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Field Tests - Page Two

Guide Tested

Have you ever noticed how every field test you read in magazines has nothing but good things to say about a product?

We all know that even great rods have their strengths and weaknesses. Certain fly lines perform incredibly on slow action rods, but are terrible on fast rods. Wading boots that feel fine casting for little trout out of a drift boat may kill your feet after standing ten hours in a boulder filled steelhead river. Bottom line: Not all gear is created equally. More to the point, a lot of gear works great for some applications, but not all applications. Letís face it, fly fishing is an expensive sport. If youíre going to spend a good chunk of change on a new outfit, wouldnít it be nice to know what the products strengths and weaknesses are.

We knew you wouldnít take our word for it, so, we asked the guides.

SA Skagit Extreme Intermediate Head

Originally posted on our blog:

Written by: Mike Duffy

Rivers are falling into shape rather nicely and the Clackamas was no exception yesterday, as I got a chance to spend time swinging bugs with my good pal and steelhead guide, Jeff Hickman. We had a stellar time out there probing the goods with tips and spun wads of marabou. It sure felt good to share a few laughs and maintain the search that is so bitter sweet this time of year.

One of Jeff's rods was strung up with a Scientific Anglers Skagit Extreme Intermediate Head that I was able to play around with a little bit. It is certainly a joy to cast, but the real benefit is how this line works to slow down fly speed and achieve a deeper presentation. I really think that this line is going to be a game changer, especially during mid winter excursions.

Here, Jeff gets into a little more detail on the line and how it can help you out there on the river.

Drop us a line or shoot us an email if you need any grain weight recommendations. We are always happy to hear from you!

Have a good time out there,


The G. Loomis NRX Fly RodsNRX Fly Rods

G. Loomis has raised the bar on fly rod design with their new series of NRX single-hand fly rodsand NRX Spey rods.The new NRX resin technology has allowed Loomis to produce lighter rods that are considerably stronger than anything on the market.

Itís not often a new rod hits the market that completely changes the gameÖ We can honestly say Loomis has done it. The NRX 13' #8/9 Weight Spey Rod feels more like a single-hand #6 weight. Itís a cannon with an Airflo Skagit Compact (Free with purchase of the rod). Although itís rated as an 8/9 we liked it with either a 540 grain or 570 grain head. This stick is going to be a favorite for winter steelhead and sub-surface work in the summer months.

In the single-hand family, we tested the NRX 10' #7 Weight on the Klickitat River this fall. Lined with a #7 weight Rio Grand (Free with purchase of the rod), it was a dream for fishing wets and dries. For indicator fishing, we lined it with a #8 weight Rio Indicator line. Itís now our favorite stick for nymph fishing. The rod loads up easy and delivers heavy rigs with ease. The extra length provided incredible control and great line pick-up for long distance hook sets.

With a huge line-up to choose from in the NRX series of fly rods, we expect these sticks to become the standard all fly rods are measured by. You absolutely have to cast one, they will blow you away.

Airflo's New Skagit Switch

Fresh off the press, Airflo's Skagit Switch line has arrived. This line is designed for short spey rods, switch rods and for those anglers who prefer a swing method of fishing. This taper should not be confused with Rio's Switch line which is designed for an indicator and/or drift style of fishing. Airflo's Switch is most similar to Rio's Skagit Short, however there are a few differences.

For a more robust bio on Airflo's Skagit Switch click Here.

Most of this winter season, I have been enjoying the lightness and the agility of switch rods on our area rivers. Up until a week or so ago, the lines that I have been using have been mainly the Rio Skagit shorts on an 11' 7wt , 11' 8wt and an 11'9' 8wt advanced switch rod (Sage 11'9" TCX). Although it all comes down to the angler's casting stroke, I find that I like a 425gr -475gr for the 7wt, a 475 - 525 for the 11' 8wt and the 525 gr on the 11'9 8 wt TCX. That said, I like these lines well enough and I have enjoyed some pretty ok casting.

Last week I got a chance to play around with some of these new airflo lines and I was actually blown away.
I think the major difference is the shape of the loops and how the lines actually turn over at distance. I put a 450 gr on an 11'7"wt Z-axis which casted like a dream, although a 480gr would also work for those preferring a more relaxed stroke. Also got a chance to throw a redington 11'3" CPX Switch with the Airflo 480gr which was nice, but I think I would prefer the 450gr personally.

The thing that seperates these lines is the polyurethane coating. This material, as oppossed to the PVC used on other line brands keeps the surface like new, years down the road. It also encourages a very supple form that translates into tighter loops on the casting outlay. Furthermore, I think that Tom Larimer and the folks at Airflo nailed the taper on these lines. These lines have an ucanny ability to turn over towards the end of the casting length to help carry it through for maximum distance. They are also quite resposive in close. At times, I have found that the RIO Shorts like to turn over a little too quickly thereby hampering a smooth, tight loop for distance. But do not take my word for it, you should give one of these new lines a shot and see what you think.

Want to chuck a load of T-14 and a lead-eyed intruder? No problems here.

Have a good time out there,

Guide Tested | Tom Larimer
Ross Momentum LT


While on most recent trip, I recently put the newest addition to the Ross line-up to the test at Alaska West and the incredible Kanektok River. Early June marks the beginning of the famed King salmon run in southwest Alaska. These are massive, chrome-plated super tankers that will rip your arms off. The Momentum LT handled what I consider to be the ultimate test for a reel with flying colors. I have since used the reels for guiding Deschutes steelhead. After a summer of hard use, I can honestly say the Momentum LT is the best reel Iíve ever owned.

Tom Larimer
Larimer Outfitters

Guide Tested | Tom Larimer
Ross CLA

If youíre looking for a tough dependable reel that wonít break the bank, the Ross CLA is a great choice. Guiding steelhead is without a doubt one of the best tests for a reelís longevity. Theyíre constantly being thrown around, fallen on, set in the dirt, and most of all, given a good work out by pissed-off steelhead. Many of my guides use the reels and weíve never had a problem with a CLA. While they lack some of the aesthetics of higher priced reels, they make up for it in price and over-all dependability.

Hickman | Ross Momentum

Tom Larimer
Larimer Outfitters

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