Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hardy Zenith vs. Orvis Helios 2, Lawn Test and Notes

I took out three rods on the lawn to conduct a mini shoot-out.  The Orvis 9'5 wt. Helios 2 (H2), the Hardy 9' 5wt. 4pc. Zenith and the Hardy 8'10" 1 piece Zenith.  What did I think?  Here are some notes.
  • H2 with SA Textured GPX- The rod felt a bit heavier with this line.  It had more swing weight than the Hardy 4pc.  It cast the line just fine, but I felt like I had to push a bit harder.  
  • Hardy 4pc. with SA Textured GPX- This rod also felt a bit heavier than with a standard line.  The GPX felt good, but again as with the H2, I felt I had to push it a bit more.  The swing weight was lighter than the H2 with the same line.  There was a bit more tip bounce with the heavier line.  
  • Hardy 1 Pc.  This rod can handle the GPX line better, but I still felt it was needing a standard line.  It matched better than the other 2 rods with this line. 
  • My pick with this line:  Hardy 1 Piece, then Hardy 4 pc. 
  • H2 with Rio Gold- This rod certainly felt better and this is the line for this rod.  It was easier to cast and felt like a different rod.   It was smooth and it was impressive.  
  • Hardy 4 pc with Rio Gold-This was blowing the doors off the H2 with the GPX line on the H2.  Once I switched lines, things evened out a bit.  The Rio Gold line is great with this rod.  It was certainly effortless casting this line and I felt this was one of the smoothest casting rods I have ever cast.  
  • Hardy 1 Piece with Rio Gold-If I didn't have this rod, the Hardy 4 pc. would be top dog.  Well, this rod is top dog.  It cast great with the Rio Gold.  With 2 inches shorter, it makes a difference.  So does a single, continuous blank.  
  • H2 with Rio Classic, a standard size line-This line felt good with this rod, but I would use the Rio Gold for this rod.  
  • Hardy 4 pc with Rio Classic, a standard size line-This rod handled it just fine.  I would use the Rio Gold for this rod also, but it felt better on this rod than on the H2.
  • Hardy 1 pc. with Rio Classic, a standard size line-This rod felt just fine.  If you used this line on this rod, you would never question it.  This rod is just that good.  _____________________________________________
  • H2 with a Cortland Precision, a standard size line-It felt great, but I still think the Rio Gold is the one for this rod.  
  • Hardy 4pc. with a Cortland Precision, a standard size line-This line felt really good on this rod. If I were to choose between a Rio Gold and this line, it would be hard.  Actually, I don't know if this line is made any more, so I guess the choice is clear, however if it is still made or there is a similar line, I would blink twice putting this line on this rod.  
  • Hardy 1 Piece with a Cortland Precision, a standard size line-This rod can handle the widest range of lines than the others.  It worked just great with this rod.  _____________________________________________
After spending about an hour casting these rods, I would say that the Hardy 4 pc., in my opinion is a better feel for me than the H2.  It is close, but I would have to say the swing weight on the H2 is a bit heavier and more noticeable.  A Hardy with a Rio Gold vs. a H2 with A GPX is no contest. The Hardy felt so much better, but when you switch lines, it wasn't so apparent.  At that point, I would give the edge to the H2 in feel as the GPX line is just too heavy for me on the Hadry.  At this point, you are really splitting hairs.  Both rods are special in their own way.  The Orvis H2 is lighter in physical weight, but the swing weight is heavier.
Even with these two top notch rods dueling it out, the Hardy 1 piece rod is the top dog.  It handled the various lines better than the other 2 rods.  It was lighter in physical weight than the other 2 and the swing weight was lighter also.  Remember that it is 2 inches shorter than the other 2 rods.  But it just handled everything better and felt the best to me.  The Hardy 4 pc. would be my second choice using a Rio Gold or even a Standard line. It was able to use various lines better than the H2.   The H2 was right behind the 4 pc. with the Rio Gold, but because it was only liking the Rio Gold, it wasn't as versatile as the other 2 rods using the same lines.  The SA GPX isn't the best choice for these rods and I would recommend a Rio Gold or a standard size line for these rods.   There may be better choices out there, but this is all I had to use for my testing.  I hope this helps people out there decide what lines may work better for a rod, but you really have to go out there and cast them and get your own feel for these rods.  Rods and lines are just like socks and shoes.  Some feel better with different socks and not everybody likes the same kind of shoes or socks.  Just because I recommend a shoe, will you go out and buy them with out trying them out?  No, at least I hope not!  Let me know if you have any thoughts on this.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring on my mind

