A few days ago I floated the West Branch of the Delaware River with guide Joe Demalderis. This is a big river, and in the fall you don’t know if you’ll be casting size 24 dry flies, turning double nymph rigs, or stripping jumbo streamers. It all depends on the weather conditions and temperature. Knowing there was a good chance I’d be attacking with multiple methods, I figured this trip would be perfect for putting what G. Loomis is calling “the best fly rod ever built” to the test.
I first covered the NRX rod series in our ICAST round-up gallery, noting that advances in blank material, resin, and cork density all contributed to creating a lighter, stronger rod. Normally, I’d carry a 5-weight and 7-weight for streamers on this river, so I went middle-of-road with the Loomis and carried a 6-weight.
Viewed next to other 6-weights, I initially noticed the NRX was thicker near the butt and worried that the rod would be overkill for smaller fish or delicate presentations. But what I found was that though the diameter was larger, the lightness of this rod balanced it out. The mid-flex did not overpower smaller fish that ate nymphs, and the sensitivity of the blank really telegraphed every tick off the bottom and subtle strike. The stiffness also helped make a tighter, faster mend in heavy current. At the same time, the thicker butt turned over heavy dumbbell streamers and a sink tip with the power of a 10-weight. According to the company, their 6-weight was developed with bigger flies in mind, though considering the distance it will produce, I’d still use this rod to launch dries on any river where trophy fish abound.
Given that I’m not always careful with rods, the recoil guides on the NRX were a nice touch. But the one place the stick fell short in my eyes was the reel seat. Loomis added a star-shaped locking ring with protruding points. The idea is that it gives you a better grip when you tighten it down on the reel foot. It works well, though the points rubbed the underside of my arm throughout the day. A minor drawback, but something worth considering. As for the price, the NRX rods start at $700. – JC