Most likely the stiffness was to blame.

Performance at 40 feet: 17.5/20

Got it to open up a bit more at mid-distance and was getting better accuracy but not the delicate presentations I was looking for.

Performance at 60 feet: 8/10

Good power out to 60’ and now the K2 is performing better for me.  

 

 

#25. (tie)  G. Loomis IMX PRO   8’6’’­ #4   $495.00

G. Loomis IMX PRO 8'6"#4

G. Loomis IMX PRO 8'6"#4 

To me this rod almost felt like a 9 footer and had similar characteristics as the JPX.  The IMX Pro is just too heavy and stiff for a 8’6’’#4. The IMX Pro seems more suited to fishing streamers and heavier nymph rigs than with a size 20 emerger or dry fly.    

 

Performance at 25 feet: 17/20

Not great.  Lacked the feel and delicate presentation necessary for fishing in close with dry flies.

Performance at 40 feet: 17/20

Like a lot of rods in this shootout, this mid distance seemed to be where I was feeling most accurate and efficient.  Still not so hot compared to the better rods. 

Performance at 60 feet: 8/10

With its stiffness, the IMX Pro now has good power and line control at 60 feet.  

 

 

 

#25. (tie)   Loop Q   9’ #4   $229.00

Loop Q

Loop Q 9'#4 

The Loop Q was a rod that just fell short when comparing it with the other Shootout rods.  The stiffer tip and softer mid section made my casting feel quite a bit less fluid and smooth than most of the other rods.


I did like the subtle matte black finish and the orange trimmed wraps give the rod a nice pop.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 17/20

The stiff tip on the Loop Q lacked the touch to lay line down gently at closer distances. 

Performance at 40 feet: 17/20

I felt the Q did not track as well as some of the other rods, and lacked accuracy.

Performance at 60 feet: 8/10

The softer mid-section and stiff tip didn't give me the performance or accuracy I was hoping for at long range.

 

  

#27. Mystic JXP 9’ #4  $40  $499.00

Mystic JXP 9'#4

Mystic JXP 9'#4 

Like a lot of the 9 foot rods in this Shootout, the JXP felt heavy and cumbersome when compared with some of the lighter, more nimble 8 and 8 ½ foot rods.   This is a stiff and powerful rod.   Too much power for a good 4-weight. 


I did like the craftsmanship more than what I found on the Reaper X, but this is a very stiff rod and does not perform well in close.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 16.5/20

Heavy in the hand, and not nearly as accurate or delicate as the better rods.

Performance at 40 feet: 17/20

Like many rods in this Shootout the JXP seemed to preform best for me at this midrange distance. It lacked a bit of touch and feel I was getting with the lighter rods. 

Performance at 60 feet: 8/10

I was getting better accuracy and performance at long distance.

 

 

#28. Waterworks- Lamson SS   9’ #4  $399.99

Waterworks Lamson SS 9'#4

Waterworks Lamson SS 9'#4 

This was another rod that just felt too stiff and clunky to be a delicate and accurate go-to 4wt. It would work better for nymphing or throwing smaller streamers.

 

Performance at 25 feet: 16/20

The Lamson was just too stiff and rigid to give me delicate presentations at this distance.

Performance at 40 feet: 17/20

The Lamson SS still lacked the finesse and accuracy the top performers showed at mid distances.

Performance at 60 feet: 8/10

It was hard for me to tap the power and control I needed to cast accurately at 60 feet.

 

 

#29.  TFO FINESSE TROUT 8’9”  #4   $229.95

TFO FINESSE TROUT 8'9"#4

TFO FINESSE TROUT 8'9"#4

I have the TFO Finesse 8’9” at the end of my rankings, and it belongs there.  To me this rod was just clunky and “hingy” compared to the others that we tested. It wasn’t as smooth or as accurate other rods either. The huge stripping guide seems out of place.  The snake guides seemed too large too.  The 7’9” Finesse was a much more pleasant rod to cast.  

 

Performance at 25 feet: 16.5/20

The Finesse 8’9" fell well short in the touch and sensitivity I was getting with the top contenders.

Performance at 40 feet: 17/20

At 40’ the Finesse 8’9" still felt heavy and unresponsive. Not nearly as accurate or as pleasant as the Finesse 7’9”.  

Performance at 60 feet: 7/10

The Finesse 8’9" didn’t have power or the line control needed to cast well at 60 feet.

  

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my notes on our 2019 4-weight Shootout. If you have any questions about my notes or would like to hear more on any of these rods please e-mail me at:   [email protected]