Grab a fly rod, attach a fly reel via uplocking or downlocking reel seat, thread line, and you’re ready to fish, right? Not quite. The Lamson Center Axis takes out (or should I say builds in?) the step of screwing your favorite reel onto your favorite rod. With a Center Axis, the fly reel is built into the fly rod and mounted on a center axis (thus, the name). While rod companies in the past have toyed with this idea, Lamson is the first to truly perfect the rod-and-reel-in-one design. This may be the single largest breakthrough in fly fishing innovation since graphite. Why should you care? Read on to find out.
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The Center Axis is a rod and reel in one, reel permanently attached at the base of the rod handle. The reel is a Lamson favorite, the Lamson Litespeed. The rod includes a matte grey blank with classic componentry. The Center Axis rods are built overseas which leads to a well-built, quality, medium-fast 5wt.
The Center Axis doesn’t conform to traditional rod standards, so it doesn’t really make sense to talk about weight. It does have a very low swing weight, and more importantly, it totally changes the moment of inertia on the rod.
Perceived balance, smoothness, and accuracy increase with distance when casting the Center Axis. At 60 feet the rod comes alive and Lamson innovation allows a smooth casting stroke and consistent power. Need to make a long cast with a dry fly? The Center Axis will get the job done.
The rod is very pleasant and gives just enough feedback at 30 ft to make accurate casts, however, the increased balance and smoothness really become apparent as you move back to 40 feet. At 40 feet, the Center Axis is very accurate. Moving back, 60 feet is perhaps the favorite distance to cast the Center Axis as the effect of the axis increases with more rod movement. Overall, the Center Axis lived up to the hype in the accuracy category.
The center axis mount changes the feel of a fly rod entirely. No reel hanging off the rod means the moment of inertia changes drastically. These changes make the Center Axis a better casting rod, a feeling you have to experience to believe. The noticeability of the center axis innovation is minimal on smaller rods and smaller reels like a 5 wt and a 4 oz reel, while still evident. Noticeability increases with heavier rods and heavier reels. The Center Axis sports a crisp, medium-fast action.
The Lamson Center Axis truly exemplifies disruptive innovation. Lamson has moved the weight of the fly reel to the center of the fly rod to optimize balance and redefine a smooth casting stroke. Not to be overlooked, the rod blank sits in a comfortable category of medium-fast action and is a quality tool in all freshwater applications. Plenty of companies have reinvented the reel. None have successfully reinvented the marriage between rod and reel, until Lamson. Hopefully, this innovation catches on.