Re: 2018 8 Weight Rod Shootout Published

[Bulletin Board]

Posted by Joel n Rosenthal on 2018-01-06 09:50:33 in reply to Re: 2018 8 Weight Rod Shootout Published posted by Steve Birrer on 2018-01-06 07:49:17

Steve--no one will dispute that different lines with different characteristics will affect rod performance. The boys at Yellowstone Angler chose a line they deemed best("ideal" might be another word here) for the intended purpose Saltwater 8 weights are primarily marketed and probably find the most use: sight casting on the flats.
Does this make the test "flawed"? If by that you mean, "invalid", then I would disagree, if by that you suggest "limited", then no one would disagree. But what you overlook -or don't address, is logistics.
First, a non fishing anecdote that might illustrate the point I am about to make. In the early 70s, 3 years out of law school and after 3 years toiling at a large Wall Street law firm , I was fortunate enough to land a job as a Federal prosecutor in New York City. A few weeks into my service, on what we called "complaint duty", I was visited by 2 Secret Service agents seeking an arrest warrant for a rather distinctive looking and flamboyant male leader of a counterfeiting gang of women(essentially his harem).He had just disappeared from his apparent residence in Manhattan.This would be my case, and after helping revise the agents' affidavit and the criminal complaint for delivery to the Magistrate, and all excited about the prospect of catching this criminal, I instructed the agents to post an agent at every airline, bus and boat terminal in the city,at all the bridges and subways, as well as to send agents door to door in his neighborhood, etc.The agents looked at each other somewhat incredulously. "Joel" said one to me after a pause, "how many exit points do you think there are in New York City?" "Umm maybe 3-500", I ventured."Ok" said the agent, "lets accept that for this discussion", he said, "but how many Secret Service agents do you think we have in the NY field office?" "I don't know," I said, "maybe 300?". Much laughter..."No, Joel, we have 30"{note-my recollection may not be accurate but the number was well below 100]. This was followed with the observation that I must have been watching too much Hawaii 5-0.
The point? Logistics....
Imagine testing 3 lines for each rod--which 3, Steve? of the probably more than half a dozen 8 weight brands-or even within brands, multiple tapers?then of course you can upline, to provide more variety-a Rio 9 wt? Redfish or bonefish taper? or perhaps a Wulff?, and so on. I am no mathematician, but take 25 rods and 2 line sizes, and lets say 6 manufacturers and 2 or three tapers per manufacturer-and you get what? chaos?And then comes the inevitable "why didn't you also test X line in X taper?" criticism. Multiple lines can be a slippery slope--KISS works here- let each angler test a rod with his own favorite.
Keep in mind that Yellowstone Anglers is not a certification agency, or Consumer Reports. They are not paid to do this(yes they sell the rods they test, the shootout drives readers to their site, but they are the first to tell you to shop for your rods locally, and dont buy til youve tried)-but consider the other aspect of logistics here, besides variables--time. Reading, correcting and revising the final drafts of this shootout took over 30 hours of my time. Given that 4 casters participated in the testing and writing, you can well be sure the additional man hours involved is a significant multiple of mine.
Ultimately, someone draws the line at the amount of time spent on this--they are after all a business.
And then physically, remember they are not casting a rod against itself, but against the competition.So what do you do? place 3 identical rod reel combos next to each other, cast one after the other, write your notes then pick up which rod from another manufacturer-- oops which line? etc you see my point. A single line gives you a standard against which to judge. Don't like it, and the reader can choose a different line to cast when he tries the rod himself..
So yes, a rod's casting characteristics change with the line--weight, taper, material etc. Just as different casters prefer different feels, looks and weights. Since you are an engineer, I can't imagine you have any difficulty with the objective measurements in the shootout-rod weight, deflection, swing weight etc. But no one is suggesting that the performance results pass rigorous scientific scrutiny--they are the judgments of the casters based on their casting experience-and are just another data point from which any of us can start our search for an 8 wt--emphasis on "start".
Oh and one more thing--Have you noticed that rod manufacturers DO NOT generally recommend a specific line(other than weight--which is supposed to be "standard" but we know isn't) for each rod? If they did, I'd encourage Yellowstone Anglers to use those lines in their tests for each particular rod. Assuming that the manufacturers want their rods performing best, I use the lines on each of the rods I have, that the manufacturer used in their ICast display.Unfortunately, most anglers don't have the opportunity to do this(ICast is to the trade only).However, if the manufacturers have displays at the various fly fishing shows mentioned here(I've never been to one, so I am guessing), I would imagine they have rods for testing lines with what THEY think will most optimally demonstrate their rod's qualities..

So Steve, all I can say is that yes, different lines may give different results for each rod--better or worse--but for at least some of the reasons, I've stated, I doubt George and James will be expanding their tests in the future or include multiple lines...they have one benchmark using one line--get your local shop to help you make the comparison with another--they'll do that, right?

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