Without a doubt, one the most commonly asked questions that’s going down in the DM’s is “What’s the difference between the _____ fly rod and the _____ fly rod? I live on east side of planet Neptune and there’s not a fly shop for 2.7 billion miles.” Couple of things to address before we start name dropping, the first being that for the sake of this piece, we’re going to compare 11 and 12 weights, and the ones we carry at 239 Flies. Second, our team of space cadets is working on a reliable way to offer free shipping on these rods to accommodate our customers on planet Neptune. Casey is building rockets out back of the shop as we speak.
Tarpon season is all but upon us, and many of you seem to be in the market for either your first 12 weight, or to upgrade your 12 weight you bought a few years ago. When you get into the heavier sticks, you really start to feel the difference between them. Not just casting and fishing, but just holding them in your hand. For example, when you’re comparing 8 weights, the difference between the $250 rod and $750 rod is a gulf of difference. When you’re comparing 12 weights, there’s AN OCEAN of difference. Depending on existing quiver, choosing to go with an 11 or 12 weight is largely dependent on fishing style, and the need of the angler. I’ll speak for myself and echo some of the knowledge the guides at the shop have shared with our in store customers, and I’ll keep it short. If you’re tarpon fishing somewhere you’ll be making a lot of casts, ie you fish rolling tarpon, or laid up fish, think about going with an 11 weight. If you spend a lot of time waiting with your rod in hand and letting the fish come to you, go with a 12 weight. 11’s are definitely lighter and funner to cast. So let’s talk about the ones we offer at 239 Flies in greater detail.
At the bottom end of the price spectrum are the Echo Boost salts. If you’re after a utilitarian type stick that just gets you out there and able to go tarpon fishing on budget, the boost salt is a great way to go. It has titanium corrosion resistant components, and detachable fighting grip which are really nice touches for $250 rod. It’s definitely a little heavier, and little clunkier than it’s big brother the EPR, but at the price, it’s an unbeatable stick.
Moving up is the Echo EPR. I’ve fished this rod for couple of years. It’s a totally serviceable 12 weight. It’s fairly light, extremely fast action, and lots of back bone. I like to tell customers that it’s 75% of the Loomis NRX at half the price. Which it definitely is. It really throws an intermediate line well too. It’s really one the best “value rods” on the rack. And Echo has one of the best warrantees in the business too, should you get a little over zealous...or your dumb ass leaves you camera case sitting upright next to it...don’t ask.
The Scott Tidal is great way to get a value in a 12 weight rod, and still buy American made. You still get the fine details, and posh Scott brand, but at $550 you’re getting a stick that is still moderately light for a heavy stick, and it’s still a fairly fast action rod. It’s not as light, fast, and posh as it’s big brother the meridian, but it’s a very nice rod. The tip is a little softer and makes it better suited for laid up tarpon fishing, and being able to lay a heavy line down softly. There’s a lot to be said for that. Also in the $550 ball park is the G Loomis Crosscurrent Pro 1. If the rod is staying on the boat, don’t be afraid of the one piece. This is honestly the very best value in the shop. The thing is bullet proof and casts like butter. There’s a reason you see these things everywhere and every legendary fishing guide uses them. They’re unbeatable, borderline unbreakable ass kicking sticks.
We’ll touch on the Thomas & Thomas zone briefly. It’s not offered above a 10 weight, but if you’re fishing for tarpon under 100 pounds, you can throw a 10 all day. It’s also much lighter and easier to cast. The zone is a really nice rod. It’s a crowd favorite at the shop. Very light and powerful and good god is it opulent! T&T makes some luxurious rods. Damn!
💸💸💸The good shit please!💸💸💸
Yeahhhh boyyyyy, you’ve only got one life and you’re not being caught dead drinking anything that’s not off the top shelf. I could write 100 pages breaking down tarpon sticks from Loomis alone, so I’ll try to brief, and as always if you have any further questions give the shop a shout.
Let’s start with touch. If you’re after a velvety smooth rod that can really deliver a big fly with a soft touch, the Scott Meridian is what you’re after. It doesn’t punch the wind like some of the other high end sticks, but what it lacks in power (which it still has plenty of, don’t kid yourself) it makes up for in the finesse game. The little details are done very well too. The labels and serial numbers are hand inscribed, it’s got a stamped and branded reel seat, and super fine thread work. All made in the USA.
If you’re after power, speed, and something you can pull on a f*^%ng face with, then the G Loomis NRX is your stick. In my opinion, the NRX is the gold standard of tarpon rods. There fast, powerful, light, durable, and just a weapon of mass fish moral destruction. They’ll toss a line through some wind no problem. G Loomis also offers this rod in a 1 piece, and if it’s not leaving the boat, do it. If you’re traveling, or might travel, definitely go with a 4 piece. It’s not the touchiest rod on the rack, but if the Scott Meridian is the scalpel, the G Loomis NRX is the sledge hammer.
A great blend of both the meridian and the NRX, would be the Thomas & Thomas Exocett. This was the rod I chose to go with in an 11 weight. It seems like the first 3 sections of this rod belong to the nrx, and the top is off the meridian. It throws a tight loop, is very light, and absolutely stunning! When you’re spending north of $800 on a rod, it’s not enough to just be an awesome rod, the fine details have to be perfect too. And there’s no rod on the market that has the aesthetics of the T&T’s. The stamped reel seat, hand inscribed branding and serial numbers, I mean these things are gorgeous. And they’re extremely functional. You have to understand that even at the high dollar price point there’s no absolutely perfect rod. It’s what rod performs best in the category I care about most, and gets high marks in the rest. Well, there may be one perfect rod...
The G Loomis Asquith...you get what you pay for...