Tested gear on water!


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After test casting with a 100 ft. tape in the park it was nice to know that my new (used) rod - reel - and line not only match very well but are also fishy!

kress 011.jpg


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Custom made 9' 6" 6 wt. b2x with a FW 5+ reel matched with a expert distance wf f #6 line.

I went through testing 4 different lines before the rod settled on the s.a. expert distance wf #6 - I had to test the line on the water because of it's 14 ft. front taper (from large to small diameter like a wulff triangle taper) I didn't know if it could handle 2 weighted nymphs with split shot and large indicator. The front taper was light enough for the rod to pick up 60 ft. of line off the water in one false cast to throw long distance when needed. the rod was having problems doing this with other lines. the line has a heavier taper (17 ft body) behind the 14 ft. front taper this is the heaviest part of the head and that section helps the long front taper a lot. then a level section (14 ft body) behind that and then a long back taper to running line - head is 70 ft. long. it's what the trout stalker s.a. line is based on which will be my next dry fly line for my 5 wts. the line rocked the indi and nymph set-up let alone 90 ft. over a tape in the park and very smooth close and medium range dry fly casting with its longer front taper.

The FW 5+ nautilus reel - the only problem I have with the 5-6 wt. reel is that it did not go to free spool/ the drag stays on a little bit and might hinder light line 5 wt. fishing but is great for a 6 wt application. I like a reels drag to go clear to free spool for 5 wt and under rods, just my preference.

The rod would need it's own different write-up ;-)
...The FW 5+ nautilus reel - the only problem I have with the 5-6 wt. reel is that it did not go to free spool/ the drag stays on a little bit and might hinder light line 5 wt. fishing but is great for a 6 wt application. I like a reels drag to go clear to free spool for 5 wt and under rods, just my preference...
I have no familiarity with Nautilus. Have you contacted Nautilus about it or looked at other FWs? Just curious to know if this is inherent with this model or a fluke.


John or "LC"
Mark that is some great "lab" work. Thumbs up for the line testing rather than just taking a stab and living with it. I'm learning to do this too and learning how incredibly important using the right line is for fishability, distance, and comfort. How did you test all these lines; do you own them or beg them for a day or two from a willing shop or friend?


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This is my first one so can't really say. It's not that it stays on tight but I can say it does not free spool. I usually do not spend a lot on reels so was kind of disappointed that it didn't free spool. I bought it used so don't know if it came that way new but this reel was hardly used without a scratch or nick on it. with the nautilus you can buy a different color drag and remove and replace fairly easy. looking at there site most custom parts cost 35 dollars and they want $35 to send a reel in for warranty work so it's a toss-up on what to do. I could buy a new drag (colored red to match emblem) and see if it is different but it really is not an issue for my 6 wt. systems. I usually never fish my 6 wts. on the west side but had to see how the line - rod - and reel worked! the little brown could barely turn the drag with the reel full-off, a 15 inch rainbow turned it a little more but not much. could just be that one reel though.


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Mark that is some great "lab" work. Thumbs up for the line testing rather than just taking a stab and living with it. I'm learning to do this too and learning how incredibly important using the right line is for fishability, distance, and comfort. How did you test all these lines; do you own them or beg them for a day or two from a willing shop or friend?
nice question LC!

Two years ago I started revamping my gear and adding many lines and needed some new rods for lake fishing. this is my 3rd 6 wt. I already had a 9'6" 6 wt. full flex super fine orvis that I had back in 1981. this rod is a slow action and when going to knew lines two years ago I tested quite a few by buying them! after reading reviews on the winston b2x I knew it had a soft tip so felt it needed a lighter line. I had already tested the full flex with a gpx - fail - a s.a. double taper which I always threw back in the day - fail. and a s.a. steelhead taper - fail.

I also had bought a silver label 10' 6wt mid flex 8.0 orvis for pounding out sinking lines for lakes. this rod to me is fast because of my full flex upbringing. it loves the GPX - STEELHEAD TAPER- AND DOUBLE TAPER.

I did a lot of testing and had two friends that winter take up fly fishing and we did a lot of casting (teaching them to cast) and was able to test a lot of lines. I stick with scientific anglers because it was what I used back in the 70's and 80's so I stay faith-full!

