Probably the most asked question we get these days is; “What is a great fly rod for a price that won’t drain my bank account?” So the crew at Stillwater got together and cast several rods, well more than several, that fall into the mid-priced range that lies between $395 and $495. At the end of the Mid-Priced 5wt Cast-a-thon we had a list of 5 rods that fish would fear and fly fishermen would love.
Scott had an almost impossible task on its hands when it decided to replace the venerable A4 rod series. They surpassed themselves and the A4 with the introduction of the Flex Series. This state of the art fly rod is a huge upgrade from the A4. It has a beautiful finish that gives it the same look as one of their high-end rod.
We loved its lightweight and the sense of accuracy that we felt from this easy casting rod. Many of the same materials used to build Scott’s flagship rod, the Radian, were incorporated into this beautifully designed rod. We did notice that this medium-fast action rod could be overpowered if you didn’t let the Flex do the work.
This rod is fast. Sleek and black, not Winston green,
this multipurpose rod is easy to wield in all conditions. The greatest characteristic of this rod is how forgiving it is with an incredible amount of recovery for a mid priced fly rod. Where it truly excels is beyond 30’, both overhand and roll casting.
We all agreed that the Winston Nexus is a gun, plain and simple. The rod has an amazing amount of low-end backbone that transfers energy though the 100% graphite rod evenly. This made for a quicker than average casting stroke that formed almost perfect loops in both the advanced and beginning fly casters that picked up the Nexus. Winston craftsmanship and design make this fly rod a great choice if you could only have one rod.
This jewel surprised me. I hadn’t yet cast the Recon and hadn’t really even heard anything about it other than it won the prestigious Best Mid-Priced Fly Rod for 2015 from Fly Fisherman magazine. Ben had been telling me what a great rod it is and when he reached for the Recon first it didn’t surprise me. After a few casts he handed the rod to me and I instantly like it.
The Recon is like holding air it is so light. It is so light that it took a few casts to get the right casting stroke down for me to load the medium-fast action rod properly. Once I got it down I liked how the rod felt in my hand. The rod feels very similar to the Orvis Helios II, probably because of the almost identical taper design. The taper also gives the Recon nice accuracy and the ability to finish casts with a little more delicate presentation that some of the other rods on this list. It is nice looking rod, no bells or whistles, with a very workmanlike aesthetic.
The DXF is medium action carbon matrix rod that casts with an easy, non-fatiguing stroke. It is the “comfort food” of the five rods we cast. It had a very dependable feeling throughout the casting stroke with enough bottom-end to launch the heaviest flies easily into the wind. I love the carbon matrix material because it has the feel of casting a top of the line graphite rod with more underlying power. Recovery is not as forgiving as some rods but it is still quite good. As an all-around fly rod it is capable and very comfortable to cast.
We all agreed that the 5wt Douglas DXF that we were casting was easy to load with a very delicate tip that would present dry flies quite nicely. The surprise for this rod was how well it held up when some wind paid us a visit. In the wind, recovery and distance were hampered a bit, but nothing the average angler couldn’t overcome. There is nothing fancy about the look of this fly rod but it casts with as much accuracy as any of the rods on the list.
The Pulse was a true Graphite III rod, the same Graphite III that Sage built its reputation on for as long as I can remember. The color and look is trademark Sage. There was no short cut on quality because the Pulse looked like has been built with the same skill and materials as the Sage X or Method rods. The casting surprised us all.
As with most of the newer Sage offerings the Pulse had a very fast action. It was very forgiving with little power application needed to cast over 60’. The Pulse had lots and lots of lower rod power that I could feel on both the forward and backward casting strokes. It felt a bit butt heavy at times when I was casting at short distances. Overall it is a Sage and that is all that needs to be said about this great rod.