Rod review: G. Loomis EastFork FR1085-4 (Part 1)

gear bagEvery once in a while a person gets stuck in a quandary. My jams usually rear their ugly heads when I’m fishing a lighter medium-action rod, the sun starts to set, and I’ve decided to tie on a couple of leaches and go for broke before my party starts complaining about the empty beer cooler and my unbridled obsession with catching just one more. Yea…I’d fish well into the darkness if I had my way, and unless the day started with a 200-grain line and a Sex Dungeon, I’ve been left wanting for stiff speed on multiple occasions. I finally decided I could either continue making backcasts, and then checking my watch, tying up a new leader, and grabbing a quick snack before beginning forward rod motion, or I could pick up a faster 5-weight. I took the rode more traveled (buying yet more fly gear), and the rod of choice was the G. Loomis EastFork FR1085-4.

I’m going to start by saying I’ve had my eye on a premium rocket launcher in this weight class, but the price, combined with the fact that the only way I could test one required subjecting myself to massive amounts of dealer-tude (a.k.a. dealer bad attitude), means the upper-crust lost on appeal. Secondarily, the folks that pushed me into this stick once steered me into another they didn’t even carry, so I was pretty certain I was getting straightforward advice.

Looks

The rod was nicely packaged, and said packaging may prove useful on a hike too…

Very light, cordura-covered pack-ready protection
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“You’ll like what you feel” – meanwhile the jury is still deliberating
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For a rod with an MSRP of $425, it is extremely well put together. The manufacturer calls the base “a rich, full body cabernet satin color” – I call it the spitting image of the (now defunct) Orvis Zero Gravity. The rod finish is perfect, not a blemish to be found, and like the Orvis product Loomis took it easy on the epoxy. Darker burgundy wraps hold the guides firm, and the ferrules are accented in silver. The ferrules are finished, meaning must wax to keep them fit. Snake guides are chromed, matching the silver accents, as is the stripping guide (with a black insert). The reel seat is unique – bronze anodized machined aluminum, but with logo’ed cork inside – I thought this was a smooth branding touch which probably saved a little handle weight as well. The handle cork matches that of the insert, and was as good as cork could be (aside from coming out of an ’89 Lynch-Bages).

Polished 4-stroke
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loomishandlecloseup

Everything fits together perfectly. And again, it was nearly ascetically flawless. I say nearly because I did find a little burr on the reel seat threads – this was immediately written off as a feature preventing me from spinning the nut down farther than necessary. You have to love it when something [that might be] wrong with a new rod actually makes it more functional (and if G. Loomis actually did this on purpose please hand me a crowbar to get my foot out of my mouth). Finally, another useful touch: I’ve always wondered why manufacturers put the little fly holding loops on the bottoms of their rods – this manufacturer did it right, with the loop sitting at 270 degrees so I can actually see the fly I have on as I traipse to the next hole.

Branded, but…
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…keep it away from strong electric currents
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This puppy is doing time with a ’09 Lamson Litespeed 2.0, wrapped in 30# gel spun goodness and a Rio Gold 5…

Feather in Hard Alox
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A Hollywood couple
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The rod/reel combo looks so good that I’m inclined to scratch it up so nobody mistakes me for the obvious marketing gimmickry depicted on the G. Loomis home page. Also, I must note that I’m not necessarily sold on the pairing – the rod feels a bit weightier towards the tip (see below), and the reel is so light it puts the balance out off the grip – this feels a bit strange to me, and only time on the water is going to determine whether I find another, slightly heavier cranker.

Initial Feel

The first thing I said when the rod was handed to me was “it feels way heavy in the tip.” I didn’t mean too heavy in general – the rod just felt slightly unbalanced. It reminded me of the Sage SP 6-weight I own (still don’t know why) – despite being rated at 3 oz. (not bad for aging forest green) that rod always felt like there was lead in the tip, and this rod felt the same. I was immediately told to quit my bitching and go out and cast the thing. In the mean time, the rod felt firm in hand, and just slightly less than broomstick-like.

