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Michael Gracie

Rod Review: Scott S4S 906/4

Scott Fly RodsIt has become my favorite stick for…just about everything except throwing the daintiest of dries on the tiniest of tippet (what a silly thing to do anyway, eh?) – the Scott S4S 906/4. It’s the baddest soldier in my squad, and it’ll remain that way until it dies or I find something better – the latter seems unlikely right now, and the whole if/or scenario is © Starship Troopers.

Read the entire rod review over at MidCurrent, where I conclude that the S4S 906/4 won’t guarantee you a case of angling-acquired tetanus, but will get you a little closer to the goal line. And that, my friends, is what fly-fishing [should be] all about.

MG signing off (because I wouldn’t use this rod for marlin or tarpon, but the average bear is more than fair game)

Rod review: Scott S4 905/4

gear bagIt’s closing on two years since I first dropped a bug on the water with a Scott fly rod. The G2 905-4 is a staple of my quiver, unequal in terms of delicate presentation capability. Unfortunately, I’m prone to throwing meat, particularly at dawn and dusk (and midway between 8am and 10am, at 12pm on the hour, and every 15 to 30 minutes between 1pm and sunset). The G2 is a true medium action stick – certainly not impossible, but it is ill-suited for tossing tandem streamers or streamers with tandem hooks. Using another 5-weight which is stiff as a rail for the “dirty bird” methods, I’ve found myself carrying two rods an awful lot.

Circa the time I purchased fiver number two, I’d also spent some time test casting the Scott S4 905/4. Investment difference aside, there’s been slight regret since, which turned into deep anguish a few months back when I was handed the same S4 and told to play with it the rest of the day. Less than 86,400 minutes later it was a permanent addition to the lineup.

What follows are my thoughts…

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Rod Review: Orvis TLS Power Matrix 908-2 Tip-Flex 9.5

gear bagOrvis’s TLS line has been around quite a few years, and has certainly been the target of its fair share of reviews. But we fly fish in a world where four piece rods are the norm, and when I found this Orvis TLS Power Matrix 908-2 Tip-Flex 9.5 I figured it would be an oddity in my gear closet too. Yea, it’s a two piece, but my arm was twisted into giving it a go. The intended use – tromping around Denver looking for big smelly carp, a purpose for which assembly convenience trumps inability to stuff it into a commercial airliner’s overhead storage bin.

Since it’s an older model, I’ll be brief. This will be a single part review too (lucky you) since I’ve already fished the rod several times.

Fit and finish

The rod came in a nice burgundy colored cordura covered tube, complete with a zip away cap and a black cordura carry handle. There was no rod sock included – a simple divider is built into the tube. More ‘less parts’ is fine by me, and the tube is durable enough that a person could re-purpose it for a friendly came of stick-ball if so desired.

orvistlstube

The rod finish is glossy forest green, and just slightly darker around the wraps. If nothing else, green feels good – I now have less green in my pocket but I can probably spin it as part of some environmental cause. There are two black anodized stripping guides – the rest of the [snake] guides are nickel – and the reel seat is gloss black. The finish on the reel seat looks and feels tough – identical to that on several premium saltwater rods I’ve owned for years that still don’t have a scratch on them.

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Stuff you might have missed while searching for your old ‘Thriller’ vinyl – 06/29/09

Technology

  • How Difficult Is It To Post A Bill On The White House Website For Five Days? [Techdirt] – Watch for a new government job listing for, uh, White House Blogger. Primary responsibility: cut and paste.
  • Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out [Wired] – All Google has to do is remove Facebook from their search results, and the fight is over.
  • Indian CEO Says Most US Tech Grads “Unemployable” [Slashdot] – The kingdom of outsourcing may be hedging its bets through the PR channels.
  • Finance

  • Krugman and the Housing Bubble: A Love Story [Reason] – Mr. Krugman is long to get his story straight. Looks like the ‘internet is forever’ mantra is getting the best of him.
  • Goldman Sachs: The Great American Bubble Machine [The Big Picture] – A must read, particularly the final blow on cap-and-trade. I suggest clicking through to the Scribd page and going full screen.
  • Frank Pushes Fannie and Freddie to Take On More Risky Loans [Contrarian Profits] – Along with a plan to refinance homes that are underwater, it looks as though we’ll all soon be in government housing, whether we like it or not.
  • Fly Fishing

  • Is It Time For Rodmakers to Get Out of the Warranty Business? [MidCurrent] – It would certainly force people to rest their rods someplace besides the door jam of their vehicles.
  • Invention Lets Fish Live Without Water [Cutthroat Stalker] – A fly fishing photographer’s dream come true? Heh, nothing can help my photog skills.
  • Elite anglers focused on FKO/IGFA Inshore World Championship [Fishing World] – Coming soon, and on EPSN to boot.
  • Adieu.

    Rod review: G. Loomis EastFork FR1085-4 (Part 2)

    gear bagIncluding a taste of the Grey Reef

    Following up on part one of the G. Loomis Eastfork 5 weight review, I finally had a chance to put the stick through the paces. The location for testing was the Grey Reef – North Platte River, Wyoming.

    Casting

    I’d previously noted that the rod was very accurate at intermediate distances, and felt a little mushy on the long end. I can’t say I had much of a chance to air it out, but I can say that on a large western trout stream you’ve got all you’ll ever need with the EastFork. I threw weighted and unweighted streamers, including doubles, and did a fair amount of nymphing with it as well. It performed admirably with all. I did not, however, cast any small dries with the rod, but I’m not going to wonder whether it can cleanly turn over a #20 Parachute Adams – the rod isn’t built for ultra-light work (although it still fared well protecting tippets – see below).