I had bought a access 3 reel when the sale from orvis came on when you get a free fly line with a purchased reel! so I took a chance at there steelhead taper 6 wt. my full flex loved it. the s.a. steelhead taper is a heavy line and a rio steelhead taper is like 50 grains heavier then the s.a. my full flex loved the orvis steelhead taper with it's 60 some ft. head, it was just lighter then the other two which the full flex loved! For lakes I like longer wf heads. also I always bought double tapers in the 70's and 80's because they did not have these long bellied wf tapers back then.

Anyway when I received the b2x I strung it up and tested it right away just in front of the house. just butter out to 60 feet - this is also my first winston, most my fly rods are super fines (full flex) in trout wts. then going long it didn't give me what I wanted.

my friend and I went fishing, he had just bought a SAGE SLT 9' 6 wt. so I brought a GPX and the orvis steelhead line to test (one light - one heavy) we quit fishing our 5 wts. and strung the 6 wts' up to test on the water with just one light fly and both lines. the steelhead taper was on the winston because I wanted to see if the water would give it a better line speed which does happen from the grip of the water to the back cast so testing lines in the park can tell you some things but they do change when on water. I have found if a line feels even slightly heavy lawn casting it will seem even heavier when on water. we tested the SLT with the GPX and found it a little to heavy which kind of shocked me for a sage rod rated to be a medium fast action. so we traded reels and lines with the winston and SLT. I wasn't even going to test the GPX on the b2x but strung it up to see - what the hell couldn't hurt. the slt liked the orvis steelhead taper better which I figured it would but what shocked me was what happened with the "WINSTON B2X WITH THE GPX"

The b2x came alive! what seemed happened to me is the GPX line flexed the boron in the butt section when the lighter steelhead taper had not. when this happened I got better line speed, I couldn't pick up more then 40 ft off the water because of the short head and "weight" of the GPX but it shot line like a rocket out to around 80 ft. which before I was having problems going this distance - not that the rod wouldn't do it it just seemed harder with the other lines. so in turn I needed to find a long bellied floater to match the b2x!

Orvis in bend was having a casting competition every year with people from around the country showing and I was thinking of trying to compete! the lines they were using were the expert distance and rio's tournament line. rio's tournament line is way heavy to match the Z and other super fast rods. the s.a. was lighter and both have a 70 ft. or longer head and 105' to 120' for the full line.

I knew my full flex rod could not handle the rio line and thought it wouldn't handle the s.a. expert but when getting the b2x and needing a reel for it a member was selling the nautilus and bought it! when going to his house he handed me the reel with the line still on it (man am I lucky) I asked what line it was and he went to his records and came back and told me it was a expert distance 6 wt. "OH JOY" I had been looking at this lines taper and longed for a rod to handle it! when the wind laid down out to the park with my 100' baseball base path tape (I used to coach baseball) I always test with this 100' tape taking sticks and putting them at 30 - 50 - 70 - and 90 feet so I know where these distances are.

What I am concerned with is how much line I can pick up and cast, how much head can the rod handle from dead stop to back cast to a good forward cast. I used to mark my lines at that point with a black marker right at the reel. then I found with double hauling that mark would be at the end of the rod allowing more line in the air when false casting with a double haul. knowing these two points are important to me when choosing a line for lakes.

Another thing I will do is spot cast to the 30,50,70,90. the 90 spot casting is a stretch! for me shooting line from 40 ft. to say 80 you lose accuracy, the longer the line I can false cast. the better I can be at spot casting long. (just imo) And growing up with super fines "FEEL" is very important to me. this is my first winston and out to 60 and 70 the feel is butter, I want butter out to 85' this seems to be my best controlled distance. but I had not found a line to let the b2x give me that yet so was thinking selling the rod before I tested it with the expert distance!

Like I mentioned the long front taper of the expert lightens this line. the difference between the GPX and the expert is that a lot of the weight on the GPX is in the front of the taper so when going long that weight gets heavier and heavier. fast rods like the z axis 9' 6" 6 wt. can power through this and excel with the line, where softer rods start to over flex. the weight of the expert distance does not start getting heavy for 14 feet and I can only guess the full weight is even further back like maybe 22' to 25' I really don't know that's just a guess but it enabled the b2x to lift some 60 to 65' off the grass for a strong back cast. making 75 to 85 fairly easy now. because the full weight was more in the middle of the head and not a long way out front! the lighter long head was butter at the closer ranges, the rod still flexed with good feel and when going long the butt section (boron) started flexing giving the help it's supposed to. I lead a little more with the butt of this rod in casting then MY full flex rods but it's not enough to bother my stroke. it did all the things in lawn casting - same thing as on the water also and turned over the indi set-up. will a strong wind knock it down - probably. but my next purchase is a fast rod like the z axis for wind and bombing. the winston 9' 6" 6 wt. has the feel I love and the orvis steelhead taper now stays on my 9' 6" 6 wt. super fine.

