Wednesday, February 7, 2018

TFO Drift Rod Review 2

TFO Drift fly rod review. This post is a continuation of my earlier blog post review of the TFO Drift fly rod.  After my earlier post a week ago, another YouTube video has popped up showing clear detail of this rod including closeup on how the innovative stripper guide system works. I have opted to include this very good video in my blog to give reader a clearer view of this rod system. Near the end of this video, recommendation is also made on what line weight / grain weight is suited for this rod.

Monday, January 29, 2018

TFO Drift Rod Review

TFO Drift rod review. Finally TFO is getting into the Microspey game. Their new 3wt Drift rod is certainly a game changer. It is 4 rod in one covering 9ft dry fly fishing to 10' Euro nymphing to 11'3" or 12'3" micro spey / trout spey. 

After my recent Bosnia trip fishing in river Una, I can certainly appreciate the versatility of having such a rod in my arsenal. In the morning with no hatch happening, I could be Euro nymphing with 10' configuration. Later as the trout and grayling warms up to slurping dry fly, I could easily shorten to 9ft by removing the 1' extension without needing to re-string, how sweet is that! Next day, if I fancy prospecting for big trout tossing wooly bugger across the stream, this same rod can be rigged as a 11'3" microspey casting sink tips on Skagit line... how neat is that :)

I recently got a chance to test cast this rod for a few hours, thanks to my friend, Nick, owner of Tackle Box Adventures Fly Shop in Subang Jaya. Here is my initial impression review of this TFO Drift fly rod.

I first strung up the 9ft configuration to cast a 3wt RIO intermediate line (It happens that I don't have a 3wt floating line). I must say that I initially  struggled to get a good cast because the tip felt really soft. After taking a step back I realized the problem. I was pushing the rod too hard for distance. This 3wt 9ft configuration is supposedly designed for close in dry fly action, so I started working on 30 - 40 ft cast and the rod begins to perform. It excels in loading with minimal line out for delicate presentation cast meant for dry fly.

Next I wanted to know if this rod has the guts to handle distance. I extended the rod to 10' and hauled away.  Immediately I can feel a change in character. The rod came alive with more power. The tippy action encountered earlier seems to have dissapeared. The rod now loads lower down with more power at my disposal as I made longer hauls. In the end I was gratified. I managed to clear the 90ft RIO Aqualux line. So if you meet stiff wind and need to punch for distance, set it up to 10'. At 10', the rod did not feel too tip heavy and I would be perfectly happy using it Euro nymphing the whole day.

Next and more importantly I wanted to know if this rod can Spey cast well. Since I can't test on water, I did the next best thing... which is to set up my anchored grass leader system to cast on grass. For those who are not familiar with my anchored grass leader system please follow the link to see how it works.

I set up the rod at 11'3 microspey configuration and put on a 235 grain Wulff Ambush line with 15ft RIO versi leader. After making a few cast, I can feel that 235 grain is in the right ball park. The rod is not overly fast but it does load smoothly and dish out the cast with unhurried pace. I suspect that it will cast even better  with Ambush 195 grain. Since this is casting on grass, I will not put to much judgement on how it will perform on water. Do take this as my very initial impression of the rod.

Next, just for curiosity, I set it up at 12'3" Spey. At this length, the rod slowed down tremendously and also very tip heavy. I can't imagine anyone wanting to use it at this length for Spey fishing. My advice is to stick to 11'3" for microspey and you should be happy. Hopefully I will get to test the rod on water eventually and provide a more thorough review.

Who should get this rod or why should you buy it? If you are new to the Microspey game or want to get into single hand Spey, this is a good way to start because you get a dry fly presentation rod and a Euro nymphing rod as bonus. Or if you want a 10ft nymphing rod and not sure if you would eventually venture into Microspey then this rod will do it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sage Trout Spey vs Winston Micro Spey

Here is a very good article by Gorge Fly Shop comparing Sage Trout Spey vs Winston Micro Spey. For those intending to make the foray into the small switch rod arena (2wt - 4wt), this is a good read.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Spey Casting Fundamentals

Here is a very good video covering some spey casting basics by Will Turek. I decided to bookmark his video here because I find his explanation very concise and easy to understand. This would serve as a good reference for those interested in learning Spey casting.

I like how he explains the relationship between anchor and D-loop size and also the 180 degree rule of spey casting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

RIO Spey Lines for the Micro Spey Game

Here is a very good write up by George Cook of Sage on the choice of lines from RIO if you are into the micro Spey / Trout Spey / ultralight Spey game.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Making Sense of Switch Rods and Lines - by RIO

Here is a good write up by RIO on how to make sense of the plethora of lines offered by RIO for Switch rods. If you are ever in doubt as to which RIO Spey line to select for your need, read this and be enlightened.

RIO Spey Line Weight Table

Here is a table that I find very useful to quickly reference the Spey line offerings by RIO. This table allows me to quickly find out the length of and grain weight of each line type/model including the MOW tips. I though I will share it here.

Here is the link to the pdf file in RIO website:

RIO 2016 Spey Line Weight part 1

RIO 2016 Spey Line Weight part 2

For those interested in RIO sink tip specifications, they are available here:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

6 Piece Travel Switch Rod

I have been hunting high and low for a 6pc travel length switch rod for some time now. So, when a newly acquainted fellow angler pointed me in the direction of  Shakespeare fly rods, specifically the Oracle EXP range, I was both delighted and intrigue.

