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Discussion Starter #1
What is your favorite, "go to" fly rod and why?

I am in the market for a new "go to" preferably in a 5 wt and have been looking at Winston, Sage and Orvis.

Now I realize this is a subjective question and the answer depends on what you primarily fish for, how you cast etc etc but try to entertain the question as it might be helpful for others looking for feedback that isn't coming straight from a guide or manufacturer.

I have taken a couple out for a test run and my focus has been narrowed to a Sage One, Orvis Zero Gravity and a Orvis Helios 2- all in 5wt 9'.

I have also heard great things and read some really good reviews on different- much less expensive rods as well so by no means am I gung-ho on dropping $500 + for a new rod.

Currently I am using a Loomis GL3 which is a great rod especially for the price (picked mine up for $150) but I am ready for something different especially after casting some of my friends rigs on the river.
 

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I don't get too caught up in the rod selection. Any of the ones you mentioned are fine. I use a 9 foot 5 weight Orvis Helios 2 for 90% of the fishing I do. It's perfect for trout, bass, panfish. I've even used it for carp and it does fine. If you're going after species like pike or wiper you'll probably want a heftier rod, more for casting large flies than actually fighting the fish. A 7 weight is usually what I use.
 

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I use a 3wt Loomis that I wrapped myself about 20 years ago. I use it for mostly lakes its a little light for the North Platte if its running higher than 500cfs-
 

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My custom 5wt, for the same reason it's cool to catch fish on a fly you hand tied......It's even cooler to do it on a rod you wrapped.
 

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My favorite fly rod for all around purposes is a Winston BIIx 9' 5wt. For big fish in tailwaters I prefer a Scott G2 8'8" 4wt, but that rod is very soft and struggles in the wind. The winston is smooooooth... It's fast, but not terribly fast. It's very light and isn't so stiff you can't make pretty rolls. And yes, I love to make pretty rolls lol!!!

All that said, I think it's most important to cast a bunch of rods. Find out what fits your stroke. I know people who love super fast rods and others that hate them. I like a moderate action rod that will handle itself in the wind if need be but can cast softly on glass too. If you have the skills to wrap your own, figure out the rod you love first so you buy the right blank
 

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I used single-foot guides and the bare minimum of epoxy needed to keep it extremely light.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
very cool- I would love to wrap my own rod..add it to the list of ever growing hobbies.

Oyey- I have heard great things on the Winston BIIx, everyone who has owned one seems to hold onto them.

I have a 7'6 3wt elkhorn that is in the moderate action range and goes everywhere with me for the "just in case" scenarios. Fast action seems to suit my needs as I find they cross over well for bass/panfish and all the junk that I throw at them as well as being a solid trout stick.

Once I find a solid 5 wt that I like all I will need is a 7 wt for big streamers and the Walden wind and I will good to go on my fly rod arsenal.....yeah right.
 

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test drive the Zenith by Hardy. I have a 4wt and love it, especially for dries. It is a little lite for heavy nymphing so I think, like you, a 5wt would be great. I wish I would have not been talked into the 4wt and gotten a 5wt instead.

The accuracy is phenomenal. Lite in the hands soft tip for lighter tippet but sturdy back bone for fighting fish. you can achieve great distance with it as well.

Highly recommend giving it a try, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

I also think it is cheaper than the one and helios. and comes with a good warranty.
 

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Not a popular opinion, but rod brand and all that is semantics. I fish as follows:
  • Small, light, short and bendy for cricks.
  • Stiff 9ft. 4-5 wt. for high lakes and rivers.
  • 6 wt. with a fighting butt for reservoir bobber fishing.
  • 7-9 wt. for streamer launching.
I could tell you the brands of my personal arsenal, but the truth is that I don't think that it matters. Not to mention, I kinda just took what I got either through friends or on sale, it's not like I tested a bunch. The proper wt./length/flex/fresh-lined rod for the task is the important part.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yeah I have read up on the shootout and that is where I got the idea to start this thread. They provide good information but as many of you know a rod at the bottom of their list could be at the top of someone else's.

And I believe the 2015 shootout is already posted on their website...loomis nrx is on top again.

At any rate I like to research different brands and if nothing else it is getting me excited for some warmer weather!
 

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Do yourself a favor.. if you can, put off buying until you actually fish with a few of the rods you have in mind... ask around or on this website... meet up with people and try out stuff. Once you know the action you like (slow, fast, moderate) and the flex, it's pretty easy to see 2-3 options. Personally, for my go to 5wt, I don't want a power rod because I am rarely casting over 30'-40'... in fact, most of my casting for trout is done under 30'. I hate super fast rods because they are tougher to cast in close and they are tough to be delicate with unless you are an accomplished caster. I love soft rods, but they suck in the wind and with heavy nymph rigs... So for me, the Biix was a place in between that was responsive and smooth. The Scott A3 (discontinued, but available used) is a cheaper option that has very nice action in the same range.... I hear the A4 is nice too, but I have not tried it. There is a TFO that is moderate fast that is under $200 and casts like a dream, but I forget the model... My point is find the action/speed you like, and then explore the options within... If your budget allows, you might get a higher end rod, but it's most definitely not necessary to spend $500+ to get a great fly rod.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Completely agree that it is extremely important to not only cast the rods you intend to buy before you buy them but to also fish them if possible.

I have had an opportunity to fish my friends different 5wts- the Sage One in a 9', Helios 2 in a 10' and a Loomis Streamdance in a 9'. Honestly they are all fantastic rods but the streamdance suited my stroke the best. The sage could blast out line like no ones business, but as many have pointed out, here in Colorado it isn't always necessary. The Helios was another great rod and the 10' was a nymphing machine but my preference is a 9', I would want a 10' in a 4wt setup.

Going to try and cast a couple Scotts this weekend to see how a Colorado brand feels.

CF- thanks for the info on the other shootout results, this forum has always been extremely helpful and informative and I am glad we are getting some solid input for the other "lurkers".
 

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Those are all very fast rods you fished... although the Streamdance tends to act slower than it is (I like the streamdance the best out of those three). Sounds like you are doing the smart thing in fishing/casting lots of rods... Man, I can CHUCK the Sage One... that rod is a freakin laser... HATED fishing with it lol... Mainly because I don't like playing fish with a rod that stiff and with that much back bone. If I were to ever enter a casting competition, that would be the rod.

The one rod I really want some day is the G-Loomis NRX 9' 3wt... that is such a fun rod to fish. It sucks you can't play fish with a bunch of different rods... that is a HUGE factor for me... but wasn't early on in my fly fishing.
 

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My favorite rod is my sage vantage 6wt 9ft. I chose the 6wt because I knew I'd be using it for all kinds of stuff including bigger species and it's pretty much indistinguishable from my friends 5wts anyways. I also use it for tiny creek trout and panfish and stuff so it really serves many purposes. I use it for dry flies, hopper droppers, streamers, high-sticking, indicator rigs, trolling from float tubes with sink-tips and more. I've caught everything from big trout, pike, lake trout on streamers, and mirror carp to bass, catfish, crappie, perch and bluegill. So, I had one rod to choose and that's what I chose. I would definitely recommend it. If you're going to be fishing smaller stuff, go lighter.
 

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I love the tippy rods cause they roll cast, lob weight, and fight through wind very well. However, they are horrid for playing and landing the bigger fish in rivers.
 

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The Scott A3 (discontinued, but available used) is a cheaper option that has very nice action in the same range.... .
I have an A3 4 weight and I'm very pleased with how it performs.

Glad to hear your going to try some Scotts this weekend OP, it's always nice to support a Colorado company if they fit the bill for you.
 
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