6 Weight Fly Rod Review Series - Part Two, Jimmy at Jurassic Lake

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By Brian McGeehan at Montana Angler Fly Fishing

On a recent hosted trip to Jurassic Lake Lodge in Argentine Patagonia I tested 5 of the 6 rods from the 6 Weight review. I chose not to take the Sage LL along as it was definitely not designed for high winds, big flies and bigger fish. Jurassic Lake is an incredibly windy place littered with giant rainbows. I considered leaving the Orvis Helios 3F behind as well, but because it was my overall favorite after casting in the park I wanted to see if any of that would transfer in Argentina.

To read part one of the 6 weight review click here: 6 Weight Fly Rod Review - Part One

I kept the fly lines consistent with the previous testing in the park. For the first five full days of fishing, I fished with one of the five rods for an entire day. This allowed me to get to know the rod over several hours of fishing. Not a completely fair comparison as some days were windier than others and different beats sometimes presented unique challenges. Fishing the river, for example, didn’t require very long casts and we were more sheltered from the wind, while another part of the lake called the Bay of Pigs usually required extra-long casts into a headwind. One thing I can say about all of the rods is I was impressed at how well they performed when landing the large and powerful fish of Jurassic Lake. Each rod had enough flex to protect tippets from breaking and hooks from straightening out while also bringing fish to the net relatively quickly.

Helios 3F
The Helios 3F was my overall favorite in the original 6 weight review that took place in the park. That being said, it did not perform as well at Jurassic. I felt like it struggled to cast larger dries beyond 30 feet and when I wanted to cast longer distances in wind I couldn’t get consistent powerful casts out. When I shared this sentiment with our Orvis rep, Jamie Lyle, he responded with “I prefer the F until I need the D. When comparing the Orvis H3F to the H3D I concur with Jamie that for most situations I prefer the feel of the F, but at Jurassic Lake the D, as well as other more powerful rods performed better.

Helios 3D
After casting this rod on the lawn at varying distances and fishing it in challenging conditions at Jurassic Lake I would feel very confident taking this rod out on the boat to throw larger dries and streamers or if there was wind predicted for the day. However, if I knew most of my casting was going to be at 30’ or less I might opt for another rod. The H3D was a joy to fish with at Jurassic and I am curious to see how this rod would perform with a streamer tip line and larger streamers out of a boat.

The Asquith was probably the most surprising when comparing my time in the park to Jurassic Lake. When casting in the park conditions were calm and wind was non-existent, while the Jurassic day was one of the windiest days of my fishing career. On the lawn I rated it as my least favorite rod and really did not enjoy the shape or feel of the grip in hand. At Jurassic Lake it fished like a champ. By the end of the trip I felt like this was one of the top performing rods in these conditions, if not the very top. I could shoot out 70’ of line in heavy winds and cast large dries with ease. I also did not notice the smaller grip at Jurassic Lake for some reason and found no issue with the grip while fishing.

Sage X
Based on the fact that the X was one of my favorites for mid to long range casts on the lawn it was easy to assume that this would also be one of my favorites at Jurassic Lake. This rod performed well at longer distances, in the wind and with larger dry flies attached. It wouldn’t be my first choice for fishing Paradise Valley Spring Creeks or the Gallatin River, but I wouldn’t hesitate to bring it along as a boat rod for some of our larger rivers. For me this rod did best at mid range, good at longer distances and not my favorite when fishing short.

Sage Igniter
Unfortunately the Igniter drew the short straw with conditions while at Jurassic. The day was one of, if not the windiest day of fishing I had ever experienced. To add to the challenge I was assigned to the Bay of Pigs for one of the half days, which is the most challenging beat to fish in heavy winds at the lodge. I struggled to lay out casts in the strong headwinds at the Bay of Pigs past 30 or so feet and most of the fish could be seen closer to 50’ out. I managed to get a few casts out, but not many. Later, I was able to fish Left of the Mouth, which is much more forgiving in the wind. It performed equally well to the top performing rods. In hindsight I should have made a point to fish the igniter again on a calmer day. If I had to guess, I would have struggled just as much, if not more with any other rod on the list in those conditions. I owe the Igniter another shot and feel like it would perform well as a boat rod chucking large streamers, big dries or a heavy nymph rig.

In the end I learned that you cannot judge a rod by the way it casts on the lawn. It is important to have a good understanding of what the intended purpose of the rod is before making a decision. And in some cases you may not fully understand how a rod will perform in specific circumstances without first hand experience. How a rod performs is not only reliant on its design and conditions, but your own personal casting style. If I can offer one piece of advice it would be to cast prospective rods in the most realistic setting possible. If you intend on using a specific rod to fish bigger flies at 40-60’ it would be a good idea to cast at those distances when you test the rod. Additionally I would suggest tying something on to the end of the line that will more realistically simulate a fly that you intend to cast. When testing a rod at a fly shop you may want to bring your own fly with the hook cut off and request that you be allowed to cast the rod with that particular fly. Not all shops may be open to this as it increases the odds of breaking or damaging the rod. What fly line you cast the rod with is also critical as different lines can dramatically affect the overall experience. Finding a local fly shop that is knowledgeable and sensitive to these differences will increase your odds of choosing the right rod and fly line that will be a good match for the intended fishing situations.

Brian McGeehan is a Pennsylvania native and has been guiding Western rivers in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado for 20 seasons. He is a licensed Montana outfitter and owner of Montana Angler Fly Fishing based in Bozeman, MT.
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