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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

Sage Xi3 Rod
($705, 4-pieces, 9’, 4 oz., www.sageflyfish.com)
The Xi3 is the only rod that I could consistently lay out 100’. When I hooked a large and unknow saltwater species in Costa Rica, the Xi3’s strong backbone allowed me to efficiently and effectively turn the fish (prior to said fish being eaten). While it has extreme strength, the Xi3’s accuracy is slightly less than that of the Orvis Hydros at great distance and equal to or better than all of the others at distances less than 60’. Bottom line: The Xi3’s massive backbone makes it my first choice for casting to a tailing fish that is far, far away.

Sage 3810CF Reel ($300, 4.4”, 6.75 oz., www.sageflyfish.com)
Sage’s 3810CF reel features a carbon fiber spool to decrease the weight while holding 225 yards of backing, almost the same amount as the Orvis VO2 V. Additionally, the carbon fiber shaves off a couple of ounces compared to its equivalently sized competitors. Bottom Line: The drag system is firm enough for big saltwater fish while the weight is low enough to spend all week chasing freshwater prey.
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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