#1. Scott Meridian 9 foot #8 $865.00
Big news- Scott gives us an 8-weight rod that clobbers everyone. And it isn’t even close! For four years the Loomis NRX was our 8-weight champ, and it was going to take a hell of an effort from someone to knock them off that top step on the podium. Well Jim Bartschi at Scott had this vision of a new, lightweight rod that could pull it off, and they did it in style with this new Meridian. I knew about this new rod all along, as Jim had asked me to help him tweak the final design and of course I agreed to help. He sent me several prototypes, which I cast and fished, mainly for bonefish in Cuba, but also for trout here in Montana. His new rod was delightfully light and responsive. I was impressed as I’ve been a big Loomis NRX fan for years. But the early versions of the Meridian still needed a bit more power in the butt and midsections to contend with the NRX. I kept asking for more power and Jim kept giving it to me, tweaking this until he came up with the final version, which was perfect.
Immediately when you pick up the Meridian, you notice how light it is in your hand. Only one rod has a lower swing weight, the Helios 2- but the Meridian has far more power, and really sends them at long range. At close range, this rod is just magical. Casting off the tip requires almost no effort compared to most of the other rods. There was a remarkable difference between the Meridian and the NRX at shorter distances. The Meridian was much more pleasant to cast in close and also much more accurate than other rods. Like the best rods we’ve cast lately in any weight, it has a softer, more flexible tip. It also blew away the Orvis Helios 2, which was our previous close distance champ. I gave the Meridian the only perfect score of 20 points at both 35 feet, and only the NRX matched it at 60 feet! But what surprised all our casters was how well the Meridian handled the longer distances too – right out to 100 feet! Throwing extremely tight loops with this rod is just effortless. And with its extremely light swing weight, you’ll be able to do it all day without any effort.
Jim went all out in giving us the absolute top components for this rod too. It uses what I feel is the finest guide set up you’ll find today on any saltwater fly rod - Large size Fuji Titanium SiC stripping guides with good sized, flexible, nickel/titanium snake guides the rest of the way, ending up with an extra-large tip top that will help clear most tangles. The handle is a very comfortable full wells, but the swell has been moved forward of center, so that you are always gripping the rod in the right spot, with your thumb close to the top of the grip. I love the feel of this grip! The anodized aluminum seat has the sliding band marked with the size of the rod, which is slick, and then there are two beefy locking rings, that you can really get a good grip on to tighten up your reel. Better than Sage, better than Loomis and 1000% better than the TFO BVK! Then as a crowning final touch, Scott uses a nice big extension butt with a wider end that won’t stab my belly like the narrow one on the NRX.
This rod is finished in the natural gray graphite color and retains the natural tape wrap marks that have been a characteristic of Scott rods. Most other manufacturers sand these off. By not doing this, Scott claims that they can retain more breakage resistance yet still end up with an extremely lightweight rod. The wraps are a complimentary gray with attractive two-color blue trim wraps.
George’s casting notes:
Performance at 35 feet: 20 points out of 20
Nothing even comes close! The very light swing weight gives it a beautiful touch and feel at short range. The accuracy was superb – as good as it gets.
Performance at 60 feet: 20 points out of 20
Tracks beautifully, even in a breeze. The NRX was as solid and as accurate but the Meridian was far lighter in my hand. The accuracy was amazing.
Performance at 80 feet: 19.5 points out of 20
Almost a 20 but not quite as good as the NRX. I could line the cast up at 60 feet and shoot the rest with beautifully formed, tight loops.
Performance at 100 feet: 19.5 points out of 20
The Meridian hits 100 feet with ease and those tight loops keep the accuracy on the money. Not quite the authority of the NRX or CrossCurrent though at extreme long range.
#1. Scott Meridian 9’#8 $865 79/80
Every few years, a fly rod comes along that truly stands head and shoulders above the rest. We ‘ve compared and tested a lot of rods over the past 10 years and many of those shootouts had tight finishes. This year we are pleased to report that the Scott Meridian blew everything away. Not even the former two-time 8-weight shootout champion – the G. Loomis NRX could hang with the Meridian’s lighter feel, impressive power, and tricked out components.
The thing that impresses me most about the Scott Meridian is its unique ability to cast well at all distances. Usually if a rod is great in close it lacks the power to throw well at longer distances (or vise-versa). I haven’t seen a rod perform well at all required distances since the Hardy Zenith 5-weight. The Meridian can cast with delicacy in close, it rips tight, accurate loops all day long at 60 feet, and it can throw 80-100 foot long bombs as well if not better than all the other rods on the market.