Intrigue because Shakespeare has never been popular for their fly rods. Spinning rods ...yes, the famous Ugly Stick comes to mind but fly rods??!!. I kept an open mind and did some research on the web. There are not a whole lot of reviews that I can find but here are a few good ones:

Here is the promo video by Shakespeare for this rod range:

In the end, I took the plunge and bought the Oracle EXP #7/8 11ft 6pc Switch. I had the rod for a while now and has been fishing with it to put it through its paces. Now I think I am ready to write a review.

The Oracle EXP #7/8 is AFTM rated. This means that it is equivalent to a single hand 7/8 wt rod rating. If we go by the US Switch rod rating, I would rate this as a 5/6 wt Switch rod. After some experimentation with different grain Skagit lines, I concluded the grain window for this rod is between 350 and 450 grains.

This rod amazes me with its recovery speed. Although not marketed as a fast rod, it does exhibit very good recovery and can generate some pretty good line speed. Furthermore, I like the progressive action of the rod. The more you load the rod, the lower down it bends and the more it powers up. I like how it launches the 450 grain Ambush head with ease, flexing progressively to the mid section.

Aesthetically, there is nothing to shout about. It is best described as low key and functional. The cork quality is no worse than my TFO and the blank is matte camo green to reduce fish spooking glare. I was impressed by how well the ferules fit together for a rod of this price range. It shows no sign of loosening or twisting even after pro-long casting. The reel seat is anodized aluminium which means I can use it in saltwater. Despite being 6pc, this rod does not feel heavy at all. In fact the swing weight is comparable to my TFO Deer Creek 6wt. This rod is also built tough and you can really yank on the fish without worrying about breakage.

Overall, this is a great rod and very affordable to boot. I like it that it can be broken down to 6pc and fits easily into my check-in luggage for travel. It cast well, it fish well and the 6pc design makes it a handy backup travel rod.

Here are some pics of fish I have done battle with on this rod.

Giant Trevally

Mangrove Jack

Jungle Perch

Currently the Oracle EXP range of Switch rod comes only in #7/8 and #8/9. I wish Shakespeare would consider making a #4/5 and #5/6 version which I would buy in a heartbeat. I have also spent an hour or so test casting the Oracle EXP #8/9 rod with 450 grain Ambush line. The verdict is that this rod is casting more from the top one third of the rod. The flex is not as progressive as the #7/8. This is not necessarily a bad thing as this "tip flexing" action gives very consistent tight loops. I think the Scandi casters will like this action.

Another option for multi piece travel switch rod would be the Guideline LXi T-Pac switch rod. It is 11'6", breaks down to 5 pieces and comes in  #6/7, #7/8, #8/9 (AFTM rating).

*Updated 11 May 2016:
I just came back from Thailand fishing trip using the Oracle EXP #7/8 rod. This rod has what it takes to handle big fish and is plenty tough too. There was an occasion when I accidentally whacked the rod tip onto a nearby tiled roof during a difficult cast and the rod survived. I was expecting the worst but the rod just went on as if nothing has happened.

Here are some pics of big fish I caught there pairing up the rod with my trusty Lamson Speedster and 400 grain SA Skagit Extreme line.

Chao Phraya Catfish
Mekong Catfish

Giant Pacu

Monday, November 30, 2015

All you want to know about RIO MOW tips

If you are still all fog up as to what is a MOW tip, George Cook gives a great concise introduction on MOW tip in this video.

Instead of the traditional sink tips, MOW tips are increasingly used as weapon of choice for the Skagit guys targeting Steelhead and Salmon. You can refer to this a great article by Asland Fly Shop on how to tactically make use of RIO MOW tips for swinging flies.

MOW tips were designed by some of the most influential pioneers in Skagit Spey, namely Mike McCune, Scott O'Donnell and Ed Ward. The MOW tip is named after the 3 of them.

MOW tips as part of the Skagit system were created for two main reason, consistency in depth control and consistency in casting control. In the past, people will just use sink tip of different length to fish different depth. For example if you are fishing a deep run, you may have been using a 10ft sink tip. When you next get into a shallow section, a 5ft sink tip may be more suitable. However, the 5ft sink tip will shorten the overall length of your Skagit set up and reduce the bite of your anchor. As a result you may find yourself ripping out your anchor more often than not unless you adjust your casting stroke to accommodate the change. With MOW tip, you will find that the overall length remains constant except for the fast sink portion. This consistency in length of the MOW tip results in  good depth control without sacrificing casting.

An article here by Gorge Fly Shop gives a good account of not only the MOW tip but also the newer RIO iMOW tips:

Please do not confuse sink rate vs grain weight of the tips. Sink rate is ips (inch per second) whereas tungsten tips are rated at T8, T11 or T14 for example. "T" stands for tungsten coated. So  a T14 means that the tungsten coated tip weighs 14 grain per foot. So if you have a 10ft T14 tip, the overall weight of the tip is 140 grain. Typical sink rate of T8 is 6-7 ips, T11 is 7-8 ips and T14 is 8-9 ips.

RO also makes tips rated in ips, for example RIO InTouch 15ft sink tips. So if you are using a 15ft sink tip rated at 3-4 ips you may be tempted to think that you are swinging your fly deeper than a person using 7ft of T14. You may be very wrong. T14 sinks at 8-9 ips so it will cut through the current much faster than a 4ips 15ft sink tip.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fixing Spey Casting Faults

Here is a good video by Jon of Ashland Fly shop showing and correcting common spey casting mistakes.