Right up front I'll be very transparent about the fact I love high end fly rods, in fact in fly fishing, high end everything. I love the finish, workmanship, performance and bling factor of the best. Why drive a Lada if you can afford Lamborghini sort of thing?
I just recently got the chance to test out the new Airflo Blade 9ft 6wt. Now I tried a few Airflo rods with a mind to guiding with them a few years back but as these were entry level and not the crisp high end performing rods I like so much, sent them back.
Now sitting in front of me was a very stylish four piece rod with a matt black finish and gloss black ferrules. Finishing off the cosmetics are very subtle red trims and three space age looking angled reel seat slots over a hardwood burl. Added to this is a second uplocking ring to ensure the reel stays secure through your day.
My first impression was that it felt lighter and more subtle than I was expecting. I have a fondness for 'low swing weight' rods as they feel more responsive and quick in the hand. Down at the park with my guiding mate Hans Kreuer, we gave it a good workout. I was first (of course!) to have a cast and within a few seconds was gushing with enthusiasm. This rod is light, fast and subtle. It is the sort of rod you want to find an excuse to go casting with. Hans looked a little skeptical given its price point of $350 but he soon joined the 'oh jeeez!' party with his first few casts. We were both very impressed and felt this was a rod that felt that at twice it's price would still be well worth the purchase. I’ve since learned that these rods have been designed by Manic Tackle Project for NZ conditions and I applaud Rene Vaz and team for a great job in not only design, but the price. This is some great buying!
A week later I was in Turangi with Andrew Harding and Matt Hince. A sound thrashing of the Tongariro was being delivered and I seized on the chance of getting the Blade out. It reveled in some heavier work and found its home in a smaller stream.
My overall impression? Well, I just ordered two more.