Fenwick Aetos


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fenwick aetos

We’ve tested this rod before, in our 2013 Five-weight shootout, when it was called the Grays XF2.   Back then it tied for 7th.  With the shake-up in Hardy, being bought by Pure Fishing Inc., one of the world’s largest makers of fishing tackle (Abu Garcia, Berkley, Mitchell, Fenwick, and now Hardy and Greys). The Greys rods will no longer be imported into the US under that name.   Now it is being sold under the Fenwick label and this rod is called the Fenwick Aetos.  (Greek eagle that was Zeus' personal messenger).  This rod impressed us back in 2013 for its action that was not far off the Hardy Zenith.  But you’ll be more likely to find this rod in the big box stores like Walmart or Basspro than in specialty fly shops.  Too bad, as this is a pretty darn good rod at a great price.     

The color is much different from the old XF2.  Now it is a dark greyish blue with similar wraps. The handle is a conventional Western style grip with some nice contrasting cork rings at the base.  The reel seat is a black aluminum double uplocking seat with what looks like a blue graphite insert.  A SiC stripping guide is used along with black finished, small wire diameter snake guides that look very good to me. 

This rod has the same nice fast action and softer tip that we found on the XF2.  The swing weight is very light – one of the best in our Shootout.  The Fenwick Aetos was easily our pick for the best inexpensive rod in our 2015 Shootout.

George’s Casting Notes:   The perfect line: Scientific Angler GPX in WF-5-F

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 points out of 20
Very good, but doesn’t perform as well as the Mystic Reaper at short range. 

Performance at 45 feet:  18.5 points out of 20
At mid-range, now it is better than the Reaper, with nice smooth, well controlled power.   Light and delightful to cast.

Performance at 70 feet:  18 points out of 20
Feels light in my hand and delivers smooth casts at long range.  Not quite the power of the better rods though.

Fenwick Aetos

Fenwick Aetos

The Fenwick Aetos was the sweetest surprise of the shootout for me.  It was light, had great feel, smooth power, and really held its own against rods over 4 times its price.  Performance wise it was accurate, playful, and honestly tough to put down.  It had nearly all the things you’d expect from a high end rod except for the best components and the price tag. 

Ha ha, so your buddies might say it looks like you bought it in the walmart spin department.  Who cares?  It will be hard for them to diss your outfit when they see the $500+ reel you'll be able to purchase with it, with line, all for the same price as a G. Loomis NRX LP.  What makes the Aetos look cheap are the guides, particularly the first stipping guide that looks like something on your buddy's rapala rod.  The Silver thread highlights and the blue on blue wraps actually look sharp.  The cork could be better but it's hard to complain about for the price.

In addition to Zeus' messenger eagle, the "Aetos" was also a destroyer, that served in the Royal Hellenic Navy.  Funny since the blank is royal blue itself and the Fenwick logo has an eagle on it.  We haven't had a chance to fish this rod yet so we'll have to see if it destroys or not.  I hope it doesn't destroy our high end rod sales...  

The only reserves I have about this rod is breakage.  While we were at the Park High gym, the Aetos tip mysteriously broke off (not even casting) and somehow fell to the floor. I’m assuming this was a freak accident and line got wrapped around the tip or something. Give us a call after we get some in and fish them a while.  I have a nack for getting flies stuck in bushes and yanking too hard to get them out.  I'll let you know if she holds up.  Unfortunately, the bad part about breaking the rod early was that I didn't get to cast this rod long.  I had to guess a long score of 18 because the rod felt like it had more backbone than the Mystic Reaper, both Winston rods, the Hardy Jet, and the Beulah Platinum.  

James' Casting Notes:  56.5 out of 60

Performance at 25 feet:  19 out of 20  
One of the smoothest and lightest rods of the entire test.  Felt light like the Hardy Jet but with more power and better line tracking/accuracy.  I'm diggin this big time.

Performance at 45 feet:  19.5 out of 20  
Damn!  Done deal.  This rod is really fun to cast.  It feels insanely light and smooth for the money.  This is the epitome of where high performance meets affordable price.  I'm tempted to give it a perfect 20.

Performance at 70 feet:  18? out of 20  
Unfortunately this rod’s tip broke before I got to cast it at this distance.  My guess is somewhere between a 17-18 since this rod leans towards the feel side rather than the power side. 


Fenwick Aetos

Josh's Notes: 

This is not your grandpas Fenwick!  I was extremely skeptical of the Aetos when I found out it was going to be added in this year’s shootout.  I was definitely the first one to crack jokes about how there is no way Fenwick can be a player.  I was quickly shut up and rethinking my stance after making a few cast with this rod.  It’s really good! I’m not a fan of the first stripping guide, but hell, for the price I’d be able to look past it.  This was hands-down my pick for best buy 5 weight. 

Total: 56.5

Performance at 25 feet:  19.5 points out of 20  
Not the best rod in the shootout at this distance but really crisp and accurate.  Tracks well and was delivering the fly exactly where I wanted it. 

Performance at 45 feet:  19.5 points out of 20  Casting at this distance was really refreshing with the Aetos.  It maintained great line speed and tight loops with minimal effort. Very accurate at 45’.  I was imagining fishing big hoppers in the park with this rod to rising cutthroat, it just felt right. 

Performance at 70 feet: 18 points out of 20 
 I had a lot of control at this distance, nice tight loops with decent accuracy.  I fell short of the target on a few casts, but I was always lined up with where I wanted the fly to land.  It also did a good job of turning over the 12’ leader at long range.

Fenwick Aetos

Logan's Notes: 

One word to describe the Fenwick Aetos is, “WOW.”  I expected this rod to finish close to the bottom, and definitely not in the top 10.  This rod is a perfect example of how less expensive rods are preforming at a really high level.  I liked this rod over the Mystic Reaper, which has been one of the best less expensive rods on the market.  I did not like the first stripping guide on the Fenwick Aetos.  It looked as though it was borrowed from a bait caster.

Logan's casting notes: 55 out of 60

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 points out of 20

The Fenwick Aetos preformed very well at this distance.  The rod had very good balance and light in the hand. 

Performance at 45 feet: 18.5 points out of 20

The Aetos was still casting very smoothly at 45 feet.  I like the overall flex pattern on this rod.

Performance at 70 feet: 18 points out of 20

The Fenwick Aetos got it there but lacked some power.  It was still smooth at this distance and didn’t feel shaky.

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