Paul Arden | Monday, 30 October 2017

For those of you who know me, it should have come as no surprise that the first Hot Torpedo rod to appear was a 9ft #6 since this is the rod weight and length that's been my "go-to" rod for over 30 years. A 9ft #6 is the most versatile trout fishing rod; it can throw a big heavy nymph combo, at a push a heavily weighted streamer, but is equally comfortable fishing dry flies from size 8 down to 16 (and can be pressed to fish smaller, tiny stuff, when required). Furthermore it is the most common rod length and weight for single-handed teaching purposes. I know that in the USA the most popular fishing rod is a 9ft #5, but apart from competitions (and one year when I fished XP5 exclusively) it is not my preferred choice - and as you'll have figured out by now, any time I feel the need to go lighter than a 6 then I'll jump down to a 4WT, which has considerable advantages over the 5 in my opinion.

The HT6 was really built with New Zealand in mind. I've fished close to twenty full seasons in NZ (I think the actual number was 18) before deciding it was time to move on and learn something different. That's in the region of 3000 days fishing! Consequently it was relatively easy for me to know the action, performance and feel that I wanted from this rod.

Of course there was a bit of luck involved... when I first approached my Spanish rod blank manufacturers for an exclusive range of blanks only available to Sexyloops, I asked for 4, 6 and 8WT blanks all in 9ft length. The rods I got were actually pretty good, mid-market priced rods. The 4 and the 8 were better than the 6 and so I asked for some changes to that one and took delivery of it just prior to a Sexyloops Scottish Meet. Immediately it was clear that the Gods were smiling because this was not any mid-market priced rod, this was a bells-and-whistles top-notch blank.

My good friend Stefan Siikavaara really liked it too, and cast it so hard that it eventually exploded. And thank you for that Stefan! All Sexyloops prototype rods go into competitions - Sexyloops "Shootouts" - and are cast hard and through as many people's hands as possible. This is essential for us, because I don't want a breakage problem. Of course all rods are breakable but I know of rods, and I'm sure you do too, that have a "reputation" for breaking. They don't get a reputation for breaking for no reason!

We ended up strengthening the second section up, the complete section, not only the ferrule. This had a very interesting effect on the rod - it completely removed wobble at the tip. Now I don't claim to fully understand rod damping, and it's the final thing I tune in the design process. I'll happily tweak three rods at the end of the design process in order to try to minimise "tip bounce". As an aside I'll tell you something else: different sanding options, will affect the action of the rod - I know this because I took delivery of three 8WT prototypes that were all significantly different and the only manufacturing difference was how they were sanded (which, in-part, explains small and sometimes large variations in rod actions in the same model - too many sanders spoil the blank!).

I remember the first trials of these three rods and comparing them to all other 8WT rods we could find (all top end) and all three of the HT protos had significantly less tip bounce (I check tip wobble with a hard-stopped backcast and study the integrity of the bottom leg of the loop to see what the rod tip is doing, this is best under lights and I like to see how the loop looks in many different casters' hands), but I still wanted to reduce it further. It took two more prototypes to reach the HT8 that we have now. In all the HT8 took eight prototype versions to produce. So as you can see I did in fact get extremely lucky with the HT6 which only took four versions. It's good to be lucky although it's been a complete pain-in-the-arse since.

This is what my side of the rod design process is, trying to explain what I want, receiving a rod (or sometimes blank) through the post and then trying to work what changes to make to get it to the point I want. Basically its down to where it is stiff, where it is soft, where it can be heavier or lighter. But I have been known to sit on a blank for over a year trying to work out just what it is I want to change. One HT10 prototype for example I fished all over Australia, as well as here in the Malaysian Jungle, for over a year before deciding it was the bottom two lower sections that needed to be slightly stiffened. Making different length and weight HT rods feel and perform the same is my goal. That for me, is the "Hot Torpedo" action and feel (although to be honest I think we might be getting better).

So, back to the HT6. After Scotland I received two more prototype blanks, one with recoils and the other with single legs and I took them to the first World Championships with Fly Fishing Tackle. I was standing on the platform alone comparing single legs to recoils, cast against cast, and I came to the result empirically that recoils marginally reduce distance (although undoubtedly the lighter weight of Recoils makes for a cleaner loop - with no tip vibration, which is why they are fitted on most of our fishing models). This 6WT blank is the one we sell now. It's also the 5WT Competition rod that has taken me to two World Finals in 5WT distance and one in Accuracy. Last year I switched to a far stiffer rod for the 5WT distance, but more on that some other time.

It is the same blank that we also paint white for Instructors - we have sold more Instructor rods than any other, and consequently the HT6 blank has been our top seller (it's still the best Instructor rod out there - at AAPGAI they think it makes the test "too easy"!! Cool). This year we have sold more HT10s, partly because it's the rod that gave me the Bronze Medal in last year's World Championships and so has become popular amongst competition casters (fantastic damping even with a 5WT MED line) and also because it's our newest model.

