Steve Rajeff and Capt Skip Zink

Steve Rajeff (left) and Capt. Skip Zink with a big 'ole Florida snook...


Choosing the right 8-weight rod for you!

by Captain Skip Zink


How often do you get a chance to cast all the top 8-wt. rods in one place at the same time, side by side, all with the same lines, reels and conditions?  It was a first for myself, not a random test at a show or shop, but a honest comparison head to head, toe to toe shootout.

What a pleasure and what an eye opener to have the opportunity to do just that. Let's start with how this 2016 Shootout can help determine what rod (or rods) work well and preform the best for you, the angler.

First of all, we are all different in the way we cast.  Yes, the rod tip has to move in a relative straight line path.  Yes, we all need to accelerate the rod smoothly and come to a firm stop to throw tight loops, but how we put it all together depends on our style and stroke of casting.  Obviously there are different strokes for different folks.

The evaluation of this year's rods is my interpretation of how each rod preformed.  Hopefully these evaluations and interpretations from my perspective will help you make a judgement on which rod characteristics will fit your style and where and how you will fish with it.  Whether it's fishing on the Bonefish flats of Andros, streamer fishing the Madison river, or chasing Silvers in Alaska there's a rod in the Shootout for you.


All that being said, this year's line up of 8-weight rods was impressive.  I feel that I could fish 90% of all the rods tested with confidence.   I don't think I could say the same thing a few years ago.  

Skip Zink

Skip Performance only




#1 Scott Meridan      59.5 /60

Scott Meridian

buy now

Top line rod, my overall winner.  Performance, power, feel and function.  The rod tracked great, excellent accuracy at all distances.


#2 G. Loomis NRX           59/60

 G. Loomis NRX
 buy now

Top line rod, splitting hairs in Performance as compared to the Scott Meridan.  Slightly heavier compared to the Scott Meridan.



#3 (tie) Orvis Helios 2         58.5/60  

Orvis H2

buy now

Best feeling rod and swing weight, very accurate.  I would enjoy fishing it all day.  Lacks a little power after 70ft.



#3 (tie) St. Croix Legend Elite SW        58.5/60

St. Croix Legend Elite

 buy now

Great range of power, tight loops with good balance and feel. 100ft cast no problem.



#4 (tie) G. Loomis CrossCurrent GLX            57.5/60    

G. Loomis CCGXL

buy now

Slightly heavy, powerful tip, lots of power, 100ft cast no problem.


#4 (tie) Hardy Zephrus           57.5/60

Hardy Zephrus

buy now

Slightly heavy, good power, 100ft cast made easy.



#5 (tie) Orvis Recon           57/60

Orvis Recon

                     buy now            

Smooth action, good balance and correct flex for applied power, slightly lighter than Sage Motive.


#5 (tie) Sage  Motive            57/60  

Sage Motive

buy now

Responsive with good power, mid flex action but fast enough.  Cool color.  Sage quality. 



#5 (tie) R.L. Winston BIII Plus          57/60  


 buy now

Beautiful rod, Sic guides, slightly heavy in butt section, stiffer tip than Motive or Recon.



#6 (tie) Sage Salt       56.5 /60

 Sage Salt

                  buy now          

Sage quality fit and finish, Good rod but a little disappointing in over all performance, struggled beyond 80 feet.




#6 (tie) R.L. Winston Boron IIIx         56.5 /60

RL Winston BIIIx

 buy now
Nice looking, mid flex, correct size guides, good balance. 


#7 Beulah Opal          56/60 

Beulah Opal

 buy now

Great cork grip, rod performance is good.  Mid-flex rod that tracked well, throws all distances with accuracy.


#7 (tie) St. Croix Imperial          56/60

St Croix Imperial

 buy now

Good balance and swing weight, OK guides, tracked well, not a fast rod but good enough.



#8 G. Loomis PRO 4X        55.5/60

G. Loomis Pro 4x

 buy now

Felt a little clumsy/heavy, performance was good, tracked well and accuracy was good.



#9 (tie) Temple Fork Outfitters  BVK          55/60


       buy now        

The BVK could be ranked higher.  It performed well at all distances but history with this rod holds it back due to the fact that it is prone to breaking.    



#9 (tie) Echo Base           55/60    

Echo Base

buy now

Heavier than others, softer flex rod, loops open slightly on application of power.



#9 (tie)  Fenwick HMG          55/60

Fenwick HMG

 buy now

Very good rod for the money.  Reminds me of Greys GRXI+.  Ample power with accuracy.



#9 (tie) Fenwick AETOS         55/60

Fenwick Aetos

 buy now

Super value in a fly rod. Good looks, Mid-flex, good feel and power. Tight loops.



#9 (tie) Reddington Predator      55/60  

Redington Predator

 buy now

Rod feels heavy. Tracked well at all distances, Responsive but still too heavy.




#9 (tie) LTS Zalt         55/60  

LTS Zalt

 buy now

Silver in color, OK rod, Mid-flex type rod, accuracy just so-so.




#9 (tie) Douglas DXF         55/60

Douglas DXF

buy now


OK rod, feels good enough but there are better choices for the money.      


#10 Mystic Reaper             53/60    

Mystic Reaper

 buy now

Felt Clunky, not a lot of power to go distance, better choices in the top #10 ranked rods.


#11 (tie) LTS Explosive         52/60  

LTS Explosive

 buy now

Has a Fiberglass look to the rod, light weight soft rod and tip, rod reel seat can (and will) fill with debris.




#11 (tie) Temple Fork  Outfitters  Impact      52/60  

TFO Impact

 buy now

Softer mid and tip than other rods.   Better value in ATEOS and HMG rods.      





#1  NRX                                          19.5     20     19.5      59

#2  HARDY                                    19.5     19.5    19        58

# 3 CROSSCURRENT                   19        19      19.5     57.5 



Captain Skip Zink


About Skip

This love of the hunt and the incredible thrill and adventure of fly fishing have taken me half way around the world. From the Eastern rivers and streams, throughout the west to Montana, California, Arizona, Nevada, and the Florida Keys, to the warm and blue waters of Baja in Mexico. Alaska's bounty and the Caribbean’s Emerald waters and the island of Boca Grande continued to beckon me.

Boca Grande Fly Fishing Charters prides itself in providing its clients with state of the art equipment and service from Sage and Scott rods to Tibor, Pate, and Sage reels combined with local knowledge of the Creeks, Flats, Mangroves, and Beaches where we will hunt and stalk our quarry.

Captain Skip Zink


Captain Skip Zink has created the ultimate experience for the fly fishing enthusiast providing professional service specially suited for your Fly Fishing needs.  Not only does Skip have great eyes on the water, he also ties his own flies and is able to customize them specifically for the next day of angling.  As if one boat isn't enough, Skip has three, so depending on the conditions, he can bring along the most appropriate boat for the day.  He's exceptionally smooth on the poling platform and covers large amounts of water at the perfect pace.  Above all he is a really fun guy to spend the day with and will put you on some nice fish.  To book a trip with Skip, check out his website at or feel free to give him a call: 775-742-3991  

Captain Skip Zink

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