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The NRX+ Saltwater fly rods have certainly been getting some hype. After finishing first in Yellowstone Angler's abbreviated 8wt Shootout, we knew Loomis had another stellar rod series on their hands. This rod has been so popular since its release, in fact, that it took us months to get a demo. Loomis has upped their componentry game, built an all-new rod blank, and really put a lot of time and research into this rod to drive fly rod innovation forward. And they've succeeded.
One of the largest stories with this rod series is its versatility. It's more caster-friendly than other saltwater fly rods on the market and caters to anglers of all skill levels and anglers targeting a variety of species. This rod is smooth, efficient, and intuitive - everything a fly rod should be. Read on to find out how the rod performed at various distances and in a few different casting categories.
The saltwater version of G. Loomis' new rod series features a new blank design and improved componentry. Loomis' all-new Mega Modulus+ graphite matrix creates a blank that's high-performing and aesthetically pleasing. Add Titanium SiC Stripping Guides, Titanium Single Foot Recoil Guides, and a double uplocking aluminum reel seat, and it's easy to see that the newest version of the NRX rods is a step up from the previous iteration. These rods also feature a dark grey blank and black thread wraps that create a handsome rod. The NRX+ Saltwater rods also come in an aluminum rod tube to keep the rod safe during travel, transport, and time off of the water.
This rod is very lightweight. In fact, it's one of the lightest 8wt fly rods we've ever tested. With a swing weight of 76.9 gm2 and an overall weight of 3.84 grams, this is a rod that encourages long days of casting on the flats without fatigue.
Generally, a wide timing window and caster-friendly design come at the expense of power. It's tough to make a fly rod that does both really well. While we really enjoyed casting the NRX+ Saltwater at short and middle distances, it left us wishing it had a little more power at 80-feet. Like we've said before, 80-foot casts aren't all that common in saltwater fly fishing, but this isn't a rod that's going to propel large flies through the wind at distance.
While the rod didn't take kindly to a hard-handed power-hungry angler at long distances, we did find that when we slowed down our stroke and relaxed our power application, the rod performed really accurately at long distances. It's not a rod that you can lean on and really muscle a 100-foot cast with, but if you take your time, make sure the rod is fully loaded on the backstroke, and unload it easily, its performance at distance is pretty decent.
The accuracy of the NRX+ Saltwater at 40-feet is really, really good. The rod's caster-friendly design and quick recovery speeds allow the angler to drop a fly on target almost every time at this short distance. This means that the NRX+ would be a great rod for stalking Bonefish on the flats or delicately presenting flies at short-range in a host of other saltwater applications. A smooth casting stroke works to an angler's advantage across the range of distances with this rod.
When we pushed the rod to 60-feet, the rod's mellow action became even more apparent. It's not a rod that likes a really aggressive double haul or stiff power application but instead a rod that appreciates an easy stroke. That being said, the rod does create high line speed on its own which makes it a real pleasure to cast at middle distances. It was also highly accurate at 60-feet and one of our favorites on the market right now at this distance.
At 80-feet, the rod's accuracy suffered, especially for anglers who are used to fishing a really fast action rod. It didn't respond favorably to our aggressive double hauls but performed pretty well when we slowed things down. This is an easy rod to overpower at this distance. It also wasn't our favorite rod with shooting-style lines like the SA Titan or the RIO Outbound Short.
As we've already said, this is a rod that rewards a mellow casting stroke. If you can slow things down and refrain from overpowering the rod, it provides a solid amount of feedback and feel, especially at short distances. This rod is a half step faster than the 8wt Asquith which means it's an easy casting rod but not as stiff as the ultra-fast Freshwater version of the NRX+. Overall, this rod features great performance at short range and solid feedback and feel at middle distances. It's not the MOST sensitive rod on the market but it marries feel and performance really well.
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This is a fly rod that was designed to fit a wide range of angling scenarios and maximizes versatility by marrying power and finesse. A rod that encourages a smooth, easy casting stroke, the NRX+ Saltwater is great for Bonefish, Salmon, light Stripers, and much more. If you're in the market for an all-around 8wt that does a lot of things really well, you've found the right rod. Plus, its really light swing weight will make casting all day a breeze. We're really excited about the newest saltwater offering from Loomis and we think you will be too.
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