One soft long 6 wt. one medium 6 wt. (I consider the winston a medium flex) and next and hopefully last 6 wt. will be a fast 9' 6" "Z" My throw in the mud - bang off the tailgate 6 WT. is the 10' silver label I use mostly for trolling.

All this is all JIMO and should not be taken as "YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT" They are my findings and stick behind them! any experience and findings from other people I am sure would be different and would love to read them. I do not sell lines or rods or gear. i've been casting fly rods since before graphite was even made in fly rods. doesn't make me any better then anyone else.

AS far as casting competition I'd probably suck badly, they moved the competition so gave up the thought anyway. Tight lines


John or "LC"
Great, great detail, love it, and thanks Mark. I will re read; I'm a little dizzy right now'-)

Thinking as I was reading it's nice to see someone who doesn't have only Sage rods in his quiver. Down here looks received are askance if you don't have an XP or RPL as your go to. I've just recently discovered the beauty of mid flex rods. I picked up a TFO IM6 6 wt on a closeout and absolutely love it for casting larger flies and big poppers when distance isn't the big factor. I strongly prefer my Orvis Zero Gravity tip flex 8 wt. over my Sages for stripers. I also love my Z-Axis 6 but don't consider that a fast rod in comparison to my RPLs. I've starting using my old Scott 2 pc 4 wt for truck trout too and what I thought was a dry fly rod works great on smaller, sub 3 lb. trout with intermediate sinkers notwithstanding the rings that (usually) hold the reel. That's a problem.

Lines-you're in a different universe than I. The majority of my fishing lately has been on the Delta and that's all shooting lines and Rio OBS in fast sink and float are my only lines used and they are butter as you say with my ZG to 80 ft. or so. I use a T-200 for shad and steelies, and an old 444 intermediate shooter when the flows drop. That's all I need for anadromous game around here.

I rarely use a floater and my lines are old or lower end. All my sinkers are SA Uniform Sink except for a slime line and a Deep Water Express. That's pretty much it for me, but that doesn't mean there's not significant room for improvement. Thanks again for all the detailing, that's great.


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It's nice to see such a nice post as yours LC! at one time I had the 200, 300, 400, teeny lines and also use the uniform sink system two for steelhead in still waters and trout. s.a. slim line and have a few cortland slimes also! and as you stated it's what we personally like and I see no reason someone can't like something that someone else doesn't! being retired I try not to fish in the wind, even if I do I just reset my drifter and put the forward loop high and let it fly with the wind! I watch weather reports and plan my fishing on calm days and know that others can't do that. I get a lot of joy out of slower rods and the medium flex rods and "know" there is a spot in my quiver for a fast rod - it has it's purpose! a Z axis is super fast to me and it's ok that a lot of people don't think so. it's fast to me (a rocket) I don't need any rod faster then a Z doesn't mean other people wouldn't love the fastest of the fast!!! It seems all I have been doing is defending my posts lately so it's nice to chat with you! good luck in your fishing!!!


John or "LC"
Fact is you don't need any rod faster than a Z. I'm glad there's a group that's still mourning the passing of the XP and RPL but as an owner of several RPLs they are plenty fast enough in any wind and to me take too much line to load for distance. The XP is even faster. Orvis calls their tip flex fast, and in comparison to an XP it's bamboo. All I know is I'm far more comfortable with action down the line from "Sage fast," be it "Orvis fast" "medium fast," whatever term is chosen that feels right to me. The Z is perfect for a fast rod, IMO.

Two brands that I've loved casting but have never owned are Winston and Thomas and Thomas. I've used a T&T 12 wt many times in Florida and I never tire of it or tire because of it, and it's handled tarpon nicely. Winston I have only admired and lawn casted. I'll pick one up someday.