    Catching

    Marketers would like you to think that ‘feel’ is what it’s all about when it comes to fly rods. But while ‘feel’ may make you think you’ve been transported to some mystical place where the trout eat your fly and then swim directly into your net, the reality is far from it. Once you cast your magic rod, you still have to hook and land fish! And that’s where this baby seemed to shine.

    During a day and a half of testing on a large mountain states tailwater, I caught and released roughly 25 fish. Better yet, I did most of that on 5X tippet and in very heavy flows. Best…the smallest fish was 17 inches and the average fish probably weighed a couple of pounds.

    Loomis EastFork Fight
    Bend or break – it bends and bends and bends

    To get ’em to net you need a outfit that has leverage in its heart but isn’t so much of a broomstick that you’re on your second spool of tippet by noon. The Grey Reef was running around 2,000 cfs, meaning every hookup was a challenge. And while I pulled more than my fair share of hooks, I only popped one tippet (and I’m chalking that one up to user error to boot).

    Here’s the best catch of the test…

    Grey Reef Pig
    Screwing up the weight average – at minimum I’ll call the rod lucky

    Proof is in the pudding. The G. Loomis EastFork has earned itself a permanent spot in my multi-rod tube.

    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.

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    Budget brownlining

    Who says you can’t fly fish on the cheap?

    gear bagI made the call, wanting a rod I could kick around. A master carper convinced me that an 8-weight would work dutifully (as long as it wasn’t a rocket launcher like I previously deployed), and then cut me a sweetheart deal to boot. I walked out with a Temple Fork Professional series. It’s fairly heavy as my quiver goes (it’s a 6-piece after all), but still casts pretty smooth.

    Carp setupI dug through the spare gear box, and pulled out an old Lamson LP 3.5 (and an extra spool). While that made it even more burdensome from a heft standpoint, I figure I’ll get a good shoulder workout in the process. Strung one spool with a floater and the other with a sink tip, both lines which I picked up at the same time as the rod (along with five new 10ft, 1X leaders).

    My total out-of-pocket, tax, tag, and title – $106.67. That doesn’t include the reel, but I suspect I could have nabbed one of those LP jobs on eBay for around $70, putting my total investment at around $180. The skeptic might say I’m only happy with the price, but I really do like the setup’s feel. And I won’t feel bad if I bang it up a bit either – in other words, I can just go out and have fun.

    And that is what fly fishing is supposed to be about.

    Look Ma, No Rod!

    Review of the Orvis Zero G 906-4 Tip-Flex 10.5 (Part II)

    gear bagI whipped this rod around for ten hours straight, just like I said I would. I’m anxious to describe how I feel about its performance, but I think a little primer is due first…

    Roughly ten years ago, one of my fanatical fly fishing friends booked a trip to the Bahamas and stuck me with half the bill – so I went, if only to make sure he didn’t bullshit about all the bonefish he caught. We were out on the skiff day one, and he won the flip for first on deck. A few cruisers were spotted, but my buddy couldn’t reach them. Then I stepped up to the plate, and my bat was a rod (sorry – different brand) I had picked up in Miami just a month before during a secret Biscayne Bay practice session. It was a rocket launcher – nearly impossible to load without half the spool in flight, but when she did the bend right it was sayonara Crazy Charlie. Anyway, my buddy sits next to the guide watching, in awe that quickly turned to disgust – finally he gives, and we spent the rest of the day using one rod. When we returned to the dock, I picked up the gear and he sprinted back to the hotel – when I arrived he was on the phone with outfitters on the mainland, looking for that stick. He finally found one, in California, and had the shop do a FedEx Priority (yes, to the Bahamas).

    The Orvis Zero G 906-4 Tip-Flex 10.5 may well find itself in a similar predicament. All I have to do is wind up on someone else’s big trout trip – I’ll demand we fish streamers, and then I’ll pull this puppy out. We’ll make sure there’s a company FedEx account handy.
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    Review of the Orvis Zero G 906-4 Tip-Flex 10.5 (Part I)

    gear bagThere are several people in the world who were tired of my incessant research on a new streamer rod. I’d been searching for months, read reviews until my eyes were sore, and cast at least a half-dozen different models. Sure, I already had a decent rod for streamers (the Sage 690-3 SP), and my short casting stroke and obsessive use of sinking lines and 6-inch pieces of dumbell-ed rabbit strip was pushing it – nonetheless I was pretty satisfied with its performance. I’d been lucky too – no multi-ounce flies had yet knocked a tip off – but I was in need of a backup quarterback just in case. Instead I wound up with what may be a starter – the Orvis Zero G 906-4 Tip-Flex 10.5.

    Like my last ostentatious and frivolous purchase rod review I’ll being doing this one in two parts: paint and trim, and track acceleration (reels do the braking). I purchased this beauty from (where else?) Orvis – specifically from the Cherry Creek location. I’d hinted to the folks there that I was in want of a rocket launcher, and a few days ago Kerry Caragher said I had to cast this one. Fast forward to this afternoon – I was back in the shop, BYORL (bring your own reel and line) and out on the grass for a test drive. I’ll have more to report in regards to performance later, but I can say I was false casting 30+ feet of 5 inch/second sinker with barely a twitch of my elbow and some short tugs on the line – you guessed it…I was sold.

    Following is the first half of the review, and some pics, of the latest addition to the quiver…
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