By Vagabond Fly
Editors’ Note: In a world of premium rods breaking new ground it is fantastic to see global brands entering the midrange price market with high quality tapers & proper R&D budgets. LOOP Tackle is no different & boy did they come to the party with the CAST Series of rods.
We were chatting with LOOP Tackle for some time before settling on a Tigerfish challenge to test their new midrange selection of rods: the LOOP Evotec CAST Series. The decision criteria was three fold:
- We needed 8wt & 9wt fast action rods to throw long casts with heavy sinking lines, over & over again.
- The rod needed proper backbone to put pressure on one of the worlds hardest hitting & fiercely aggressive fighting fish.
- The casting action needed to be smooth – thousands of casts make you fatigued, we needed a tool that we could throw all day without a performance dip.
LOOP Tackle were positive that their Cross SX range would handle the situation perfectly, but they were rather confident that their NEW Evotec CAST range of rods would do the job, and more specifically the FAST action version of the series.
Gauntlet laid, we accepted… we just needed Africa’s Tigerfish to play ball!
THE REVIEW LAB
Tigerfish are not only spectacular fighters, they eat like they want to kill something… well, they do, it’s what they are designed to do! They absolutely destroy your flies, even the babies… but we didn’t want a ton of small Tigerfish, we needed a few brutes tipping the 10lb scale to truly challenge these Evotec CAST FAST rods.
We did our homework & made a few calls. The team at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge gave us what we were looking for: Conditions were low & clear, and after the previous years flood they were experiencing a phenomenon whereby fewer fish were being caught, but those that were, were in the ‘goon’ proportions we were looking for.
Perfect, we knew we would have to make a ton of full-line casts with 350 grain plus line weights. We also knew that the likelihood of tussling with a tornado take from a trophy Tigerfish was pretty high. We signed on immediately.
Editors note: You must understand that fishing for Tigerfish requires more casting than you can imagine. Full line cast & strip as fast as you can, then do it again. Do this for a day & you’ll be knackered; do it for four days & you’ll end up with nerve damage in your casting arm. We can hand on heart tell you that we’ve cast our LOOP CAST FAST rods easily over a thousand times each & did so over a four day period. These rods have been cast tested for sure!
THE OUTFIT & AESTHETICS
We were delighted to find a rod sock within the cordura rod tube that holds the 4 piece rods, then even more ecstatic to find the rod model inscription & ferrule markings on each section to ensure perfect alignment: it is these little things that set brands apart, attention to detail if you will.
Being a midrange priced rod you would expect lower quality components but we could not fault the quality of cork nor the chrome snake guides on our 8wt & 9wt Evotec CAST FAST rods – especially at the price point.
One element does stand out however… beyond the build quality & deep blue finish, it is the triangular aluminium reel seat. It is light & chromed up for balance & saltwater durability but also the reel seat gives the rod, especially in the heavier weights, a mean edge by way of aesthetics. It is not overly fancy but perfectly suited.
Finally, a novelty perhaps but we appreciated the small washer between the locking screws holding your reel in place – it just makes it easier to tighten down your reel with confidence knowing that you can get it back out again after the trip.
WHERE DID THE LOOP Evotec CAST Fast Rod SHINE
It’s more apt to ask where did the Evotec CAST FAST not shine? You expect that a fly rod would collapse somewhat under the sheer weight of the fast sinking lines we were throwing: this is true even in the 8wt & 9wt rods but our LOOP CAST FAST rods did not. We found the casting stroke to be smooth & crisp. Many premium rods have faltered with the load expectations when chasing Tigerfish, but we honestly found we were in control of each cast, even at the end of the day. This is the highest praise we can give.
Backbone & pulling power?
The last thing you need when going toe-to-toe with Africa’s meanest is to take a backward step. That fish must feel the hurt inch for inch. When you turn up the crank you need direct connection to the fish, not a deeper bend in the rod. As one of our three criteria it was with this in mind that tipped the scale toward the LOOP CAST FAST rods.
When buttoning down on a Tigerfish much of the fight is with the tip in the water or at a very low rod angle – the tip only gets up high when going for the net. Tigerfish have razor sharp teeth set into a bony mouth & dropping tension often leads to dropped fish.
A ratio of 1 in 5 landed is considered par for the course. We dropped zero! Enough said.
We cannot comment on the LOOP Evotec CAST FAST ability to present at short range. We never tested it short. Where we can categorically rave (needs reconsideration) is that although the rod is fast there is still a sweet spot big enough to drive a tank through. This means that despite bleary eyes & lame biceps after cast upon cast we could alter our casting stroke & still throw the long lines required for chasing Tigerfish. We do not think there are many premium rods, let alone, mid range rods that can satisfy that criteria.
Similarly you wouldn’t think it but you do need to be accurate when chasing Tigerfish. Accuracy with your distance control is one thing but also in piercing your fly into tight spots while drifting the channels is massively important. We cannot over exaggerate how impressed we were at how true the LOOP Evotec CAST Fast tracked the casting stroke for remarkable accuracy. Tight loops & precision placement with a rod with a 350 sinking line is impressive in anyone’s books.
We would hazard a guess that in a blind cast test the LOOP Evotec CAST FAST would top many an 8wt & 9wt list of favourites. A point we have proven after sending the rods for a reader review to Cape Vidal, South Africa… but more on that later.
Mavungana are the agents for LOOP Tackle in South Africa, alternatively you can find your nearest dealer by clicking here. At the price many will add the LOOP Evotec CAST FAST rod as their backup rod on their next saltwater or Tigerfish expedition… after a few casts it may just become the go-to stick. Trust us!
The LOOP CAST Fast 9wt rods retail for R6295 ($595)