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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


Temple Fork Outfitters The Clouser Rod
($249.99, 4-piece, 8’9”, 5.6 oz., www.templeforkflyrods.com) Perhaps as a result of the comparably shorter length, the Clouser is comparably more difficult to cast past 60-65’. Alternatively the rod has a thick tip, allowing for easy casting of your heaviest flies. The Clouser is also the only rod that does not come with a rod tube. Bottom Line: If you use heavy, weighted flies with sinking lines the Clouser will help you toss them without wearing out your arm on the first morning.

Temple Fork Outfitters Prism Cast Large Arbor 9/11 Reel
($99.95, 4.25”, 8.7 oz., www.templeforkflyrods.com)
The budget-priced Prism reel easily ate 225 yards of backing and one of the simplest quick-change spools I tested. While the drag is not quite as smooth as the others, it is more than sufficient for less explosive saltwater game and the entire spectrum of freshwater fish. Bottom Line: Aesthetically the Prism does not have the same luster as its machined competitors, but at $99 this cast reel offers immense value.

Testing
In addition to saltwater testing in Costa Rica and Florida, I tried to wrangle as many huge musky and northern pike as my home state of Colorado offers. I also set up a series of cones to measure distance and accuracy of casts at a local park. (As large fish are frequently on the move, being able to place a fly precisely before the fish swims out of range can be critical to success.)

At the park I performed a series of casts with three different setups on each rod. First, I paired the rods with their respective manufacturers’ reels. Then, to adjust for the differences in fly line, I cast each with the Sage 3810CF reel (Sage Equator Line) to evaluate distance. Finally, I used the Ross Evolution reel (Scientific Anglers Mastery Series Bonefish Line) to evaluate accuracy.

(All weights supplied by manufacturer.)



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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