yellowstone.angler.6.weight.shootout

 

2016  6-Weight Shootout Comments

by

JG (Josh Green)

 

Josh Green JG

 

I was excited to get this shootout under way.  I’ve seen a trend on our local rivers here in South West Montana; 6-weights seem to be becoming more and more popular.  The same anglers that used a 9’ 5-weight in the past are now looking for more versatility and power to tackle big rivers and windy conditions.  As rod tech continues to get better we see lighter more responsive rods that can throw tiny tricos as well as big streamers and everything in between.  We thought that it was time to shed some light on this “do everything” category of rods.

 

What surprised me the most throughout this whole shootout was the wide range of characteristics that we found in the rods we tested.  There were rods that excelled in delicate close presentations like the Winston Air and rods like the Meridian by Scott, which would be great for light saltwater applications due to their extremely fast action and stiffness.  We saw a brand new way of building rods in the G. Loomis Asquith with its X-wrap technology and Winston’s first foray into Nano-resin technology.  Douglas Outdoors really stepped up to the plate this year with a great new rod, the Sky, and Echo kept it real with a great rod that retails at less than $100.00!

 

I had a blast doing this shootout and hope that you enjoy reading my comments.

 

JGs 

 

1.  (tie)  Douglas  Sky       60 points out of 60 

 

Douglas Sky fly rods

Douglas Sky best 6 weight fly rod

 

When I picked up this rod for the first time I couldn't help but notice how light it was.  That’s the norm in advertising, right?  Lighter, stronger, faster, whatever.  Most of the time I have to convince myself that I can feel the difference.  With the Sky By Douglas Outdoors I was surprised by how clearly different this rod felt right off the bat.  A nice grip ensures comfort and accuracy while the subtle but classy looks don't spook fish and keep you looking good.

 

30 Feet:   20 points out of 20

My favorite thing about this Sky and one reason it got such high marks from me is that it’s very versatile, and that's because it has a really progressive action.  It’s got a soft tip that gradually and steadily ramps up to a stiff butt section.  This means that casting at shorter distances is easy and pleasant.  The softer tip of the rod loads and unloads giving the angler a lot of feel and feedback making it extremely accurate at close distance.  It doesn't overpower short casts which would cause them to slap the water but manages to put enough energy into the line to get the leader to straighten out every time.  

 

50 Feet:    20 points out of 20

At mid range the Sky performed flawlessly.  The MPX (1/2 size heavy) that we use for our shootouts fits it perfectly and makes the sweet spot large and apparent.  Hitting the bulls-eye takes little more effort than looking at where you want your fly and letting the rod do the rest.  Loop shape is easy to manipulate and it’s easy to change targets.  Tracking at a distance is spectacular again making this a really accurate rod.  This is one of the most fun rods I’ve had the pleasure to cast just because it’s so easy.  Tailing loops go away, accuracy goes up, and I’m able to think about the fishing more than the casting.  All good things!

 

75 Feet:   20 points out of 20

This is one of the few rods where hitting the farthest target is just as easy as hitting the mid range mark.  Again we see the progressive action come into its own, where the short casts were easy because of the soft tip, the long casts are equally easy because of the power reserves located in the butt section of the rod.  Just pick a target, let the rod load and smoothly add power and it’s harder not to hit your target than it is to hit it.

 

 

 

1. (tie)  Orvis Helios 2         60 points out of 60

 

Orvis H2

Orvis Helios 2

 

 

 

Light, powerful, and accurate, the Helios by Orvis is still a top rod in the 6 wt. category despite being a few years old.  Its light-weight and crisp action give it a great feel that makes you want to keep your hands on this rod.

 

30 Feet:  20 points out of 20

I liked this rod a lot for in close work and was surprised by how proficient it was at casting to short-range targets.  The “wiggle test” would lead you to believe that it would perform much like many other very fast action rods.  Accurate in close but lacking in delicacy, the Helios is a well-designed rod though, and made accurate delicate casts with ease. 

 

50 Feet:  20 points out of 20

The mid range result left nothing to be desired, no matter the wind, I found the Helios to be accurate giving lots of feed back and sensitivity to the angler and promoting accuracy.  This is a great mix of power and delicacy making a great mid range tool for anything you’d care to do with a 6 wt.