From top to bottom the Scott Meridian was engineered to be a great saltwater rod. The tiptop is large but light, as are large but thin titanium snake foot guides on the tip and second section. The oversized guides allow for line tangles to escape through the rod with out pulling the tip off (or causing that ever frustrating break off). The thin diameter and lightweight titanium guides are also key to getting the Meridian’s swing weight down, which is one of the major reasons this rod feels so sweet to cast. The two stripping guides on the third section don’t squeak if your line isn’t dressed properly and are both large and light.
Another unique feature we see Scott utilizing is a different shaped grip from other fly rod manufactures. To my knowledge, Steve Rajeff was the first to create a different shaped grip (on the G. Loomis CrossCurrent GLX). Steve’s grip narrows towards the reel seat and was designed to help aid with maximum distance casting. The Meridian’s grip which was designed to be ergonomically correct has an added bonus – it makes your hand want to grip the rod a few centimeters higher than you normally would. By moving the your grip (aka fulcrum) closer towards the tip of the rod by even a miniscule amount you are making the swing weight feel lighter. The cork is very high grade and the fighting butt is larger than most other rods but not too big… just perfect for locking under your forearm or placing the butt against your body for even more fish fighting leverage.
The Meridian’s reel seat is also well thought out. They are one of the few in the industry who use type III hard coat anodizing on their aluminum reel seats. Although this is more expensive than type II anodizing, Scott feels (and we agree) that the benefit of having a reel seat with a much thicker and more abrasion resistant coating is better for a rod constantly coming in contact with coarse salt crystals – even if it costs you a little more upfront. The Meridian, like the Winston BIII Plus has a “8” on the sliding band so if you are running in the boat and have several different rods with you (an 8 for bones, a 9 for snook, a 10 for permit, and a couple 11’s or 12’s for tarpon) you’ll know which rod to grab for the correct occasion. The twisting lock rings both have nice indentations on them for a better grip when locking your reel on tight, (or trying to get your reel off after a day or two of use on the ocean). Although the slide band has two cutouts, we like how the rest of the reel seat does not have any extra cutouts or three D contours. This makes cleaning the rod easier and there are less spots for corrosion to fester, (attention LTS rods and TFO Impact).
Last but not least to complete the Scott Meridian’s signature look, it is finished in dark graphite grey, leaving the tape marks on the rod rather than sanding them off. Doesn’t sanding them off make the rod stronger? No, probably not but it does look cool once you get used to it. The guides are held down with grey thread with attractive Navy and cobalt blue highlights. Light white alignment knots make it easy to put this rod together straight and quickly, (unlike many overseas rods where the alignment dots are actually in the incorrect position).
My only reserve with the Meridian comes from fishing the 9’#5 and 9’#6 Radian extensively here in Montana. Both of these rods cast (and mend) as good if not better than anything out there, but when you are hooked up to a big Yellowstone brown or a hot Missouri rainbow, these rods feel softer than other rods. In other words, it’s hard to keep a strong fish away from trouble (like an undercut bank, snag, or mangrove) and it takes more time to land a big fish in general. As for the Meridian, honestly we never hooked into anything big enough to really test out the Meridian’s fish playing capabilities. We know from experience how good the G. Loomis rods are at applying some serious heat and landing big fish quickly. I guess this is something that we’ll have to put George on assignment for…
Performance at 35 feet: 20 points out of 20 Feels significantly lighter than the NRX. This rod produces tighter loops than everything out there, absolutely effortless and fun to cast off the tip. Accuracy is outstanding while still maintaining a lot of feel.
Performance at 60 feet: 20 points out of 20 Another effortless performance. This rod belongs in every serious saltwater anglers arsenal, no matter what brand they ride for. It would also be an amazing streamer rod out west.
Performance at 80 feet: 20 points out of 20 Better than nearly every other rod for me. You can pack the power in quickly without having to get your timing perfect, which means less tailing loops in high pressure type situations. I feel confident casting this rod, even when the camera is rolling. Looking at the Meridian’s deflection I would never have guessed it could be so powerful!
Hit the Hun? 19 points out of 20 With ease… this rod can truly do it all.
Capt. Jamie Allen
#1 Scott Meridian
Very light in hand. Nice salt water hardware. Oversized strippers, snakes and tip top. I liked the line weight printed on reel seat for quick ID. Very accurate, tracked well at all distances. Nickel titanium flexible snake guides. Won overall best of show at 2015 I-Cast.
Capt. Skip Zink
#1 Scott Meridan 59.5 /60
#1 Scott Meridian $865.00 80/80 points
Light, responsive and strong - does it all superbly!