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Nice post Mark. i am sorta doing the same thing. i find that my Cortland and SA weight forward lines don't really cut it for the newer rod designs. I like the RIO outbound i have now for salt. but i am not very impressed with the RIO gold floater i have for a 5wt. really does not do indicator fishing that great unless i go down and use it on my 4 wt.
just my 2 cents.


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Sky the exact reason I stick with s.a. is that there lines match my softer rods better.

When I started my research two years ago I wrote down all the head weights of the lines for rio that I was interested in. I just went back and checked my figures with the site now and some have changed a little. what I was interested in seeing was the "whole head weight" rio posts these - s.a. did not. when the heads get longer - then of coarse they get heavier.

I had to email scientific anglers and ask for there full head weights and the 30 ft. head weights. it took 3 weeks of emails back and forth to finally get the whole head weights. and the 30 ft. head weight for lines I was interested in. buying lines just to test can get expensive so knowing the full head weight (what you actually false cast) or have to work before shooting I felt was the "key" to picking a line. the s.a. site now posts some of there head weights in grains.

Here is what I found two years ago. for the 30 ft. head length and the whole head length - weight in grain weight! at first s.a. sent me the weight in grams not grains!

two years ago- grain weights for 30 ft. and whole head length.

rio gold - 30 ft. whole head WEIGHT
5 wt.....146.........228
6 wt......168.........266
rio grand 30 ft.......full head weight
5 wt.......155.........190
6 wt......178........230
notice the full head weight of the gold is heavier!

s.a. GPX - 30 FT....WHOLE HEAD WT.
6 WT...... 173......234
I only asked for the 6 wt. s.a. figures to compare.

rio steelhead 30 ft........full head weight
6 wt.........168..........310

s.a. steelhead 30 ft..........full head
6 wt...........160..........278
notice how heavy the rio gold is in 6 wt. compared to this steelhead line. but this steelhead taper is 61 feet long!

rio indicator line 30 ft.......full head weight
6 wt.............185.........350

rio tournament line.....full head weight
6 wt.........................370

s.a. expert distance 30 ft.......full head weight
6 wt...............160..............324
the standard suggestion 30 ft. head weights
5 wt...140
6 wt....160
7 wt.....185
8 wt.....210
notice the rio indicator 6 wt. line is a 7 wt. and the full head length is closer to a 8 wt. full head weight.

With these figures I could tell the rio lines for the most part were heavier. some of these figures have changed on the rio site but at least they give the whole head weight for the public and they did not change that much. When I look at lines I look at the whole head weight although a heavy 30 ft. is heavy when going long because the weight is further out. makes since to me.

When people line up for a fast rod I would suggest looking at the steelhead tapers mostly being 60 ft. long when the whole head is out of the rod it will flex a fast rod, just might not flex it in close!

I was mostly interested in the longer head weights but I love the GPX line and also the S.A. steelhead taper (I use the steelhead taper on my 9'6" 7wt. rs3 redington). my super fine 9' 3" 5 wt spring creeks (i have two and they are more medium flex) can handle the GPX I have two of those rods so now will get the new s.a. trout stalker line that is based on the expert distance taper that both my 6 wts. soft and medium flex rods love.in the wind the GPX will be my shooter. By looking at the whole head weights it's much easier for me to pick a line that would fit my rods. hope this helps!


Active Member
LC, You mention the TFO IM6. The best 5 wt. I have ever cast was a gary loomis signature series 9' 5 wt. my friend had that his mother in law bought him years ago. she worked in the loomis factory and he had never even cast the rod. reel seat was just black and plain, nothing special in components but man that rod did everything right! I have never cast a winston IM6 which is said that "all other fly rods should be compared to". but if anybody could build a rod from the winston blank that is under lock and key at loomis - it would be loomis himself. a lot of great rods were built with the IM6.


Active Member
Mark, great work. what you have done here should be a standard at ALL fly shops. posted so you can see what you are getting into with what rod you have and what kind of rod you want to buy.
i am looking at the SA textured GPX line for my 5 & 6 wt rods. reading your figures i think i need to go one line wt heavier to get a good load with my faster rods.
thanks Mark for doing such good work on this.
now what to do with my old lines ?


Active Member
For a 6 wt. rod the s.a. steelhead taper is a great line. wish my rods could handle it because it is heavy when the whole 61 ft. head is out the rod. this line shoots great and mends and even single hand spey casts very well! many people wish they made it in a 5 wt. but they don't. If my 6 wts. were faster this is the line I would use.

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