 

75 Feet:   20 points out of 20

This rod scored highly for me because of its action.  I like very smooth rods and a powerful butt section that tapers smoothly to a tip that is just soft enough and this is just what the Helios delivers.  The Tip makes great short casts, the taper’s blend helps at mid range and the power in the butt makes this a great rod for distance work as well.  I found the bulls-eye with ease and the super lightweight of the Helios would make it easy to cast all day long.

 

 

3.   G. Loomis NRX     59 points out of 60

 

G Loomis NRX

 

G. Loomis NRX

 

A popular rod in almost any weight, the NRX is one of my favorite rods.  It’s a little heavier than some but performs great and is really tough.

 

30 Feet:  19 points out of 20

The NRX feels really good in close.  The tip is soft enough that short casts are easy and accurate.  The powerful mid and butt sections give the rod plenty of backbone and make it track true.  It was easy for me to get a nice gentle presentation every time without too much worry of being overly splashy.

 

50 Feet:  20 points out of 20

One of my favorites at this distance, I like the rod’s spot on accuracy and great feel.  I get a lot of feedback from this rod and can get really consistent accuracy.  It loads great and has a really smooth transmission of power because of a great blend of soft tip to powerful butt sections. 

 

75 Feet:  20 points out of 20

I like the NRX a lot at distance because it’s one of those rods that will really do the work for you.  If you overpower the cast it tends to act up when you get some distance between you and the target, but dial it back and let the rod do the work and it really fires out smooth accurate casts.  It’s easy to hit the mark no matter how far out the fish are with such a great rod. 

 

 

4.   G. Loomis Asquith       58 points out of 60

 

G.Loomis Asqeeth

G.Loomis Asqeeth

 

 

The Asquith by G. Loomis is an interesting rod for many reasons, not the least of which is the name but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that since this shootout is based on performance.  Despite the strange name, which I think harkens back to an 18th century British Libertarian party leader, there are a lot of really neat things going on with this rod that translate to better performance in an angler’s hand.  In a nutshell the new Spiral X technology from Loomis adds strength, rigidity, and decreases ovalization in the rod blank resulting in better transmission of energy.  So does it work?

 

30 Feet: 18 points out of 20

Not so much at 30.  The action of this rod is simply too fast to load at such short distance.  There isn’t much sensitivity and it’s hard to be delicate.  It tracks exceptionally well at this and all distances which makes it very accurate, but I could be just as accurate throwing a baseball and have similar results to casting this rod in close.

 

50  Feet:  20 points out of 20

When you get a little more line out and there’s a little more mass to load the rod it really does come to life. I felt more connected to the fly at the tip of my leader than I ever have.  It still has a lot of power so the angler still has to be on his or her game not to put the fly down too aggressively but accuracy was great, sensitivity was great and it was easy to find my mark with tight laser speed loops every time.

 

75 Feet:  20 points out of 20

Long distance work is the Asquith’s bread and butter.  The rod’s super fast action gives it a ton of power that it uses to fight wind, hard to cast flies, and strike with pinpoint accuracy.  A great rod at distance, the Asquith won’t be for everyone, but technical casters that like to (or need to) reach out to long range targets will find that this rod fits the bill extremely well. 

 

 

5. (tie)  Douglas  DXF     57 points out of 60

 

 Douglas DXF

Douglas DXF

 

The DXF, another fine rod from Douglas Outdoors, has a beautiful green blank and a slightly slower action than the Sky, the other Douglas rod in our Shootout.  At the price of the DXF ($349.00) there isn’t much on the market that casts as well.

 

30 Feet: 19 points out of 20

The DXF is good in close.  The rod tracks really well and is very accurate and controllable.  It feels comfortable and natural in my hand and does just what I ask it to.  It delivers flies pretty well but the tip could be just a touch softer to aid in delicacy for short-range casts.

 

50 Feet:  20 points out of 20

I thought this rod was fantastic at our middle distance of fifty feet. I could really feel what the rod was doing, loading and unloading, which made it easy to time my cast and worry more about where my fly was going to land than actually getting it there.  Accuracy was spot on, this is an easy fun rod to fish at this distance.

 

75 Feet:   18 points out of 20

The DXF doesn't have the fastest action, it is great up to about 65 feet but our longest shot, 80ft, was a little much to ask of the DXF.  I found that it wasn't quite as accurate out at the long target and was affected a little more by the wind.  It still got there fairly easily and was accurate enough for such a long cast.