Casting

I got about fifteen minutes of supervised casting time with this rod, and it performed above par. While most of the exercise was done with an old Pflueger Medalist and a dirty ‘seconds’ line, consistently dropping a fluffy red indicator onto select pavement spots at 50′ was cake – it tracks very precise at intermediate distances. In airing it out (i.e. starting with a few feet of backing lying on my toes), however, I found the rig got a little sluggish. The loops stayed loose, and the back end of the line never felt a guide. I blamed that on the crap line itself, although I probably should call it user error and get some lessons. Nevertheless, the addition of a clean, slick line was promised as the solution to any shooting issues I might have, although since this rod will never see the light of a saltwater day I’ll probably never need that kind of power anyway. The action is fast enough that I have no worries tossing a streamer (or two) – the reason I went this route in the first place – and that (along with the price) is the reason the rod has found a new home.

Stay tuned

Next up is on-the-job training – I’ll hopefully have this rig out and about by the end of the weekend (weather and growing workload permitting). I’ll put it through it’s paces, and report back as soon as humanly possible.

MG signing off (to wax some ferrules)

Comments

so when are you gonna let a carp pop it’s cherry?

Hello Mike

The article was great and then it lead me to ” how is my rod” in fact this article kept me up all night, I thought I had a lighter, medium action rod but deep down I know my rod is much heavier and longer, I know, my rod is a premium rocket launcer! I need that stiff speed, its very important, to really get a big one. My rod is also ascetically flawless and it also performs well with a rich full Cabernet, you know I am in the wine business so that’s very important. The first thing my wife said when I handed her my rod was” it feels way heavy in the tip” it was also very firm in my hand but much thicker and longer then a broomstick. I like you also got about 15 minutes supervised with my rod and then my rig got sluggish so I had to quit. All in all Mike the article was great, I have always taken my rod for granted but now every time I take it out, I look at it a little different.

Jimmy

@rough – You do mean pop it in half, don’t you?

@jimmy – We all know the girl doesn’t love you for your mind.

I’m taking all of this as a clue that I need to spice things up a bit.

After seeing this debacle unfold (well, I read most of the report and all the comments), I’m determined to include a bikini photograph in every gear review I do.

Who says man can’t learn from the experiences of others?

Bikini? Might as well go full nude. They don’t call it fish porn for nothing.

Nudes? That would be exploitive – not tasteful (which the Underground’s noted for).

perez says:

got this rod. at first i tought-i spent 380 quid on the stuff i can’t cast with! 10′ of armache! it didn’t load at all but having quite a lot experience i overloaded it with wt6. plus i slowed down on casting strokes and i’m tellin’ all of ya that is good rod which cast easy. the only downside are rings-they just stop the line because of friction

Perez – I haven’t had any problem with the rings…are there any burrs or other rough spots on your stripping guide? I’m casting it with a 5wt Rio Gold without any issue, although I’ll admit it took some getting use to.

perez says:

they call them recoils. all my friends replaced them because of funny noise when retrieving. my line -greys-doesn’t pull back when double hauling on the back cast. that my be my fault-got same problem but much less with another rods.

Yes – recoils. Thought you meant the stripping guide. Seems like it might be cheaper to make a rod from blank than to replace numerous guides on a stock rod. Again – I didn’t notice the problem, but maybe it’s just my line.

Best – MG

paul caraher says:

Hi Mike,
I have a SD Metolius 8.5′ 4 wt and have been wondering about differences between it and the Eastfork, aside from cosmetic. Also curious about why Loomis dropped the Metolius from the line. Too close to the SD GLX?
Might be dead wrong but it appears to me that they changed the blank color & seat insert and renamed it Eastfork.
Enjoyed your interesting article. Thanks.
“loomistic”.

Paul –

Glad you liked the post. I don’t know the Metolius – in fact the only other Loomis rod I’ve spent a lot of time with is the GLX Classic 12wt. I bought the Eastfork on a whim, looking for something a little faster than what I had. Up until that point I’d only bought two rods in the previous decade (and one was a discontinued low-end rod strictly for beating up on carp water).

I spent a lot of time with the Eastfork, and the conclusion was it was an excellent fighting tool, but lacked the feel I was originally looking for. Foremost, I never got over the “heavy tip” mentioned above. It was great with streamers and heavy nymphing, but weaker in the dry casting department and tough on delicate mending.

All in all, a good purchase for someone that wants a nice rod built with finer components, but doesn’t want the lifetime investment vis-a-vis a premium stick.

PS: My Eastfork has recently been replaced.