G Loomis claim that their NRX series of rods released in August 2010, are the best fly rods ever made.
Apparently the new nano resin technology developed by 3M has made it possible for Loomis to produce fishing rods 15% lighter and 20% stronger than GLX equivalents, which is no mean feat considering that GLX rods are some of the toughest around.
Given all the hype I was more than a little curious to see how the 9wt NRX would stack up against my Scott S4s and the new TFO BVK. Hutt Valley Hunting and Fishing kindly provided a 9wt NRX rod on loan, which I was able to cast for two days, alongside my Scott S4s and a TFO BVK.
I used a Jim Teeny TS-T300 line loaded onto a Nautilus NV 8/9 reel. Unfortunately the New Zealand Loomis distributors did not have a demo rod I could take fishing, which is why I consider this article to be a mini review. For details fishing this rod see 'Fishing the Loomis NRX 9wt'.
Setting up the 9wt NRX I had mixed feelings about its appearance. While I loved the matt blank and the craftsmanship is superb, I found the 'robin’s egg' blue wraps bright and unappealing. The hardware on the NRX is outstanding, from the black unbreakable REC recoil stripping guides and matching un-crushable nickel/titanium snake guides to the premium high density cork grip, for increased durability and sensitivity. The Loomis reel seat has good sized knobs on the locking ring to tightly secure the reel to the seat.
As soon as the 9wt NRX was strung up I could feel it was much lighter and more sensitive than it’s predecessor, the GLX Crosscurrent. I had test cast the 9wt GLX CC before purchasing my Scott S4s in 2009, and found it to be a 'broomstick'. Ten casts with the 9wt NRX and I knew I had to have one. It is smooth, light, effortless and does everything well, from accurate close quarter work to 90 feet casts.
As I wasn’t going to get to bend this rod on any fish, I attached the leader to the bumper on my car and gave the rod a pull. The taper and flex are extraordinary. The rod starts to bend at the very tip, in the upper six inches, and with increasing pressure bends progressively further down the blank, with remarkably smooth transition; there are no stiff sections or flat spots. The soft tip and unprecedented flex are clearly why the rod does so well at all distances and feels so smooth, sensitive and ‘alive’.
Compared to the Scott S4s
The S4s and NRX both have that special something loosely referred to as ’feel’. The NRX is beefier than the S4s and because it does not load quite as quickly, is about one point behind the Scott in the close quarter quick-fire precision-presentation department. The NRX on the other hand has more grunt for pulling large fish and is better at casting larger flies good distances into the wind. It can also lift another 10 feet of line off the water, which helps when one needs to make a quick second cast to intercept fish. Like the Scott the NRX bends well into the butt section making it a great kayak stick.
Compared to the TFO BVK
Compared to the TFO BVK, the NRX is not as stiff and has a more progressive taper. The net result is that the NRX is much smoother, has lower swing weight, loads faster and is consequently more accurate in-close (inside 45 feet). The NRX does the distance work at least as well as the BVK, but with a little less effort.
If I were scoring the two rods, based on performance alone, the BVK would have a score 75% that of the NRX.
Considering that the retail price of the BVK is a third of the cost of the NRX, I believe the TFO BVK remains exceptional value for money.