“Another year has gone by, and we felt there were enough new and exciting 9’ 5-weight rods on the market, that it was time to give you our 2017 5-weight Shootout”
By George Anderson
Although we have tested 6-weight versions of the Winston Air, Sage X, Douglas Sky, and G. Loomis Asquith last fall, we thought anglers would be interested to see how their 5-weight partners compare. Five weight rods are still the most popular and usually the most important fly rod for freshwater anglers, especially for dry fly fanatics who want the ultimate in presentation and accuracy in the 25-45 foot range.
Everyone wants to know how the new Sage X stacks up, as well as the G. Loomis Asquith. Other new 5-weights that were especially impressive are the new Thomas and Thomas Avantt, and the Douglas Sky. After having the Douglas Sky win our 6-weight Shootout, we were chomping at the bit to see if this 5-weight was as good. It didn’t win, but it did very well against some stiff competition.
We also had other new rods to test from Sage, Scott, Orvis, Winston, Loop, Edge and the Livingston Rod Company
We knew going into the shootout that it was going to be difficult for a rod to knock off our all-time favorite reigning champion – the G. Loomis NRX Lite Presentation. For five years in a row now this has been our favorite all-around 5-weight rod. The NRX LP can not only throw the entire line, but also feels insanely light, smooth, and deadly accurate at short to medium distances, where most people will fish a 5-weight rod. The NRX LP is also a nymphing machine, something that has become important in a world where incredible dry fly fishing doesn’t always exist.
Part of the reason no other rod has been able to take over as king of the hill is that we simply love its action. This is a fast action rod but with a softer tip than most other 5-weights (as you’ll see in our deflection charts). That softer tip combined with good butt and mid-section power is what gives the NRX LP such great feel and accuracy at short to mid-range.
We are seeing slightly stiffer rods in this 5-weight class each year, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are doing a lot of nymph fishing. But the fact remains that stiffer rods just do not have the best feel at short range. You can force them to be accurate by altering your casting stroke slightly to get more velocity, but this makes getting a delicate presentation more difficult.
Those who love fast action rods with tons of power will prefer the G. Loomis Asquith, Douglas Sky, Hardy Wraith, and the Thomas and Thomas Avantt. It boils down to everyone’s personal preference for rod actions. At the shorter distances that most of us use a 5-weight rod, the G. Loomis NRX LP has the best blend of power, incredible feel, and superb accuracy. In a world of constant change, we applaud G. Loomis for keeping this rod in the lineup. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is a motto we wish other major rod companies would endorse. Newer isn’t always better as far as rods go, even though it might be better for sales and market share.
2017 5-Weight Shootout Results Summary
1. The G. Loomis NRX LP wins again with its unmatched feel and performance at short to medium distances.
2. The higher priced G. Loomis Asquith finished a disappointing 8th overall but 2nd in the performance only category.
3. A new rod from Thomas and Thomas, the “Avantt,” put in a terrific performance and finished 4th overall.
4. Loop dropped their price on the Opti-Steam to $429, making it our new mid-priced pick, and finished in 5th place overall.
5. No one can match the Fenwick Aetos as the best performing inexpensive rod at $189.95.
NOTE: Featured Image is George Anderson making a list and checking it twice. Yellowstone Angler photo.