A few years ago, after cycling half way around Australia, I ended up fly fishing in Exmouth for a month. This is a very exciting destination and I used a TCX10 for all of that time… and it gave me Tennis Elbow! It took three months for the pain to eventually leave…
Now the reason the rod gave me Tennis Elbow is because it had an almost completely rigid butt section, this meant that my body (elbow) had to stop considerably more of the lever in the first instant. So I learned from this and developed a rod with a more forgiving butt section, allowing the flycaster to initially stop less of the rod.
The first prototype, while good, and considerably more gentle in this regards, I felt just a little too slow. So we sped it up. The resulting blank is light, fast and smooth, with an incredibly positive tip. The tip damps perfectly making it possible to throw 5-line on the rod and still see no vibration – indeed this is also our COMPETITION V2 blank – the one that gave me a Bronze Medal in this year’s World Championships in Estonia!
But really it’s a ten-weight. I personally like fishing RIO’s Technical Tarpon Taper but I’ve always preferred fishing these longer heads!
For the World Championships I had Titanium Torzite rings fitted to the rod. This was an experiment – they are supposed to be slicker than SICs and of course Titanium is not only lightweight it is also Saltwater proof. We’ve taken the (rather expensive!) decision to fit them as standard on all HT10 rods. Of course we also fit Snake rings or indeed anything that you’d prefer, but I would take the Titanium Torzite option – they are fantastic rings and IMO the best.
Holger asked me yesterday for more details on the build and appearance of the latest HT8 model. This is the flag ship model that we stock.
Sexyloops has its own cork grips made in Portugal using the slightly thicker Full Wells grip that we like with a small fighting butt. The cork quality is immaculate. The reel seat is machined by REC in the USA – the best – black anodised and the insert (spacer) is machined and black anodised in the UK.
Stripping guides are Titanium framed SICs, there are seven Recoil rings and the Tip Top is Hopkins & Holloway. Whippings are blue/grey thread with orange tips. Epoxy is applied in 3-4 very thin layers built up over time to give the perfect Sexyloops finish.
The most common custom builds for the HT8 are for Snake Rings and/or your name on the rod. The blank itself has four types of carbon, but the rest is a secret!
I think that sums up what the HT8 delivers. A beast of a rod, with an incredibly stable tip and plenty of that all-important factor; feel. It’s no surprise that it took us 9 attempts to get it right. One thing that I found very interesting was that three of the prototypes, that all behaved differently, were separated only by having different sanding options.
The HT8 has become one of my all-round go-to rods. This is probably no surprise either since I’ve been predominantly jungle fishing in Malaysia for the past three years! The HT8 has been my Snakehead rod for all of this time. For Snakehead you need to be lightning fast and deadly accurate. These are without doubt the hardest fly fishing shots you’ll ever make. For fast delivery you need a fast rod. And for Snakehead – well the fights are simply brutal.
As well as numerous Snakehead, I’ve used mine for Bonefish in the Maldives as well as catching my largest Brown Trout, 11.5lbs in the Kola Peninsular. So this is a hell of a rod, that has magic properties too. I’ve compared it side by side against many other 9ft 8weight rods and none has the tip that all the HT rods exhibit – i.e. little or no vibration after unloading. Does that matter? Well it certainly does to me!
Baffling to many people as it might be, we took the HT6 blank and relabelled it a #5 for competition use. Now there are some pretty sound reasons for this, the main one being in the UK for BFCC usage in the 5WT distance game the rod has to be labelled a 5WT. For very long carries – the sort of carry that one might use for distance casting – i.e. 90ft measured fly line end to hauling hand – you need a relatively stiff rod to handle this. And so the COMP5 was created.
I took two prototypes to the very first World Championships in Norway, with the blank that we ultimately finished with, one with Recoils and the other with single leg H&H rings and cast them side by side for about one hour. That little experiment saw us fitting single leg H&H rings to our finalised rod, because in competition I believe that they shoot slightly further. I love Recoils on my fishing rods, but any small advantage in competition distance will see me ring accordingly. It’s a small advantage, smaller than the wind that’s for sure! But it’s there just the same.
This was several years ago and the World Fly Casting Championships with Fly Fishing Tackle has moved on, and this small jump in rod stiffness is now behind the times, and we – or many of us at least – now use far stiffer rods. The COMP version 2 for example actually has the stiffness of a 10WT rod, and I know that because it is our HT10 blank! This is the rod that (finally) gave me a Bronze medal this year. Not your everyday comfortable fishing tool.
However the COMP5 blank (i.e. HT6 blank) is the one I use for accuracy competition too. For many accuracy casters this is too stiff, and a soft (not fast) AFFTA 5 rod is often preferred. Ashly for example prefers the HT4 up-lined for her accuracy work. But she is a girl. Me on the other hand, this is what I use. Mind you I always have the fastest accuracy rounds of any championship competitor – not the most accurate this is true – but I’m fast!
Even “under” lined with a 5-line it is an awesome fishing rod, and has caught me many fish. 49.5cm Grayling in Bosnia, 7lb trout in Russia and has been a great casting tool for me too, putting me into the finals in the World Championships twice in distance and once in accuracy. I wouldn’t recommend it for your 5WT fishing – not unless you like to be very fast! – but as a means of tuning your casting to enter the World Championships then I would thoroughly recommend it before jumping to the poker that we now sell.
A great rod and it resulted in the current whippings colour scheme that we currently have on all our PRO series. Incidentally if you ever come across HT COMP5 with serial no.4 then it is mine – some Barstool stole it from my boat!
When we decided to shoot the Sexyloops App it was apparent that we were going to need a white rod. I’ve seen white rods used for this task in the past, namely with Bill Gammel’s 5 Essentials video – Bill used plumber’s tape wound up the rod. Instead of doing this we had a HT6 blank painted white. Since then I’ve used this rod for all my teaching and demos.
It’s also put me into two World Championships 5wt distance finals and one accuracy final. So it’s quite comfortable casting a 5-weight line too! But for me it’s really a six weight tool.
It’s beyond me why an instructor would use a rod that students cannot see! Something I notice with the Sexyloops Instructor rod is a longer student attention span. Also it makes teaching far clearer. And of course for shooting video it is a must.
There are some other white rods on the market, particularly now, but none compare to the HT INSTRUCTOR. Not only is at a great casting tool, but it’s also very comfortable for beginner casters to use. This is important!
We have around 90 Casting Instructors using the HT INSTRUCTOR. I shall be giving them all a free listing very shortly. We have an Instructor/PRO programme. If you think you qualify then please get in touch!
Our new rod tubes have arrived. Sexyloops 9ft rods will now be going out in Aluminium tubes. These tubes were made in the USA at great expense. Only the very best tubes are suitable for the Hot Torpedo!