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Trout Rod Reviews


Photo and Review by Alex Collier

With Summer just around the corner (or already arrived depending on who you ask), most of us have trout squarely on our brains in Washington. Within a few weeks all of our trout fisheries will be open, and with the low snowpack this year, a lot of them will most likely immediately be in shape. As such, now's the time to start assessing your gear for the wide range of water types and fishing techniques we have throughout Washington and into Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Northern California. If you are just getting into the sport, or if you are interested in exploring a new rod that will cover a different situation better than a rod you currently own, we've tried to take some of the confusion out of the equation for you--or at least provide a starting point for you in your search for a new rod. Below we have the trout rods we carry in store broken down into the water size they cover best. You'll also most likely notice that this also separates the rods into weight/length and rod action to a certain degree. A quick word about what we mean by the different river size designations we've listed. For the purposes of this listing we've broken it down into Small, Medium, and Large Water: By "Small Water" we mean rivers and creeks where casts of 10-20 feet are the most prevalent, and where the flies of choice are mostly dry flies or lightly weighted nymphs. The rods in this range are usually in the 2 and 3 weight full to mid flex categories (or slow to medium action), and are usually on the shorter end of the spectrum. The small mountain creeks of Washington are a great example of this water type, as are the small brook trout streams of the East Coast. "Medium Water" is going to be rivers where casts of 15-30 feet are more of the norm, or where dry/dropper rigs, slightly heavier nymphs, or smaller unweighted streamers are common. These rods are often a bit more versatile because of slightly more backbone and length, which gives you the ability to mend and control line on the water easier, while also maintaining the ability to delicately present dry flies in small spaces. Rods in this designation are going to be 3 and 4 weight mid flex (or medium to medium-fast action), and are going to be in the 8-8'6" range. These are great rods for the Cedar River outside of Seattle, bigger stretches of the Middle Fork of the Snoqulmie, and some of the smaller rivers of Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. A lot of these rods would also be good dry fly rods for fishing out of drift boats. By and large, most of these rods will handle quite a few scenarios in the trout world. "Large Water" is going be everything else for trout--bigger, deeper water where dry/droppers, heavy stonefly nymphs, or streamers are the common fly choices and longer casts are necessary. These rods will also handle casting in the wind better. Most of these rods are going to be in the 4 and 5 weight mid to full flex category (or medium fast to fast action), and will be in the 8'6" to 9' range. Where these rods normally excel in generating higher line speeds and longer casts, they sometimes sacrifice a bit of feel at closer ranges or when going for smaller fish. And with that, on to the listings: Small Water -Echo Carbon: 7'3" 2 wt ($170) -- Small, light weight rod with a lot of life that is also an absolute bargain! This rod has a lot of life, excels at closer ranges, and is a blast as a very small stream rod. The Carbon definitely qualifies as a slower action rod, and might take some getting used to if you're new to casting or have a more aggressive casting stroke, but the trade off is a really fun rod to fish in small, tight situations. -Echo Glass: 6'3" 2 wt.; 7'4" 4 wt; 7'10" 5wt ($200) -- Fiberglass is making a comeback in a big way, and these rods are a great value if you're trying to get in on the action! Full flex, and designed to excel fishing in tight quarters. These rods are a bit heavier in hand than their Scott counterparts, but they have an great feel when casting them. The 6'3" 2 wt. makes just about any fish feel like a real bruiser! A great WA Mountain Creek rod series. -Scott F2 (Fiberglass): 7'7" 2wt.; 8'4" 3 wt. ($645) -- In all honesty, a remarkably smooth and lively rod that is amazingly light. These rods feel like they're flexing all the way into the cork when casting, and are a blast to fish. These are real game changers when it comes to fishing the mountain creeks and other smaller trout rivers in this area! Worth every penny when it comes to the smile you'll have on your face fishing them. -Scott G2: 7'7" 2 wt. and 8'4" 3 wt. ($745) -- A shop favorite! Extremely light weight, incredible performance and feel, and a beautiful looking rod as well! Lots of technology goes into the making of this rod, but what you need to know is that it's amazingly smooth, tracks really well without any extra movement (even though it flexes pretty deep into the rod), and is really light in hand. -R.L. Winston WT: 7' 2 wt. ($750) -- Winston's classic all-graphite small water rod. Slightly heavier in hand than the BIII LS, but with a smooth medium to medium fast action. All of the Winston feel you expect in a fully graphite package. Really, really nice small stream rod that a lot of people consider one of the best all-graphite