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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: 9-Weight Fly Rods & Reels

If you chase big fish, you need a 9-weight fly rod to carry along on your adventures. BACKPACKER reviewed five rods that fit the bill.

by: Dan Corbett

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5
(Photos by Dan Corbett)
(Photos by Dan Corbett)
Ross Essence FW
Ross Essence FW
Orvis Hydros
Orvis Hydros
Orvis Frequent Flyer
Orvis Frequent Flyer
Sage Xi3
Sage Xi3
Temple Fork Clouser
Temple Fork Clouser


Ross Essence FW Rod

($229, 4-pieces, 9’, 4.8 oz., www.rossreels.com)
The Essence FW appears to be designed particularly with salmon and steelhead in mind. The Essence FW casts 70’ of line with flawless accuracy. The action is slightly slower than that of the Orvis Hydros rod, however the Essense FW performs with nearly the equivalent performance at less than half of the price. With a simplistically elegent paint finish to round it out, the Essence FW is a well-rounded rod for pursuing big fish. Bottom Line: The Essence FW offers stellar performance at a phenomenal price.

Ross Evolution LT #4 Reel
($315, 3.75”, 4.8 oz., www.rossreels.com)
The Evolution LT is significantly smaller and lighter than all of the other reels that I used. Due to the smaller size I could only put about 125 feet of 20lbs backing, making the lighter weight even more noticeable. The drag system seamlessly engaged when setting the hook. With its minimal weight and impressive drag system the Evolution LT is easily my first choice for salmon, steelhead, pike, and other freshwater fish. I also recommend the Evolution LT for slightly less monstrous saltwater fish, but the limited amount of backing makes me nervous about tackling tarpon or roosterfish on this reel. Bottom Line: Thanks to its light weight, the Evolution LT is the perfect reel for muscle-bound freshwater fish.


PAGE 1 2 3 4 5

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READERS COMMENTS

Dan Corbett
Dec 22, 2010

Hi John,

You are correct - there is a lot more to these rods than just casting distance. If you cannot cast accurately (and softly) to that tailing bonefish, distance is not overly important. That said, it is nice to push the limits if you see the fish is not moving any closer to you.

During the comparison testing, I did not have a fly attached (or a leader for that matter). I did use the Sage Xi3 in Florida, the Orvis Hydrous in Costa Rica, and the Ross Essence FW in a local Colorado reservoir with flies. Unsurprisingly big streamer flies did not cast as far or as easily, however small crab patterns, containing a bit of weight and a relatively aerodynamic profile, I could cast even a bit further.

Cheers,
Dan

John T
Dec 14, 2010

Dan - you seem to focus a lot on the casting distance. I cannot remember ever making a 60' cast steelhead fishing. When you were doing your testing, did you have a fly on the line? The big saltwater flies are a really hard to cast because they are so wind resistant.

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