It's this time of the year that I start hearing how great the fishing is.  I know it is great.  If I were a fish, I would be happy that I am starting to see more bugs drifting around including more baetis nymphs and more caddis larva and more stoneflies.  As a fisherman, this is the time of year to really enjoy it.  There is nothing better than a cool, dark day to bring up the BWOs and the fish.  I absolutely love this time of the year!  
Almost ready.  


Perfect match

Throwing dries is awesome!

Carl P's perfect Stonefly Nymph.  

The Royal Gorgeous Caddis.  Perfect this time of the year.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Rio Grande del Norte Monument

This is a great piece about the area of Northern New Mexico where the Rio Grande flows.  While I never spent much time on the west side of the Sangre de Christos growing up, it was just over the mountains.  While living in Los Alamos, I grew to love and hate the fickle Rio.  It was where I learned that nothing in fishing comes easy and that no matter how good you think you are, the river always calls the shots. It is a humbling river.

Today, the Rio Grande was designated as a National Monument.  This protects it from over development and for future generations to enjoy, just as we have.  Click here for a better overview of the new designation of the river.

This is great news as it was a community driven process.  Lets hope that there will be more designations of rivers who need it.

Rio Grande with Ute Mountain-Adriel Heisey

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hardy Zenith Fly Rods

Keeping with the theme of rods, I'd like to share with you some thoughts on the Hardy Zenith Fly Rods.  I like to fish with the rods before I go spitting out my thoughts on the  different rods out there.  Casting the rods gives us all a great idea of how they feel, but it isn't until we rig them up and cast them that we really know how they feel and act on the water.  As some of you may know, I recently picked up some Hardy Zenith fly rods. Let me start by saying that these rods and all the hoopla about them is just not people making some noise.  These rods are the real deal and these rods, I think, are the pinnacle of modern production fly rods today.  The 9' 5wt., 4 piece rod is as great as it can get.  It has great feel and power.  I started using these on guide trips last year when I needed a rod to cast dries up close and none of my faster rods had the feel to make those casts up close.  The rod excelled at throwing the small stuff within 15' with feel.  They also could throw the streamers as needed and the nymph rigs were very easy to cast.  The 9' 5wt. is as versatile as they come.

I just received a 8'6" 4wt. and fished it yesterday on the Arkansas River.  I landed 5 fish, all on dries with this rod.  That was great, but I was really enjoying casting this rod.  It is super accurate and effortless to cast.  I can see this being a great guide rod for chasing BWO hatches and trico hatches.  I was hesitant to get one as I had that rod length in the past and never really used it much nor did I have a great connection to it.  This rod is completely different though.  I instantly fell in love with it.   It is that good.  I figured you would only need two rods in your arsenal; a 9' 5wt and a 8'6" 4 wt.  At least that is a good start to cover most bases.   Both rods can cover it all for trout.

