Part of the light swing weight can be attributed to the use of the superb REC nickel/titanium single-foot guides. Heads up the Recon and Shadow were far better. Loop – Lifetime warranty to original owner. Replacements are shipped within two days of received payment. Also right up at the top, scoring 9.5 are the Scott rods, like the Radian and G series, as well as the Orvis Helios 3F and 3D. First, it is very light in swing weight and the fast action is a lot like the Zephrus in that it has a stronger butt and much softer tip than most of the other rods. Yellowstone Angler’s 5 weight shootout is a longstanding tradition for gear junkies. Performance at 40 feet:  19.0 points out of 20. This one is simple – The least expensive rods get the highest points. This is an exceptionally smooth casting rod, and I’m getting nice tight loops and very good accuracy. We have awarded scores prioritizing the lowest repair charges and the quickest repair turn around. It’s somewhat embarrassing for a $1000 rod to finish below one that costs only $198.00, but there are some good reasons for this. The lock rings were a little harder than most to grip and tighten. Wind speed is neither steady nor consistent. The new NRX+ LP does have a slightly stiffer tip than the old NRX LP, as you’ll see in the deflection charts. Rods with a light swing weight are pleasant and effortless to cast. Will they make you a better angler? I still had to give the edge to the Zephrus and Pure. We value your comments about the Shootout and invite any questions you might have about it or your tackle needs. I also liked the Sage X a lot better in the Power Rods category. T&T also uses a stack of thinner cork rings and the quality of the cork is as close to perfect as you can get. The finished blanks are then shipped back to G. Loomis, where the rods are assembled, wrapped and finished at the G. Loomis factory in Woodland Washington. Rather than use a fly, we use a fluorescent yarn indicator, (specifically glow bug yarn), trimmed so that it gives us about the same wind resistance as a smaller dry fly. The cork handle is that same snub nose, half wells found on the X and feels very comfortable to me. When I first started casting this rod I was sure it would be close to the top of the presentation rods but it was simply not as accurate as the SKY G or NRX+ LP in close and seemed to run out of gas at long range. Orvis HELIOS 3F   8’6” #4     $849.00. For manufacturing defects on rods under current warranty, rods are repaired or replaced at St. Croix’s discretion for $20, including shipping. I could hit this distance easily enough, but I had much better feel and accuracy with the faster, lighter rods. Forty feet was definitely the sweet spot for this rod. Orvis – 25 year warranty to original owner. This is a wonderful rod fishing dry flies at shorter distances. Instead of a chart with all the rods, we are breaking this down into multiple charts for easier viewing. Although we thought that the Winston 8 foot Pure was a fantastic 4-weight, the Nimbus didn’t get us too excited. #2 Rated Reel by Yellowstone Anglers Shootout. The perfect line:  SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity in WF-4-F, Performance at 25 feet:  20 points out of 20. The lack of butt and mid-section power hurt a lot at long range. Very nice feel with excellent accuracy at short distances. When I decided to buy a new 5 weight I started by reading all the 5 weight fly rod reviews I could find; the first being the Yellowstone Angler 5-Weight Shootout. This rod has a medium fast action with tons of power in the butt and mid-section, which allowed it to perform pretty well at the longest distance. (tie) R.L. Guides start out with a hook keeper, then a single Nano-Lite SIC-style stripping guide. A slightly softer tip would help in close. The reel seat is a double uplocking skeleton seat in anodized gold, with a pretty wood burl insert using green and brown highlights to complement the blank. For guides, there is a hook keeper just above the handle, and then one SiC stripping guide followed by hard chrome snake guides. Sage uses lime green wraps that complement the color of the rod. For broken rods that are not registered to the original owners, some companies are going to charge you $150 or more for repairs. The epoxy coatings on the guides are top notch. This is especially important for 3 and 4-weight rods, when you are often using very light 5X, 6x and 7X tippets while fishing small dries, emergers and spinners. This is one of the best rods at long range. The blank is a pleasing burgundy that sparkles in the sunlight. The best handles now use a stack of thinner cork rings or standard size rings with very few defects that are laid up individually and then sanded down. We should have probably dropped this longer Finesse from our Shootout as the shorter 7’9” Finesse performed so much better. I found the locking rings easy to grip and tighten. Also right up at the top are the Scott rods, like the Raidan and G series as well as the Orvis Helios 3F. This was the best distance for me with the Zone. The epoxy coatings over the wraps are nicely done, and I especially like the fact that they inscribe the rod length and weight on the bottom wrap of each section. Sometimes the whole rod is replaced. Our deflection charts have been very popular in past Shootouts, so we are giving you more this year. In past Shootouts we tried measuring swing weight in other ways, including calculations for the Moment of Inertia, taking the weight of all 4 sections individually and then plugging these figures into an equation. The action of the Zone is much slower than the Avantt (and also a lot slower than the Recon or Shadow). But even with the lighter line, the accuracy was not very good. We have learned that we cannot trust manufacturer’s stated rod weights. These will be located under my comments on each rod. Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots – Felt (Built By Danner), Armstrong Spring Creek on the O’Hair Ranch, I do like the fast action, just not the heavy swing weight, which is far heavier than the Douglas DXF. The Avantt tied the Pure for the only perfect scores in Craftsmanship. 2. The Winston Alpha + proved to be too heavy and too stiff to be a good 5-weight. In addition to being a test caster and editor, he’s responsible for some of the photos and putting all of this on line. The G. Loomis NRX LP 9’#5 has had a stranglehold on first place in our past three 5-weight Shootouts, but now this rod is gone, replaced with the NRX+ LP, a totally new rod with new materials and a new design that has proven to be outstanding. We have liked the Mystic Reaper that has done well in some of our early 5-weight Shootouts. Nice loops and decent performance at mid-range, but the top rods were substantially better. In general the SKY rods do cast well, and the SKY 9 foot #6 won our last 6-weight Shootout. The epoxy coatings over the wraps are very good but a little heavy in spots, as around the feet of the guides. With your support we can continue to give you more Shootouts and head to head comparisons on tackle and equipment in the future. Light Tippet Protection – 20 points available. We have found that the new 5-weight rods are getting better and better each year. The Pure is unquestionably one of the best looking rods in our Shootout, with some of the best craftsmanship. Rods are repaired or replaced. The heavy swing weight is perhaps the biggest reason the SKY didn’t perform so well. Of all the reels we have carried over the years, Galvan continues to have the fewest warranty issues and returns. Douglas uses a dark green anodized double ring uplocking seat, with an attractive brown wood burl insert. Performance at 40 feet:  18.5 points out of 20. This rod has a slower action than the fast action NRX LP, as well as a stiffer tip. The weight hampered the kind of feel I was getting compared with the best rods and the accuracy was nothing to write home about. If a rod looks like a million bucks and casts like it too, fly fishermen are going to lust for it. Tippet materials are getting stronger every year, and today we end up fishing 6x, 6.5X, and 7x fluorocarbon much of the time, trying to get that perfect drift to entice a big fish to sip in a fly. This is one of the worst scores at long distance in our Shootout. The color of the blank is an olive green that Orvis calls “shadow green.” The wraps are brown and the epoxy coatings are OK but a little heavy and not nearly as well done as on the 3F. Click on the images below to see how James, Logan, Francis and Chloe ranked the rods. Everyone else uses far less fancy anodized aluminum. Surprisingly better than either the Scott G or Winston Air. Usually takes 2-4 weeks. Rods with softer tips help you reduce break-offs like these. The epoxy coatings are pretty good but a little heavy. The Scott G Series is a new rod to our 5-weight Shootout, unlike its brother the Radian, which has placed consistently in the top three in our last several 5-weight Shootouts. Beulah came up with a new Platinum G2, an extremely light rod using a new resin system that complements their existing Guide Series II. As such, in the 8 weight shootouts, they are looking for good bonefish rods. Removing the spool requires a simple click of the button on the front side. As in our past Shootouts, it is crucial to make an effort to eliminate any variables that will have an effect on the scores at the different distances. My advice has always been if you can afford it, buy the best performing rod you can find. A stack of thin diameter corks is used and the quality is good. But having to turn over a 12-foot leader forces a rod to perform at a higher level. Better as I get more line in the air, but still not nearly as good as the NRX LP or the DXF. One-year warranty on hardware and guides. Better at mid-distance and this seems to be the sweet spot for the G2. St. Croix – Lifetime warranty to original owner, $85 handling fee. The Recon is a very pleasant rod to cast – wonderfully light in hand, and responsive. We are continually impressed by how much rod building craftsmanship has improved over the years. The particles are distributed evenly and uniformly, unlike older resins where the particles were mixed in. The handle is a half wells design and the quality of the cork is decent – better than what we saw on the Loop Q and the TFO rods. The Helios 3F is a relatively new rod from Orvis and it impressed us with its ability to perform well at all distances. Also, by having 8-10 rods set up, 2-3 testers can simultaneously do the casting in the same positions. At long range the Zephrus is a lot better. Performance at 25 feet:  17.5 points out of 20. The blank itself is a deep burgundy color, with dark gray wraps. The best rods will throw very tight loops at this range with consistently good accuracy. I just didn’t care for the moderate action that was a lot slower than the X. (Click here to see more deflection charts). The Aetos was dramatically better for an inexpensive rod. We also kept on hand, and compared, what we felt was the very best rod – the Hardy Zephrus. We stand by our methodology since most anglers that take the time to give us their feedback have agreed with our opinions. I did not find that to be the case. At mid-range, matches the perfect score of the SKY G. If anything it is smoother than the SKY G and I really notice how well this rod is dampened. 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