I fished the 9 ft 5 wt BVK alongside my Loomis Streamdance (HLS) 5 wt during the summer of 2010/11, with two floating flylines: a Jim Teeny Lafontaine and an Airflow Ridge Explorer. The Explorer is designed for turning over large dries and heavy nymphs and therefore has a more aggressive taper than the Lafontaine.
In the hand, the Streamdance and BVK were of very similar weight. In terms of action the TFO has a little more backbone and is slightly faster than the Loomis. The BVK was consequently slightly better at throwing large dry flies into the wind, as well as heavy nymphs.
The Streamdance, on the other hand, loaded a little quicker, and was a bit smoother to cast, with the result that it had a slight edge in quick-fire and presentation departments, especially when casting dry flies at shorter ranges. These differences were nevertheless marginal, and based on action alone I would have a hard time picking either rod above the other.
The Airflo explorer worked well with the BVK for casting heavy tungsten nymphs, but owing to the speed of the rod I had to use every trick in my book to achieve a decent presentation with a size 12 dry fly.
The Teeny Lafontaine, on the other hand, was perfect for dry flies and smaller nymphs and with the 5 wt BVK I was easily able to accurately cast cicadas up to size 8 on an 18 foot leader, any distance from 23 feet (just five feet of flyline) to 60 feet.
The 5 wt BVK handled both 5 wt fly lines exceptionally well, and I would not recommend over lining this rod.
During the two months I fished the 5 wt BVK, I landed numerous brown trout of four to five pounds. While the softer tip did a good job of protecting 5X fluorocarbon tippets, the rod had plenty of backbone to put the pressure on large fish and land them quickly. I also subjected the rod to some serious abuse on tough back country streams, and apart from a covering of superficial scratches like those on my shins, it held up admirably.
I have no hesitation recommending the 5 wt BVK as an excellent all purpose New Zealand stream rod. It would also make a great tool for stalking trout along lake shorelines.
A fishing mate putting pressure on a 5 lb back country brown - note the strong curve and plenty of reserve power in lower section of the blank
Thanks to Nate Jarvis, previously of Feather Merchants, distributors of BVK fly rods in New Zealand, for lending me the BVK rods to test.