Working on HT5

Working on HT5

Paul Arden | Tuesday, 5 October 2021

5WT is the most popular trout fishing line weight in the US. Even if many of those lines are really 5.5 or 6WT! And it’s a rod I have been asked for countless times since we started manufacturing HT fly rods. A lot of work goes into Sexyloops rods. Sometimes as many as 9 prototypes that I see and there are many others that don’t make even this stage.

Particularly when you get into these lower line classes, up-close feel becomes very important. Of course in competition we cast 5WT lines 130’ plus, but really good fly fishermen are masters of the short-line game. And often that means casting with a long leader only, or no more than a few feet of flyline outside the rod tip. That short-line game is critical with all rods to an extent, but particularly with 6WT outfits and lighter.

I’ve written about it before: there is undoubtedly a design gap between 6 and 7WT – at least there is for me. 6WT is all-round, predominately short-lining, loch-style, small dries, leaded nymph combinations, fishing smallish streamers, but also long searching casts…. whereas 7WT is often mostly about bigger weightier streamers hitting the banks or even light SW applications, high line speeds penetrating the wind with weighted flies and so on. It’s only a small difference but it’s definitely there in the design.

When dealing with these annoying 1/2 AFTTA weight lines, I recommend a 5.5WT line on the HT6 and a 7.5WT line on the HT7.  Ideally bang on 6, bang on 7 of course, but that’s getting harder to find nowadays because flyline manufacturers have apparently lost the plot.

Anyway I’m not going to talk about that; I’m going to talk about the 5. It’s an interesting number. Pretty much all my trout and grayling fishing is handled perfectly well with the HT4. That’s an incredible all-round trout rod. But if it’s NZ style backcountry, then I want the 6; can throw big dry and weighed nymph combinations and it copes better with strong cross and head winds (NZ is famous for its wind). It will turn a weighted streamer over when demand requires it. That’s not surprising since it was designed after 20 seasons of fishing NZ with 6WT rods!

That’s me, but I recognise that many people want a 5WT. For one thing their fly line collection are 5WTs and flylines are not cheap nowadays! In fact they have doubled in price without anyone telling me.

You would think that with the completed (and amazing!) HT4 and the completed (and incredible!) HT6 (my words in brackets) that the 5 would be easy. Not so! In fact it’s because of this search for “perfection” – whatever that means – and because we have set such a high standard for ourselves so far, it actually gets MORE difficult to release rods as finished products instead of easier. So my cunning plan to make life easier by developing even numbers first has backfired!

It took me 5 years of testing the 763 and trying to make it better before finally accepting it was the one. Sounds daft right? But every rod has to be the best it can be. And if that takes 100 prototypes to get there, or indeed if we never get there, then so be it.

This particular prototype is awesome by the way. Loads of feel up close. The loops you can throw, positively streak across the water. It fits right in between HT4 and HT6. It’s got so much feel at all distances and has that crisp HT loop control. I love changing the pace and watching how the loop sharpens.

Next task is to set it up with a Thunderbolt 5 line (true to weight) this week and make it my Gourami rod. Then sometime over the next months I’ll take it down to Kuala Lumpur to see how it performs in other hands.

Getting closer at any rate. I’m just not sure when to pull the pin. It’s a decision that seems to become increasing more difficult. And the further down the rabbit hole I go the harder it becomes. Yes it’s great fun too!

Next week: a fishing video. The lake is fishing well just now and I may even scare up a Gourami.

Cheers, Paul