yellowstone angler 6-weght shootout

 

 

2016 6-weight Shootout Comments and Notes

by

Logan Brown

 

Logan Brown Golden Dorado

 

The 2016 Six Weight Shootout was my favorite shootout I’ve participated in so far.  I liked it simply because I love six weights.  I love fishing five weights, but I often find myself reaching for the six because of its versatility.  From dries, to nymphs, to streamers a six can get it done, especially on my home river, the Yellowstone.  This shootout stood out too because it was surprising to see how different the six-weight rods were than their five weight counterparts.  All rods act differently and what is great in a five, might not be in a six. 

 

All the rods in this test were great rods, and limiting it to sixteen rods, we were able to only test what we feel are the best.  The rods in this test were different but a few stood out.  I would be more than happy fishing any of them, just some more than others.

 

 

 

 Logans

 

 

#1 - G. Loomis Asquith        59 points out of 60

 

G. Loomis Asquith 9'#6

G. Loomis Asquith 9'#6

 

 

The G. Loomis Asquith was my pick for the best six weight.  It is an absolute killer rod when it came to performance.  It was my top rod in accuracy and casting performance, but what put this rod over the top for me was its craftsmanship.  I don’t see a rod on the rack that I like looking at, and holding, more than this.  The finish is stunning, the cork is perfect and the reel seat is like no reel seat I’ve seen.  The G. Loomis Asquith is the rod you want. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 19 points out of 20

The G. Loomis Asquith was surprisingly accurate at 30 feet.  I say surprising, because in the hand the Asquith has a very fast tip.  It has more feel than you’d think once you start casting it.  It went exactly where I wanted it to every time.  There were other rods I liked better at this distance but all around accuracy at any distance, the Asquith can’t be beat.

Performance at 50 feet: 20 points out of 20

This is where the Asquith started to sing.  “Wow” was the word I kept saying.  Anywhere I wanted the Asquith to go, it did.

Performance at 75 feet: 20 points out of 20

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “perfect rod.”  I can barely cast 75 feet but I was doing so on a consistent basis and accurately.  This is a case and point on how a rod can make you a better caster.

 

 

 

 

#2 - Douglas Sky     57.5 points out of 60

 

Douglas Sky 9'#6

Douglas Sky best 6 weight fly rod

 

If the G. Loomis Asquith is the rod you want, the Douglas Sky is the rod you can have.  The Sky is incredibly light in the hand and has a great feel.  I really like the looks of the Sky.  It has muted tones of gray accented by a nice looking reel seat.  It can’t beat the Asquith or the Winston in looks and craftsmanship, but based on performance this rod is a winner.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 19.5 points out of 20

Great feel for in close distances.  It’s a stiffer rod, but has a nice soft tip that helps it perform at close distances.  I was hitting the plate almost every time.  An extremely consistent rod at all distances but I liked it best at 30 feet.

Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20

I was hitting the plate consistently with the Sky and the only rod that was better was the Asquith.

Performance at 75 feet: 19 points out of 20

The Sky was another rod that got it done for me at 75 feet.  Got the fly to the plate and actually hit it once!!

 

 

 

#3 -    Orvis Helios 2    56.5 points out of 60

 

Orvis Helios 2 9'#6

Orvis Helios 2

 

 

The Orvis Helios 2 has always been one of my favorite rods.  Year after year the Helios 2 impresses me.  Orvis found a real winner with this rod and “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”  If you own this rod you already know it, but if you don’t, you need to try this thing already!!

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 19.5 points out of 20

This is where the Helios 2 really shines.  This rod would be a great hopper rod and would be the perfect drift boat rod.

Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20

At 50 feet the Helios 2 is still great.  This rod has an excellent balance of power and feel.

Performance at 75 feet: 18 points out of 20

At 75 feet the Orvis was still doing it.  It was easy for me to find my timing and I was able to make consistent casts at distance.