 

 

5.  (tie)  Scott Meridian      57 points out of 60

 

Scott Meridian rod

Scott Meridian rod

 

 

A very light good-looking rod that Scott produced for the saltwater market, the Meridian 6 would make a great light salt or streamer rod. 

 

30 Feet:   17 points out of 20

The Meridian sports a really fast action that, at 30ft, is really overkill.  The rod gives you no sensation and there isn’t enough mass past the rod tip to load the rod well.  The casts at this distance were on their mark but you’re basically just slapping the line onto the water not making much of an actual cast. 

 

50 Feet:  20 points out of 20

At our 50ft target the Meridian did great.  With a little more line out the rod loads really well and then unleashes the cast like John Force at a green light.  Line speed is really high and the cast finds its mark quickly despite wind or other interfering factors. Chalk that up to a speedy tight loop, and great tracking. 

 

75 Feet:   20 points out of 20

At 75 ft the story is largely the same as it is at 50.  The Meridian tracks true and gives great accuracy at distance and has a ton of power making it surprisingly easy to hit the long shots.

 

 

 

7.   (tie)   Hardy Zephrus       56 points out of 60

 

Hardy Zephrus

Hardy Zephrus

 

 

The Zephrus is a newer rod from Hardy that we saw do well in our last 5wt shootout.  It replaced the Zenith, a fantastic rod that was the winner of our 2012 4wt shootout; the Zephrus 6-weight had a lot to live up to.  Hardy really did their homework with this rod and this is a nice lively six.

 

30 Feet:  19 points out of 20

The Hardy is very light which makes the tip feel lively and controllable during the cast.  It has a fast action but the tip is soft enough to allow really nice casts in close.  The delicate tip, light weight, and the Zephrus’ great tracking make it really accurate and delicate in close.

 

50 Feet:  19 points out of 20

This rod performed great at the mid range target.  Wind was not much of an issue as the Zephrus’ fast action can produce a lot of line speed and tight loops.  I really felt the rod load and unload well which helps with timing the cast and, as at the 30ft distance, its great tracking made it very accurate.

 

75 Feet:  18 points out of 20

Not the most powerful rod in the shootout but it would hit the 80ft target without much trouble.  It was fairly accurate at this distance but I had some trouble getting it to lay down right where I wanted.  It loses a little of its tracking prowess  at long range with more line out.

 

 

7.   (tie)   Loop Cross SX  56 points out of 60

 

Loop Cross SX

Loop Cross SX

 

 

The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the Loop Cross SX is that it feels light and responsive before you even make a cast.  It’s a good looking rod with a subdued gray finish and interesting reel seat.

 

30 Feet:   18 points out of 20

This rod was a little too fast at close range for top marks but was still good.  It was very accurate and I landed the fly on the target with no problem, it was a little harsh on the landing though and could benefit from being a little softer in the tip.

 

50 Feet:  20 points out of 20

The SX was really nice at fifty feet. It has good sensitivity, tracking, and accuracy. When I was casting this rod there were periods of no wind ranging to sustained gusts of over 15mph.  I was able to control the loop size in my cast really easily which helped adapt to the changing conditions.  If it’s gusting tighten that cast up if not open it up and relax a bit.  The Cross SX was really adaptable and responsive.

 

75 Feet:   18 points out of 20

I liked the SX pretty well at this distance.  When it was calm the rod did great, tracking straight and providing a good level of accuracy.  If the wind kicked up I found it to be a little more finicky than at 50 feet, requiring me to concentrate a little more on my form to deliver good casts.

 

 

 

7.   (tie)   Scott Radian         56 points out of 60

 

Scott Radian

Scott Radian

 

The Radian is a striking rod right off the bat with a distinct color scheme and great looking reel seat.  The Scott motto of fast meets feel is pretty accurate here with this great rod from Scott.

 

30 Feet:  19 points out of 20

I liked the Radian for in close work.  I thought that the slightly softer mid section made it easy to load the rod with little line out and the soft enough tip helped to delicately place the fly where I wanted.  The grip gives you a great connection to the rod and really steps the accuracy up a notch. 

