G.LOOMIS has always enjoyed an enviable reputation for top shelf flyfishing gear, so much so that G.Loomis fly rods are regarded as the tools that serious anglers set standards by. The new Cross Current saltwater series rods – both in ‘standard’ Cross Current and Cross Current GLX specification – are taking the flyfisher’s tools of trade to a higher standard.
It’s a serious claim to suggest that proven performers such as the Nautikos and GLX Mega are now being overshadowed, but having used one of the 10 weight Cross Current GLX rods, I’m going to stick my neck out and suggest that the Cross Current series is going to shoulder its stable mates right off the winner’s podium.
To assess the criteria for a really good rod let’s consider what a saltwater angler will look for. First, the fly rod must be able to cast a long line. The cast must be quick, accurate and as far reaching as possible because these fish won’t let a boat come close to them.
I have my own criteria for a rod that can really cast, and it’s simple: in the hands of a good caster – the entire fly line should pass the tip runner. That’s from the grass in the footy field, of course, but the point is that if the rod won’t cast that sort of line in ideal conditions it won’t go within cooee of it in the boat where balance is more difficult and chances of a tangle are higher.
Next, the rod must have real stopping power. If, under robust pressure, it’s bending right through to the butt, there isn’t much hope of stopping a big trevally heading back to an oyster-studded snag or lifting a stubborn tuna that’s gone deep.
The rod’s hardware needs special consideration. Reel seats must be large enough to accommodate the majority of large arbor reels. Fittings must be corrosion resistant and as robust as possible, because fly rods used in heaving boats can be given a lot of punishment. Stripper guides are usually the first to go, but I’ve seen heavy snake guides demolished as well.
And lastly, the rod must look the part. Premium performance rods should have premium finish. Nobody wants to part with Rolls Royce money for an old Mini 850. It’s a fact of life that fly anglers, above all, really love their gear and pride of ownership is as much a part of having a G.Loomis rod in the rod locker as is actually using it.
I’ve give the Cross Current top marks all round; it’s simply the best casting rod I’ve used. I’m no great shakes as a caster, but on the lawn the entire Scientific Anglers Mastery 10-weight line – all 36 metres of it – plus a significant amount of Bionic Braid went straight out through the guides.
Power-wise, it’s awesome. The butt and next section of the four-piece GLX have reserves of power sufficient to lift a house brick without bending significantly. Now, that is power! Yet it casts like a trout rod. When making the back cast, the fast action upper sections just follows the fly line without the slightest waver during the casting stroke. What G.Loomis has put together here is a rod that is easy to cast yet can put the stoppers on a fish.
Now for the hardware. Put simply, it’s magnificent. There’s a fighting butt that’s large enough to be effective but not so large as to cause intrusion or handling difficulties. The reel seat is a burnished copper-green in colour, upward locking and with sufficient capacity to secure the foot of the several large arbor reels I’ve tried in it. On the top of the reel seat is a cut away section displaying the G.Loomis trademark ‘Fear No Fish’ emblem.
The stripper and snake guides deserve special mention. In the GLX series, all guides are exclusive light-weight, nickel-titanium alloy – an extremely high tensile material. Put simply, they bend if bumped or squashed but are sufficiently resilient to maintain proper shape at all times. While the guides are tough as nails they are also super light and contribute significantly to the lightweight (200g) feel of the rod. This, I liked.
The high marks continue with the overall presentation of the rod. It’s a Rolls Royce in Rolls Royce clothing. The deluxe finish certainly isn’t flashy or overdone, just an example of subtle craftsmanship put together in a classy package that assures pride of ownership. And that four-piece design means that the rod can be easily transported when travelling.
There are 21 rods in the Cross Current series, handling lines from weights 6 to 15. While the one-piece Pro – 1 rods (that’s right, no ferrule) probably won’t attract much attention here, the three-piece ‘standard’ Cross Current rods, plus the GLX series, are going to be popular. And having used the rod and personally reviewed its performance, I’m not surprised to find the GLX is the rod that serious anglers are buying.
These G.Loomis series of Cross Current rods are probably not for anglers starting out in fly fishing who aren’t sure whether it’s going to be a passing fancy or a lifetime passion. But for those of us afflicted with the bug, these are the rods we scrimp and save for, and never, ever, regret buying once the first cast to a fish is made.
Now here’s a combo that won’t be upsized! Keep that for the fries and Coke.
Complimenting the G.Loomis Cross Current GLX is the Snowbee XS Large Arbor 910 fly reel. I was fortunate enough to review both of these products and I’ve given this serious angler’s fly reel the thumbs-up as well.
This British made (BFR) reel has sufficient capacity to easily swallow up a Scientific Anglers Mastery 10-weight line plus some 400 metres of 50lb Bionic Braid backing.
The XS 910 reel is remarkably light for its size, weighing in at around 200g, yet is a real thing of beauty. It’s machined from Aerospace grade aluminium bar stock and then coated in a very high quality black anodised finish. It’s rigid, with overall tolerances down to 0.01mm; there is not a hint of slack or play in any part of the fit of spool to backing plate. Changing from left-hand wind to right-hand wind is very simple thanks to the detailed instructions that come with the reel.
The Large Arbor 910 is especially designed by BFR for saltwater use. The beefy drag mechanism features no less than five discs and separating Broflon washers, and is activated by a large, easily-activated knob with click graduations on the rear of the reel. The corrosion-resistant drag mechanism, incidentally, is totally protected against water intrusion yet is easily accessed for service by removing its special cover. Instructions are provided for this as well.
The Snowbee XS fly reel comes in three sizes – XS 560 (5 or 6 line) XS780, (7 or 8 line) and the reviewed XS910 ( 9 or 10 line). All reels come with Snowbee’s five-year guarantee against failure due to faulty material or workmanship. Each reel comes in a natty foam and lamb’s wool padded pouch, too.
Do yourself a favour and check out the Cross Current range and Snowbee reels at your nearest tackle store. Your credit card may not like the result, but your fly fishing will be more enjoyable.
1) Here’s a stripping guide with a difference. It’s nickel-titanium alloy and what’s more it flexes!
2) Snowbee’s XS Large Arbor XS910 was a perfect match for the G.Loomis Cross Current rod.
3) The author, Cross Current GLX in hand, is trying hard to coax a little kingie out from under a beacon in the Rous Channel.Reads: 5151