As a casting tool I like to downline the HT6 to a 5 line, and rigged this way it's the fancy trick casts you'll see in some of my flycasting videos [for example today's embedded youtube link]. But for fishing, as far as I'm concerned, it is a true 6WT. And when I say "true" I really mean on the button. Don't put a line 1/2 or more line weights heavier on it, because you'll lose the crisp feel that I like. If your preferred line is 1/2 line weight heavier in its class then for this rod I would go half line weight lighter. Of course you're free to do whatever you want, but if you want to know how I fish it, I fish it with an XXD6, Thunderbolt 6, Barrio 125 #5 for floating lines.

But it's not been designed as a "casting rod", instead it's a "fishing casting" fly rod. Fast, sexy, incredibly versatile, low swing-weight, highly-responsive but not so skimpy on carbon that it's going to explode every time you look at it, amazing tip recovery. It's the rod blank used in the Video Masterclass that I'm releasing at the moment and it's been my general purpose trout flyrod for five years; it's the rod I now use for Giant Gourami fishing, and I've fished it for large trout in the Russian Kola Peninsular catching trout to over 9lbs (my largest brown trout for the Kola weighed 11.5lbs but I caught that on the HT8!).

These are my thoughts on rod design: 

So if you are a Kiwi, or planning a trip to New Zealand, then I would thoroughly recommend this rod for you. We have a few hanging out in New Zealand. If you would like to try one before you buy then give Ronan a buzz. I'm sure he'll happily let you have a cast of his. He has an early version that was built in Hungary. The latest finish is his HT4 version - whipping colours, Titanium framed Stripping Guides built by our rod craftsman, Lee Martell.

A couple of things you'll want to know - our price includes world-wide delivery. All our rods at the moment are custom built for you - you can have your name on the rod for no extra charge (this adds approx a week to the build because the name decals are printed for us in the USA) and everything can be changed - rings, grip, fighting butt, whippings - to whatever is your preference. Delivery times at the moment with your name is around 3 weeks. At a push we can deliver quicker. Sometimes in busy periods such as the middle of this summer, delivery can take slightly longer.

We also have an unlimited life-time guaranteed. Many guarantees are original owner. We take it one step further and guarantee the rod pretty much forever. I'm not quite sure what will happen when I shed this mortal coil and become an angel, so let's just say that it's at least guaranteed up until then! We are currently matching Sage guarantee prices which last time I looked was 70USD per section. We were initially asking customers to post the entire rod back so that we could fix it, until we had one stuck in UK customs. So instead of that, all we need back is the top and bottom 4 inches of the broken rod section as well as any rings it might have (particularly in the case of the HT10 which has very expensive Titanium Torzite rings!). If it's the tip that you broke then we can simply mail one out to you since they always fit perfectly.

You may be wondering how we can produce a custom finished rod with all the top fittings and with such fine attention to detail (whippings are three micro-thin layers of epoxy, which considerably adds time to production) and yet match the same price as a Sage X rod costs in the USA? The reason is because we sell direct and work on shop retail margins, without distributor and manufacturing margins. If we worked on the same margins as everyone else then I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that HT rods would retail for double the price. I'm quite sure that all the top USA manufacturers produce two rods for the cost of one Hot Torpedo. All HT rods are now built with titanium-framed stripping guides, each one is lovingly and time consumingly made, every blank takes years of tweaking to produce (by yours truly) and every blank is thoroughly tested in extreme conditions. You simply can't buy better.

The HT6 in the shop...
(tubes are now black aluminium)

The "plan" now is to visit Tasmania for a couple of months in December and January, based in Miena living at Hare's Lair. I'm really excited to catch up with my [crazy] Tasmanian friends. I will have the complete HT range with me (apart perhaps from the RAMPAGE, which is a 3-piece 9'6 rod and consequently complicated to pack). Be sure to get in touch to have a cast, a fish, or a beer or three. I don't think we'll have a car - but if anyone has a bicycle or two they can lend us this would be very helpful!

Last week we had a couple of HT Comp entries...

Tim Kempton on fishing his HT10 for Redfish:
An Ren Tan on his HT4:
And today Ronan on his HT6:

In the Video Manual, last week I uploaded Shooting and Retrieving Line and more coming this week...

On the Board there are good discussions:
Knot Testing
Contribution rod bend makes to the cast (technical)
The STOP (technical)

It's been a little bit quiet recently - so get in there and post!
We are on Facebook and post regularly here:

Have an excellent week!


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 with Stuntman Ronan shot in New Zealand. He is full-time manager of the Sexyloops website and brand. 

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

He likes reading, riding horses and feeding sheep.