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TFO's Axiom II-X isn't all that surprising. At a time when it seems almost every manufacturer has released a streamer-specific fly rod to keep up with the barreling contemporary big-bug craze, TFO has built a rod designed for large flies and heavy lines. This is a streamer stick. But it's also more than that.
Surprising accuracy at close range and stellar versatility overall make this rod a little more than just a streamer-only rod like we've seen from other fly rod manufacturers in the recent past. Functional componentry and a pretty cool lightning-blue blank color contribute to the rod's aesthetic appeal and high performance.
But who should fish this rod? What's its flex profile and where does the rod cast best? What about power and weight and swing weight? We've answered all those questions and more, like we always do, after casting, examining, and experimenting in this fly rod review. Read on to find out how the Axiom II-X performed.
The fit & finish on the Axiom II-X boasts componentry that's made for heavy lines, big flies, and fish-fighting efficiency. A full wells, premium quality cork grip with a fighting butt makes fighting fish easy with the Axiom II-X. An anodized aluminum double uplocking reel seat with a carbon fiber insert means this rod is saltwater safe. Alignment dots, Recoil Stripping Guides, and ultra-lightweight chromium-impregnated stainless-steel snake guides help heavy lines shoot effortlessly with minimal friction. Finally, a double-helix Kevlar blank design maximizes rod strength and casting power. This rod is beautifully finished with an emphasis on functionality and componentry that will stand the test of time.
The 8wt version of this rod weighs in at 3.49 ounces with a swing weight of 92.6 gm2. While the overall rod weight is actually lighter than the Axiom II, the do-it-all cousin of the Axiom II-X, the swing weight is significantly heavier. This isn't one of the lightest 8wt fly rods on the market, but the added weight means added power and durability, both key concepts in a streamer-specific fly rod.
The Axiom II-X wasn't terrible at longer distances. We felt that the rod's accuracy at distance suffered a bit because of the softer butt section when cast with SA Mastery Bonefish. A softer butt section is ideal for lifting power and throwing big flies at shorter-to-medium distances but doesn't have the strength and power to drop large flies accurately beyond 80 feet. Which isn't what this rod was designed to do anyway.
That being said, when cast with a Rio Outbound Short or a Titan Taper line this rod definitely has the ability to make long casts. This rod's performance at distance is perfect for the angler who makes long blind casts when saltwater or freshwater fishing... think Striper fishing from the coast with an Outbound Short. This style of fishing doesn't necessitate pinpoint accuracy at longer distances and fly lines with a more aggressive front taper load this rod well for those chuck-and-duck casts.
Streamer fishing, especially from a boat, means accuracy in the short-range is often important. If you're rowing down a large western river like the Yellowstone pounding the banks with a streamer and a sink tip, it's important that you land the fly on the bank every cast. This rod does that superbly. We found the accuracy at short distances (inside the 40-foot range) was beautiful with the Axiom II-X. This also makes it a stellar candidate for a flats rod when short, accurate casts are important. Thinking about wading for Bonefish? This would be a great rod choice.
And when we pushed the rod back to middle distances the performance got arguably better. When partnered with an SA Bonefish line this rod can drop a saltwater fly on a dinner plate almost every time. We liked it even more than the Axiom II at the 60-foot distance. That's not to say this rod provides a ton of feedback and feel at the short and middle distances... but more about that in the section below.
At our final distance of 80-feet, the accuracy lessened a bit. As aforementioned, this rod just isn't a distance champion, especially in the accuracy department. If you're planning on routinely making 80-foot casts and need them to be accurate 100% of the time, maybe this isn't the rod for you. That being said, it does have the guts to make the occasional longer cast accurately with the right hand on the grip.
This isn't a rod with a ton of feel. In fact, at short distances, it really doesn't have much feel at all. TFO designed this rod to be fast action, bordering on ultra-fast. This rod design is perfect for heavy lines and large flies. It's not an ideal taper for feel, however. This rod has a lot of performance to be excited about at short range but the rod just doesn't provide a ton of feedback or feel, which really isn't necessary when slapping down streamers on the bank anyway.
As we moved back to middle distances the rod loaded a little deeper and provided a little more feedback but not as much as, say, the Scott Sector. As a purpose-driven rod series, we didn't expect the Axiom II-X to have the feedback and feel of a delicate dry fly rod. Obviously. And the rod's flex definitely caters to anglers using it in the short-range with SA Bonefish or a heavier sinking line for freshwater streamer fishing. But don't expect this rod to be forgiving. Ultra-fast action rods usually aren't.
TFO Lifetime Warranty
This rod is an incredible offering from TFO, especially for the price-conscious flats angler or the avid freshwater streamer junkie. Functional componentry and a durable blank design make this rod a great candidate for the angler who likes to fish hard in either freshwater or saltwater. If you're thinking about subscribing to the modern streamer movement and you need a rod that'll help you do that, we think the Axiom II-X is a great place to start for beginners and experts alike.