All about fly rods

All about fly rods

Paul Arden | Monday, 28 May 2018

I thought I would write something about fly rods today and elaborate on a post I made on the Board last week. I’m going to make a bold statement here: of every possible desirable object in the known Universe, the fly rod is the one that I appreciate the most! I can’t think of anything that comes remotely close. I like my car but I would happily change it for another. I like my boats, my bicycles, and even my walking boots but if I was an Egyptian Pharaoh it is fly rods that I would want with me in my tomb! In fact of all the tools that I use in everyday life, the fly rod gets the most use out of any of them.

A question I often hear is does quality make a difference? Of course it does! Sure most cars will get you where you want to go, mine even, but the driving experience is very different between driving an old Mini and a Lamborghini. Actually I wouldn’t like to drive a Lamborghini, let’s just say a sporty car that is not too ostentatious - if there is such a thing.

Before I explain the difference between fly rods let me begin by explaining the two processes by which they come into existence...


The most common way is this: a company wishes to produce a range of fly rods and approaches a manufacturer in, for example, China or Korea (South not North!) and that manufacturer then sends a range of sample rods - generally about thirty items. The company then employs someone - me for example - I’ve done this four times in my life, for Shakespeare, Guide Flyfishing and two independent traders - to test these rods and write down their thoughts and potentially narrow the range from 30 to approximately 6. It’s an interesting exercise not least because you often get to see other well-known brands in that package! This means that it is quite possible for company X to be selling exactly the same rod blank as company Y. In fact it happens all the time.

Now it should be noted at this point, that while there are some good fly casters in China, Korea, Taiwan etc (I have fly casting friends in all these places, indeed many are HT owners!), I don’t know of a top flight fly caster involved in rod design in any of these places. However the advantage in buying here, is that while a) the ability to design your own blank is limited and b) if you do then it’s immediately available to everyone else - the final cost of the rod is very VERY much cheaper.

I’m going to be honest with you, I do intend to produce a budget set of equipment using these methods, not for the Sexyloops Brand, but for my village “kampong” friends here in Malaysia who want to learn fly fishing, but cannot afford the expensive equipment. We’re talking my friends in Grik - the welders, my car mechanic, my boat mechanics - all very nice people who might only be able to afford 50USD for a finished rod, which I can certainly make happen using this method.

So that’s one way to make rods appear. It is the most common way; it’s how fly shops manage to bring out sets of rods - and a surprising number of larger rod companies as well. Whether the selling is successful from that point on depends on how well they market. It also explains why it’s common that rods can have a similar feel between different brands: often they are the same blank!


The other method that produces rods is far more interesting. It’s how we design rods at Sexyloops. It’s how Sage, Loomis and Scott, amongst others, all design their rods too.

There is a fly caster involved. And his job is to test the rod, just like with the rods from Korea, but instead of merely assessing the rod, he has to decide what to change to transform it into the rod that he wants. Now as you can image, this is where top of the line rods - fly rods that are “designed” and not simply “selected” - start to differ, because Jerry, Steve, Jim and Mr Sexyloops all have different ideas as to how a fly rod should behave, cast and feel. We use the same hands-on process of fly casting, we use the same materials more or less, but each of us has a different design in our head that we are working towards.

It's impossible for me to tell you what feeling or rod performance suits you best, because that’s only something you can know and work out yourself (see this video). All I can say is what I like; I like a fast rod with plenty of feel, with a butt that is neither too stiff nor too soft (the vast majority of rods I cast are one of the other - but never both!), with a tip that “feels” light and crisp and damps with the minimum of vibrations. I also like my rods to be suited to strictly AFFTA conforming lines, to perform at all distances with both short and long carry, to behave in an expected way throughout the speed range and to be able to perform roll casts comfortably - without feeling the need for a heavier line. And above all else, the entire casting process should happen naturally, with feel, grace and without having to consciously think about any of it. In other words the desired outcome is to become one with the rod. The great news is that this feeling that I like, is apparently well-liked by others too and consequently we have hundreds of happy customers.

I’m not going to say “our rod is better than some other rod nah-nah-nee-nah-nah” because that’s just boring. Value for money in our case however is excellent. There is no question that it costs a hell of a lot more to make an HT rod than any other flyrod that I know. Every part of our manufacturing cost is higher, the blanks themselves, the fittings and of course the craftsmanship. Fortunately for you, we’ve cut out the middlemen and sell direct. Our retail margins are smaller than some Sage-dealer margins and we don’t have additional manufacturing profits or distributor margins to contend with, costs that you would ultimately end up paying and which would sky-rocket our retail price. Consequently we sell an absolute top-of-the-line custom-crafted rod for the same price as the mass-produced ones, for anglers “in the know”. The one thing that stands out above all else is the “HT feeling” and that is only available through Sexyloops.


This August 25th and 26th, 2018, the weekend after the World Championships, I’m hosting a HT Owners weekend. This will be in Essex, England - approx 20 minutes from Stansted Airport by car. I will be giving free casting lessons, both 1-1 and group tuition. We will have the full range of HT rods to cast as well as a few secret prototype models. Lee Martell our rod building craftsman will be in attendance. There will be a Sexyloops campfire in the evening (if you’re planning on toasting marshmallows then bring a bloody long stick) and because the event coincides with a new moon, it will be perfect for casting lumi-lines in the dark.

I can offer camping and for those who like a little bit of luxury there is excellent accommodation down the road in the village. So if you have any casting faults bring them along with you and we will fix them. If you are interested in coming along then please get in touch with me on to reserve your place. 

Have a fantastic week and I hope to see many of you soon :)


To find out more about the HT rods... 

You can see the range here: 
You can read our customer reviews here: 
And this is the Hot Torpedo Owners Club: 

And finally THIS is the HT Instructor 6: 

Paul Arden is the fly rod designer for Sexyloops and has been fly fishing for over 35 years and teaching fly fishing and fly casting for more than 20 years. Paul has extensively fished for trout in Europe, New Zealand, Australia and North America and for the past 25 years has been fly fishing more than 300 days every year. He currently lives in the North Malaysian jungle, fly fishing and guiding for Giant Snakehead and Giant Gourami. A competition caster, he has reached the finals in the World Championships in 5-weight distance on three occasions, winning a Bronze medal last year. Paul has appeared on Discovery Channel in the USA co-hosting a fly fishing programme shot in New Zealand. He is full-time manager of the Sexyloops website and brand. Websites: and

Paul's "Jungle Fishing Sponsors" are RIO fly lines: PowerFilm Solar: Lawson Hammocks: and of course he fishes the Sexyloops brand of fly rods; The Hot Torpedo.