Sage TCR 590-4
The TCR5 is a pretty controversial rod, marketed as being only for the expert casters and we've frequently argued about it on the Board. And every time we do so people start talking about CCS and ERN (a subject only three people in the world currently understand). And I've got one. And Rick Hartman can throw an XXD over 130 feet with his. And I can't. Which sucks. However I have a plan which either involves learning to cast 130 feet or else nobbling Rick. But I digress from the real issue which is this: if you are looking for a 5-weight fishing rod then you are probably far better off with an XP.
I wanted a TCR5 for a number of reasons. Firstly I'd like to learn to cast further and with this rod I find the consistency I need in practice and, importantly, I'm on the same playing field as all the other 5-weight distance casters in this world – which is good for comparing notes and annoying each other. I also need a rod for New Zealand: last season I fished the 5-weight XP and it sometimes it simply doesn't have the balls to control the large Kiwi trout – apart from which it struggles to cast the bricks you often need here. So I now use the TCR5 with a 6 weight XXD, which I find pretty much spot on.
So let's get back to the controversial bit: I can't make the kind of roll casts I would like with the TCR5 using a 5-weight line; it's possible but it's not easy. Stick 80 or 90 feet of line in the air and you have an exciting stick. And it's not bad when it comes to accuracy either but for me I find it too stiff and I think you will too. Notice that this doesn't apply to all TCR models; the 8-weight is a cracking rod and with that I use an 8 weight XXD.
Italy is the land of Cornettos, fiery women and the TLT. The TLT is an unusual technique (standing for Total Flycasting Technique, once translated, which is a little ambitious, especially since it's not) and they use one, two or three weight lines on four, five and six-weight rods. You can get some amazingly tight loops using this method (there's little rod counterflex), which is fun, line speed can be pretty electric too and although they don't double haul in Italy, you can double haul, but even so I still don't like this “underlined' feel. In Italy they would probably stick a 4-weight line on the TCR5.
So is the TCR5 really a six weight – you know, over here? Well that's where the arguments begin because who is to say what a 6 weight really is? Not I. It's up to the rod designer, who in this case is Jerry Siem. So the TCR5 is a 5-weight rod but the vast majority of anglers – especially those in the US and UK – would be better off using it with a 6-weight line (that's only my opinion of course).
That's not to say you shouldn't buy one – there are lots of compelling reasons why you should. It is a hell of a good rod with a six line, it's also interesting to know how far the competition casters are slinging their's with a five – for the sake of comparison – and finally, there are people who do like the feel of this rod even when “correctly” lined.
Gary Coxon of Sage informed me that the TCR was originally conceived for throwing heavy flies on a light flyline. I'm not sure how much sense this makes, but then again this is Gary. You can find more words of wisdom from Gary in the Saltwater section by the way.
This is my current fishing rod and has been for the last three months (and I still haven't broken it).