The 1 piece rods are available also and these rods are just sweet.  If I say the 4 piece rods are the smoothest rods available, then these rods are just a notch above them.  Less transportable they are, but I think they are more versatile than the 4 piece rods.  Many people say there is no reason for a 1 piece rod.  If that is your feeling, then cast one and you will have a different opinion.  If you still think that is B.S., fish with one and you will want one.  These rods cast a bit differently than the 4 piece rods.  They are better, dare I say.  Using the correct lines on any fly rod is important and on the 1 piece rods, they work well with a Rio Gold.  A standard SA Trout line would work great as well, I just haven't casted it yet on these rods.  There isn't a lot of info on these rods on the internet and as time permits, I hope to provide more info on these rods as I fish them more.  I would suggest that you at least look at them if you can.  Sage, Winston, Scott and Orvis all have great rods and some people are loyal to them as was I, but these rods are just that good to not give them a shot.  Look for more reviews in the future, but for now, find a shop that carries them and give them a shot.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I cast a rod and I liked it!

I am a gear whore.  I can't deny it anymore.  Actually, I stop denying it several years ago.  I just have to remind myself every once in a while that I am.  I love fly fishing gear.  Why?  I haven't quite figured it out yet.  There is just something about all the cool stuff out there and all the new stuff that comes out almost everyday.  In particular, my obsession for fly rods seems to be sticking my wife in her side.  If I were able to obtain and amass houses the way I do fly rods, and then turn around and sell them to buy more houses, I would be pretty well off.  I would be in a great position in life.  Well, I don't deal with houses. I deal with fly rods.
Fly rods are almost like electronics.  Like phones, and other devises, there seems to be new technology and updates to current rod models every few weeks.  If you try to stay on top of it all, you are bound to have a bit of trouble with the partner.
There are two rods on my radar right now that will make my life complete.  One is the new yet to be released Orvis Helios 2 in a 9' for 4wt., tip flex rod. I just know by casting it, it will make me happier on the water.  The other rod is not a new rod, but one that has been in the current line up for a while.  The thing is, I finally casted it today at the Colorado Springs Fly Fishing Show and now, I wonder why I don't have it in my quiver.  It is the Scott G2 8'8" 6wt.  Never mind that I have the 3-5 wt. in this series.  The 6 wt. rod will also make me a happy person.  I won't even get into the "other" rods that are on order right now, but let's just say they will make my life that much more enjoyable.  Gosh, It sounds as if my life is centered around fly fishing and gear?
The Orvis Helios 9' 4wt. is a dreamy rod.  It's light, fast and smooth as a Costco concrete floor.  It is the one rod that really shines in that series.  The 5wt is not bad either, but as I said today, it's not the 4wt.  This rod is in control the whole time. Your mind and arm knowing what to expect throughout the entire casting stroke.  Like I said, it is smooth and perfect.  

The Scott G2 is a "different" rod.  Being 8'8", it feels different.  Picking it up, my first thought was that it was a bit heavy, but I had just put down a 2wt. so maybe that had something to do with it.  It felt as if it was going to have a heavy swing weight and a clunky feel to it.  As I casted it, it felt almost out of control as the power of the butt pushed the rod but while it skated the line of out of control-ness, then the strong mid section and the soft tip took over and a sense of total control took over.  Ty Clifton, the Scott Pro member on hand and I fumbled for words to explain it and finally came to the conclusion that it felt like controlled chaos.  It was a great feel and my mind could only think of those NASCAR cars going into the turn, hugging the high wall, only to come out in a controlled manner on the straight away.  You would think something bad was going to happen, but it was a controlled chaos.  That is how this rod feels.  It is awesome and like nothing I have ever casted, even the 5wt in the same series.
The butt is strong and the tip is soft.  It could throw big streamers and #24 trios, no doubt about that.  It felt strong and powerful and then the tip took over gently flinging the fly over and landing softly.  I can't explain it and neither could Ty.  He just warned me that if I casted it, I would want one.  Yea, I want one.  Now I just need to figure out how to get the funding for these 2 rods.  I've already offered my Scott S4 9' 4wt. for sale and have no takers as of yet, but if you are interested, please shoot me an e-mail.  Gosh, this is getting bad and I sure hope my wife doesn't read this.  I may have more trouble on my hands than trying how to figure out how to buy 2 more rods.  Thanks Ty.