Feb 11

NRX – A review from Angling Trade

I saw the review of the NRX in the latest email from Angling Trade (anyone can sign up for these emails, and you probably should if you have more than a passing interest in what’s happening in “the Industry”).  The rod got top marks from Kirk Deeter as he field tested an NRX down in Argentina.  The review doesn’t talk about what weight the rod was, but I assume it was a bit lighter than would be used out in the salt, and indeed there is an NRX Trout and NRX Saltwater, although I’m not sure what the difference in those rods is, action wise.

I got a chance to cast an NRX at the California Fly Shop back in November and I recall liking what I felt/saw, but 10 minutes in the parking lot doesn’t tell you a whole lot in any way that is useful.  My impression, casting the 9 weight, was that it felt like I was casting a 7.  It was light and crisp and bristled with power… or so it seemed.

I’m sure the NRX is a great rod and I’m sure it is comparable to the other great rods out there… the Helios, the Xi3, the BIIIx, the S4S.  If you got 10 anglers together and asked them which was the “best” you would likely end up with 12 answers.  So much in what makes a rod great is down to the angler.  I’d say it is easy to tell when you have a great rod, but sorting out something like “the greatest” becomes a very subjective affair.  Still… I’ll bet it is pretty sweet.

The price… the price is steep.  I know that these folks have done the research and figured out that there is a market for a rod that is $760.  I’ve cast some of these rods and caught fish on some of these rods, but I’m not “there” yet in my mind.  Maybe it is just too far from where I was when I first fell in love with fly fishing… when a ball-busting rod was $400.  Those were good days and I saw a lot of water and I caught a lot of fish (just none of them bonefish).

If you’d like a tour of the G. Loomis factory, you can check out the YouTube video below.


Dec 10

Tom Bie, Saltwater Fly-Fishing Reels – The New York Times

While looking for reel reviews I ran across this piece from the New York Times featuring Tom Bie, publisher of The Drake.

Tom Bie, left, publisher of The Drake Magazine, a quarterly journal for flyfishing enthusiasts, took five saltwater reels on a three-day fishing trip through the shallow waters of Ascensión Bay, Mexico, to discover that, when casting for midsize marine life, options are good, having to perform maintenance is bad, but making sure the big one doesn’t get away is the absolutely the most essential asset of a good spool.

Check out the Tom’s thoughts on the reels he took along by going to this link: Physical Culture | Gear Test, Saltwater Fly-Fishing Reels – The New York Times.

Tom… well… he isn’t a fan of my little blog, but I’m still rooting for the Drake.  The Drake has appeal beyond normal fly fishing magazines and that can only be good as time keeps thinning the fly fishing herd.

The comments are not terribly substantive, but you wouldn’t expect the NYT to really nail this in their Fashion & Style section…

The tested reels were:

Hatch 7 Plus, Able Super (Tarpon finish), Nautilus NV, Sage 6080, Tibor Everglades

Not a bad stable to choose from.  There isn’t a bad word uttered in the very limited reviews, but you really wouldn’t expect anything to go wrong with one of these reels on a week long trip to Mexico.  That’s the limit of field testing and life… never enough time.

Jan 10

Okuma Helios Review

Today I leave for Grand Bahama.  I don’t know if I’ll be posting reports while I’m there, or if I’ll wait until I get back.  I will, however, schedule some reports to post while I’m gone so that my goal of a post a day is met.

A couple years ago I picked up an Okuma reel at my local fly shop, Off the Hook.  I had never had an Okuma before, but the reel looked good and I needed a new reel for my 7 weight.  The price was right too… about $173.

I recently wrote a review of the Okuma Helios for the Off the Hook fly shop… here is my review, as found on the Off the Hook website.

A couple years back I picked up an Okuma Helios for my 7 wt. I planned to use the Okuma for heavy trout (Lower Sacramento, primarily) as well as whatever other trouble I could get into with my 7 wt… shad, light steelhead, bass and even bonefish.


Nice looking bit of gear

My first impression of the Helios was that it was relatively light weight with a good drag system, an attractive design and good durability.  Okuma touts the Helios as “nearly maintenance free,” which is a bonus for me as I am unusually harsh on equipment.  The waterproof drag makes it a good solution for me for saltwater applications like bonefish or jack crevalle.  The weight balances well with both the St. Croix Legend Ultra and Sage RPL that I’ve fished it on.  I’ll be putting it on a TFO Axiom 7  wt. for my upcoming trip.

Before I could take the reel to the Lower Sacramento, it went with me on a trip to catch my first bonefish in Grand Bahama in the winter of 2008.  I was unsure how a reel at this price point would deal with the famously strong fish.  At $173, the Okuma is about $100 less than comparable Ross Reels and well over $300 less than the heavy weights like Tibor or Able.  In bonefishing the reel is a lot more important than the rod, unlike most of the trout fishing I’ve done in my lifetime.

My Helios was put to the ultimate test when I hooked into a 7.5 pound bonefish on the East End of Grand Bahama.  I was in my backing in maybe 2 seconds.  The drag was smooth, no jerking, no hesitation.  The large arbor design helped me pick up line quickly.

Since then the Helios has landed shad on the American River and 20”+ bows on the Lower Sacramento .  The reel is still in mint condition and will be making another trip with me to the Bahamas .  I trust it with the fiercest of gamefish.

** for the record, I purchased this reel at full market value ***

Nov 09

My Albright Rod Gets Wet

I got my $80 Albright GP rod wet today for the first time.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it casts about like an $80 rod.  Probably would be better had I not been throwing a 2/0 popper.  Certainly did a better job than my 7 wt. would have done.

The rod is a bit on the slow side of actions, which takes a bit of getting used to.  Of course, that’s not Albright’s fault, and for $80, what can you really expect?

Glad I have it along and I hope I can find a fish worthy of the 8/9 wt. rating of the rod.  Certainly, the Jack Crevalle I had a couple days ago would have done the trick, but that was on my St. Croix Legand Ultra 7 wt., which seemed too light a stick for that particular fish (that rod was stolen a day or so after writing this, as it turns out).

Albright’s next rod up isn’t THAT much more expensive.  This rod was a gift (and an awesome gift), but if I were buying on my own, I might add another $50 to the purchase and move up a rod to see what that one is like.  I’m not a fly shop or magazine, so I don’t get to test a bunch of rods and decide which one I like.  I have to buy them (or have family members buy them for gift giving events) and then see how they fish.

UPDATE: Well, my St. Croix ended up getting stolen, so I used the Albright the last  two days.  I needed a sinking line so put my 7 wt. sink tip on the 8/9 rod.  Ya know what?  It actually worked out pretty well.  In the last two days of fishing, using this improvised set-up I probably landed 50-60 fish in about 5 hours of fishing… which should make just about anyone happy unless they are a total SOB.  The rod felt great with fish on… of course, having a fish on probably would feel good if I would have been fishing with a broom stick and dental floss.  Still, my estimation of the rod has increased.  I’m still looking forward to finding the right line(s) for this rod to really see what it can do.

That's the Albright GP