Remember the Mystic Reaper? It was our best-selling budget rod for a long time. About a year ago, Mystic discontinued it, much to our dismay. But they had something brewing… Mystic has quietly introduced their newest flagship rod, the JXP. While I’m not a huge fan of the name, I’m definitely a fan of the rod.
The JXP breaks away from the rest of the Mystic lineup in a few ways, but mostly by taking a page from Loomis’ book and finishing the rods right here in the USA. It’s allowed them to make some huge improvements in quality, and they’ve done it at a rock bottom price.
The JXP uses overseas rolled blanks and then Mystic finishes the rod right here in the USA. It’s the same recipe Loomis uses for the Asquith and we personally think it’s a great way to offer some cost savings while still building a quality product. When you look at the JXP, you think, “Hmm… this looks like a Scott.” That’s a pretty big statement for a rod that costs half as much. The wraps and workmanship are much better on the JXP than on previous Mystic rods – just as you’d expect from a US-finished product. The one we tested has a skeletonized reel seat that we’ve heard is going to be replaced by wood, which would make an already pretty rod even better.
Some of our staff members thought that the grip was a little on the small side. I personally thought that it was nice, but the narrower full wells is definitely a bit of a departure from the standard reversed half wells we’re used to.
This 9’ 5wt JXP weighs in at just a hair over 3 ounces. As we say in Maine, that’s wicked light. It’s combined with a swing weight of 59.7 gm2, which ranks the JXP as one of the lighter 5-weights on the market. Sure, it’s not the absolute lightest swing weight, but it’s very, very good.
Don’t expect the JXP to turn you into the next Rajeff. It’s a more moderate rod that’s better for fishing than impressing your friends in the parking lot.
The JXP is a superbly accurate rod. As we’ve seen with most all-around rods, the JXP isn’t the best rod at 30’, but it will get the job done. I really enjoyed it from about 35-60’. You could probably extend that range a bit by going with a lighter line with a longer head than MPX. I was pleasantly surprised by the distance casting ability of the rod. I would have expected a softer rod to fall apart when making longer casts, but the JXP kept it together and threw some really nice loops and delivered the fly accurately to the target.
In today’s world of every rod being labeled as “fast action” it has become harder and harder to differentiate between actions. Mystic calls it a “true to line” fast action rod. I would call it more of a Medium-fast (or maybe even a fast, medium-fast). It’s faster than moderate action dry fly rods like the Scott G-Series and Hardy Z. Ultralite, but definitely not as fast as say a Hardy Zephrus or Helios 3. The action really reminds me of the NRX LP – fast enough to do whatever you ask of it, yet soft enough for delicate presentations.
When we talk about a rod’s nymphing ability, we’re really talking about casting an indicator rig with two heavy flies on it. You have to be able to open up your loop and have a rod with enough power to turn it all over. The JXP is a solid choice for nymphing and streamers, but it’s not the *absolute best* rod out there since it doesn’t have as much power as the faster rods that will really turn over your heavier rigs.
While Mystic calls it “true to line”, I really liked SA MPX on this rod. I also cast Rio Perception, which was also pretty nice.
Mid-priced rods are getting a lot better. We’ve seen some excellent offerings in the Sage Pulse, the Winston Nimbus, and the Orvis Recon (just to name a few). We didn’t get to do a head-to-head shootout of all of these rods, but it would be really hard to imagine any of these rods beating out the JXP. It’s a rod that performs way above its price range. If you’re looking for a new all-around trout rod with a slight bias toward dry fly fishing, you’ll definitely want to check out the JXP.