rods ever made. -R.L. Winston BIII LS: 7' 2 wt.; 8'6" 3 wt. ($795) -- While technically listed as a "medium-fast" rod on Winston's site, we find these rods to be much more "medium" than "fast" (and a bit softer than the WT). These rods are really light in hand, have the buttery smooth action you expect from a Winston, but finish the cast without a lot of wobble in the rod. Classic details and the boron addition to the rod blank makes up a classic Winston rod that delivers great accuracy and responsiveness. Medium Water -Echo Solo: 7'6" 3 wt. ($120) -- A great entry level rod for those wanting to get into the sport, or wanting a lighter weight rod to add to their quiver. An fairly light rod with a nice action to it. It doesn't have quite the feel of the Carbon, and would tend to be more on the medium action end of the spectrum, but for $120 with a lifetime warranty you can't beat the price! -Scott A4: 8' 3 wt. ($395) -- The A4 is a nice rod series that doesn't totally break the bank. And while it doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the G2 does, it is still a really fun rod to fish. Even at an 8' 3 wt., this rod still has enough backbone to cover some slightly bigger water and throw some slightly heavier flies. Light and responsive, this rod will cover quite a few different situations for you, and will be a rod that you can grow into if you're new to the sport. -R.L. Winston Nexus: 8'6" 3 wt. ($475) -- Don't let the 3 wt. label fool you: this rod is a medium-fast 4 wt. at heart. A great rod for throwing dry/droppers, or for bigger dry flies from drift boats or on bigger water...but with the lighter weight of a 3 wt. rod. You don't get the classic Winston Green color, but you get a rod with the ability to fish multiple water types at the slight expense of the feel you would normally associate with both Winston rods and 3 wts. as a whole. -Hardy Zenith Sintrix: 8' 3wt. ($599) -- A nice medium action that strikes a balance between feel and strength. A bit softer than the Scott A4, but more responsive than the Echo Solo. Also very light in hand with a slender taper. Still has enough backbone to turn over some dry/dropper rigs, but might struggle to step up to much more than lightly weighted nymphs. -Scott G2: 8'8" 4wt. ($745) -- A slightly faster version of the above listed G2 offerings. Fantastic dry fly rod on bigger rivers that would also be well suited to step into dry/dropper and even some unweighted or lightly weighted streamers. Fantastic feel and action despite a bit more backbone makes for a really good all-around trout rod. Large Water -Echo Solo: 9' 5wt. ($120) -- An overall nice rod with a pleasant casting action for a great price! This rod can cover the Yakima, Puget Sound, and other larger trout fisheries. It doesn't have all the technological advances and is slightly heavier in hand, but is still a rod with a lot of good things going for it. -Scott A4: 9' 5wt. ($395) -- A step up in backbone and speed from the 8' 3wt. that maintains all of the other positives of the shorter version. Solid value for a smooth medium to medium-fast action rod. -R.L. Winston Nexus: 9' 5wt. ($475) -- If the 3wt version is really a 4 at heart, this 5wt. is a 6. High line speeds, bigger flies, and windy conditions are the name of the game for this medium-fast to fast version of the Nexus. What it lacks in traditional trout feel, it makes up for in backbone, while maintaining a pretty soft tip for turning flies over and delivering them with a bit of touch. -Scott G2: 9' 5wt. ($745) -- While the bread and butter of this rod series is in the lighter weight versions, the 9' 5wt. still delivers a nice medium to medium-fast feel that doesn't feel too stiff or clunky. Slightly more heavy feeling in hand than other rods in this class, but with the responsive action that runs throughout the G2 series. Still a really nice trout rod. -R.L. Winston BIIIx: 9' 5wt. ($795) -- Simply put, a spectacular trout rod. Buttery smooth, medium to medium-fast action but with enough backbone to handle bigger situations, this rod can handle a lot of different things: small flies with delicate presentations, dry/dropper, and streamers alike. The BIIIx could even step down and feel really good fishing some more medium sized waters because of the soft, but strong tip and mid section. -Scott Radian: 9' 4wt and 9' 5wt ($795) -- Strength. Finesse. Feel. Lightweight. This rod really does a little bit of everything, and does it all really well. The 5 wt. has enough power to make long casts on the Sound and then deliver delicate presentations with small dries in the freshwater. Plus, the lightweight nature of this rod makes it a joy to cast, and the responsive nature makes it easy to feel the rod loading, even at short distances. If you were only looking to invest in one rod that would cover a lot of different locations, it'd be hard to argue against either the BIIIx or the Radian in the 9' 5wt. range. We hope this review/listing has been helpful to you as you explore new options to cover different fisheries in the area. But, we also know that reading our thoughts on these rods will only go so far. So if you would like to cast any of these rods at any point feel free to swing by the store where we are more than happy to throw a line on a rod and let you test cast them for yourself! Thanks for reading!
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