To say the least the Texas Fly Rod Challenge has been fun. When we, the guys at 2 Sergeants Fly Fishing were originally approached and asked if we would mind volunteering and coordinating this event we had no idea how big it was going to be, the Texas Fly Rod Challenge, believe it or don’t turned out to be huge! We had no idea it was going to take our lives over, become our full time jobs, we learned more than would have ever thought. We learned a lot about fly rods, casting, people, serving others and who would have guessed it but we learned a great deal about statistics.
Here is what took place, here is how the Texas Fly Rod Challenge rolled out. First, we had to make sure, right from the beginning we didn’t owe anything to anyone. We had to make sure we didn’t take anything from anyone or ask anyone for gear that might put us in a position to owe them something.
The goal was to honestly evaluate the fly rods we had or would soon have in a way that was above reproach. So, we started gathering rods. Many of the rods we own, others we borrowed from our buddies and then we borrowed some fly rods from fly shops around Austin, Texas. In the interest of complete transparency you should know we borrowed rods from Chris Jackson at the Action Angler, Tiffany at Gruene Outfitters, Jeff at Orvis Austin, Brent and Ashley at Reel Fly and Stacy Lynn at Sportsman’s Finest.
We ended up with so many rods, we could never have evaluated all those rods. So we decided to limit the test to only those rods we could buy from the shops and or manufacturer’s who supported, in whatever way, large or small, the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and or TroutFest. TroutFest is the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s annual fundraiser and where we decided to hold the Texas Fly Rod Challenge. It seemed like the best place to hold our event and evaluate fly rods, after all, we had access to potentially 1,000 fly fishers over the three day weekend.
We then decided to break the rods up into three classes: premium class, rods that have a price of $400 – $800; mid priced class, rods that cost from $200 – $400 and then value priced rods, rods priced under $200. We only allowed or accepted evaluations from disinterested third parties. None of us here at 2 Sergeants Fly Fishing evaluated the rods, no manufacturers or their representatives were allowed to submit evaluations. We did not accept evaluations from any fly shop owners, managers or their employees. We basically did not accept evaluations from anyone who could jeopardize the credibility of our Texas Fly Rod Challenge.
Over one hundred people cast these rods. Then, once all of the evaluations were completed and organized we contacted the University of North Texas and asked them to help us tabulate the results. We wanted to make sure we were above reproach in this area also and if our test was going to be above reproach, transparent, just totally above board we did not even want to tabulate the results. So, under the direction of one of the finest Professors of Statistics we have ever been able to understand we ran the results of our fly rod evaluators findings through several statistical models, several statistical tests.
It is important to note, in our opinion it is very important to point out to you that we have not taken the price of the rod into account in these results. The testers did not know which rod they were casting, they did not know the price of the rod. During the testing process we put blue painters tape over all of the rods branding and identifiers. We made sure the test was blind so the testers were evaluating the rods performance on its merits alone. We also made sure all other factors were constant. We used RIO Products, RIO Gold, 5 weight line, RIO Leaders and all of our rods were equipped with Hatch Outdoors, Hatch 4 Plus Reels. The rods in the premium class have a manufacturers suggested retail price of $549 to $795.
We want to make sure all of the women and men who tested these rods, RIO Products, Hatch Outdoors, Action Angler, Gruene Outfitters, Orvis Austin, Reel Fly, Sportsman’s Finest and the rod manufacturers are properly acknowledged and know how much we appreciate their participation and support. In these evaluations someone comes in first and someone comes in last. The fact remains that rods are a personal decision and everyone has an opinion, really at this level there are no bad rods, they are all great.
But like we said in the previous paragraph there is a winner and that was the point of this challenge. There were a lot of people who casted these rods and gave of their time and some gave of their money to determine who the winner was, we all wanted to know the answer to the question, “If we assembled all of the best fly rods today and had a bunch of fly fishers cast these rods; I wonder which rod would come out on top?” The answer is the Hardy Zenith Fly Rod won the Texas Fly Rod Challenge. The official results are:
- Hardy Zenith Sintrix
- Orvis H2
- Mystic Maveryck
- Sage One
- Winston BIIIX
- Scott S4
We would like to congratulate Hardy on their rod and its contribution to our sport. Throughout the day and in all the participants and casters we spoke to the Hardy Zenith Rod constantly received the highest praise and evaluators scores. If you haven’t casted or fished with the Hardy Zenith 5 weight rod you certainly need to stop by your closest Hardy Dealer and try this rod.
If you have any follow-up questions, thoughts or observations post them here and we’ll answer them. Next week we are going to post the results for the mid priced class and then the value priced class. Thank again to all those who made the Texas Fly Rod Challenge such a huge success!