first off, here’s the tech specs from Stickman Rods:
5 weight, 9′ length, 4 piece
Rod weight: 91 gram (3.21 oz)
Matte natural finish, fast action blanks
Flor grade half wells grip from Portugal
REC reel seat
Anodized aluminium reel seat spacer with engraving in black or red
Fuji stripping guides in black
Recoil Black Pearl titanium guides
Hopkins&Holloway tip tops
Black wraps with fire red edging
Blanks made in Spain, rods built in Hungary
Rod sock and black leather logo-embossed Cordura tube
Retail price is 649 € including VAT
shipped worldwide for a flat rate of 30 euros.
click here for CCS and MOI comparative data.
more info on the CCS and MOI systems, what they mean and how they may be of use when comparing known rods.
note that this review is for the Evil Black model but the P5 also comes in two other versions: Stealth and Forest. apart from their different aesthetic configurations (and the fact that they’re therefore neither EVIL nor BLACK ! ) the only difference these other models have is they sport a wooden reel-seat insert making them 10 grams lighter. (yeah, i’m having a hard time understanding how thin aluminium is heavier than a much thicker wooden insert but that’s just the way it is) anyway, that extra 10 gm is in the butt end of the rod so its next to impossible to feel the difference when casting or fishing. the aluminium spacer means this particular model is not only dead sexy but also saltwater friendly and won’t get nasty if left wet in the rod tube for a few weeks.
ok, now for the more difficult part, the subjective…
outside of simply sharing the above data, there’s no other way to describe something like a fly rod without including personal views, colours and tastes.
i’ll spare you silly common marketing blurbs such as- ‘this rod tracks better than others’ or ‘throws tighter loops’ or ‘is more accurate’ or “will catch you more fish” because we all know that those aspects are dependant of the user and not the product.
ok, lets start !
fly lines used
– Barrio SLX- GT90, GT125, Small Stream in 5 & 4wt
– Scientific Anglers- XPS, Nymph, Sharkskin 5 & 4wt
– Vision- Attack clear intermediate 5wt
– Piam- DT 5wt
– various homemade shooting heads connected to monofilament shooting line
All lines performed equally well within their inherent capacities. this rod being a ‘real 5wt’ with a CCS-ERN (Effective Rod Number) of 4,9 it handled all 5wt lines perfectly with no need for over-lining. in fact i did try several 6wt lines on it but wasn’t happy with how the extra line weight affected the feeling during the casts. i’ll have to confess that i’m a chronic ‘under-liner’ and although the rod performs flawlessly with 5wt lines, the real ‘super-sweet’ feeling happened with 4wt lines. i had several very good casting instructor friends in five different countries try out the rod with both 4&5 lines and most preferred it with a 5wt. we all have different tastes and thats great !
what i particularly like about this rod’s line weight polyvalent nature is these two line choices fit in perfectly for the vast majority of my trout-type fishing without having to change rods to get that ‘spot on’ feeling. the 4wt line goes on for lighter and slimmer flies in non-windy situations and the 5wt on the extra spool takes its place when casting bigger flies or when the wind’s up. nice.
the AA (Action Angle – see CCS & MOI link above) of 68 places the P5 Evil Black on the lower end of fast-actioned rods. this means that it’s no stiff poker that most anglers will feel the need to over-line and it’s very easy to feel how the load/bend is distributed throughout the rod as it varies throughout the casting strokes helping to achieve great line control.
of maybe more importance to me than stiffness ratings is how smoothly yet fast the rod tip recovers (resumes its straight position) after the completion of a cast.
in short, a rod that continues to ‘boing-boing’ after a cast sends waves down the rod leg of the fly line and in this case, these waves are a form of slack and we all know that slack is the opposite of tension and that maintaining as much tension throughout the cast is ultra-important. without this tension there’s reduced line control, loops are kinda unappealing and ultimately, they’re less effective. simples.
this particularity is what in my opinion makes this blank stand up there among a very small handful of other rod models from the best companies in the world. it’s an easy rod to cast and it flatters the caster’s capabilities and that’s hard not to like.
Gampel Istvan is the man behind the craft. “He has been in the fishing industry for more than 20 years now. At first as a shop owner and later as a custom rod builder. Rod building is a passion for him, he constantly strives to reach perfection in everything he does” and this is apparent as soon as the rod is pulled from its sock. Gampi’s fine work is along the lines of “Less is More”, just what a high end build should be. thread and epoxy quantity are kept to more-than-strong-enough minimum and this fits in with the idea of matching the ultra light blank to ultra light hardware to preserve the blank’s maximum crispness and efficiency. nice.
as per the CCS/MOI page, the completed rod’s swingweight is very low meaning it feels very light whether we’re just holding it, waggling it around or actually casting. nice.
not really a part of the rod build itself but closely related, i wanted to point out that the ferrules hold extremely well throughout the day and are super-easy to take apart when going home. no slipping or twisting even after a full day of casting, (which means maybe hundreds of times more casts than when fishing) with the same non-slip result after long sessions of Spey casts, notorious for twisting rods apart. for the review i made the conscious effort of very slightly fitting the ferrules together (much less force than usual) just to see if they would come apart or twist and they simply didn’t move. nice.
i can’t find anything i would change with this rod. from the blank, component and build quality, aesthetics, super-smooth cork and grip shape and of course the way the rod feels and performs, it simply feels spot-on.
the only negative (which isn’t a negative but more of an inconvenience to the general public) is this rod company is very new and doesn’t have a wide-spread reputation yet, something that might put a few off from giving them a try.
via the Warranty page we’ll however see that there is a 14 day ‘like or refund’ option for those that might be hesitant.
if you’ve read this whole article you’ve basically seen nothing but pros so, to conclude i’ll simply restate my own criteria when assessing a fly rod:
“its an easy rod to pick up but a hard one to put down… “
click either image above or the following link to access the Stickman Rods site for more info and the contact page.
© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2014