 

50 Feet:  19 points out of 20

The Radian scored well for me at the mid-range; again I liked the little bit more flex in the mid section of the rod.  At 50 feet you don't need the most power in the world and to me this rod would be perfect for double nymphs or large dries.  This is where the fast meets feel really holds true.

 

75 Feet:  18 points out of 20

I deducted a few points here because the Radian doesn’t have quite the power that some rods do to accurately deliver an 80 foot cast in any condition.  If conditions are right accuracy is good but a gust of wind can really affect the cast at this distance. 

 

 

 

10.  (tie)  Echo Base        54 points out of 60 

 

 

Echo Base

 

Echo Base

 

 

 

The Echo Base, what a rod! At less than $100.00 this rod can deliver the goods to any angler on any budget.

 

 

 

30 Feet:   18 points out of 20

 

The Base did pretty well at the 30 ft target.  It has a soft enough tip that you can make nice delicate and accurate casts easily.  The only real gripe I have with it at this distance is that it feels pretty heavy throughout the casting stroke.

 

 

 

50 Feet:   19 points out of 20

 

I was really surprised at the Base’s performance at 50ft.  I didn't notice the weight so much at this distance and found the rod to be really accurate.  You could feel the rod loading and unloading making it easy to get your timing just right, it even did well if the wind kicked up a little bit.

 

 

 

75 Feet:  17 points out of 20

 

Not the best here but the Base did a good job of keeping up with the more expensive competitors.  I found a drop off in power and accuracy at our longest range target but it still performed just as well as many rods that cost many times more.

 


10.   (tie)   Fenwick Aetos       54 points out of 60

 

Fenwick Atos

Fenwick Atos

 

This rod was a pleasant surprise.  It's a really good-looking rod that has a decent grip and a great action. 

 

30 Feet:   17 points out of 20

It’s not the best here.  It was a little clunky for me at our closest target which resulted in harsh landings and less than perfect accuracy.  The rod is fairly light so it feels good in the hand and despite the other issues delivers good feel.

 

50 Feet:   19 points out of 20

At 50ft. this rod really comes to life.  The MPX, which is a half line size heavy, loads the rod really well and makes for easy casting. The Aetos is a really impressive rod for a price tag of less than $200.  I thought it had great power as well, and was pleased with its accuracy which was good because of the amount of feedback the rod gives the angler together with the light feel of the rod.

 

75 Feet:   18 points out of 20

Fenwick really did a great job developing the Aetos.  There really aren’t a lot of rods on the market that can deliver great casts with great feel at this distance at this price point.  The Aetos had the power to go the distance as well as good feel and control which gave me good accuracy as well.  Making casts to our longest target was easy enough and enjoyable since the Aetos isn’t too heavy.

 

 

 

 

10.  (tie)   Orvis Recon        54 points out of 60

 

Orvis Recon

 

Orvis Recon

 

The Recon by Orvis, although heavy and numb, is a good rod at a great price and would be a good choice for someone looking for a solid all-rounder. 

 

30 Feet:

The Recon was decent at 30 ft.  I didn't like the weight of the rod and it did feel a little clunky when casting to short targets but accuracy was good and despite the feel I was able to make soft delicate casts. 

 

50 Feet:

It’s hard for me to put into words the sensation the Recon gave me at the mid range target.  It’s still a heavy rod and I didn't feel like I was getting a lot of feed back from it, which made me think that it wouldn't perform well. But, it loaded and unloaded well and made for tight loops, accurate casts, and a delicate presentation in all but the strongest gusts.

 

75 Feet:

The Recon was pretty good at the 75 ft mark.  If the wind picked up or I started to daydream, I would find my line and leader in a pile at about 70 ft. but if you waited for the wind to die down and paid attention the Recon did really well and was accurate and fun.  I think this would make a great rod for someone who is looking for an upgrade.  If weight and feel aren’t a top priority the rod is accurate and powerful enough to warrant a look.

 

 

10.  (tie)    G. Loomis Pro 4x   54 points out of 60

 

 G. Loomis Pro4x

G. Loomis Pro4x

 

This is a heavy rod.  I felt like the tip was a little heavy feeling throwing the balance of the rod off a bit.  Because I felt like I could never get it balanced properly I felt the rod was uncomfortable and odd feeling.

