The trouble with trying out and casting a rod as good as the 9wt NRX is that you never forget it.
In the end I succumbed to rod envy, buying a 9wt NRX at the end of 2011.
I finally had a NRX I could take fishing - and the kahawai were running.
Then the following year it came with me to Aitutaki.
On the water I was amazed by the distance I could cast while sitting on my kayak. As I mentioned in my Scott S4s review, it is not possible to keep a lot of line in the air while sitting so close to the water, without it clipping the swell on the back cast.
As with the Scott S4s, a soft tip loads the NRX quickly, but more mid-section muscle in the Loomis gave me an additional 15 feet. I could also lift substantially more line off the water with the NRX, which helped tremendously when I needed to make a quick cast to a swirling fish, and the line was already out on the water.
Like the S4s the NRX 9wt has an incredibly light swing weight for a 9wt rod, and casting is effortless. Overpowering the forward stroke was in fact counter-productive.
I fished the 9wt NRX with the Teeny TS-T300 and a Rio Tropical Outbound Short (F/I) with 330grain head. Although both lines worked well, the Outbound loaded the rod quicker (as the head is 30 grain heavier), requiring one less false cast.
In fact I found the NRX 9wt, with 330 grain Outbound Short (F/I with clear 10 ft tip) on an 8/9 (7.1 oz) Nautilus NV fly reel to be a beautifully balanced outfit.
With a fish on, the NRX felt light, sensitive and powerful; somehow doing more of the work, than other powerful fly rods I have used.
No matter how much pressure I put on fish, the rod never “bottomed out”, always retaining some fish-fighting bounce - something I did not previously appreciate with my earlier car bumper experiment.
While the soft tip easily protected tippets down to 10 lb, there was a massive reserve of power in the butt for lifting dogged deep diving kahawai when stronger tippets were employed.
There is no better fly rod with which to fight kahawai from a kayak than the NRX, but once my arms begin to tire, usually after 10 or so large fish, I find I favour my Scott S4s.
Although I cannot pull nearly as hard on the Scott, it bends well into the butt, converting into a shorter fighting stick; thereby providing the fish with less leverage (i.e. force times length) and me with less strain on my arms.
Fighting fish from a standing position - i.e. from boat or shore - when one can use ones back more effectively, or fighting a species from a kayak that remains near the surface, is a different story.
On the aesthetics front the blue bindings on my NRX no longer jump out at me and given the performance of the rod I am actually growing to like them. While I have not cast or fished any other models in the NRX series, the 9wt is by far the best general purpose 9wt I have ever used, and may well be “the best 9wt ever made”.
PS: Since first posting this review five years ago, I have put the 9wt NRX under some serious pressure from kahawai, large bonefish and bluefin trevally to 8 kg, and it to has proven to be an incredibly tough stick.
Three cheers for Steve Raejef and to nano resin technology.
A word on warranties
Last time I checked, if you live in New Zealand and break your Loomis NRX it will be replaced under the Warranty Service, with a completely new rod for 20% of the retail price. The NRX Wild Card service, providing a one-off free replacement, is unfortunately not available to Loomis owners living outside of the USA.