 

 

 

#4 (tie) - Loop Cross SX   56 points out of 60

 

Loop Cross SX 9'#6

Loop Cross SX 9'#6

 

The Loop Cross SX is the rod that most surprised me in the test.  In the five-weight I love the Loop OptiStream, but have not been overly impressed with the Cross S1.  This rod was different.  Super light in the hand, powerful as hell, and had the touch to get it done in close.  After casting the six-weight, I definitely need to check out the rest of the Cross SX lineup.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes:  56 points out of 60

Performance at 30 feet: 19 points out of 20

Wow!!  For how powerful this rod is, it is a champ in close.  The Cross SX can present delicately and with precision every time.  This rod just feels good in your hand. 

Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20

What was good about this rod at 30 feet is still good at 50 feet.  The Cross SX had great timing and was tracking perfectly.  I was hitting the plate with ease.  The Cross SX is simply fun to cast.

Performance at 75 feet: 18 points out of 20

The Cross SX had the proper amount of power to launch my cast 75 feet.

  

 

 

#4 (tie) - Hardy Zephrus   56 points out of 60

 

Hardy zephrus 9'#6

Hardy zephrus 9'#6

 

Hardy has had a solid lineup of great rods in all weights the past several years, and this rod is no exception.  The Hardy Zephrus six weight could be my favorite rod in the Zephrus lineup aside from the 8’6” four weight.   The Zephrus has a great look too.  Nice green color and solid components.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 19 points out of 20

I liked the Hardy Zephrus best at this distance.  This rod has incredible feel but its power gave the rod what it needed to put a fly wherever you wanted it to go.

Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20

The Zephrus was still singing at 50 feet.  I was impressed at how I was able to form tight loops time and time again with this rod.  Its tracking was unbelievable.

Performance at 75 feet: 18 points out of 20

The Zephrus got it done at 75 feet, which is all I can ask for. 

 

 

 

#4 (tie) - Scott Meridian     56 points out of 60

 

Scott Meridian 9'#6

Scott Meridian 9'#6

 

 

The Scott Meridian is a true saltwater rod.  If you are looking for a light six weight for the salt, this is your rod.  The Meridian is stunning to look at.  The un-sanded graphite blank is one of my favorite things about the Scott rod, a blend of traditional and modern.  The blue accented wraps are also great.  The oversized fighting butt might not be so good for freshwater and trout applications, but is perfect for saltwater.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 18 points out of 20

The Scott Meridian is the fastest action rod in the test but it still performed well at 30 feet.  I was able to accurately present my casts to the plate every time.  This rod was designed for the salt so I’m not overly concerned with its in close performance.

Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20

The Scott Meridian’s sweet spot is at 50 feet.  Pick it up and lay it down accurately every time.  This is exactly what you would want in a saltwater six weight.

Performance at 75 feet: 19 points out of 20

This is another rod that was able to get to 75 feet with ease.  I was able to hit the plate every once in a while which is impressive.

 

 

 

#7 - G. Loomis NRX   55.5 points out of 60

 


G. Loomis NRX

G. Loomis NRX

 

The NRX six weight is another great G. Loomis rod.  Not quite as sweet as the 9’ #5 LP or the heavier models, but great nonetheless.  I think if they made the six-weight in the LP version it would be the winner of this shootout.  A slightly softer tip would really put this rod over the top.  It was nice to see the contrast between the G. Loomis Asquith and the NRX.  Both rods are very different and good complements to each other. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 18.5 points out of 20

The NRX was good at 30 feet.  It was not as good for me at 30 feet as it was at the longer distances.

Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20

At 50 feet the NRX really started to feel like the NRX rods I know.    It was accurate as any rod in the test aside from the Asquith. 

Performance at 75 feet: 18 points out of 20

The G. Loomis NRX wasn’t getting it done for me at 75 feet quite like the Asquith or the Scott Meridian. I had to work harder to get out to this distance.

 

 

 

#8(tie) - G. Loomis Pro4x  54.5 points out of 60

 

G. Loomis Pro4x 9'#6

G. Loomis Pro4x 9'#6 

 

 

The G. Loomis Pro4x is my pick for the best mid-priced rod.  I really enjoyed the action and feel in the hand.  If you can’t see yourself dropping $800 plus on a rod, the Pro4x is the rod for you.  Made in the USA too!!  This rod did perform a lot like the NRX, which is a good thing if you’re looking for a high-end rod that doesn’t cost a lot.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 18.5 points out of 20

The G. Loomis Pro4x had enough feel to accurately hit the plate at 30 feet.  It matched the NRX and the Recon.

Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20

Just like the Loomis NRX, the Pro4x really shone at 50 feet.  The Pro4x has the right amount of power and it was easy to find a good rhythm to accurately cast it to the 50-foot mark every time.

Performance at 75 feet: 17 points out of 20

It was harder for me to cast the Pro 4x well at 75 feet.  This is where the NRX really separates itself from the Pro4x.

 

 

 

#8 (tie) - Orvis Recon   54.5 points out of 60

 

Orvis Recon

Orvis Recon

 

 

The Orvis Recon is another great mid-priced six weight.  I really like what Orvis has done with the Recon line.  The Recons are good rods top to bottom that won’t break the bank.  And by looking at the Recon you cant tell it’s a $450 rod.  It was neck and neck between the Recon and the G. Loomis Pro4x.  I liked the Orvis Recon better at closer distances and the Pro4x better at mid-range.  If you prefer a rod with slightly more feel I’d go with the Recon.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 18.5 points out of 20

The Orvis Recon was a very good rod at 30 feet.  Here it was neck and neck with the Pro 4x.

Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20

At 50 feet the Orvis Recon was still casting great.  I give the edge to the Loomis Pro4x at this distance but the Recon held its own.

Performance at 75 feet: 17 points out of 20

The further you cast the Recon is where you start seeing its inconsistencies.  I was unable to make good casts at 75 feet, but that’s not always the rod’s fault.

 

 

#10 (tie) - Scott Radian   54 points out of 60

Scott Radian

Scott Radian

 

 

The Scott Radian has been one of my favorite trout rods for the past several years.  I love the look and feel of the Radian.  The craftsmanship is exactly what you’d expect from Scott, stunning.  This was one example of a rod that was very different than its five-weight counterpart.  I found that the six lacked the power that is found in the five, which hurt its performance scores at longer distances.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 19 points out of 20

This is where the Scott Radian really performed well.  The Radian had the perfect amount of feel to hit the plate delicately every time.  If you are looking for a smooth performing 6-weight for bigger fish, this is the rod.

Performance at 50 feet: 18 points out of 20

The Radian is still an excellent rod at 50 feet.  Here it was not performing as well as it did at 30 feet, and the Meridian was better.

Performance at 75 feet: 17 points out of 20

I could not get the Scott Radian to cast very well at longer distances.

 

 

 

#10(tie) - R.L. Winston Air  54 points out of 60

 

Wnston Air

 

Wnston Air

 

 

R.L. Winston’s “Air” is a new rod for Winston.  It is a step away from the classic Winston, but it is still a great rod.  It still has that amazing Winston green, and great craftsmanship, as expected from Winston.  This was the only rod that scored a perfect 20 at 30 feet.  It has excellent feel and is super smooth.  This rod is made for close distances.

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 20 points out of 20

Short distance is where this rod was great.  The R.L. Winston Air was perfect at 30 feet.  Its smoothness and feel are what Winston is famous for and this rod didn’t disappoint.  I kept going back to it just imagining a huge spring creek brown sipping spinners 30 feet in front of me.

Performance at 50 feet: 18 points out of 20

What is great about the Air is its feel.  But being a softer rod with more feel hurt its performance scores at longer distances.  The more line you cast the harder it was to be accurate. 

Performance at 75 feet: 16 points out of 20

The R.L. Winston Air was my highest scoring rod at 30 feet but my lowest scoring rod at 75 feet.  This is not what this rod was designed for, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

 

 

 

 

#10 (tie) - Sage X   54 points out of 60

 

Sage X 9'#6

Sage X 9'#6

 

I honestly had high hopes for the Sage X to win the shootout.  With the media hype surrounding the rod I thought it was a shoo-in.  It did not perform as well as I had hoped but it was not a bad rod by any means.  I did really enjoy the Sage X at all distances.  Not one distance stood out above the other.  For me, it was the only rod in the shootout that performed equally at all three distances.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 18 points out of 20

The Sage X was good at 30 feet.  I just preferred a lot of the other rods at this distance.

