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Maybe you've heard the hype, maybe you haven't. Douglas' brand new 5wt fly rod is certainly making waves in an industry that constantly rewards innovation and performance-based design. This rod has been touted as the best 5wt fly rod on the market and some people have even claimed it's the best trout rod of all time.
Why are anglers making these outlandish claims? Graphene tech certainly plays a role. The blazing light swing weight and ridiculous recovery speeds also help. But is this rod really all it's cracked up to be? We wanted to see for ourselves... and we think the results from our review may surprise you. Read on to see if the Douglas Sky G lives up to all the hype.
The biggest story in the componentry of the Sky G is the rod's blank structure. You've probably heard about graphite rod (or carbon fiber) and fiberglass rods... but if I had to guess, you've never heard of a new rod blank material called Graphene. Graphene is one of the strongest materials known to man (10x stronger than steel with only 5% of the density). That means that the Sky G is stronger and lighter than graphite rods... but we'll get to that later.
The Sky G also features REC Titanium shape memory Cerecoil Stripper Guides with zirconia inserts (another industry innovation), REC Titanium Recoil Guides, AAAA Floor Grade Cork, a skeletonized aluminum reel seat, double uplocking rings with nylon brushings, and Burled Blackwood Inserts. This rod is seriously loaded with the best componentry in the game.
So we talked a little bit about Graphene... maybe you're skeptical. We were too until we put the Sky G on the scales. We're happy to report this fly rod has the lightest swing weight out of any fly rod we've ever tested. It's on par with the Hardy Zephrus Ultralite. With an incredibly lightweight swing weight of 53 gm2 and an equally light overall weight of 2.86 ounces, your arms aren't going to get tired fishing this rod. Light swing weight isn't everything, though... what about power, performance, recovery speed, etc.?
This rod definitely has reserve power for a 5wt. The medium-fast action of the rod isn't as powerful at distance as some other 5wt rods (the Asquith comes to mind) but Douglas didn't necessarily design it that way. While it isn't as powerful as other ultra-fast action rods, its accuracy at distance is really good. We liked RIO Perception at 60ft better than we liked SA MPX because of the rod's mid(ish)-flex profile.
Interestingly enough, we found that the Sky G was pretty delicate at these distances and presented a fly with finesse. The medium-fast action of the rod struck a nice balance between the ability to cast middle distances strongly (even in wind) and the ability to land a fly carefully and accurately at longer distances. The Sky G isn't the best rod for carrying lots of line in the air and delivering a small fly accurately at long distances (the Igniter comes to mind) but it's a rod that covers typical trout distances really well.
When casting the Sky G at our shortest trout distance of 30 feet, we felt that its accuracy was almost unparalleled. The flex of this rod allows anglers to flick a dry fly off of the tip at short distances accurately nearly every time. We were putting a medium-sized dry fly on a bread plate routinely. The rod also provides plenty of feedback and feel and its recovery speeds allow the angler to direct the line extremely efficiently. We could also really feel the light swing weight of the rod at this first distance.
Push the Sky G back to 45-feet and you'll find much of the same story. This rod is insanely accurate. That being said, we tried to push the rod a bit and found that it was less forgiving at this middle distance. We found the Sky G to be unquestionably more accurate at MPX at 45-feet and its performance really impressed us. As we started to carry more line in the air the quick recovery speeds and superb tracking capabilities of the rod became apparent.
As aforementioned, we like RIO Perception better at this distance. MPX had a head that was slightly too short/heavy for these longer distances with this moderate action rod. That being said, the rod's accuracy remained. The hype is real; this rod is one of the most accurate 5wts we've ever tested.
Building the best fly rod is a dance between power and feel. In our opinion, trout rods benefit more from a bias toward feel and away from power. Trout anglers rarely find themselves in 50+ mph winds hoping to deliver a fly at 60+ feet. It's more common to target a wary fish inside 45-feet in a situation where feel, presentation, and finesse matter. The Sky G helps you do just that. The rod provides the angler with loads of feedback and strikes a nice balance between power and finesse. The medium-fast action of this 5wt means you'll be able to accurately present small dry flies with a reach cast and also cast larger nymph rigs.
While the rod is definitely biased toward feedback and feel, Douglas has found a way to build some reserve power into this rod, too. The rod certainly isn't as caster-friendly at middle distances but it does provide the angler with plenty of feedback and feel so adjusting your casting stroke is pretty doable.
We're pretty confident this is one of the best 5wt rods on the market right now. And if its first-place finish in Yellowstone Angler's 5wt shootout isn't enough to convince you, the componentry and industry-leading blank technology should win you over. If you're looking for a versatile rod with lightweight power and finesse, this is your rod. Plus, you can fish it for free for 7 days. Check out our Castability Guarantee.
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