Thomas & Thomas has finally come out with a mid-priced saltwater fly rod… and it’s already making waves. The all-new Zone won best new saltwater rod at IFTD this year, dethroning the perennial powerhouse of saltwater fly rods: Sage. That’s a big deal, especially at such an affordable price-point. Read on to find out why.
Trident Fly Fishing is a full-service fly shop. We spend a lot of time testing gear and writing reviews to give you all of the tools to make your next trip a success. We are not a blog or a review site. 100% of our funding comes from your gear purchases, so if this blog post helps you on your next fly fishing adventure, please support us by buying your gear from us.
The fit and finish of the Zone aren’t quite as nice as higher end T&T rods, yet still better than most of the rods being made today. That being said, the Zone’s aluminum dual uplocking reel seat, clear anodized aluminum hardware, and a fiberglass reel seat promote functionality. The unsanded blue blank is a departure from the T&T norm and gives the blank a Scott-like appearance. The blank promotes the advanced StratoTherm resin technology developed for the well-known Avantt and Exocett rods. Similar to the T&T flagship rod models, the Zone is also rolled and built in the USA, a sign of meticulous craftsmanship and premier quality.
Add blue wraps, a composite cork grip, and the top-notch addition of titanium torzite-style stripping guides, and the Zone upholds the classic T&T artistry, save some minor details.
The swing weight of the Zone is a bit heavier than the absolute lightest rods out there at 94.3 gm2. The whole rod is also a touch heavier (4.52 oz) than the Exocett (3.75 oz) in an 8wt.
The Zone isn’t going to win any casting competitions; the rod is a perfect fishing tool, but don’t expect to fire a 100-foot cast with ease. Unless, of course, you’re an experienced angler, in which case the Zone is a quality rod to 80 feet and beyond.
The Zone really excels in the 40-60 foot range. Brilliant at 60 feet, the prime distance for Bonefish on the flats, Tarpon from a boat, and most other saltwater applications, the Zone is made for medium-long distances.
The Zone feels like most ‘fast action’ saltwater rods today. It’s exactly what you’d expect but definitely provides more feedback in the 40ft range than, say, the Sage Igniter. I'd even argue that the Zone loses some of its fast action characteristics in the 40-60 foot range. I'd consider it a medium-fast action rod at these distances. All in all, you’re getting a rod that’s going to give you the feedback you need to tackle any bonefish.
SA Amplitude Bonefish performed great at a medium distance. Perhaps a lighter line like Rio Bonefish would encourage improved castability at longer distances (think 80 feet and beyond). The 9- and 10-wt Zone’s are really line-friendly and should support a wide variety of fly lines.
Want a quality saltwater tool made for medium-to-long distance Bonefish on the flats or Permit from a boat? This rod is for you. Don’t expect the highest quality fit and finish or a rod that will impress your casting friends on the lawn. However, if you’re a get-the-job-done-on-the-water kind of guy, prepare to be impressed. Also, it’s worth checking out the 9-weight as it may be the finest rod in the series.