Performance at 50 feet: 18 points out of 20

At 50 feet the Sage X still felt the same.  It was not improving, like the Asquith, or worsening, like the Air.  I was able to make tight loops and accurately hit the plate on a consistent basis.

Performance at 75 feet: 18 points out of 20

When casting at 75 feet I felt the same things in the Sage X as I did at 50 feet and at 30 feet.  I was actually able to get a few really good casts at 75 feet.

 

 

 

#13 - Fenwick Aetos    53.5 points out of 60

 

Fenwick Aetos 9'#6

Fenwick Aetos 9'#6

 

The Fenwick Aetos is another example of a rod I prefer in the five-weight over the six- weight.  It is still an awesome rod, and one that can’t be matched when you look at the price tag.  The Aetos comes in a nice blue color and is actually very attractive for an inexpensive rod.  This would be an excellent rod as a backup or a gift for someone who hasn’t done much fishing but is eager to sink their teeth into it a little more.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 18 points out of 20

The Fenwick Aetos performs well at 30 feet.  I wasn’t crazy about it and I was not going back to it like I was the Winston Air, but it got the job done. 

Performance at 50 feet: 18.5 points out of 20

The Fenwick Aetos was performing better at 50 feet than it was at 70.  Its faster tip made 50 feet the sweet spot for the Aetos.

Performance at 75 feet: 17 points out of 20

At 75 feet I was struggling to find good timing with this rod.  I was able to get the fly out there, just not very accurately.

 

 

 

#14 - Douglas DXF   53 points out of 60

 

Douglas DXF

Douglas DXF

 

 

The Douglas DXF is a good mid-priced six weight.  I did like both the G. Loomis Pro4x and the Orvis Recon better for the money, but the DXF is still a great mid-priced six weight.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 18 points out of 20

The Douglas DXF performed well at 30 feet.  I was able to make accurate casts time and time again.  I didn’t like it as much as the Orvis Recon at this distance.

Performance at 50 feet: 18 points out of 20

At 50 feet the DXF was still making accurate casts and hitting the plate consistently.

Performance at 75 feet: 17 points out of 20

Like a lot of the mid-priced rods, the Douglas DXF struggles at 75 feet.  I was able to cast to 75 feet but with no accuracy whatsoever.

 

 

 

#15 - Echo Base   52 points out of 60

 

Echo Base

Echo Base

 

 

The Echo Base is one of my favorite rods.  Not because of its performance but because of its price and what it represents.  This rod demonstrates that you do not need to be elite or an upper echelon angler to enjoy fly fishing.  All you need is a willingness to have fun and a good rod.  This is a good rod, and I highly recommend this rod to people getting into the sport.  

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 17 points out of 20

The Echo Base has a good balance of power and feel.  Although it was not as accurate as some rods, a beginner could really grow into this rod.

Performance at 50 feet: 18 points out of 20

50 feet is the Eco Base’s sweet spot.  This would be a good nymph rod for anyone at any level.

Performance at 75 feet: 17 points out of 20

At 75 feet the Base started to show signs of weakness, and I could feel the weight. Many other rods were better.

 

 

 

#16 - TFO BVK   51 points out of 60

 

TFO BVK 9'#6

TFO BVK 9'#6

 

 

The TFO BVK rounded out the sixteen rods tested.  The BVK is a rod I’ve always liked.  Nothing you don’t need and backed by one of the best warranties in the game.  This is a go to “guide-rod” for many of our guides and I can see why.  It gives you what you need, nothing more, nothing less.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 16 points out of 20

The overall stiffness of the BVK hurt its performance scores at 30 feet.  It was too inconsistent for me and I didn’t hit the plate very often.

Performance at 50 feet: 18 points out of 20

The BVK was doing much better at 50 feet.  I was able to accurately hit the plate and when I was off it was easy to pick it up and correct my mistakes.

Performance at 75 feet: 17 points out of 20

The BVK was like many of the inexpensive rods.  Great at 50 feet but not so good at 75 feet.  But it got it done.