 

30 Feet:  18 points out of 20

The Pro 4X was actually really good at our thirty foot target.  I was surprised by how much feel and sensitivity it had, because of it’s initial clunkyness I expected the rod to perform poorly at a short distance but found that it was accurate and nice to cast.

 

50 Feet:   18 points out of 20

I like this mid priced Loomis pretty well at our mid range target.  It still gave me surprisingly good accuracy but was just too heavy to enjoyably cast all day.  It’s a great rod with a great action but it needs to go on a diet.

 

75 Feet:  18 points out of 20

The Pro4X had good accuracy and tracking at the longest shot of the shootout, 80 feet.  Despite being a capable casting machine I found myself losing interest in this rod quickly because of its heavy weight.

  

 

14.   R.L. Winston Air     53 points out of 60

 

Winstdon Air

 

Winstdon Air 

 

Be careful that you don't smack yourself in the face when you grab this rod for the first time because it is extremely light.  It’s got the typical aesthetic of all Winston rods, which sacrifice nothing for looks or quality.  The action is typical Winston as well.  If you want to throw heavy streamers or make the longest casts on the river this rod isn’t for you.  If you want to fish large dries or nymphs to fish that are within 50 feet and want to have a great time enjoying the cast, Winston’s first foray into nano-tech might be right up your alley.

 

30 Feet:   20 points out of 20

At thirty feet the Air is light and responsive, the rod gives the angler the utmost in feedback and feel.  Thanks to its exceptionally light tip the Air is agile and accurate and simply feels fantastic.  This is the perfect 6 for close and/or delicate work.

 

50 Feet:   18 points out of 20

The Air is still a solid contender at the mid range targets.  It isn’t quite as accurate as some of the rods with a little faster action and if the wind kicks up it loses a little punch and can be affected more than the rods that deliver the fly a little more aggressively.  When it’s calm the Air is accurate and delicate.  The Air gets some credit for being downright fun to cast or fish. 

 

75 Feet:  15 points out of 20

This just isn’t the rod for long distance work.  It wasn't designed for that purpose and it doesn't do it well.  I think Winston did a fine job of doing what they set out to do, if you want a long distance rod look elsewhere.

 

 

 

15.      Sage X         52 points out of 60

 

 Sage X

Sage X

 

The first thing that I noticed when picking the rod up is the good fit of the grip in my hand.  I have smaller hands and find that the Sage grips are really comfortable giving me great control over what the rods doing. 

 

30 Feet:

The Tip of the X is just too stiff.  There is no sensitivity and its hard to tell where the fly will land.  If you do manage to hit the mark it will still probably be for naught because the tip splashes the line down so aggressively.  A heavy in hand feel doesn't help it’s case for accuracy or feel.

 

50 Feet:

The X cast pretty well at this distance, it picked up a little bit of accuracy and had no trouble with the length of the cast.  It feels really heavy though which takes a lot of the feel away and will tire you out by the end of the day.

 

75 Feet:

It had the power to hit the long targets but accuracy was way down and making long casts over and over would be tiring.

 

 

 

16.   TFO BVK        50 points out of 60

 

 TFO BVK

TFO BVK

 

I was honestly a little let down by the BVK in the 6wt.  This is the first time I’ve cast the BVK in this line size, owning a BVK in an 8wt (which is really good) it had a high bar to meet in my mind.  Unfortunately because of the weight and lack of feel it didn't do too well in my eyes.  It would probably make a great streamer rod for someone wanting to streamer fish with a 6.

  

30 Feet:    16 points out of 20

The rod is much too stiff here to get any feedback from your cast.  Accuracy is a function of hand-eye coordination more so than casting ability.  You don't get much sense of the rod loading or unloading and the weight is very apparent.

 

50 Feet:   16 points out of 20

At this distance the BVK fared a little better.  There was enough line out to load the rod sufficiently to get a decent cast going.  It was still overly stiff and the weight became tiring quickly.  Because of the super fast action and heavy weight I found it hard to get consistent accuracy from the rod. 

 

75 Feet:  18 points out of 20

This was probably my favorite distance for casting the BVK.  Because it’s got so much power it really wants to reach out to the farther targets.  It creates a lot of line speed, which will help with windy conditions.  You do get some sense of feel with a lot of line out and can get reasonable accuracy.  The weight still takes a few points from it but overall not too bad here.