Douglas Outdoors has put a new rod at the top of my fly fishing gear wish list. The crew at Stillwater Fly Shop tested three of the new Douglas Sky Series rods this morning the second they arrived. After hearing how the Sky rods performed recently in the Bahamas from George Anderson we couldn’t wait to cast the 9’ 5wt, 9’ 7wt, and 9’ 8wt rods that Douglas had sent for to us to try out.
Stillwater is centrally located in one of the finest Rainbow and Brown trout areas in the western United States. The advent of spring means that streamer and nymph fishing with heavy flies is going to be the norm for a while in both streams and lakes. The Sky 9’ 5wt is perfectly suited for casting heavy streamers and nymphs, both overhand and roll casting. Here is what we liked about this rod:
- It is exceptionally accurate at close range and at long distances. Lining it with a compact headed line or a sinking tip was preferential because it loaded the rod very quickly.
- Overpowering the rod was almost impossible because of the even power transition through the dynamic rod blank.
- Large flies were no problem even for the beginner and intermediate casters who tried this rod. Usually heavy flies track poorly after 30’ for this level of caster because of unrefined mechanics. There was no tracking issue for any of our testers and all were pleasantly surprised by the accuracy.
- Recovery was excellent even with an extreme tailwind. A couple of us tend to like slower action rods, but the advantages of the Sky in the wind or other inclement conditions were obvious.
- Roll casting this rod to 60’ was exceptionally easy because of what I call “backend power”. The bottom third of the rod has a unique feel that gives great power at the end of the cast. Yet, it possesses a dynamic feel that enables the angler to apply power with ease affording a surprisingly delicate presentation. This rod is anything but fatiguing.
- Delicate presentations with fast rods like the Sky can be difficult. The Sky is no different. But after getting a feel for the rod all of us were pleased with the amount of touch the rod provides, particularly in the 60’ to 80’ range.
A great rod at all distances. Its ability to produce long distance roll casts with large flies with ease was particularly pleasing for most of our testers. The 5wt Sky tracked better than any other 5wt that comes to mind, especially over 60’. As a dry fly rod, there might be a presentation and loading issue with long tapered fly lines. Since none of these types of lines were tested by us, we can’t say for sure. I can see where it would perform nicely on the flats, but as a streamer or nymphing rod there probably isn’t a rod that can surpass the 5wt member of the Douglas Sky Series.
7wt and 8wt rods are ubiquitous for large species of fish. Salmon, steelhead, and all things saltwater for the most part can be pursued with either of these rods. The Douglas version of these two rod weights are light, fast and have a surprisingly light feel. Here is what we found when we tested them.
- Once again they tracked exceptionally well. There was negligible tip “wobble” that reduces accuracy. This is probably due to Douglas’s proprietary carbon fiber and nanotechnology.
- Recovery was exceptional for all levels of caster. The 7wt had considerably more feel than the 8wt but that isn’t saying much because the 7wt felt like other brands’ 5 and 6wts.
- Generating initial line speed took little-to-no effort at various distances of line pick-up.
- Both had the unique “backend power” like the 5wt had that made for a smooth, fluid application of power that also allowed for a supremely accurate presentation in multiple wind speeds and angles.
- The rods handled all the lines we tried exceptionally well. Once again, weight forward lines with shorter heads really excelled on both of these rods. The 8wt Sky very easy to apply power to throughout the casting stroke. Even roll casting a long Type 6 sink-tip line was almost easy. Most rods don’t have the proper combination of taper and action to attempt to do this with much line out. Initiating a roll cast with 50’ of this line in the water was no issue.
- Each rod casts with a smooth, uncommonly light stroke making fatigue less of a factor than with most other rods of the same weight. The light weight titanium guides and dynamic tapers obviously have a huge impact on all characteristics of the Sky Rod Series.
Both of these rods were exceptional in feel and accuracy. Hitting the target at all ranges was almost effortless. The most exciting aspect of these two rods were how well they handled wind at a variety of angles while maintaining basic casting principles of loading and speed. Applying power at the end of the casting stroke for long casts into the wind is effortless and instinctive with these rods. Overall, they are light, accurate and exceptionally easy to cast for all levels of angling skill.