Fine-tuning the fly rod action (or what I want for Christmas)

Fine-tuning the fly rod action (or what I want for Christmas)

Paul Arden | Monday, 19 November 2018

I'm often asked to describe the Sexyloops Hot Torpedo action, ie "what's it like?" And that's a very good question indeed. To answer this let me explain the rods that I have particularly enjoyed fishing and casting with in the past. There are quite a few and I'm sure you'll be familiar with some or all of them: Loomis IMX, Scott STS, The Sage XP, Sage TCR (not the 5, but the 4, 6 and 8). These were the rods that I used for many years. In fact the Loomis IMX was the blank that I spent my University allowance on, before dropping out and heading out to New Zealand!

However the SLHT is not really quite like them but from this starting point I can explain the differences. The SLHT feels lighter than the XP and the IMX, and faster than both. But has more feel in the butt than either the Tactical or the TCR. And this feel which comes from the butt section is very important to me. Speed without feel gives less control, but if you can feel the speed then you can do something with it. This is the feel that comes with a flexible butt section - not flexible in the way that the X is, which is too soft IMO - when I make a long carry and crank up the speed it's difficult to avoid tailing with that rod. But perhaps only a competition distance caster will know this.

So in these respects, we do have something very different with the HT. Particularly in a world where there are few genuine designs and a hell of a lot of copies. A few years back many manufacturers started to make more solid rods, rods that were stiff in the butt and less-breakable in the tip. No doubt this was a defence against the no-questions asked guarantee. The more rigid butt, which was incorrectly marketed as "more lifting power" (incorrectly marketed because a softer butt shortens the lever and hence gives more lifting power!) became a standard that was copied again and again.

Now of course there is no such thing as a completely rigid butt, they all flex to a point! But there is certainly such a thing as a rod butt that's so stiff that you can't feel it flex. Perhaps even more importantly is that these solid-feeling butt sections are hard on your joints. When you stop such a rod at the end of the Casting Stroke, at the very first instant you need to stop considerably more rod over a shorter period of time - remember that you don't stop all of the rod at once, but instead that stop sequence travels up through the rod. If you fish a lot like I do, such a stiff lower section can generate elbow problems. I know this because one time I fished a TCX10 for six weeks straight in Exmouth, WA, and it took me 3 months to recover from the Tennis Elbow it gave me! I've fished twelve months straight with the HT10 in Malaysia and with no elbow problems.

There is something else that is very different about the HT which isn't just the "fast feel" combination, and that is the damping of the rod tip. I'm very particular about trying to make a rod that doesn't vibrate in the tip more than absolutely necessary. Of course it doesn't really matter if you rod vibrates after the stop and puts waves in the bottom/rod leg of the loop. But if a rod can be designed to minimise this bounce - which it can - then the loops look much sexier!

back-loop

I've spent about twenty years looking at this phenomena - every time I pick up a new rod, I shock it hard into the backcast and watch the loop. And it's quite fascinating how some rods kick like a mule and bounce uncontrollably while others rebound once or twice and stop dead. This is called damping. Orvis with their Trident series investigated this, and let me tell you that their handle design certainly did improve tip damping. And while rod fittings are important, so too is the design of the rod blank itself. In this regards you can compare our rods to every other rod on the market and you will see that the HT is best. This is not surprising perhaps since to my knowledge we're the only one actually trying to produce blanks that damp well!

And so that's really what we have here; a fast, strong rod with plenty of feel and superior damping. There is a lot of work involved in every rod. Each rod has an average of 7-8 prototypes and takes around 2 years to finalise.

We then take this finished blank and do something that nobody else does. We give you an incredible customised finish using the very best fittings. All of our stripping guides have titanium frames as standard - why? Because they are the best. Who else does that? No one that I know! Our HT10 has Torzite Titanium rings - for the same reason. Also a first in the FFing world. We use Recoils instead of Snakes for lightness on most of our rods - although we can fit Snakes if you prefer (they're better for Shooting Heads). We purchase the absolute finest cork from a Portugese cork grip manufacturer who only manufactures rod grips and who has a three month lead time - why? Because he is the best. Our aluminium rod tube is manufactured by REC components in the USA. Our reel fittings are REC once again - the best. Our reel spacer - we don't want wood - wood swells up and looks crappy - instead we use anodised aluminium which we have manufactured in the UK. Even the decals come from the USA because the quality is the best we can find.

The rod is then assembled by Lee Martell, the professional Sexyloops rod builder in Hastings UK. Lee is not your normal builder but instead is all about quality. Three micro thin layers of epoxy - or whatever it takes to make the perfect thin coat that is even but without the excess or unevenness that one quick coat gives. And let me tell you - no major manufacturer does this. The only time you can get this sort of quality of workmanship is when you find a specialist rod builder and pay through the nose.

90ft

And our rod socks (or rod "pants" as Ivica in Croatia calls them!)? Mrs Martell! This is why we can offer funky colours and not just Sexy Camo or Stealth Black option. Everything in short, can be finished - or pimped - in the way that you want. There is almost no such thing as a "standard HT build"! Although we always try to carry a few standard options in stock nowadays for those who need one in a hurry.

We haven't skimped anywhere, at no point have we tried to make a cheaper and therefore inferior product. Then you may well wonder how we can manufacture a more expensive rod and yet sell it at the same price as the top end mass market rods in the USA? As you will know we price standard SLHT rods at the same price as Sage price their Sage X in the USA, and give free world-wide shipping included, and yet our manufacturing costs are obviously 2 or 3 times higher. How can we do this? It's because we sell direct to our customers, effectively working on shop margins and without the manufacturing and distributor margins that they have in place. It's a bit of a catch 22, for us to sell through shops the retail price of an SLHT would be a bare minimum price of 1600 USD and probably even then we would have to cut costs or sell it at a higher price.

So that's our story. But the real story is of those Sexyloopers who have discovered our rods because here we have fly fishers using arguably the finest rods available and many of them have discovered that they are in fact better casters than they thought! I remember one AAPGAI candidate who when he turned up with the HT6 was told that the rod made the exam too easy! And of course he passed!!!

If you want to be a Sexyloops Hot Torpedo owner this Christmas then maybe you should ask your wife, husband or girlfriend to send me an email. It's better than getting a woollen jumper in your stocking that's for sure, and NOW is the time to place your Christmas order!

Cheers!!
Paul

PS Today's video is what you can do with the HT6 when fishing for bats. Here is the complete HT range.
PPS Next week I shall be showing you how to tie a twisted Snakehead Leader by popular demand! 

oh and finally...
PPPS here is where you can learn everything you need to know about fly casting. Cool