The Ross RX 9 weight 9 foot rod is my first foray into saltwater fly fishing and is real beaut when it comes to finish quality and handling when it comes to casting heavy sinking lines.
The largest rod in my arsenal was previously a 7 wt 10 foot Redington RS3 which I use for fishing larger rivers in Montana, bass fishing here in New England, or for landlocked salmon with a sinking leader. However, the last true frontier left for me in the fly fishing world was saltwater, so it was time to give it a shot.
few of my friends had some setups from Ross Reels, so I decided to give them a shot.I had initially debated between the Essence FC and FS based on price and had emailed a few questions back and forth with Bart at Ross about the differences. At the last minute, I decided to just splurge for the Ross RX rod, which is at the upper end of their line.
I selected the Ross RX over the Essence FC/FS because of the few promisingreviews it had received, and because it was truly a different blank. I learned that the Essence FC and FS, seperated by a fly line’s price, were actually the same inherent rod blank. The difference was in the better quality hardware and finishing.
In a twist of fate, Bart accidentally sent me the Essence FS, which was mainly my fault, since I communicated in an email that I was likely going to pickup that. But like I said, I changed my mind right before the order and selected the RX, going from their lowest level rod to one of their highest. But, Ross really lives up to their reputation for excellent customer service and they overnighted me the correct rod. Bart even threw in a Ross baseball cap for the mistake, which is actually now my “saltwater” fishing hat.
Visual Comparison of RX vs FS Rods
Fortunately, I took advantage of the opportunity of having two of their rods in my hands to photograph the two side by side so you could see the difference.
You can see the photos below to see the difference visually.
I also took the opportunity to rig up the two and do a few test casts on my lawn before repackaging the Essence to ship back. While I won’t dwell too long on how the Essence casts (which is perfectly fine), I could immediately feel a difference with the Ross RX. But, I must admit, since I was brand new to saltwater fishing, I was also brand new to casting the heavy, fast sink tip Teenie line I had on my reel.
The Ross RX is definitely a fast action rod; however, it provides decent accuracy and castability at closer distances. Of course, this is all dependent on the line you have on it. With my Teenie 9 weight line, I always need to keep the full, un tapered sinking head out of the rod tip, with about 6 inches of running line let out. From this base, I can lay down that amount of line, or send my line out nearly to the backing. That’s after only 1 season of shooting line on saltwater.
(On a side note, my rod was rigged up with this less expensive line by Nate at Stone River Outfitters, who, knowing my casting ability, did it for my own good. He knew, since I am primarily a trout fisher, that to learn how to shoot line, double haul, and cut my teeth striper fishing, this line would be best. If I could spend a season learning to shoot and retrieve a basic sink tip line, I would be deadly next season with a weight forward line after this one got chewed up).
Unfortunately, many of the reviews for this rod are based on rods in the lower end of its weight class, ie, 5 weight. I think this rod was really meant for heavy weights of 8+, where the line really likes to load up the rod. While this rod is stiff, it isn’t a piece of wood. With enough line out, the rod flexes deeper toward the middle of it’s 9 foot length, giving you almost the sensitivity and forgiving of a medium-fast rod, but still with the punch of a fast action.
Someone Else’s Opinion
On one of my many weekend mornings out this season, I came across a more seasoned striper fly rodder, who obliged me when I asked “Hey, I’m still really new to this, do you mind if I watch you cast for a bit?” He really took me under his wing for an hour, giving me tips for fishing that specific jetty, a few of his own tied flies that have worked well, and he tested my rod for 15 minutes while I gingerly held his Orvis Helios rig. Considering he was fishing with a setup that was nearly twice the price of mine, he had nothing but good things to say about it.
Immediately when he took a hold of it, he said Wow, just like I did my first time. You can tell a rod is nice when they check the name and model twice, once before and again after they tried it. He agreed that the best method for casting it with my line set up was about 6-10 inches of running line out of the tip. I’m pretty sure he was ready to advise me about improving my setup, but he was left a little shocked with “Well, that’s definitely a damn good rig.”
While I don’t think this rod is the best out there, I do believe its a premium rod at a non-premium price. For it’s current retail of $300, you get a whole lot of rod for your money. Starting from the premium cork handle (full wells for mine), you get a carbon fiber reel seat with brushed aluminium hardware. Moving up the rod, the color is deep amber brown, that looks awesome paired with the chrome line guides. I do wish that Ross included a hook loop at the base of the rod, as a cringe a little when I loop a fly around the reel and up to the first guide. The rod comes in a snappy burnt orange rod case with the integrated section dividers for each of its 4 pieces. (I’m really happy that manufacturers discovered this tube design, as I’ve lost my sleeves than I care to mention.)
Another rod that I think could compete with this rod, at this price, is the TFO TiCR-X, which my primary fishing buddy has. That rod casts exceptionally well, just as beautiful, and lands around $300 too. But, being fishing buddies and rivals, I went with Ross just to expand our brand experience. Both he and I agree, you can’t really go wrong with the Ross RX. Unfortunately, as of July 2015, Ross has stopped making rods and outfits, so now’s a good time to get this puppy before it’s gone!!
Here are some more resources for the Ross RX
Buy it from Amazon Here: http://amzn.to/1jPESuX
Buy it from Backcountry.com here: http://goo.gl/K9wXaE
Review by Yellowstone Angler (using a 4 weight version)
Trouts Flyfishing’s Review Here, local boys!